The Pats welcome the red hot Fins to Foxborough!

It’s almost impossible to understate the importance of the Patriots’ next game, as they host the scorching hot Miami Dolphins (3-0) in Week 4. Coming off of last week’s absolute dud against the Lions, the Pats cannot afford to fall to 1-3 and 3 games off the division lead.

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

1. Matching up against Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins’ offense

The Pats’ defense’s struggles over the last two weeks has been heavily documented, as they could not defend against the run or the pass against the Jaguars and Lions, respectively. This week’s matchup against the Dolphins could either get New England’s defense back on track or set them back even further, as they face off against a revitalized Ryan Tannehill, Kenyan Drake, and the rest of Miami’s explosive offense. One of my major takeaways from last week’s game in Detroit, was that the Patriots’ secondary looked very disoriented, which enabled Matthew Stafford to easily dissect them and find his receivers. Bill Belichick and Brian Flores will need to find a way to limit the effectiveness of ex-Patriot Danny Amendola, and Kenny Stills (who has the potential to carve the Patriots down the field), as it will put extra pressure on Tannehill.

Thankfully for the Patriots, injured players Trey Flowers (concussion) and Patrick Chung (concussion) practiced earlier this week and are questionable to play today. The presence of both players would be able to reenergize the stale pass rush and secondary of the Pats. On the other hand, it was saddening to see the Pats put linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley on injured reserve, as he had been remarkable over the past few weeks.

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(Photo by Matthew Healey/ UPI)

2. Can the the Brady Bunch find its rhythm? 

It’s pretty easy to blame the Patriots’ 1-2 record on the defense, but Tom Brady & Co. haven’t really kept up their end of the bargain either, as they have constantly struggled to move the ball down the field. As mentioned in last week’s recap, it’s become increasingly easy to defend the Patriots’ offense, as doubling Rob Gronkowski enables opposing defenses to have great success, with the other Patriot wide receivers being unable to get open. It will be vital for the Patriots to get James White involved early, as he can be a key asset for both the running and passing games. Tom Brady will also need to rebound from his putrid performance from a week ago, as him being successful is vital for the Pats to win.

For those who are wondering when Josh Gordon will make his debut as a Patriot, he is questionable to play today. 

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(Photo by Matt Stone/Boston Herald)

Prediction: Patriots 27, Dolphins 19

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

Last Week: 6-9

Jets at Jaguars: Jaguars

Eagles at Titans: Eagles

Texans at ColtsColts

Bills at PackersPackers

Lions at CowboysCowboys

Buccaneers at BearsBears

Bengals at FalconsFalcons

Seahawks at Cardinals: Cardinals

Browns at RaidersBrowns

Saints at GiantsSaints

49ers at ChargersChargers

Ravens at SteelersRavens

Chiefs at Broncos: Chiefs

 

 

 

 

News roundup: Belichick, Brady & more!

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

Belichick’s hilarious interaction with a reporter:

Bill Belichick is known for his shrewd responses to the media, and yesterday was no exception. During a session with reporters, Belichick was asked about ex-Patriot Malcolm Butler’s controversial benching during the Patriots’ loss in Super Bowl LII. In typical Belichick fashion, he mentioned that he didn’t want to talk about the past, but the reporter continued to ask questions about the topic. Watch their hilarious exchange below!

Jimmy G’s comments on TB12 cause a stir:

jimmy garoppolo tom brady
(Photo by Winslow Townson/AP)

Sports Illustrated recently had a piece on Jimmy Garoppolo, which focused on his move from New England to San Francisco. One part of the article that stood out to most readers was when Garoppolo mentioned that he had to believe that he was better than Brady for him to remain competitive. Most people appeared to take his statements out of context, leading to numerous articles with the headline, “Jimmy G thinks he’s better than Brady”. 

The article also revealed that during the 49ers’ 5 game winning streak to end their season, Bill Belichick texted Garoppolo following each game.

Brady’s beach bod leads to body shaming:

TB12 recently hit the beach with his family, and photographers snapped pictures showing Brady’s beach body, which led many people on Twitter to body shame the 5 time Super Bowl champion. To the people trying to roast Brady’s offseason body, the man without ‘rock solid abs’ has utterly dominated the rest of the NFL for almost two decades and shows no signs of slowing down!

Dola continues to talk about Belichick:

Ex-Patriot receiver Danny Amendola recently made the headlines for another comment about Bill Belichick. Amendola compared Adam Gase (his current coach in Miami) and Belichick, mentioning that Gase was ‘one of the guys’, while Belichick was more like a principal. It appears as if Amendola did not have the best of relationships with Belichick during his stint in New England.

 

So long Dola!

