The Pats prepare for battle against the Vikings!

Tomorrow, the Patriots welcome the Minnesota Vikings (6-4-1) to Gillette Stadium in what promises to be a clash between two of the NFL’s elite talents. The Pats enter this contest with a 8-3 record and the AFC’s #2 seed, and a win on Sunday will keep them ahead of the Texans and Steelers in the playoff race.

Here are some things to consider entering this Week 13 matchup.

1. The offense is facing an aggressive defense

Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense were quite efficient during last week’s victory against the Jets, as they were able to rebound from an early deficit and dictate the pace of the game due to Sony Michel’s strong performance on the ground. The offensive line was also able to protect #12, allowing him to find targets such as Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, and Josh Gordon throughout the game.

This week’s game presents a unique matchup for the Pats, as they face off against a Vikings team they almost met in Super Bowl LII. Minnesota has had one of the NFL’s best defenses over the last few years, with a dominant pass rush leading the way. For example, the Vikings constantly got after Aaron Rodgers last week, as they limited him to 198 yards. Unfortunately for the Pats, the Vikings have been able to get after the quarterback without bringing an additional rusher, which allows them to be better prepared in pass coverage. Games such as Week 2 at Jacksonville and Week 10 at Tennessee have demonstrated what an effective pass rush can do to the Patriots.

The Pats will need to rely on their running game, in order to take pressure off of Brady and stretch the field with play action, which will give them a good chance of winning this game.

Julian Edelman, Harrison Smith
(Ann Heisenfelt/AP)

2. The defense is also facing a tall task

The Pats defense has had a long road throughout the season, as they’ve been able to rebound from early clunkers and have solid performances against good offenses. This week will test them again, as they face off against a talented group in the Vikings. Led by quarterback Kirk Cousins, Minnesota has been able to frequently dissect opposing defenses and put themselves in good position to win games. A major part of Minnesota’s offense is the duo of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, who are arguably the best combination of wide receivers in the league. It will be interesting to see how the Pats plan to cover Thielen and Diggs, as most teams have failed to neutralize the duo. My guess is that Stephon Gilmore will be shadowing Thielen, while Jason McCourty notches the assignment of covering Diggs. The Pats will need to be able to generate constant pressure and get after Cousins, to ensure that he’s not comfortable in the pocket. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bill Belichick and the defensive staff have looked at Minnesota’s losses against the Rams, Saints and Bears, as all 3 games have shown what an effective pass rush can do to Cousins and the offense, as they can be forced into uncharacteristic mistakes.

Another major point of emphasis will definitely be trying to stop the rushing attack led by Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray, who can shred the defense if they’re not careful.

An effective performance against a talented Vikings offense will be huge for the Patriots as they enter the home stretch of the season.

VIKINGS OFFENSE W13P.jpg
(Bruce Kluckhohn/AP)

Injury Report:

Patriots

  • Dwayne Allen (knee) – Out

Vikings

  • Chad Beebe (hamstring) – Out
  • David Morgan (knee) – Out
  • Stefon Diggs (knee) – Questionable
  • Xavier Rhodes (hamstring) – Questionable
  • Mackenzie Alexander (knee) – Questionable
  • Brandon Zylstra (foot) – Questionable

 

Prediction: Patriots 28, Vikings 24

Here are my predictions for the rest of the NFL’s Week 13 contests.

Last week: 8-4

Panthers at Buccaneers: Panthers

Ravens at Falcons: Ravens

Bears at Giants: Bears

Bills at Dolphins: Dolphins

Colts at Jaguars: Colts

Browns at Texans: Texans

Broncos at Bengals: Broncos

Rams at Lions: Rams

Cardinals at Packers: Packers

Chiefs at Raiders: Chiefs

Jets at Titans: Titans

49ers at Seahawks: Seahawks

Chargers at Steelers: Steelers

Redskins at Eagles: Eagles

Balanced Pats fly past the Jets!

TEAM

1

2

3

4

T

NYJ 7 3 3 0 13

NE

7 3 10 7 27

The Patriots had a messy win today against the New York Jets (3-8), as they triumphed 27-13 over their longtime rivals to move to 8-3 on the season. Despite of a bevy of penalties, the Pats used a balanced offensive attack in order to pull away from the Jets in the second half, and improved to the #2 in the AFC with Pittsburgh’s loss in Denver. 

Here are some takeaways from today’s victory.

1. Michel and White lead the way for the offense!

Sony Michel and James White collaborated for a dynamic performance today, as they combined for over 200 yards on the ground (Michel had 133 yards off of 21 carries and a touchdown, while White had 73 yards off of 9 carries). Michel was clearly the best player on the field, as he made good use of the gaping holes provided by the offensive line and raced past hapless Jets defenders. Luckily enough for the Patriots, Michel avoided a serious injury when he was bended backwards in the third quarter during an awkward tackle, which left him writhing in pain on the field. 

