Are you ready for the NFL regular season to end? Well, Week 17 is upon us and the New England Patriots (11-4) end 2013 where they began: playing Buffalo with no Rob Gronkowski. Pats fans expect another win.
So do I. Back to that in a bit. Let’s reflect on the season briefly. The Patriots offensive machine as we knew it was taken apart by injury, contract conflicts, and alleged criminal misconduct. The season was marked by dropped balls, players dropping like flies, fumbles, penalties that were called or not called, and some fantastic finishes that won’t be forgotten.
Despite that turmoil, the Patriots simply need to beat the Buffalo Bills, the 6-9 team that has never won at Gillette Stadium and is 2-23 against Tom Brady, to secure a first round bye. Don’t get overconfident, guys.
Today’s keys, just incase Bill Belichick needs my opinion:
1. Remember your opponent: Belichick doesn’t overlook opponents. We know. But, for some reason, the Pats tend to play at the level of teams they are better than. How else can we explain losses to the Jets and Cincinnati? No disrespect intended Bills fans, players or owners by the following comment: Patriots, please show why you’re the better team. Demonstrate it.
2. Start fast. That means a three-and-out for Buffalo’s offense. If the offense gets the ball first then produce an opening-drive touchdown. Move the chains however possible. Use Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount to run over Buffalo if possible. Throw the ball all over the field to Julian Edelman or whichever rookie’s name gets drawn out of Brady’s hat to dress this week. Balance would be good, of course.
3. Good habits. To start fast they need to play right. No turnovers. Ridley is an important player on offense, but I’m nervous with the ball in his hands. The Pats need #22 to make a playoff run. Players not named Julian Edelman have to make catches. Danny Amendola has gotten his act together lately, despite the dropped TD in Miami. He took a couple of Welkerian hits last week, too. No dumb penalties you “don’t remember”, Logan Mankins.
4.Health. Be careful out there. Have you seen the injury report? The Herald counted 87 games lost to injuries. Enough.
Simply put: Take care of business. End the season on a high note for the playoffs. Momentum. Leave in one piece. Pats, 31-13.