Pats’ D overcomes sloppy offensive performance to put away the Bills!

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The Patriots’ defense came to play yesterday, as they were able to shake off a dreadful day by Tom Brady and the offense, en route to a 16-10 victory over the Buffalo Bills (3-1). This victory improved the Pats to 4-0 on the season, and moved them into first place in the AFC East.

Here are some takeaways from yesterday’s victory.

1. Another defensive masterpiece!

Bill Belichick and Jerod Mayo have delivered a consistently dominant defense over the last month, and yesterday was no different, as the Pats limited Buffalo to 10 points, and had 4 interceptions (along with 2 forced fumbles). Even though the defense gave up their first touchdown of the season, they constantly befuddled second-year quarterback Josh Allen with their coverage, and forced him into throwing 2 interceptions in the first quarter. Allen eventually got settled in during the third quarter, as he led Buffalo down the field for a touchdown. But the Pats were able to dissipate his confidence when they intercepted him on another deep ball. Allen ultimately finished the game with 153 passing yards and 3 interceptions, and was neutralized as a rushing threat, as he mustered a mere 26 yards. However, Allen’s last play in the game was draped with controversy, as he got knocked in the head by Jonathan Jones while trying to break free from Duron Harmon. There’s no disputing the fact that it was a helmet-to-helmet hit, but Jones didn’t have any malicious intent, and replays even showed that Allen led with his head, which initiated the contact. At the end of the day, the NFL does need to protect its players, so Jones will likely receive a hefty fine, but his actions did not mandate an ejection, even though Buffalo’s players and coaches insisted that it did.

Here is an explanation of the ruling from the NFL’s VP of Officiating, Al Riveron.

After Allen’s exit, Matt Barkley took over for the Bills, and it appeared as if he could lead the Bills to victory, but the Pats defense had a crucial stop on the goal-line on one of Buffalo’s final drives, and forced him into a game-sealing interception with under 2 minutes to play.

Even though the defense was spectacular (with JC Jackson, Devin McCourty, and Kyle Van Noy especially shining), they do have some kinks to iron out, as they gave up over 100 rushing yards, and had several penalties in the second half which allowed Buffalo to extend drives.

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(Adrian Kraus/AP)

2. The offense was absolutely dreadful

The Pats’ offense was very lucky to escape with a win yesterday, as they struggled to put together drives throughout the game. Other than their touchdown drive in the first quarter, Tom Brady was uncharacteristically off-rhythm, and struggled to connect with his receivers. Some of Brady’s struggles can be attributed to a putrid performance by the offensive line, which struggled to give Brady time to survey the field and find open receivers. Brady’s lack of mobility was evident yesterday, as his attempts to scramble out of the pocket did more harm than good, with his head-scratching interception at the goal line in the second quarter being a prime example. If not for James White, the Pats’s offense probably could have been held out of the end zone, as his 26-yard wheel route in the first quarter sparked their lone touchdown. White was Brady’s security blanket, and caught 8 of his 10 targets for 57 yards. Following three energizing performances, Phillip Dorsett struggled mightily, as he caught 2 of his 9 targets for 10 yards. Josh Gordon (3 receptions for 46 yards) and Julian Edelman (4 receptions for 30 yards) were clearly gimpy, and struggled to separate from Buffalo’s defenders.

The Pats’ ground game was slightly more effective, as they were able to gain 74 yards off of 23 carries, but the absence of James Develin clearly appears to be affecting the explosiveness of Sony Michel, who averaged 3.7 yards per carry.

The Pats’ offense should be eternally grateful for the dominance of their defense, as they were able to win despite the fact that Buffalo out-gained them by 150 yards and had 12 more first downs. Granted, their struggles can be attributed to the terrific game-plan by Sean McDermott and the Bills, but continuing to play like this will doom them against better opponents.

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(Photo via NESN)

3. Another mixed bag for special teams

Stephen Gostkowski missed yet another extra point yesterday, bringing his total to 4 after four weeks of action. Gostkowksi’s job doesn’t appear to be in danger, but the team has to hope that he overcomes his slump soon, as they cannot afford a missed kick or two during an important game down the line (as evidenced by their loss during the 2016 AFC Championship Game in Denver).

On the other hand, Matthew Slater scored his first career touchdown, following a blocked punt by JC Jackson, which gave the Pats a 13-0 lead in the first quarter.