If Michel and White continue to play at this level, it will be hard for opponents to stop the Patriots over the rest of the season.

micel v jets w12.jpg
(Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

2. Strong bounce-back for the passing game!

Week 11’s loss at Tennessee was especially ugly for the passing game, as Tom Brady could not get anything going due to the constant pressure coming through the middle. Today could not have been more different, as the offensive line rebounded with a great performance and gave up zero sacks against a stout Jets defensive line. Rob Gronkowski had an efficient return from injury, as he had 3 catches for 56 yards and a touchdown. Julian Edelman (4 catches for 84 yards and a touchdown), Josh Gordon (5 catches for 70 yards), and Chris Hogan (2 catches for 47 yards) also had good contributions, as they helped stretch the field for the Patriots.

This was an encouraging performance by the Pats’ passing attack, as they overcame great coverage by the Jets’ secondary to be successful throughout the game.

brady v jets w12.jpg
(Matthew J. Lee/ Boston Globe)

3. The defense had a steady performance

The Pats’ defense bounced back from Week 11 in a big way, as they clamped down on New York, and allowed only 3 points in the second half. Trey Flowers led the way for the Patriots’ pass rush, as he constantly got after Josh McCown, with 3 hits and 1 sack. Being able to get after the quarterback made it easier for the secondary to perform with confidence, with Stephon Gilmore being the clear star in the backend of the field (he only allowed 1 catch for 17 yards off of 5 targets, and had an interception). The Pats also limited Isaiah Crowell to 30 yards off of 6 carries on the ground. 

The defense still has room to improve, but this was definitely a step in the right direction.

mccown w12.jpg
(Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

4. Are penalties an area of concern for the Pats?

The Pats definitely had a messy performance against the Jets, as they were called for 11 penalties that resulted in 105 yards. This was out of character for the Patriots, as Bill Belichick is known for preparing his team to avoid such mistakes. Constant penalties allowed the Jets to stay in the game, as Patriot drives were halted, while New York drives were extended.

The Patriots played well enough to overcome their messy performance, but they will not be so lucky if they continue to be penalized like this.

NFL: Houston Texans at New England Patriots
(Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 20/31 for 283 yards, and 2 touchdowns
  • Rushing: Sony Michel – 21 carries for 133 yards, and 1 touchdown
  • Receiving: Julian Edelman – 4 catches for 84 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Defensive: Patrick Chung – 13 tackles

Jets

  • Passing: Josh McCown – 26/45 for 276 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception
  • Rushing: Isaiah Crowell – 6 carries for 30 yards
  • Receiving: Quincy Enunwa – 4 catches for 73 yards
  • Avery Williamson – 11 tackles

 

What’s next?: The Patriots welcome the Minnesota Vikings (5-4-1) in a game that will test them, as Minnesota features a stout defense and a talented offense.

 

 

The Patriots are Big Apple bound!

Following their Week 11 bye, the Patriots head to New Jersey to take on their hated rival, the New York Jets (3-7). The Pats hope to regain their momentum and keep pace with the Chiefs and Steelers with a win tomorrow.

Here are a few things to consider entering tomorrow’s game.

 1. The offense needs a pick-me-up performance

Tom Brady and the offense did not have a great performance during their last outing, as they were utterly stifled by the intense pass rush of the Tennessee Titans, which resulted in a mere 10 points. In order to be successful against the Jets, the Pats will need to rely on a steady balance between their passing and rushing attacks, in order to ensure that an already banged-up Brady is able to stay up right and have a great performance (the return of Shaq Mason should help in this regard). Getting Rob Gronkowski back after 2 games (and the bye week) will help elevate the passing game, as it will allow weapons such as Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon to have more separation. Rex Burkhead will also be returning (he has been on the injured reserve since Week 1), which will definitely boost the offense and reduce the burden on the primary duo of James White and Sony Michel. 

Having a good performance against the Jets will be helpful in helping the Patriots turn the corner as the season comes to an end.

pats o line
(Keith Nordstrom/AP)

2. Defensive rebound?

Just like the offense, the Pats’ defense was miserable against Tennessee, as they gave up 34 points, and could not come up with a crucial stop when it mattered. Luckily enough for them, the Jets will be playing without their rookie quarterback, Sam Darnold, and will have Josh McCown under center. The Pats will need a constant and reliable performance from their defensive line in order to ensure that they can dictate the pace of the game and force New York to play from behind. The secondary should be elevated by the debuts of rookie cornerback Duke Dawson Jr. (drafted in the second round out of Florida) and recently-signed safety Obi Melifonwu, who will help to provide some much-needed youth and speed in the backend of the field.

