Music City Blues!: Pats get pounded by the Titans

TEAM

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TEN 17 7 3 7 34

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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.

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(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.

Clashing with the Titans!

This Sunday, the Patriots head down to Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans (4-4) in a rematch of last year’s AFC divisional round game. The Pats enter this contest at 7-2, with hopes of keeping pace with the conference-leading Chiefs.

Here are some things to consider entering this Week 10 matchup.

1. The offense faces a tough matchup in Tennessee

The Patriots’ offense has really found its rhythm in recent weeks, as they’ve figured out a way to shuffle their personnel in order to make up for injuries (specifically Rob Gronkowski and Sony Michel). Tom Brady has been able to rely on the duo of Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon to move the ball down the field and the running back combination of James White and Cordarrelle Patterson has proven to be extremely potent for the team.

This week’s matchup will be challenging as they take on the NFL’s top scoring defense in the Titans, who have a swarming defensive line and a great group of linebackers. For the Pats to be successful, they will need to target the Titans’ susceptible secondary.

pats titans preview
(Matthew J. Lee/Boston Globe)

2. Will the Pats’ defense continue to succeed?

The Patriots’ defense appeared to turn a corner during last week’s victory against the Packers, as they got after Aaron Rodgers and limited Green Bay to 17 points. One of the key factors in the victory was the pass rush’s ability to keep Rodgers in the pocket, with Trey Flowers and Adrian Clayborn leading the way. That will be essential to replicate this week as they face off with the mobile Marcus Mariota, who is coming off a performance in Dallas where he was able to dissect the Cowboys’ defense with his ability to run for first downs. The Pats will also need to fortify the line of scrimmage to combat the efficient combination of Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry.

Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty have also been essential cogs in the secondary’s revitalization over the last few weeks, and if they continue to play well on Sunday, the Pats will have a good chance of emerging victorious in Nashville.

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(Adam Richins/ Boston Sports Journal)

3. Facing off against ex-Patriots

The Pats will be taking on familiar faces this Sunday when they head to Tennessee. As mentioned earlier, Dion Lewis has become an essential part of the Titans’ offense, after 3 seasons with the Patriots. Lewis is not missed in New England, because James White has emerged into a true #1 back for Josh McDaniels’ offense.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Titans feature 2 ex-Patriot cornerbacks in Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan. Ryan left the Patriots following their victory in Super Bowl LI, while Butler left following the loss in Super Bowl LII. Ryan was a great contributor for the Pats, but was replaced during the 2017 off-season with the signing of Stephon Gilmore. Butler’s departure from New England was much more controversial due to him being benched during Super Bowl LII, which made several pundits question how the Pats’ secondary function without him. Bill Belichick’s decision to move on from Butler has appeared to be wise so far, as Butler has given up 7 touchdowns in 8 games.

The Titans are coached by Mike Vrabel who was a linebacker on the Patriots for 8 seasons, and won 3 Super Bowls with the team. This will be the first time Bill Belichick coaches against a former player.

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(Photo via Getty Images)

Injury Report:

Patriots

  • Trent Brown (illness) – Questionable
  • *Rob Gronkowski (ankle/knee) – Out
  • Dont’a Hightower (knee) – Questionable
  • Jacob Hollister (hamstring) – Questionable
  • Shaq Mason (calf) – Questionable
  • **Sony Michel (knee) – Will play

Titans

  • Jack Conklin (concussion) – Out
  • Dane Cruikshank (knee) – Questionable
  • Taywan Taylor (foot) – Questionable
  • Derrick Morgan (shoulder) – Questionable
  • Tajae Sharpe (ankle) – Questionable
  • Bennie Logan (knee) – Questionable

Prediction: Patriots 28, Titans 17

Here are my picks for the rest of the NFL’s Week 10 contests (excluding Thursday Night Football)

Last week: 8-4

Saints at Bengals: Saints

Falcons at Browns: Falcons

Lions at Bears: Bears

Cardinals at Chiefs: Chiefs

Redskins at Buccaneers: Buccaneers

Bills at Jets: Jets

Jaguars at Colts: Colts

Chargers at Raiders: Chargers

Seahawks at Rams: Rams

Dolphins at Packers: Packers

Cowboys at Eagles: Eagles

Giants at 49ers: 49ers

* and ** – Updated on game day based on information released by the Patriots

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. 

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(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. 

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(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.

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(Photo by Jim Mahoney)

Prediction: Patriots 27, Eagles 21

The Gash at Gillette!: Previewing the AFC Title Game

The Blitz for Six continues today at Gillette Stadium, when the Patriots take on the Jacksonville Jaguars for the right to represent the AFC in Super Bowl LII.