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(Photo via USA Today)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 18/39 for 150 yards, and 1 interception
  • Rushing: Sony Michel – 17 carries for 63 yards
  • Receiving: James White – 8 receptions for 57 yards
  • Defensive: Kyle Van Noy – 8 tackles (including 2 sacks and 2 forced fumbles)

Bills

  • Passing: Josh Allen – 13/28 for 153 passing yards, and 3 interceptions
  • Rushing: Frank Gore – 17 carries for 109 yards
  • Receiving: Cole Beasley – 7 receptions for 75 yards
  • Defensive: Tremaine Edmunds – 11 tackles

 

What’s next?: The Pats head down to Washington D.C. to take on the winless Redskins (0-4), who still haven’t named their starting quarterback for the game (they could be led by Case Keenum, Colt McCoy, or their first round pick, Dwayne Haskins).

Heading up North!: Will the Pats knock off the undefeated Bills?

It’s not too often that the Patriots are tied with another team in the AFC East after three weeks of action, which is why tomorrow’s matchup with the Buffalo Bills (3-0) is extremely intriguing, as the victorious team will take first place in the division. The Pats haven’t lost in Buffalo since the 2011 season, which ironically also occurred in Week 4, with both teams being undefeated at the time.

Here are some things to consider entering this Week 4 contest.

1. What will the offense look like?

The Patriots’ offense has changed dramatically over the last few weeks, due to the addition and subsequent release of Antonio Brown, and the injuries sustained by offensive linemen Marcus Cannon & Isaiah Wynn, and fullback James Develin. In addition, Week 3’s game against the Jets tested the limits and versatility of the Pats’ receiving corps, with Julian Edelman getting knocked out of the game with a chest injury. Luckily for the Pats, Edelman was able to make the trip to Buffalo, and is expected to play. As this is only Week 4, having Edelman sit out wouldn’t be the worst idea, as another injury could jeopardize the team’s chances of contending down the line. If Edelman does play, I’d still expect the Pats to be cautious with his number of snaps, which would likely expand the importance of Josh Gordon and Phillip Dorsett in the offense.

Another important focus for the Pats should be ensuring the success of Sony Michel and the ground game. Michel hasn’t had the greatest start to the season, and the absence of Develin wasn’t exactly helpful for him against the Jets. If the Pats are able to sustain their running game, they can take pressure off of Tom Brady, and keep the Bills off balance with a well-balanced offensive attack.

The Bills’ defense has been stingy thus far, which means the Patriots will need to have a great offensive performance to emerge victorious tomorrow.

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(Photo via USA Today)

2. Can the defense contain Josh Allen?

Josh Allen is one of the most perplexing quarterbacks in the NFL, as he has flashed brilliance with his ability to throw and run, while also displaying a great deal of recklessness with the football. Looking at Allen’s highlights so far, it’s fair to say that one of his greatest assets is his ability to run the ball, as it forces opposing defenses to keep an eye on him at all times. I believe that the Patriots’ key to victory will be bottling up the Bills’ running game, and putting the ball in Josh Allen’s hands. Allen has struggled with accuracy down the field, which plays right into the Pats’ hands, due to their excellent secondary. In addition, forcing Allen to throw a lot would enable Bill Belichick and Jerod Mayo to dial up the pass rush on the young quarterback. If Allen becomes rattled, he may throw some ill-advised throws, which could lead to takeaways for the defense.

Getting after Josh Allen would go a long way in ensuring another successful outing for the Patriots’ defense.

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(Photo via the Democrat & Chronicle)

Injury Report:

Patriots

  • Michael Bennett (shoulder) – Questionable
  • Rex Burkhead (foot) – Questionable
  • Nate Ebner (groin) – Questionable
  • Julian Edelman (chest) – Questionable
  • Marshall Newhouse (illness) – Questionable
  • Dont’a Hightower (shoulder) – Questionable
  • Matt LaCosse (ankle) – Questionable

Bills

  • Tyler Kraft (ankle) – Out
  • Corey Thompson (ankle) – Out
  • Maurice Alexander (knee) – Questionable
  • Jon Feliciano (neck) – Questionable
  • Robert Foster (groin) – Questionable
  • Taron Johnson (hamstring) – Questionable
  • Spencer Long (ankle) – Questionable
  • Isaiah McKenzie (ankle) – Questionable
  • Devin Singletary (hamstring) – Questionable

 

Prediction: Patriots 24, Bills 13

Here are my picks for the rest of the NFL’s Week 4 games (excluding Thursday Night Football).