With games against the likes of Minnesota and Pittsburgh coming up, the Patriots’ defense needs to drastically improve to give the team a good chance of winning.

pats defense v jets w12 pre.jpg
(Al Bello/Getty Images)

Injury Report:

Patriots

  • Dwayne Allen (knee) – Out
  • Tom Brady (knee/illness) – Questionable
  • Nate Ebner (knee) – Questionable
  • Rob Gronkowski (ankle/back) – Questionable
  • Shaq Mason (calf) – Questionable
  • Sony Michel (knee) – Questionable

Jets

  • Sam Darnold (foot) – Out
  • Marcus Maye (shoulder/thumb) – Doubtful
  • James Carpenter (shoulder) – Doubtful
  • Brandon Copeland (elbow) – Questionable
  • Robby Anderson (ankle) – Questionable

 

Prediction: Patriots 24, Jets 13

Here are my picks for the rest of the NFL’s Week 12 contests (excluding their slate of games on Thanksgiving)

Last week: 9-3

Browns at BengalsBengals

49ers at BuccaneersBuccaneers

Jaguars at BillsJaguars

Raiders at RavensRavens

Seahawks at PanthersPanthers

Giants at EaglesEagles

Cardinals at ChargersChargers

Dolphins at ColtsColts

Steelers at BroncosSteelers

Packers at VikingsVikings

Titans at TexansTexans

 

 

 

Music City Blues!: Pats get pounded by the Titans

TEAM

1

2

3

4

T

TEN 17 7 3 7 34

NE

3 7 0 0 10

The Patriots’ 6-game winning streak was snapped today in Nashville, as they were routed 34-10 by the Tennessee Titans (5-4). The Pats fall to 7-3, which increases the gap between them and the AFC leading Kansas City Chiefs (9-1). Tennessee was able to outplay the Patriots in all 3 phases of the game.

Here are some takeaways from today’s loss.

1. Tennessee’s defense dominated the Brady Bunch

The Titans entered this game as the NFL’s top scoring defense, and they did not disappoint, as they limited the Patriots to a season low 10 points. Mike Vrabel and Dean Pees were able to craft a game plan to get after Tom Brady and constantly disrupt his mechanics and timing. Tennessee halted any momentum the Pats’ offensive line had had prior to today, as they were able to frequently penetrate through the middle and stifle the offense.

Julian Edelman was one of the sole bright spots for the offense, as he corralled 9 catches for 104 yards and was frequently a security blanket for Brady. Unfortunately, Edelman took a beating throughout the game, and left the game in the fourth quarter due to an ankle injury. Josh Gordon had 4 catches for 81 yards, but a finger injury suffered last week definitely affected his ability to catch, as he dropped a key pass in the first half that halted a drive that could have allowed the Patriots to tie the game early on. The rushing game was utterly non-existent for the Pats, as Sony Michel had only 31 yards (off 11 carries) in his return from injury.

The Pats need to reevaluate their offensive game plan to ensure their success as the season progresses.

offense v titanw s10.jpg
(Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

2. The defense got overwhelmed

Marcus Mariota had his best game of the season as he had 228 yards and 2 touchdowns. Mariota and Corey Davis (7 receptions for 125 yards and 1 touchdown) combined to make life miserable for the Patriots, as they were able to efficiently stretch the field at will. Following a series of remarkable performances, Stephon Gilmore had a clunker today, as he was frequently beat by Davis, and committed a few penalties.

The defense was not much better at stopping the run, as they gave up 150 yards, with Derrick Henry (11 carries for 58 yards and 2 touchdowns) and Dion Lewis (20 carries for 57 yards) leading the way for Tennessee.

It was disappointing to see the Pats take a step back on defense, but I have faith in their ability to bounce back from this.

pats defense v titansw10.jpg
(Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

3. Special teams was dreadful as well

Special teams was a disaster for the Patriots, as big kickoff returns and punt returns enabled the Titans to start drives with great field position. For example, the Titans opened the game with a 58-yard kickoff return on their way to a opening drive touchdown. At one point in the game, the Titans’ average starting field position was at the Pats’ 42 yard line, while the Pats started at their own 24.

Games such as the Pats’ Week 7 win at Chicago can show the impact of a great performance on special teams.

special teams w10.jpg
(Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports)

4. Inability to beat teams with familiar faces

2 of the Patriots’ losses this year have been at teams coached by ex-Patriots ( Week 3 at Detroit and today against Tennessee). Both games were similar, as Brady got constantly hounded, while the defense could not stop the pass or run. It appears as if Matt Patricia and Mike Vrabel are very familiar with the chinks in the Pats’ armor.