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

1. Will he or won’t he?

Patriots Nation had a collective heart attack earlier this week, when news broke of Tom Brady suffering a right hand injury during practice. Ever since then, the media has been heavily debating whether or not Brady will be playing in today’s game, with many pundits believing that this development proves that the Patriots were wrong to trade Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers. Although Brady did suffer a deep gash on his right hand (hence the title of today’s article), it appears as if he will be ready to go against Jacksonville.

tb injury.jpg
(Photo by Bill Sikes/AP)

2. Stopping Leonard Fournette

The Patriots defense was dominant against the run during last week’s rout of the Titans, as they limited Derrick Henry to 28 yards on the ground. Today’s task won’t be much easier, as they take on the freight train, Leonard Fournette, who demolished the Steelers for 109 yards and 2 touchdowns. Fournette took over the game in the first quarter, and would have likely had more yards if not for an ankle injury he sustained in the second quarter. To have a chance of winning, the Patriots will need to keep him contained throughout the game.

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(Photo by the AP)

3. Blake Bortles vs the Pats defense

Blake Bortles is one of the NFL’s most criticized players, as both fans and players believe that he is an overrated and ineffective quarterback. Bortles silenced most of his doubters with a surprisingly clutch game against the Steelers, as he was able to constantly lead the Jaguars down the field to close out Pittsburgh. Bortles has also demonstrated his prowess in getting out of the pocket to pick up first downs. Knowing Bill Belichick, it is obvious that the Patriots will show Bortles the respect he deserves, in order to properly understand the way in which he plays. Making Bortles uncomfortable will be essential for the Pats to have a good chance of winning today.

Blake Bortles, Tom Brady
(Photo by the AP)

4. Matchup of the day: Pats’ offense vs Jags’ defense

The most intriguing matchup of today’s game is between the Patriots’ offense and the Jaguars’ defense, as both units are the best the NFL has to offer. TB12 and his plethora of weapons will face their tallest task of the season, as they take on Calais Campbell, Jalen Ramsey, and the rest of the ferocious Jaguars defense. Jacksonville’s ability to get after the quarterback with only 4 rushers allows them to have more men in coverage, making it harder for TB12 to pass across the middle. The Patriots should rely on Gronk, and also their running backs, such as Dion Lewis, who should be able to pick on Jacksonville’s linebackers, due to their immense speed. Studying tape from Jacksonville’s contest against Pittsburgh will be really important, as Big Ben and the Steelers’ offense were able to pick apart Jacksonville’s normally unstoppable defense. TB and Josh McDaniels may have also looked at Jacksonville’s game against San Francisco, where their former protege Jimmy Garoppolo shredded the Jaguars. Finding and exploiting weaknesses in the Jaguars’ defense will be essential for victory.

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(Photo by Steven Senne/AP)

 

Prediction: Patriots 27, Jaguars 17

The Pats vanquish the Titans to advance to the AFC Title Game

 

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TEN 7 0 0 7 14
NE 0 21 7 7 35

The Patriots thoroughly dominated the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night, easily winning the divisional round contest 35-14. The Pats fell behind early, but rattled off 35 straight points to help them secure their seventh straight appearance in the AFC Championship Game.

Here are a few takeaways from yesterday’s game.

1. Brady is back!

Brady had a shaky end to the 2017 regular season, as he had several uneven performances which featured uncharacteristic mistakes by #12. Brady erupted against the hapless Titans secondary, throwing for over 300 yards and three scores. TB12 looked comfortable in the pocket, and was not sacked by Tennessee. Many pundits in the media wondered how Brady and the Pats would respond to the outside noise regarding the alleged rift between TB12 and Bill Belichick, and the 40-year-old quarterback was able to silence his doubters with a vintage performance. If Brady continues to play at this level, it will be very hard for opposing defenses to stop the Patriots.

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(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

2. The Super Bowl LI heroes strike again!

Back in last February’s Super Bowl LI, the Patriots completed a monster comeback with the help of playmakers such as Danny Amendola and James White, who scored all of the team’s points (other than 2 field goals). Both of them were back at it today, with Amendola corralling 11 catches for 112 yards, and White scoring on both a rushing and a passing touchdown. White was inactive down the stretch for the Patriots during the regular season, and his presence clearly helped the Patriots last night.

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(Photo by the AP)

3. Don’t count out the Patriots defense

Similarly to last year’s Super Bowl squad, the 2017-18 Pats’ defense has been unheralded all season, with most skeptics believing that their supposed inability to stop the run and get after the quarterback would doom them in the playoffs. The Patriots’ defense was dominant throughout last night’s game, as they sacked Marcus Mariota 8 times, and held Derrick Henry to 12 carries for 28 yards. After giving up a touchdown in the first quarter, the Pats didn’t give up a point until garbage time in the fourth quarter. If the Patriots’ defense continues to play like this, they will have a good chance of defending their title.