Last week: 10-5

Redskins at Giants: Giants

Chiefs at Lions: Chiefs

Titans at Falcons: Falcons

Browns at Ravens: Ravens

Raiders at Colts: Colts

Panthers at Texans: Texans

Chargers at Dolphins: Chargers

Buccaneers at Rams: Rams

Seahawks at Cardinals: Seahawks

Vikings at Bears: Bears

Jaguars at Broncos: Jaguars

Cowboys at Saints: Cowboys

Bengals at Steelers: Steelers

Once again, the Jets are grounded in Foxborough!

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Today’s game was more of the same for the Patriots against the Jets (0-3) in Foxborough, as their dominant defense led them to a 30-14 victory. This win improves them to 3-0 on the season, with 2 of those wins coming against division opponents.

Here are some takeaways from this Week 3 victory.

1. Brady and the offense need to work on their rhythm 

Tom Brady and the Pats’ offense started off hot, as they scored on their first three drives to take an early 20-0 lead, with #12 throwing touchdowns to Philip Dorsett and Julian Edelman. However, the offense began to sputter in the second quarter as their next four drives ended with punts. The Patriots also had their depth at wide receiver tested, due to injuries sustained by Edelman (chest/ribs) and Josh Gordon (hand), which gave Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski more snaps than they’re accustomed to. Edelman ultimately left the game, but early signs indicate that he didn’t suffer a serious injury.

On the other hand, Gordon only missed a few snaps, and was able to make two jaw-dropping catches that helped the Pats move down the field. The Pats struggled to run the ball without James Develin in the backfield, and finished with a measly 68 yards off of 27 carries. Ironically, the Patriots’ offense gave up more points than their stingy defense, as backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham threw a pick-six to Jets safety Jamal Adams. Most viewers expected Brady’s day to be over when Stidham entered the game, but following the pick-six, Brady re-entered the game to finish it off. 

The Pats’ offense was able to use their quick start to emerge victorious, but they will need to patch things up to be successful down the line.

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(Photo via USA Today)

2. The Pats’ defense was unbelievably good!

The Patriots’ defense turned in another efficient performance, as they limited New York’s offense to 105 total yards and 0 points. They were able to shutout their opponent in the first half for the fifth straight game (including the 2019 playoffs). Third-string quarterback Luke Falk was never allowed to be comfortable during his first career start, as the Pats constantly got after him, and registered 5 sacks and 10 QB hits. Falk finished with a mere 98 passing yards, and threw an interception to Devin McCourty (where the closest Jet was 12 yards away). Dynamic running back Le’Veon Bell was utterly stifled, as he registered 18 carries for 35 yards. New York’s leading receiver was ex-Patriot Braxton Berrios who had 2 receptions for 29 yards. Jamie Collins was arguably the best player on defense today, as he pressured Falk and was effective against the run.

The Pats’ defense has given up only 3 points through 3 games, and will undoubtedly be tested as the schedule begins to become more difficult over the next few weeks.

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(Photo via Getty Images)

3. Special teams had costly miscues, and an amazing highlight!

Stephen Gostkowski missed another extra point today, with his miss coming following the Pats’ first score. He has missed 3 extra points on the season, which matches his previous career high. Gunner Olszewski was responsible for breaking the Jets’ touchdown drought in Foxborough, as he muffed a punt that was recovered for a touchdown in the third quarter. 

On the other hand, Matthew Slater reminded the NFL why he’s still the premier special teams player in the league with a remarkable effort on a punt which pinned the Jets at the one-yard line.

Special teams will need to improve its performance for the Pats to continue winning, as they cannot afford to leave points on the field.

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(Stephen Senne/AP)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 28/42 for 306 yards, and 2 touchdowns
  • Rushing: Rex Burkhead – 11 carries for 47 yards, and 1 touchdown
  • Receiving: Josh Gordon – 6 receptions for 83 yards
  • Defensive: Jamie Collins Sr. – 7 tackles (including 2 sacks)

Jets

  • Passing: Luke Falk – 12/22 for 98 yards, and 1 interception
  • Rushing: Le’Veon Bell – 18 carries for 35 yards
  • Receiving: Braxton Berrios – 2 receptions for 29 yards
  • Defensive: Brian Poole – 12 tackles

 

What’s next?: The Pats head to Buffalo, where they will take on the Bills (3-0), who are the only other undefeated team in the AFC East. Buffalo has won gritty games, with their young QB Josh Allen clearly taking a step forward over the last few weeks.

Will the Pats continue to be a source of turbulence for the Jets in Foxborough?

It has been nearly 10 years since the last time the New York Jets (0-2) won a game in Foxborough, as the Patriots have utterly dominated their long-time rival during their recent matchups in Gillette Stadium. Week 3 won’t be any easier for New York, as they bring an injury-riddled roster to the home of the champs.