This factor makes today’s loss less concerning, even though the Pats definitely have their work cut out for them.

vrabel brady.jpg
(Photo via the AP)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 21/41 for 254 yards
  • Rushing: Sony Michel – 11 carries for 31 yards
  • Receiving: Julian Edelman – 9 catches for 104 yards
  • Defense: Kyle Van Noy – 13 tackles

Titans

  • Passing: 16/24 for 228 yards and 2 touchdowns
  • Rushing: Derrick Henry – 11 carries for 58 yards
  • Receiving: Corey Davis – 7 catches for 125 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Defense: Wesley Woodyard – 10 tackles (including 1.5 sacks)

 

What’s next?: The Pats head into their much needed bye week before heading to New York to face the hated Jets (3-7) on November 25th during Week 12.

The Pats blow past the Packers on Sunday Night Football!

TEAM

1

2

3

4

T

GB 3 7 7 0 17

NE

7 10 0 14 31

The Patriots had a complete team effort last night, as they beat the Green Bay Packers (3-4-1) 31-17 to improve to 7-2 on the season. This performance by the Pats is heavily encouraging as they enter the second half of the season.

Here are some takeaways from yesterday’s game.

1. The offensive’s creativity led them to victory

The Patriots played last night without two of their most important offensive contributors in Rob Gronkowski and Sony Michel, so Josh McDaniels had to be creative for the Patriots to have success against a tough Green Bay defense. The Patriots started out the game with a laser-quick pace as they went no-huddle on their opening drive which spanned 59 yards and resulted in a James White touchdown. Things looked dire in the second quarter when White went down with what appeared to be a knee injury, but the creativity of the Pats helped them weather through the rest of the half without their top running back. Similarly to last week’s win at Buffalo, the Pats used Cordarrelle Patterson as a running back, and Patterson did not disappoint, as he totaled 61 yards and 1 touchdown off of 11 carries. 

Tom Brady was not at his best for a majority of the game, but he did make throws when it counted. Brady finished yesterday’s game with 294 passing yards and 1 touchdown. A trick play in the fourth quarter helped the Pats gain a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish, as Brady tossed the ball to Edelman, who proceeded to loft it to White, which resulted in a 37-yard catch and run that brought the ball into the red zone and eventually gave the Pats a 24-17 lead. Josh Gordon delivered the dagger with a 55 yard touchdown that capped off his best performance as a Patriot (5 receptions for 130 yards), even though he dealt with a dislocated finger. White (6 receptions for 72 yards) and Edelman (6 receptions for 71 yards) were also important cogs in the passing game.

Continuing to play like this will be huge for the Patriots as the season progresses.

tb v pack w9.jpg
(Mathew J. Lee/ Boston Globe)

2. The defense came to play last night

The defense had arguably their best performance of the season last night as they held Aaron Rodgers and his offense to just 17 points. The Pats were able to get after Rodgers and keep him in the pocket, as they sacked him 1 time (to go along with 6 QB hits). Rodgers did not have one of his typically remarkable performances, as he did look confused/indecisive at times (due to the Pats’ pressure and coverage schemes), and he finished with 259 yards and 2 touchdowns. Other than an outstanding performance for receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, the Pats were mostly able to eliminate Green Bay’s weapons, as Davante Adams and Jimmy Graham were not very involved throughout the game. Stephon Gilmore had a great game matched up against Adams, as he only allowed 2 catches for 15 yards, which continued his great stretch of performances since the Pats’ Week 3 loss at Detroit.

The play of the game arguably came during the first play of the fourth quarter when the game was tied at 17 and it appeared as if Green Bay was going to take the lead. Lawrence Guy forced Aaron Jones to fumble and the Pats recovered, which resulted in them scoring a touchdown. On the next Green Bay drive, the Pats forced the Packers to turnover on downs, and essentially sealed the deal.

Giving up only 17 points to a potent offense and coming up clutch in the fourth quarter is huge for the Pats’ defense as they enter the latter half of the season.

aaron jones fumble.jpg
(Nancy Lane/ Boston Herald)

Statistical Leaders

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 22/35 for 294 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Rushing: Cordarrelle Patterson – 11 carries for 61 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Receiving: Josh Gordon – 5 catches for 130 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Defensive: Kyle Van Noy – 9 tackles

Packers

  • Passing: Aaron Rodgers – 24/43 for 259 yards and 2 touchdowns
  • Rushing: Aaron Jones – 14 carries for 76 yards
  • Receiving: Marquez Valdes-Scantling – 3 catches for 101 yards
  • Defensive: Antonio Morrison – 8 tackles

Bonus: The Pats wore their gorgeous Color Rush alternates for the second and final time this season.

tb arod.jpg
(Charles Krupa/ AP)

What’s next?: The Pats head down to Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans (3-4) in a rematch of last year’s divisional playoff game won by the Patriots. Tennessee features ex-Patriots such as Malcolm Butler, Dion Lewis, and Logan Ryan.

 

 

 

 

Battle of the 12’s!