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(Photo by David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

What’s next: The Pats will play the winner of today’s bout between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Pats ground the Jets

The Patriots wrapped up home-field advantage for the AFC playoffs during Sunday’s bone-chilling contest against the hated New York Jets. The 26-6 victory gave the Patriots a 13-3 record for the season, and wrapped up the 2017 regular season on a high note.

Here are a few takeaways from Sunday’s game.

1. Dion Lewis continues to lead the offense

D-Lew had another brilliant game, with 93 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown, to go along with 6 catches for 40 yards and a receiving touchdown. Lewis has been absolutely dominant over the last month for the Patriots, providing the spark that the offense has needed when TB12 has been less than stellar. Lewis’ ankle-breaking moves, and tackle-breaking ferocity will definitely help propel the Pats to another Super Bowl run. 

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(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

2. The Pats’ defense had a great game

The Patriots defense carried forward its’ momentum from last week’s win over the Buffalo Bills, and didn’t give up an offensive touchdown for the second straight game. They only gave up 40 rushing yards (to 4 different rushers), and got after Bryce Petty throughout the game. Sunday also marked the debut of the former Steeler, James Harrison who had 5 tackles, 2 sacks (which occurred on the game’s final two plays), and a forced fumble which was recovered by New York. Hopefully Harrison will help ignite New England’s pass rush in the playoffs.

james harrison vs jets.jpg
(Photo by Charles Krupa/AP)

3. Looking ahead to the playoffs

As many pundits have noted, the Patriots have won their last 2 games in convincing fashion without looking very dominant on either side of the ball. This can be attributed to the injuries suffered by several of their key players. For example, the Patriots have been without Rex Burkhead (knee), Chris Hogan (shoulder), and James White (ankle), who are all important cogs in the offense. The defense has also been playing without Kyle Van Noy, and Alan Branch. Having a first-round bye will give all the injured Patriots more time to heal, and get back on the field by January 13th for the divisional round. The Patriots may also activate wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell who has been on the IR all season due to a knee injury. Mitchell was a key contributor during last season’s Super Bowl, and may help to make the Patriots’ offense more explosive. 

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Photo from the Patriots

D-Lew and the Pats run through the Bills

It wasn’t easy early on, but the Patriots eventually found their rhythm, en route to a 37-16 victory over the Buffalo Bills. The win secured a first-round bye for the Pats, and keeps them in pursuit of home-field advantage for the playoffs. 

Here are a few takeaways from Sunday’s game.

1. Dion Lewis is downright scary for opposing defenses

The Patriots entered Sunday with several injuries at the running back position, and Dion Lewis answered the call when the Patriots desperately needed him to. Lewis finished the game with 24 carries for 129 yards and a touchdown, to go along with 5 catches for 24 yards and a receiving touchdown. Despite his smaller stature, Lewis made life absolutely miserable for the Bills, by breaking tackles and leaving broken ankles in his wake. Lewis was the spark that propelled the Patriots to outscore the Bills 24-3 in the second half. If Lewis continues to play like this, it’s easy to imagine the Patriots advancing in the playoffs.

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(Photo by Nancy Lane/Boston Herald)

2. Gronk continues to dominate the Bills

Rob Gronkowski has constantly burnt his hometown Bills over the last few seasons, and Sunday was no exception. Gronk finished the game with 5 receptions for 67 yards, and a jaw-dropping one-handed touchdown grab over Micah Hyde in the second quarter. As always, Gronk was a steady safety blanket for Tom Brady, and also made his presence felt in the running game, as he was responsible for several key blocks. The Patriots will need to lean on Gronk to continue to play well down the stretch.

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(Photo by Charles Krupa/AP)

3. What’s wrong with TB12?

Tom Brady had an uneven performance against the Bills, as he had several instances where he made questionable decisions and inaccurate throws. Brady missed several open receivers, and also threw a pick-six when Bills safety Jordan Poyer jumped a route and ran 18 yards for a touchdown. This was Brady’s fifth straight game with an interception, which hasn’t happened since the 2002-03 season. Ironically, Brady followed the interception with a long touchdown drive which leveled the score at 10-10. Brady was bailed out by a dominant rushing attack led by Dion Lewis, but he won’t be so lucky in every game. For the Patriots to continue to win against dominant opponents, TB12 will need to be at his absolute best.