Here are some things to consider entering this game.

1. What will the offense look like without AB?

Much of the conversation surrounding the Patriots’ offense in recent weeks was about the addition of mercurial wide receiver Antonio Brown who made his debut for the team during last week’s blowout victory against the Dolphins. However, due to Brown’s decision to send intimidating text messages to a woman accusing him of sexual misconduct, the Patriots opted to part ways with him on Friday.

Brown getting released just 2 days prior to the game likely throws a wrench into Josh McDaniels’ offensive game plan, as he’ll have to adjust the formations and sets he would’ve called if Brown was on the field. I’d expect McDaniels to focus on three receiver sets using Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, and Josh Gordon. The Pats’ rushing attack will likely be less effective on Sunday, as they’ll be missing their lead blocker, fullback James Develin who won’t be playing due to a neck injury. Another key issue will be depth on the offensive line, due to injuries sustained to Isaiah Wynn and Marcus Cannon.

If the offensive line is able to keep Tom Brady upright, they’ll give the Pats a great chance to win this game.

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(Photo via the New England Patriots)

2. Will the defense finally give up a touchdown?

The Patriots’ defense has been on a remarkable stretch over their last 3 games, as they haven’t given up a touchdown since the AFC Championship Game against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Remarkably, they also haven’t given up a touchdown to the Jets in Gillette Stadium since October 2015. The Jets will be playing without their starting quarterback Sam Darnold due to his bout with mononucleosis. Instead, they’ll be going up against third-stringer Luke Falk who will be making his first career start. The Pats are definitely aware of the danger Le’Veon Bell presents as a rusher and a pass-catcher, which means that their linebacking corps will likely be tasked with covering/shadowing him. Stephon Gilmore and the secondary will need to neutralise Jameson Crowder, Robby Anderson, and the rest of New York’s receivers.

Bottling up Bell, clamping down on the receivers, and pressuring Falk will put the Pats in a great position to emerge victorious.

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(Photo via Getty Images)

 

Injury Report:

Patriots

  • James Develin (neck) – Out
  • Shilique Calhoun (not injury related) – Questionable
  • Marcus Cannon (shoulder) – Questionable
  • Ryan Izzo (calf) – Questionable
  • Matt LaCosse (ankle) – Questionable

Jets

  • Sam Darnold (illness) – Out
  • Jordan Jenkins (calf) – Out
  • C.J. Mosley (groin) – Doubtful
  • Demaryius Thomas (hamstring/knee) – Doubtful
  • Quinnen Williams (ankle) – Doubtful
  • Kelvin Beachum (ankle) – Questionable
  • Josh Belamy (shoulder) – Questionable
  • Trenton Cannon (ankle/hamstring) – Questionable
  • Steve McLendon (hip) – Questionable
  • Rontez Miles (hip) – Questionable
  • Ty Montgomery (not injury related) – Questionable
  • Kelechi Osemele (knee) – Questionable
  • Brian Poole (groin) – Questionable
  • Brian Winters (shoulder) – Questionable

 

Prediction: Patriots 35, Jets 9

Here are my picks for the NFL’s other Week 3 contests.

Last week: 9-6

Dolphins at Cowboys: Cowboys

Bengals at Bills: Bengals

Lions at Eagles: Eagles

Falcons at Colts: Falcons

Raiders at Vikings: Vikings

Ravens at Chiefs: Chiefs

Broncos at Packers: Packers

Panthers at Cardinals: Panthers

Giants at Buccaneers: Buccaneers

Saints at Seahawks: Seahawks

Texans at Chargers: Texans

Steelers at 49ers: 49ers

Rams at Browns: Rams

Bears at Redskins: Bears

Miraculous Patriots dominate in Miami!

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Unlike last season’s matchup in Miami, today’s game between the Patriots and Dolphins (0-2) didn’t come down to the last play, as the Patriots cruised to a 43-0 victory, improving them to 2-0 on the season.

Here are some takeaways from this Week 2 contest.

1. Brady and the offense were efficient

The Patriots’ offense had another good performance today, as they had a well balanced attack which constantly caused problems for Miami. Tom Brady threw for 264 yards and 2 touchdowns, as he completed 20 passes to 7 different receivers. Today also marked the debut of Antonio Brown as a Patriot, and he made an impact from the get-go, as he caught 3 passes on the game’s opening drive. Brown ultimately finished with 4 receptions for 56 yards and 1 touchdown. Brown’s superior route-running was in full display, but it is obvious that he and Brady still need to work on their timing, due to a few instances of miscommunication between the duo. Julian Edelman (4 catches for 51 yards), Phillip Dorsett (3 catches for 39 yards), and Josh Gordon (2 catches for 19 yards) has relatively quiet performances, but came through when Brady needed them. Sony Michel (21 carries for 85 yards, and 1 touchdown) and Rex Burkhead (5 carries for 21 yards) combined to form an effective rushing duo, and Brady even added a rushing touchdown with his traditional quarterback sneak.