This Sunday night will feature one of the premier matchups the NFL has to offer, as Tom Brady and the Patriots welcome Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers (3-3-1) to Foxborough. This will be only the second time Brady and Rodgers have faced off, with Rodgers emerging victorious in 2014.

Here are some things to consider entering this Week 9 contest.

1. How will the offense rebound?

The Patriots may have won last week’s game at Buffalo, but Tom Brady and the offense were highly inefficient for the majority of the game, as they were constantly stopped on third down by the determined Buffalo defense (until a crucial drive in the fourth quarter). Unfortunately for the Pats, they will be facing a Green Bay defense that gave the high powered Los Angeles Rams all they could handle. The Pats will likely still be without Sony Michel, who is still nursing a knee injury he suffered a few weeks ago. Relying on the trio of James White, Julian Edelman, and Josh Gordon should give the Pats a good chance to succeed against a Packers secondary that recently traded away a talented defensive back in Haha Clinton-Dix. Rob Gronkowski has been hampered in recent games, so it’ll be interesting to see how he performs against Green Bay.

gronk v pack 14.jpg
(Photo via Reuters)

2. Can the defense handle Aaron Rodgers?

As I’ve frequently mentioned in my last few posts, the Patriots defense has been heavily inconsistent throughout this season, as they’ve had both good and bad performances so far. Stopping Aaron Rodgers and his offense will not be an easy task for Bill Belichick’s defense, as his ability to throw the deep ball and extend plays outside of the pocket make him a threat to be reckoned with. On the bright side, the Pats may finally be able to have a good game against their opponent’s tight end, as they have been solid against Jimmy Graham in the past. To have a good chance of winning, the Patriots will need to be able to get after Rodgers (and contain him outside of the pocket) and shut down Green Bay’s rushing attack.

rodgers v pats presea.jpg
(Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

Injury Report

Patriots

  • Trent Brown (ankle) – Questionable
  • Marcus Cannon (concussion) – Questionable
  • Dont’a Hightower (knee) – Questionable
  • John Simon (shoulder) – Questionable
  • Sony Michel (knee) – Questionable
  • Rob Gronkowski (ankle/back) – Questionable
  • Josh Gordon (hamstring) – Questionable
  • Julian Edelman (Ankle) – Questionable
  • Cordarrelle Patterson (neck) – Questionable
  • Shaq Mason (calf) – Out

Packers

  • Geronimo Allison (groin/hamstring) – Doubtful
  • Randall Cobb (hamstring) – Questionable
  • Nick Perry (ankle) – Questionable
  • Jermaine Whitehead (back) – Questionable

 

Prediction: Patriots 34, Packers 28

Here are my picks for the rest of the NFL’s Week 9 games (excluding Thursday Night Football)

Last week: 12-2

Bears at Bills: Bears

Buccaneers at Panthers: Panthers

Chiefs at Browns: Chiefs

Jets at Dolphins: Dolphins

Steelers at Ravens: Ravens

Lions at Vikings: Vikings

Falcons at Redskins: Redskins

Texans at Broncos: Texans

Chargers at Seahawks: Chargers

Rams at Saints: Rams

Titans at Cowboys: Cowboys

 

The Pats overcome sluggish start to stomp the Bills!

TEAM

1

2

3

4

T

BUF 0 3 3 0 6

NE

3 6 3 13 25

The Patriots overcame a defensive slugfest last night, and emerged victorious in Orchard Park, as they bested the Buffalo Bills (2-6) 25-6. The Pats offense struggled for a majority of the game, as the defense and special teams led the way to another triumph over their divisional rivals.

Here are some takeaways from yesterday’s game.

1. The Patriots offense struggled to gain momentum against Buffalo

The Patriots were able to drive the ball down the field at will, but they struggled to finish off drives, as they settled for 4 field goals, before scoring their first touchdown in the fourth quarter. Tom Brady had an efficient game as he had 324 passing yards (without any touchdowns or interceptions) along with 8 rushing yards (only 3 short of 1000 career rushing yards!). Buffalo was able to constantly get after Brady, with Lorenzo Alexander and Jerry Hughes leading the way for the Bills’ pass rush. Following the injury to Sony Michel during last week’s win at Chicago, the Patriots tried to be creative with their rushing game, as they featured Cordarrelle Patterson in the backfield on several plays, with #84 rushing for 38 yards off of 10 carries. 

Julian Edelman ( 9 catches for 104 yards) and James White (10 catches for 79 yards) led the way for the passing attack, as they consistently got open whenever Brady was in trouble. The Pats also had solid contributions from Chris Hogan (2 catches for 49 yards) and Josh Gordon (4 catches for 42 yards). Rob Gronkowski had 3 catches for 43 yards, and it definitely appeared as if he was still hampered by injuries he has suffered recently.