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(Photo by Nancy Lane/Boston Herald)

4. The defense still has areas to work on

The Patriots defense had an up-and-down performance against the Bills, with Buffalo easily advancing the ball down the field on several drives (although the Patriots did continue their bend-but-don’t-break strategy). The Patriots’ cornerback duo of Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore got beaten on several long balls, allowing Buffalo to continue their drives. Also, the Patriots continued to struggle getting off the field on third down, enabling Buffalo to keep TB12 on the bench for long stretches. However, the Patriots did have several bright spots in the game. For example, the Bills did not score an offensive touchdown, and they limited LeSean McCoy to 71 yards. They also got after Tyrod Taylor and sacked him 6 times. Malcolm Brown was an unsung hero for the Patriots, recording 6 tackles (including 1 sack), and eating up blocks. 

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(Photo by Getty Images)

Fins up!

Later today, the Patriots will take on their AFC East rivals, the Miami Dolphins. Interestingly enough, this game is only the second division game so far this year for the Pats. Tom Brady & Co. enter this game as 16-point favorites, as the Dolphins have faced a tough stretch recently.

Here are some things to look for during today’s game

1. This is the Patriots’ time to close out the division

At 8-2, the Pats currently have a 3 game lead in the AFC East. Today’s game starts an important 6 game stretch for the reigning champs, as 5 of their next 6 games come against division opponents. For sometime it appeared that the Buffalo Bills were legitimate contenders to dethrone the Pats, but several losses have them sitting at 5-5. Winning at least 3 or 4 of these games would give the Pats a great opportunity to win the division.

Brandin Cooks
(Photo by Winslow Townson/AP)

2. Can the Patriots take advantage of the ailing Dolphins?

4 straight losses has dropped Miami to 4-6, and their games have been plagued with problems on both sides of the ball. The Dolphins have been anemic on offense with Jay Cutler under center, but their backup Matt Moore hasn’t done much better. The Miami defense has also struggled recently, giving up an average of over 30 points over the last 4 games. On the flip side, both facets of the Patriots have been explosive, making this an easy matchup (on paper, of course).

dola vs miami
(Photo from Getty Images)

Taking all factors into consideration, I expect the Patriots to pull out a win against the Dolphins. Look for TB12 and the offense to pick on the lowly Miami defense.

Prediction: Patriots 35, Dolphins 14

¡Una victoria fácil!: The Patriots rout the Raiders in Mexico City

For the second straight week, the Patriots outclassed and outperformed their AFC West opponent. The Patriots routed the Oakland Raiders in Mexico City, winning the game 33-8. New England showed the 100,000-plus fans at Estadio Azteca what the golden standard of the NFL looks like.

Here are some takeaways from yesterday’s game

1. Have yourself a day Brandin Cooks!

The Patriots traded for Brandin Cooks earlier this year, forfeiting a first round pick in exchange for the talented but disgruntled playmaker. Cooks has had flashes of brilliance earlier this year (for example, Week 3’s win against the Houston Texans), but at the same time he has been wildly inconsistent. It was clear at the beginning of the season that his chemistry with Tom Brady was a work in progress, as the two often weren’t on the same page. Cooks had a monstrous day against the hapless Oakland secondary, wracking up 6 catches for 149 yards and a touchdown. An interesting fact to note is that Cooks continued his dominance over Oakland from last season, when he was a member of the New Orleans Saints. If Cooks can continue to be a reliable down-field threat for the Pats, it will make it very hard for opposing defenses.

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(Photo by Matt Stone/Boston Herald)

2. Stephen Gostowski was brilliant

Gostowski has been one of the most dependable kickers in the NFL for almost 10 years. However, this narrative changed in 2016, when Gostowski notably struggled kicking the football in several games (including Super Bowl LI). Gostowski has mostly rebounded so far this season, and was remarkable against Oakland. Gostowski went 4/4 yesterday, and his main highlight was a 62-yard field goal, which was the longest in franchise history.

AP MEXICO PATRIOTS RAIDERS FOOTBALL S FBN MEX
(Photo from USA Today Sports)

3. The Patriots’ defense continues to dominate

For the 6th straight week, the Patriots’ defense held their opponent under 17 points. The Pats’ secondary continues to play impassioned football, making it hard for the opposing quarterback to be successful. Oakland’s best pass catcher on the day was Michael Crabtree who corralled 5 catches for 51 yards. New England also forced 2 turnovers in the first half, which derailed successful drives for the Raiders. A key play for the Patriots was late in the second quarter, when Oakland was driving to cut their 14 point deficit. The Patriots forced a fumble inside the 5 yard line, giving TB12 and the offense possession with less than a minute left in the first half. The next Patriots drive resulted in Gostowski’s long field goal, giving the Patriots a 17-0 halftime lead. Although the Patriots defense performed remarkably (they didn’t give up any points until the fourth quarter), they need to work on stopping the run. Marshawn Lynch gashed them for 67 yards off 11 carries in the first half. Stopping the run needs to be a priority for the Pats, as they will face LeSean McCoy and Le’Veon Bell in the next few weeks.

New England Patriots v Oakland Raiders
 (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)