If the Pats continue to play like this on offense, they will put themselves in a great position to win more contests.

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(Lynne Sladky/Associated Press)

2. The Patriots’ defense was simply remarkable!

For the third straight game (including Super Bowl LIII), the Patriots’ defense did not give up a touchdown, as they absolutely smothered Miami’s offense. The Pats pitched their first shutout since Week 3 of the 2016 season, and were able to limit the Dolphins to 184 total yards. Stephon Gilmore and Jamie Collins led the way for the defense’s dominant performance, as both of them made life difficult for Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen. Gilmore forced an interception in the third quarter, when he tipped a ball into Devin McCourty’s hands, and also had a 54 yard pick-six in the fourth quarter when he read Fitzpatrick’s eyes on a 3rd & 2 play. Collins had his own pick-six on the following Miami possession when he snagged a ball juggled by Dolphins HB Kalen Ballage with one hand en route to a 69 yard touchdown. He also picked off Rosen on the game’s final play, hence securing the shutout. The Pats hit Miami’s quarterbacks 12 times and also had 7 sacks. Kenyan Drake haunted the Patriots last year with his speed during the Miami Miracle, but he was rendered non-existent today, finishing with under 50 total yards from scrimmage.

The Patriots’ defense has proven to be the team’s superior unit over the last two weeks, and will definitely solidify themselves as one of the NFL’s best units if they continue to play like this.

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(Photo via Getty Images)

3. Stephen Gostkowski had a dreadful performance

Stephen Gostkowski has typically been reliable for the Patriots over the years, but he was dreadful today, with 1 missed field goal and 2 missed extra points. Ironically, he missed kicks on the same day as other prominent kickers such as Adam Vinatieri, Dan Bailey, and Matt Prater.

Gostkowski’s job is clearly not in jeopardy, but he will need to turn it around for the Patriots to succeed as the season progresses. 

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(Matt Stone/Boston Herald)

 

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 20/28 for 264 yards, and 2 touchdowns
  • Rushing: Sony Michel – 21 carries for 85 yards, and 1 touchdown
  • Receiving: Antonio Brown – 4 receptions for 56 yards, and 1 touchdown
  • Defensive: Jamie Collins – 5 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 1 touchdown

Dolphins

  • Passing: Josh Rosen: 7/18 for 97 yards, and 1 interception
  • Rushing: Kenyan Drake – 6 carries for 19 yards
  • Receiving: Preston Williams – 4 receptions for 63 yards
  • Defensive: Jerome Baker – 12 tackles

 

What’s next?: The Patriots will host their hated rival, the New York Jets (0-1), who will be missing their starting quarterback Sam Darnold due to his mononucleosis diagnois. It will be interesting to see if Antonio Brown will be on the Pats’ roster next week, as the NFL will be meeting with the woman who accused him of sexual assault in the coming days, and Roger Goodell has reportedly not ruled out putting Brown on the league’s exempt list if necessary.

Will the Patriots finally overcome their struggles in South Beach?

Even though the Patriots were dominant during their Week 1 rout of Pittsburgh, they should be extremely cautious entering tomorrow’s divisional matchup against the lowly Miami Dolphins (0-1), due to their historic struggles in Hard Rock Stadium. The Patriots have lost 5 of their last 6 games in Miami, with their last win coming in 2016.

Here are some things to consider entering tomorrow’s game.

1. Who will win the matchup between Josh McDaniels and Brian Flores?

The Dolphins defense was dreadful against Baltimore in Week 1, as they surrendered 59 points to the Lamar Jackson-led Ravens. Most surprisingly, Jackson threw for over 300 yards and 5 touchdowns, and was able to silence his critics who felt that he would never succeed as a passer in the NFL. Due to Baltimore’s performance, most pundits expect the Patriots to light up the scoreboard in Miami, which is a claim I am skeptical of. Don’t get me wrong, adding Antonio Brown to the offense that scored 33 points against the Steelers should make Patriots fans excited about playing a dreadful Dolphins defense, but there is one key factor that cannot be ignored. Miami’s new head coach is Brian Flores, who was a member of the Pats’ staff from 2004 to 2018, including one season as the team’s primary defensive play-caller. Flores was the architect (along with Bill Belichick) of the game plan that limited the Rams to 3 points in Super Bowl LIII, and clearly has a great understanding of the way Josh McDaniels, Tom Brady, and the offense operate. Belichick and the Patriots have always struggled against his ex-pupils, which makes this matchup even more intriguing.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Brady and the offense have a great performance, but the presence of Brian Flores on the other sideline may make this matchup tighter than people expect it to be.