The Patriots will definitely need to have a better outing on offense next week as they welcome the Packers, who gave the high-powered Rams fits on offense.

jules v bills w8.jpg
(Adrian Kraus/AP)

2. The defense had a solid outing

Throughout the season, the Pats defense had been described as the team’s weak link due to their inconsistent showings over the last few weeks. That narrative changed last night, as the defense carried the Pats to a win on a night when Tom Brady & Co. were not at their best. The Bills tried to attack the Pats by using the Wildcat formation on several occasions, which was mostly unsuccessful for Buffalo. The Patriots were able to limit the effectiveness of LeSean McCoy, who was limited to 13 yards off of 12 carries. The Patriots also finally won the turnover battle, as they were able to force 2 turnovers that were crucial in breaking the game open for them. Firstly, Pat Chung recovered a Derek Anderson in the third quarter that resulted in a field goal that increased the lead to 12-6. In the fourth quarter, Devin McCourty delivered the dagger, as he picked off Anderson and returned it for a 84 yard touchdown that put the game out of reach. 

If the Patriots’ defense continues to play like this, they will be hard to beat.

dev pick six v buffalo w8.jpg
(Photo via NBC Sports)

Statistical Leaders

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 29/45 for 324 yards
  • Rushing: Cordarrelle Patterson – 10 carries for 38 yards
  • Receiving: Julian Edelman – 9 catches for 104 yards
  • Defensive: Kyle Van Noy – 8 tackles (including 2 sacks)

Bills

  • Passing: Derek Anderson – 22/39 for 290 yards, and 1 interception
  • Rushing: Chris Ivory – 6 carries for 34 yards
  • Receiving: LeSean McCoy – 6 catches for 82 yards
  • Defensive: Phillip Gaines – 10 tackles

 

What’s next?: The Pats welcome Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers (3-3-1) for a Sunday Night matchup. Ironically, this is only the second matchup between Brady and Rodgers.

Monday Night in Buffalo!

The Pats travel to Buffalo this week to take on their rival, the Buffalo Bills (2-5) on Monday Night Football, with hopes of improving to 6-2 on the season. The rivalry has been rather lopsided in favor of the Pats over the last two decades… Will Monday Night be more of the same?

Here are a few things to consider entering this Week 8 matchup.

1. Will the offense continue to shine?

 The Patriots offense has been otherworldly over the last 4 weeks, as they have averaged nearly 40 points per game, while moving the ball down the field with ease. They face a perplexing opponent in the Buffalo defense, which has had its moments throughout the season. For example, they were able to shut down the potent Vikings offense, along with the brash Titans running game, while being dissected by teams like the Colts and Chargers. The Pats will be without standout rookie RB Sony Michel who suffered a knee injury during last week’s win at Chicago, and may or may not have Rob Gronkowski in the lineup, due to ankle and knee injuries. 

If Gronk sits this week, expect the Pats to rely on what worked last week in Chicago, which was using James White and Julian Edelman across the middle, while stretching the field with Josh Gordon and Chris Hogan. They probably won’t be in a shootout this week due to injuries in Buffalo’s offense, but expect the Pats to put up a lot of points.

brady v bills preview w8.jpg
(Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

 

2. Will the defense finally have a consistent outing?

 The Pats defense’s struggles over the last few weeks has been well-documented, as they have not been consistent in stopping either the run or the pass. They have been able to create turnovers (6 interceptions in the last 3 games), but at the same time, it’s hard to deny that they are extremely porous in the secondary, which makes them heavily susceptible to big plays down the field. They also suffer from an inability to stop the run consistently, as evidenced by Mitch Trubisky’s 81 rushing yards last week. 

Luckily enough for the Pats, they’re facing a Bills team that is without their top quarterback and running back (Josh Allen and LeSean McCoy, respectively), which may make it easier for them to earn a victory. The usually inept Colts defense was able to hold the Bills to 5 points last week with Derek Anderson at QB, which is an encouraging sign for the Pats defense. 

bills pats w8 previ.jpg
(Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)

 

Injury Report:

Patriots

  • Sony Michel (knee) – Out
  • Eric Rowe (groin) – Doubtful
  • Brian Schwenke (foot) – Doubtful
  • Trent Brown (ankle) – Questionable
  • Marcus Cannon (concussion) – Questionable
  • Josh Gordon (hamstring) – Questionable
  • Geneo Grissom (ankle) – Questionable
  • Rob Gronkowski (ankle/back) – Questionable
  • Dont’a Hightower (knee) – Questionable
  • Jacob Hollister (hamstring) – Questionable
  • John Simon (shoulder) – Questionable
  • Deatrich Wise (ankle/knee) – Questionable

Bills

  • Josh Allen (elbow) – Out
  • Taiwan Jones (neck) – Doubtful
  • Trent Murphy (knee) – Doubtful
  • LeSean McCoy (concussion) – Doubtful
  • Derek Anderson (back/calf) – Questionable
  • Chris Ivory (hamstring) – Questionable

 

Prediction: Patriots 28, Bills 10

Here are my predictions for the rest of the NFL’s Week 8 contests.