Earlier this week, Tom Brady lost one of his most reliable targets, when Danny Amendola agreed to a 2 year contract (worth $12 million, with $8.5 million in guarantees) with the Miami Dolphins. Amendola was remarkable during the Patriots’ 2017-18 campaign, as he filled in for the injured Julian Edelman, and delivered several clutch performances.

When he was signed in 2013 to replace Wes Welker, he was ostracized by Patriots’ fans who didn’t believe that he was a worthy replacement for the shifty slot receiver. Amendola showed his worth during the 2014 season, and will always be remembered for being on the receiving end of Julian Edelman’s famous throw against the Ravens in the 2014 Divisional Round. 

jules dola throw.jpg
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

When Patriots’ fans think of Danny Amendola’s contributions, they should always look at the playoffs, where he became a dynamic threat. Who can forget his clutch performances down the line against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI, where he had several catches, including a touchdown, and the two-point conversion that sent the game to overtime. Amendola truly earned his nickname, ‘Playoff’, this year, with great performances against the Jaguars and Eagles, respectively. Amendola had several key plays in the Pats’ win over the Jaguars, including a catch on 3rd & 18, and two touchdowns that helped the Pats win the game. Amendola was also remarkable against the Eagles in the Super Bowl, as he recorded 8 catches for 152 yards. 

dola lii.jpg
(Photo by Kirt Dozier/USA TODAY Sports)

Amendola took several pay cuts over the last few years, and earned a mere $2 million for the 2017-18 season. It’s hard to be mad with him for leaving, as he finally has a contract that represents his production. 

Patriots Nation will miss you Dola!

Philly snatches the Lombardi from the Patriots in Super Bowl LII

The Patriots lost a heartbreaking contest against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII, as they fell short with a 41-33 loss. The Patriots’ bid to win back-to-back Super Bowls was thwarted by a brilliant performance from Nick Foles, and a game-changing strip sack of Tom Brady with just over 2 minutes to play.

Here are a few takeaways from yesterday’s game.

1. How much more can Tom Brady do?

Tom Brady had a excellent performance against the Eagles, as he threw for over 500 yards (a new Super Bowl record) to go along with 3 touchdowns. Brady was able to dissect the formidable Eagles defense, allowing the Patriots to stay in the game. However, two plays are going to define Brady’s performance in this Super Bowl. Early in the first half, the Patriots opted to try some trickery, as Danny Amendola lofted the ball to TB12, who was unable to corral it on third down. This led to the Pats going for it on fourth down, and giving the ball back to Philadelphia.

The play of the game came with just over 2 minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Pats had just surrendered a touchdown, giving Brady the ball back with a chance to win the game. Brady calmly completed his first pass getting the Pats the 38-yard-line. It appeared as if Brady was going to work his magic again, and win his sixth ring in the process. However, on the next play, Brandon Graham got after his fellow Michigan alum, and forced a fumble that his teammates were able to recover. The fumble gave Philly great field position to milk the clock and extend their lead.

Brady was let down by both his defense and his offensive line, as he had to constantly play from behind, and deal with constant pressure at the same time. He was only sacked one time, but it happened at the worst possible time.

tb lii.JPG
(Photo by Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

2. The Patriots’ receivers came up big

Tom Brady and his weapons kept up their end of the bargain throughout the game, with Rob Gronkowksi, Danny Amendola, and Chris Hogan having monster games. Amendola had 8 catches for 152 yards, Hogan had 6 catches for 128 yards and a touchdown, while Gronk had 9 catches for 116 yards and 2 touchdowns. It is really disheartening to see such great performances in a loss, but at the same time, you can never say that the Patriots didn’t do their absolute best to claw their way back into this game.

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(Photo by Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports)

3. The Patriots’ defense was terrible

The Patriots’ defense picked the worst time possible to have their worst performance of the year, as they were thoroughly ripped apart by Nick Foles and the Eagles’ offense. They could not get off the field on third down, and also gave up two critical fourth down conversions, with one of them coming on Philly’s side of the field on their game-winning drive. They only forced one point and couldn’t sack Foles.

Other than Stephon Gilmore, the Pats’ secondary struggled heavily, with Eric Rowe giving up several long plays, including a 34-yard touchdown to Alshon Jeffery, and Devin McCourty not being able to cover Zach Ertz on both a crucial fourth down conversion and the game-winning touchdown. The most puzzling aspect of the game was that Matt Patricia opened up the game with Rowe covering Jeffery, which was a matchup that the Eagles exploited on several occasions. Moving Gilmore onto Jeffery earlier would have limited the damage in the first half.

Another mystery of the game was that Malcolm Butler didn’t play a single defensive snap, with Rowe replacing him as a starter. No one knows why Butler was benched, and the Patriots were very cryptic with their responses to the question. However, two things are very clear about Butler’s situation. Having Butler in the lineup would have definitely helped the secondary, and this was probably the last time we saw the Super Bowl XLIX hero in a Patriots uniform.