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(Photo via Getty Images)

2. Can the Pats’ defense shut down Miami’s offense?

It wasn’t pretty the last time the Patriots’ defense took the field in Miami, as they gave up a 69-yard multi-lateral touchdown to Miami on the last play of the game now known as the ”Miracle in Miami”. The defense has clearly improved since that fateful day in December, becoming more stout against both the run and the pass. On the other hand, Miami’s offense had a terrible outing in Week 1, as they only mustered 10 points against the dominant Ravens defense. Both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen struggled at quarterback, with the Dolphins rushing attack also being rendered non-existent. Once again, the Patriots’ effective performance against Pittsburgh doesn’t necessarily guarantee an easy win against Miami, due to the fact that their former wide receiver’s coach, Chad O’Shea, is now the Dolphins’ offense coordinator. O’Shea’s familiarity with the Patriots’ system may enable him to find some chinks in their armor, which is something Belichick and Jerod Mayo will need to be cognizant about.

At the same time, I feel like the Patriots’ defense will have the ability to dominate this game if they continue to smother the opposing offense’s weapons, while applying effective pressure on the quarterback.

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(Photo via NBC Sports)

Injury Report:

Patriots

  • Marcus Cannon (shoulder) – Questionable
  • Matt LaCosse (ankle) – Questionable
  • Brandon Bolden (hamstring) – Out

Dolphins

  • Charles Harris (wrist) – Questionable
  • Trent Harris (foot) – Questionable
  • Bobby McCain (shoulder) – Questionable
  • Daniel Kilgore (shoulder) – Questionable
  • Reshad Jones (ankle) – Out
  • Albert Wilson (hip/calf) – Out
  • Walt Aikens (shoulder) – Not listed

 

Prediction: Patriots 27, Dolphins 14

Here are my picks for the NFL’s other Week 2 games (excluding Thursday Night Football)

Cardinals at Ravens: Ravens

Chargers at Lions: Chargers

Colts at Titans: Titans

49ers at Bengals: Bengals

Jaguars at Texans: Texans

Vikings at Packers: Vikings

Cowboys at Redskins: Cowboys

Seahawks at Steelers: Steelers

Bills at Giants: Bills

Chiefs at Raiders: Chiefs

Saints at Rams: Rams

Bears at Broncos: Bears

Eagles at Falcons: Eagles

Browns at Jets: Browns

The Pats flatten Pittsburgh on Sunday Night Football!

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The Patriots once again showed that they are still amongst the NFL’s elite with a 33-3 drubbing of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Pats were dominant on both sides of the ball, and also thoroughly out-coached the Steelers.

Here are some takeaways from yesterday’s game.

1. Gordon and Dorsett lead the way for the offense!

Entering this season, wide receiver was one of the major question marks for the Patriots, but last night dispelled those doubts, due to the brilliant performances of Josh Gordon, Philip Dorsett, and Julian Edelman. Gordon’s first catch of the season was a awe-inspiring 20-yard touchdown, where he broke through multiple tackles en route to the end zone. Gordon followed that up with an amazing 44-yard reception down the field where he absorbed a brutal hit while corralling the ball. Phillip Dorsett finished the night with 2 touchdowns, including a 58-yard score, where he was completely wide open down the field. Julian Edelman was his usual reliable self, as he consistently got open to serve as Tom Brady’s safety blanket. Edelman also helped provide a spark with his arm, when he perfectly executed a double pass to James White.

The Patriots have demonstrated over the years that they have no issue changing their offensive identity, and last night was no different. New England primarily depended on their passing attack, as the team’s stable of running backs combined for only 99 yards.

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(Photo via SI)

2. Tom Brady was effective as per usual

Tom Brady started off the game erratic, with several misthrows that derailed the Patriots’ first drive. Following Edelman’s double throw, Brady got back into routine, as he proceeded to dissect the Steelers defense for 341 yards and 3 touchdowns. A major factor for Brady’s brilliant performance was the offensive line, who only gave up one sack despite the season-long absence of center David Andrews and the injury of OT Marcus Cannon. Most importantly, LT Isaiah Wynn was spectacular at covering Brady’s blindside in his professional debut.