Last week: 12-2

Dolphins at Texans: Texans

Eagles at Jaguars: Eagles

Broncos at Chiefs: Chiefs

Browns at Steelers: Steelers

Redskins at Giants: Redskins

Seahawks at Lions: Lions

Buccaneers at Bengals: Bengals

Jets at Bears: Bears

Ravens at Panthers: Panthers

Colts at Raiders: Colts

49ers at Cardinals: Cardinals

Packers at Rams: Rams

Saints at Vikings: Vikings

 

Patriots storm into the Windy City!

On Sunday, the Patriots head to the Windy City to face Khalil Mack and the Chicago Bears (3-2), with hopes of improving to 5-2 on the season. Chicago is coming off of a demoralizing overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins, and will definitely bring their A-game against Tom Brady & Co.

Here are a few things to consider entering this Week 7 contest.

1. Brady vs Mack: Who will prevail?

The marquee matchup of this game will be between Tom Brady’s offense and Khalil Mack’s defense, with both units being considered to be among the best the NFL has to offer. Brady and the offense are coming off of a brilliant performance against the previously undefeated Kansas City Chiefs, during which they dictated the pace of the game and unrelentingly dissected the hapless Chiefs defense.  Unfortunately for the Pats, they will have to face a brilliant pass rush led by Mack, which has made a habit of getting after the quarterback and making life difficult for the offensive line. To be successful against the Bears defense, the Patriots should take a look at what Miami did last week, as backup quarterback Brock Osweiler was successful in leading the Dolphins to score 31 points. Also, Mack is still dealing with a lingering ankle injury, which may hamper his effectiveness. Look for the Patriots to use their speed at receiver and running back to take advantage of matchups against the Bears.

brady v bears 14.jpg
(Photo by Jim Davis/Boston Globe)

2. How will the Patriots defense perform?

Last week against the Chiefs, the Patriots’ defense was absolutely porous, as they gave up 31 points in the second half, which was a result of frequently busted coverages in the secondary. It’s sad for me to admit that I expect them to struggle once again this week, as they are facing off of a team that is led by Matt Nagy, who was the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator last season. Nagy has a reputation of being innovative on offense, and has definitely modeled his offense on that of the Chiefs, with the usage of dynamic running backs, athletic tight ends, and speedy wide receivers. Hopefully, Bill Belichick has come up with a game plan to deal with the Bears’ weapons, such as Tarik Cohen and Ryan Howard. One key takeaway from last week’s game is that the Patriots were able to win because they tricked Patrick Mahomes into making mistakes in the first half, and that will be essential this week when they face off against another young quarterback in Mitch Tribusky. 

howard v pats prese.jpg
(Photo via Getty Images)

Injury Report:
Patriots

  • Malcom Brown (knee) – Questionable
  • Julian Edelman (heel) – Questionable
  • Josh Gordon (hamstring) – Questionable
  • Geneo Grissom (ankle) – Questionable
  • Rob Gronkowski (ankle) – Questionable
  • Jacob Hollister (hamstring) – Questionable
  • Sony Michel (knee) – Questionable
  • Eric Rowe (groin) – Questionable
  • John Simon (shoulder) – Questionable
  • Deatrich Wise (ankle/knee) – Questionable
  • Marcus Cannon (concussion) – Questionable

Bears

  • Khalil Mack (ankle) – Questionable
  • Allen Robinson II (groin) – Questionable
  • Prince Amukamara (hamstring) – Questionable
  • Marcus Cooper Sr. (hamstring) – Questionable
  • Eric Kush (neck) – Questionable

Prediction: Patriots 34, Bears 27

Here are my predictions for the rest of the NFL’s Week 7 contests

Last week: 8-5

Broncos at Cardinals: Broncos

Titans at Chargers: Chargers

Panthers at Eagles: Panthers

Vikings at Jets: Vikings

Bills at Colts: Colts

Texans at Jaguars: Texans

Browns at Buccaneers: Browns

Lions at Dolphins: Lions

Saints at Ravens: Saints

Cowboys at Redskins: Cowboys

Rams at 49ers: Rams

Bengals at Chiefs: Chiefs

Giants at Falcons: Falcons

 

The Pats outlast the high-octane Chiefs in Sunday Night thriller!

TEAM

1

2

3

4

T

KC 6 3 17 14 40

NE

10 14 3 16 43

What a game!

Last night’s Week 6 contest between the Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs (5-1) definitely lived up to the hype, as the two teams flexed their offensive might in a game that had 83 combined points. The Pats eventually prevailed on a Stephen Gostkowski field goal that gave them the 43-40 win. 