The Patriots’ bizarre game plan on defense, and their inability to stop the Eagles during crucial situations clearly cost them the game, and also wasted a historic performance by the Patriots’ offense.

nick foles lii.jpg
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

4. Special team woes hurt the Patriots

It was also a rough night for the Patriots’ special teams unit, as several miscues cost the Patriots points that would have been useful towards the ending of the game. With the Patriots trailing 9-3 in the second quarter, they opted to go for a field goal on 4th & 1 from the Eagles’ 8-yard-line, but their efforts were derailed when long snapper Joe Cardona had an errant snap. Stephen Gostkowski was still able to rush the kick, but it hit the left uprights. Gostkowski also missed an extra point later on in the second quarter.

gostkowski miss lii.jpg
(Photo by Tony Gutierrez/AP)

 

The Blitz for Six!

The Patriots have the opportunity to win their sixth Super Bowl later on today, when they take on the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII. Everything the Pats have worked for over the last seven months culminates tonight in Minneapolis. 

Here are a few things to think about entering the big game.

1. TB12 vs the Eagles’ pass rush

How do you stop Tom Brady? 

That is a question that has haunted defensive coordinators ever since 2001. Brady has demonstrated an uncanny ability to dissect opposing defenses,  but enough pressure in Brady’s face can really derail the Pats offense. This game plan was utilized by the 2007 and 2011 iterations of the New York Giants, along with the 2015 Denver Broncos, and enabled them to beat Brady in the playoffs.

In the AFC Championship Game, the Pats squared off against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who boasted an incredible pass rush (known as ‘Sacksonville’) and the ability to get after the quarterback with only 4 pass rushers. Brady was rattled early on, but eventually got the Patriots back in the game during the 4th quarter. Philadelphia’s defense is similar to Jacksonville’s, as they have athletic pass rushers who can get after TB12. To be successful, the Patriots’ offensive line needs to ensure that Brady has enough time to work his magic an dissect the Eagles’ secondary. 

tb v eagles.jpg
(Photo by David Butler II/ USA TODAY Sports)

2. Stopping Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount

The Patriots defense has improved against the run as of late, demonstrated by their efforts against two powerhouse backs in Derrick Henry and Leonard Fournette (both rushers combined for just around 100 yards). This week their task won’t get any easier as they take on Philly’s incredible duo of running backs. LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi are both familiar foes for the Patriots (as Blount was a longtime Patriot and Ajayi used to play for Miami). Blount’s running style is similar to Derrick Henry’s, as they are both behemoths who prefer to run over their opponents. The Patriots should be able to neutralize him at the line of scrimmage.

However, Jay Ajayi may prove to be a headache for the Pats’ defense, as they have struggled against speedy running backs recently. To be successful, they will need to get past Philly’s dominant offensive line and be physical with Ajayi. One thing that should make the Patriots confident while going up against Ajayi is that he has not had much success against them in the past (totaling 75 yards in 3 games).

Miami Dolphins vs New England Patriots
(Photo by Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

3. Making Nick Foles uncomfortable

Nick Foles has been one of the most inconsistent quarterbacks in the NFL over the last 5 years, with him emerging in Philly back in 2013 and falling off the map in St. Louis in 2014. Foles re-signed with the Eagles in the offseason, and was thrust back into the spotlight when Carson Wentz tore his ACL against the Rams. Foles’ inconsistency has continued this season, with him following up great games with mediocre performances. 

Foles had flashes of his 2013 season during the Eagles’ dominant win over the mighty Minnesota Vikings, with him shredding the NFL’s best defense. To be successful, the Patriots will need to get after Foles, and force him to make mistakes while under duress. Knowing Bill Belichick, he will attempt to take away Philly’s rushing attack and make Nick Foles win the game with his arm. 

Luckily for the Patriots, Foles has usually followed up his great games with terrible performances. However, Belichick and his staff would have definitely have given Foles the respect he deserves when watching film and crafting their game plan. 

nick foles v pats.jpg
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

4. Unleashing the Gronk!

The Patriots were lucky to win the AFC title game without Gronk playing in the second half due to a concussion. Fortunately for them, he will be ready to go today and wreak havoc against the Eagles. It is impossible to judge Gronk’s importance by just looking at his stats, as his mere presence on the field draws at least 2 defenders, and enables receivers such as Danny Amendola to find holes in the defense. Philly has been mediocre against tight ends this year, which may give Gronk the opportunity to take over the game. Expect #87 to be matched up with safety Malcolm Jenkins, who has been excellent so far this year. If Gronk is able to have a great game, the Pats will have a great chance of fetching their sixth title.

gronk v eagels .jpg
(Photo by Jim Mahoney)

Prediction: Patriots 27, Eagles 21

The Pats slay the Jags to advance to Super Bowl LII!