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(Photo via SI)

3. The defense absolutely suffocated Pittsburgh’s offense

Yesterday was the third straight game where the Patriots shut out their opponent in the first half. Ben Roethlisberger was never allowed to be comfortable, as the Patriots were able to apply constant pressure on him. In addition, New England’s corners clamped down on Pittsburgh’s receivers, with Stephon Gilmore winning his matchup against Juju Smith-Schuster. Donte Moncrief was targeted a team-high 10 times, but only managed 3 catches for 7 yards. The Steelers’ lone offensive highlight was a 45 yard pass to James Washington. The Patriots also completely neutralized Pittsburgh’s rushing attack, as James Connor only managed 21 yards off of 10 carries.

Continuing to perform like this will solidify the Pats defense as one of the NFL’s best units.

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(Photo via CBS Sports)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady- 24/36 for 341 yards and 3 touchdowns
  • Rushing: Rex Burkhead- 8 carries for 44 yards
  • Receiving: Phillip Dorsett- 4 receptions for 95 yards and 2 touchdowns
  • Defensive: Jason McCourty- 7 tackles

Steelers

  • Passing: Ben Roethlisberger- 27/47 for 276 yards and 1 interception
  • Rushing: James Connor- 10 carries for 21 yards
  • Receiving: Juju Smith-Schuster- 6 receptions for 78 yards
  • Defensive: Devin Bush- 11 tackles

 

What’s next?: The Patriots will head down to Miami for the first time since the ‘Miami Miracle’, where they’ll take on a lowly Dolphins team (0-1) that gave up 59 points in a loss to the Ravens. This game should also mark the debuts of Antonio Brown and Demaryius Thomas as Patriots. In addition, Kyle Van Noy will likely make his season debut, as he missed yesterday’s game due to the birth of his first child.

The Steel Curtain descends upon Foxborough!

Later today, the Patriots open their 2019-20 campaign against their longtime rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football. This game will be extra special, as the Pats will be commemorating their win in Super Bowl LIII by unveiling their sixth championship banner. Last season’s matchup in December featured Pittsburgh emerging victorious in a defensive slugfest.

Here are a few things to consider entering tonight’s contest.

1. Can the Pats defense contain the run?

During last year’s matchup, Pittsburgh’s main running back, James Connor, was inactive due to injury, but the Steelers didn’t miss a beat on the ground, with then-rookie Jaylen Samuels shredding New England for 142 yards off of 19 carries. The Patriots’ defensive line was porous throughout that game, due to Pittsburgh’s offensive line dominating the line of scrimmage. Fortunately for the Pats, their defense has been much more stringent against the run since the last time these two teams played, with effective rushers such as Melvin Gordon and Todd Gurley being limited during the 2019 playoffs. I believe that the Patriots’ linebacker corps, including Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, and Jamie Collins will play a big role in determining if the team will be successful in hindering the effectiveness of Pittsburgh’s rushing attack.

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(Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports)

2. Who will win the chess-match between Bill Belichick and Big Ben?

Last year’s matchup wasn’t overly successful for Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ passing attack, as both JuJu Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown failed to eclipse 50 yards. In addition, Big Ben threw two interceptions, which helped keep the Pats in the game. However, the Patriots could not come up with a stop when necessary, hence enabling Pittsburgh to finish them off. Tonight’s contest will look entirely different, as Pittsburgh no longer has Brown on their roster, which will likely result in Bill Belichick opting to use Stephon Gilmore against Smith-Schuster. The Steelers also feature James Washington and Donte Moncrief at receiver, who will likely be matched up against J.C. Jackson and Jason McCourty. 

If the Patriots’ secondary is able to clamp down on Pittsburgh’s receivers, they will give themselves a great opportunity to open their season with a victory.

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(Photo via the Boston Herald)

3. Can TB12 and the offense sustain drives against the Steelers defense?

The Patriots were utterly anemic against Pittsburgh’s stifling defense last year, with their lone highlight coming on a 63-yard touchdown pass to former Patriot Chris Hogan. Other than that, the Pats struggled to sustain drives, as they constantly squandered opportunities, and undermined their own momentum with numerous penalties. To add insult to injury, Tom Brady did not have a great performance, as he was constantly under pressure, and also made a crucial mistake late in the game when he threw an interception during an important fourth quarter drive. Despite their uninspiring performance, the Patriots had a chance to tie the game late, but Brady threw three straight incompletions to seal their loss.