Here are some takeaways from last night’s game.

1. The Pats offense was sensational!

A mere three weeks after looking absolutely inept on the offensive side of the ball against the Detroit Lions during a Week 3 clunker, the Patriots went toe to toe with one of the NFL’s best offenses with Tom Brady and Sony Michel leading the way. Brady was pretty unflappable throughout the game, as he had 340 passing yards and 1 passing touchdown, along with a jaw-dropping 4 yard touchdown run (only 15 yards away from 1,000 career rushing yards!). Sony Michel continued his stretch of dominance as he gashed the porous Chiefs defense for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns off of 24 carries. Michel demonstrated the quickness and agility he had at Georgia, as he was able to find his way through holes and pick up huge chunks of yardage. The Pats also enjoyed solid contributions from Julian Edelman ( 4 catches for 54 yards and 1 touchdown), Chris Hogan (4 catches for 78 yards), Josh Gordon ( 5 catches for 42 yards), and James White (6 rushes for 39 yards, and 5 catches for 53 yards). Rob Gronkowski was quiet for most of the game, but he came up clutch when the Patriots needed big plays to seal the deal. For instance, he had a huge 42-yard gain on the drive that increased their lead to 7 (which was aided by an impressive stiff arm!). On the game-winning drive, Gronk also had a 39 yard catch which put the Patriots in range to finish off the Chiefs. #87 finished with 3 catches for 97 yards).

More than anything, I would say that this game showed the mental toughness of the Patriots’ offense, as they were able to shake off losing their 15 point halftime lead, and miscues (such as Tom Brady’s fumble) and still have the ability to drive down the field at will. The Pats were able to win this game because their playmakers came up big when they were required to do so. 

gronk stiff arm vs chiefs.jpg
(Photo by Stephen Senne/AP)

2. The defense had its moments…

It’s hard to fault the Patriots’ defense for giving up 40 points, due to the explosiveness of their opponent, but the Pats were absolutely dissected by Patrick Mahomes and his assortment of weapons.

The first half was very efficient for the Pats defense, as they were able to get after Mahomes, and force him into 2 interceptions. The pressure in his face also forced him to miss wide-open receivers on what would have been sure-fire touchdowns. Limiting the Chiefs to 9 points in the first half was definitely a victory for the Patriots.

The second half was a completely different story for Mahomes and his offense, as evidenced by their opening drive, when Kareem Hunt torched the secondary for a 67-yard touchdown. To be fair to the Patriots’ defense, the next two touchdowns they gave up were not completely on them. The first one was due to a Tom Brady fumble deep in Pats’ territory, while the second one was due to a brilliant kickoff return that set them up mere yards away from the end zone. At the same time, the Pats’ secondary (especially the McCourty twins) could not seem to stop the blazing fast Tyreek Hill who burned them for 7 catches for 142 yards and 3 touchdowns. The secondary’s performance could be epitomized by Hill’s final touchdown, when he was open down the field and outran everyone in the secondary to tie the game at 40. Luckily enough for the Pats’ defense, the Pats’ offense had their back, as they used up the rest of the clock en route to a game-winning field goal.

The Pats defense should not be demoralized, but they can’t depend on the offense to score more than 40 points and bail them out every time they fail to stop their opponent. An example of this could be Super Bowl LII where both defenses struggled, with Philadelphia winning the game due to a strip-sack of Brady on what could have been a game-winning drive. 

mahomes v pats w6.jpg
(Photo via SI)

3. Playoff implications?

It’s never too early to talk about playoff implications in the NFL…

With a win last night, the Chiefs would have given themselves a great opportunity to eventually seize home-field advantage in the AFC. due to victories over the Jaguars, Steelers and the Patriots. However, due to the fact that the Patriots won last night, they will gain a head-to-head edge over the Chiefs, which will definitely come in handy if the two teams finish with the same record. 

Regardless of who finishes with the better record, it would be very entertaining to see these teams battle once more in January.

tb v chiefs w6.jpg
(Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

Passing: Tom Brady – 24/35 for 340 yards and 1 touchdown

Rushing: Sony Michel – 24 carries for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns

Receiving: Rob Gronkowski – 3 catches for 97 yards

Defensive: Trey Flowers and Elandon Roberts with 7 tackles each

Chiefs

Passing: Patrick Mahomes – 23/36 for 352 yards, 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions

Rushing: Kareem Hunt – 10 carries for 80 yards

Receiving: Tyreek Hill – 7 catches for 142 yards and 3 touchdowns

Defensive: Anthony Hitchens – 14 tackles

 

What’s next: The Pats head to the Windy City to take on Khalil Mack and the fearsome Chicago Bears (3-2)