Team 1 2 3 4 T
JAX 0 14 3 3 20
NE 3 7 0 14 24

What a comeback!

The Patriots secured a berth in Super Bowl LII, with their heart-stopping triumph over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Pats overcame a 20-10 fourth quarter deficit with 2 Danny Amendola touchdowns to stamp their tickets to Minnesota with a 24-20 victory.

Here are a few takeaways from yesterday’s game.

1. Tom Brady is the GOAT

TB12 had another vintage playoff performance, but to do so, he had to overcome the mysterious injury to his right hand. Brady’s hand didn’t appear to impact his throws, and he sported some black tape over his thumb. The Pats got off to a quick start on their opening drive, but didn’t have any worthwhile drives until the ending of the first half. Brady was constantly harassed by Jacksonville’s dominant pass rush, who got after him and forced him to rush his throws. Brady shook off his shaky start, and got to work in the fourth quarter. As he has done several times before in the playoffs, Brady was able to lead the Patriots to victory by thoroughly dissecting Jacksonville’s vaunted secondary with a variety of trick plays at his disposal. Brady’s clutch performance gives him a chance of winning his sixth Super Bowl on February 4th.

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(Photo via Getty Images)

2. ‘Dola and Cooks step up in Gronk’s absence

The Patriots’ chances of mounting a comeback appeared to be bleak when Rob Gronkowski was knocked out of the game with a concussion after being smacked by Jacksonville’s Barry Church. Luckily, TB had Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola step up in Gronk’s absence. Cooks had 6 catches for 100 yards, and also drew several defensive pass interference calls which moved the Pats down the field. Danny Amendola has been one of the Patriots’ most unheralded receivers for the last few years, but it is absolutely impossible for anyone to discount his impact during the Pats’ last few Super Bowl runs. Amendola took over the game in the fourth quarter, with a clutch punt return to give the Patriots prime field position, and he also corralled 7 catches for 84 yards. Amendola had 2 touchdown catches, including a breathtaking toe-tapper to give the Patriots a lead they would never relinquish. Amendola’s ability to come up with plays in the clutch will be vital for the Patriots to have a chance of winning the Super Bowl.

dola td vs jags.jpg
(Photo by Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports)

3. No one is better at making defensive adjustments than Bill Belichick

At halftime, it appeared as if the Patriots were already on the ropes, as Jacksonville appeared to be able to drive down the field without any resistance due to their reliance on chunk plays and their clever usage of play action passes. The frequency of rushing plays and play action passes made it extremely difficult for the Patriots to guess if Jacksonville was running or passing the ball. This allowed the Jaguars to gain easy yards, and keep their drives alive. Blake Bortles had the game of his life in the first half, as he easily carved up the Pats’ defense.

In the second half, Belichick had more men near the line of scrimmage, ensuring that Leonard Fournette would not have a hole to run through. Belichick and Matt Patricia dared Bortles to beat them from the pocket, but Jacksonville’s lack of faith in their quarterback showed in the second half, as they had several questionable play calls which doomed their drives. The Pats were also able to get after Bortles in the fourth quarter, with Trey Flowers and the veteran James Harrison making his life difficult. Harrison also had a strip sack on Jacksonville’s last drive, which derailed the momentum they had gained over the previous few plays. Jacksonville’s last offensive play took place on a 4th & 14, when Bortles lobbed a pass towards Dede Westbrook, hoping that the receiver could catch the ball to keep their season alive. However, the Patriots’ maligned free agent signing Stephon Gilmore jumped up and swatted the ball to the ground. Gilmore has been criticized by fans and pundits alike due to his inconsistent play throughout the season, but has been quietly making plays to help win games. Gilmore finally proved that he was worth the $65 million the team invested in him by helping them to advance to the Super Bowl.

gilmore vs jags.jpg
(Photo by Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

4. Gronk’s health

Rob Gronkowski was expected to have a great impact on yesterday’s game, with the media wondering how the vaunted Jags defense would deal with the transcendent tight end. However, Gronk was a non-factor in the game, catching 1 pass for 21 yards, and was knocked out of the game with a concussion after colliding with Barry Church. Gronk being injured in the AFC title game clearly brings up bad memories from 2011, when he injured his ankle against the Baltimore Ravens, and was clearly hobbled during the loss in Super Bowl XLVI. Thankfully, Gronk should be cleared from the concussion protocol sometime in the next two weeks, and give TB another weapon to add to his arsenal for the Super Bowl.

gronk injury vs jags.jpg
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

 

What’s next: The Patriots will take on the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII, which is a rematch of 2004’s Super Bowl XXXIX,  where the Patriots emerged victorious against the Donovan McNabb and the Eagles to secure their third Super Bowl in 4 years with their 24-21 victory. Ironically if the Patriots win on February 4th, it will be second time they win three titles in four years.