This season’s offense should look quite different from the last year’s, as the Patriots have shifted towards a more run-based attack, featuring Sony Michel and James White. When it comes to the passing attack, the Pats bring back Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, and Phillip Dorsett, while adding ex-Texan Demaryius Thomas and undrafted rookie Jakobi Meyers. Having a well-balanced attack, and keeping Brady upright will give the Patriots a great chance to emerge victorious.

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(Photo via NBC Sports)

Injury Report:

Patriots

  • Matt LaCosse (ankle) – Questionable
  • Obi Melifonwu (ankle) – Questionable
  • Demaryius Thomas (hamstring) – Questionable

Steelers

  • Sean Davis (ankle) – Doubtful
  • Mark Barron (Coach’s Decision) – Not listed

 

Prediction: Patriots 27, Steelers 20

 

Bonus:

1. Check out the Super Bowl champions patch the Pats will be wearing tonight!

2. Ex-Steeler and newly-signed Patriot Antonio Brown will be attendance tonight.

Antonio Brown signing with the Patriots

In a shocking turn of events, the Patriots are signing newly released wide receiver Antonio Brown whose antics in Oakland wore out the patience of Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock.

Here are the details of Brown’s contract, as detailed by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

I’d like to caution Patriots fans from being overly excited about this news, as Brown’s actions over the last month, including his helmet fiasco and his near-altercation with Mayock have proven that he requires a short leash in order to be successful. Brown’s arrival in Oakland was celebrated by the Raiders organization and their fans, and it clearly blew up in their faces due to his unwillingness to be responsible and behave like a professional.

At the same time, the prospect of Antonio Brown being alongside Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, N’Keal Harry and the rest of the offense is tantalizing to say the least. I’m hopeful that the leadership structure of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will be enough to rein Brown in, as Belichick has proven that he won’t take insubordination from anyone, regardless of their talent, while Brady and Brown have shown mutual respect towards each other over the years. This transaction reminds me of several Patriots’ additions over the years. For instance, their addition of Randy Moss in 2007, an ex-Raider receiver with a troubled reputation who was able to resurrect his career during his brief stint in New England. It is also similar to the Pats signing Darrelle Revis in 2014 who came from the hated Jets on a one-year contract, en route to emerging victorious in Super Bowl XLIX. Other examples of controversial additions that worked out are James Harrison and Aqib Talib who were able to contribute to successful Patriot teams.

In the end, Brown’s chances of succeeding in Foxborough is contingent on his ability to buy into the Patriot Way. Respecting the organization and fans of New England would go a long way in rebuilding his tarnished image, which would allow him to cash in next off-season.

News Roundup: Captain America calls out Brady, Belichick’s defense, & more!

Here are some of the latest headlines in the world of the Patriots.

1. Chris Evans threatens to ‘cut ties’ with Tom Brady 

Over the last few years, ‘Captain America’ star Chris Evans has made his diehard fandom for the Patriots (and Tom Brady in particular) quite evident, with frequent mentions on his social media pages or on talk shows. However, in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Evans said that he is considering cutting ties with Brady, due to the quarterback’s alleged support for President Donald Trump. I don’t expect Brady to respond or comment on the matter, as he has done his best to steer away from any sort of discussion on politics, due to the influence of his wife, Gisele Bündchen.

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(Photo via the Comeback)

2. Greg Schiano steps down

At the beginning of the offseason, the Patriots hired former Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano to serve as the replacement for Brian Flores. Unfortunately for the team, Schiano didn’t even make it to training camp, as he stepped down today due to a need to focus on his ‘faith and family’. Most pundits expect Bill Belichick to take on an even greater workload, and serve as the primary defensive play-caller for the 2019 season. It will be interesting to see how the defense turns out after all this upheaval.

3. The Pats are reportedly ‘showing interest’ in Josh Rosen

According to Fox Sports’ Joel Klatt, the Patriots are one of the three teams (along with the Chargers and Giants) currently showing the most interest in trading for Arizona’s embattled quarterback Josh Rosen. Klatt mentions that one of these three teams has already offered the Cardinals a second-round pick, but Arizona is holding out for a first-round pick, which they are unlikely to receive. As I have mentioned earlier, I am in favor of the Pats trading for Rosen, as I believe that acquiring him and his team-friendly contract would help the front office prepare for a post-Brady future.

4. Jerod Mayo is joining the coaching staff

Former Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo announced via Instagram that he is rejoining the team as an assistant coach.

Mayo was drafted by the Pats in the first round in 2008, and was the team’s starting middle linebacker until his retirement in 2015. Mayo’s return to the team sparked responses from current and former Patriots, such as Julian Edelman, Dont’a Hightower, Tedy Bruschi and Aqib Talib, who were clearly elated by the news.