The Pats take away Danny’s Dimes en route to a win against the Giants!

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Even though the Patriots were able to defeat the Giants (2-4) by 21 points, yesterday’s game was much tighter than the scoreboard may indicate. The 35-14 victory improved the Pats to 6-0 on the season, and has them on top of the AFC, as the conference’s only undefeated team.

Here are some takeaways from this Week 6 contest.

1. The Pats’ defense was great once again!

Facing a short-handed Giants offense definitely played into the Pats’ hands, as they were able to stifle New York for most of the game. Stephon Gilmore arguably had his most active game of the year, as Daniel Jones opted to target him 6 times, which resulted in only 1 completion for 8 yards. The other 5 passes turned out to be an interception by Gilmore, a deflected pass that was picked off by John Simon, and 3 incompletions. Duron Harmon caught the second of Jones’ three interceptions, after an effective pass rush by Danny Shelton forced an errant throw. The Pats were able to confuse Jones with their coverage, and they sacked him 1 time, along with 8 QB hits. Jones is known for being mobile, but he was limited to 8 rushing yards off of 2 carries. However, the Pats were beaten by Jones on one play, when he lofted a perfect ball to Golden Tate that resulted in a 64-yard touchdown (and the first passing touchdown for a Pats’ opponent all year). Obviously, Bill Belichick won’t be happy seeing that play on film, but there was nothing that Jonathan Jones could do on that play, as Daniel Jones beat his perfect coverage with perfect ball placement. 

The Pats’ vaunted ‘Boogeymen’ linebackers struck again yesterday, as Jamie Collins Sr. and Kyle Van Noy combined for a forced fumble that was returned for a touchdown. This score was initially ruled out of bounds, but overturned after the referees took a second look at it. Van Noy’s touchdown came at a crucial point in the game when the Pats were only up by a touchdown, and ensured that New York wouldn’t be able to mount a comeback.

The Pats’ defense continues to play at a high level, and will need to be at their absolute best as the schedule ahead begins to get more difficult.

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(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

2. Another inconsistent outing for the offense

The Pats’ offense once again looked anemic for most of yesterday’s game, as it took them six drives to score a touchdown. In addition, Tom Brady had 2 uncharacteristic turnovers, with his first one being an errant throw that missed a wide-open Julian Edelman and was caught by Giants’ CB Janoris Jenkins, and the second one being a strip sack that was caused by Brady holding the ball for far too much time. That strip sack resulted in a Giants touchdown (which tied the game at 14 apiece), but was almost far more costly for the Pats’ offense, as Josh Gordon’s knee bent awkwardly when he went to tackle Markus Golden. Fortunately for New England, Gordon avoided a serious injury (although he didn’t return to the game), but the injury scare only seems to highlight the sudden need for another dynamic target at wide receiver. Edelman was his normal self yesterday, as he had 9 receptions for 113 yards, with his main highlight being a marvelous 36-yard catch, where #11 dove to get the ball. In the words of Rob Gronkowski: The furry Edelman fought to get his nut once again! 

Due to Gordon’s absence, Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski were thrust into the limelight, and performed adequately when called upon. After the game, both Belichick and Brady mentioned that the sudden lack of players at wide receiver forced the Pats to stick with one personnel grouping throughout the game. It was another subpar outing for the Pats’ rushing attack, as Sony Michel only mustered 86 yards off of 22 carries, with a good chunk of it coming from a 26-yard run during garbage time. It’s hard to deny that New England’s most successful running back last night was a player by the name of Tom Brady who had 7 carries for 6 yards, along with 2 touchdowns, which both came off of QB sneaks at the goal-line. 

As I mentioned in my preview for this game, any sort of success for the Patriots’ offense would be predicated on the success of the offensive line to protect Brady and help out Michel. Unfortunately, the offensive line was not at its best yesterday, as Brady was sacked 3 times, and was hit an additional 6 times. Throughout the game, he did not have enough time to effectively survey the field, which killed a few drives in the process. 

All in all, the Patriots need to find an answer on offense, as riding the coattails of their defense and special teams will not be a recipe for success during the tail end of their schedule.

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(Elise Amendola/AP)

3. Yet another mixed bag for special teams

One of the major talking points entering yesterday’s game was the potential impact of the gusting winds in Foxborough, and the wind did not disappoint! On a number of drives in Giants’ territory, Bill Belichick opted to go for it on fourth down, instead of attempting field goals, due to the obstacle presented by the wind in the stadium. Mike Nugent missed a 40-yard field goal which hit the upright, but was able to convert on 5 extra points.

Special teams was responsible for the Pats’ first touchdown of the game, as a punt by Riley Dixon in the first quarter bounced off of his teammate’s helmet, and landed in the hands of Chase Winovich, who proceeded to run into the end zone for his first career touchdown.

Hopefully Nugent will be able to rebound over the next few weeks, and having touchdowns via special teams will continue to help the Pats win games!

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(Elise Amendola/AP)

Bonus:

1. TB12 passes Peyton Manning for the second-most passing yards in NFL history!

Here’s the pass that broke the record:

https://twitter.com/Patriots/status/1182455343466602499

Here’s the team congratulating him in the locker room after the game:

2. Gronk makes his Fox Sports debut!

Yesterday’s game also marked Rob Gronkowski’s debut as a member of the Fox Sports, which featured some classic Gronk moments, such as this breakdown of Julian Edelman and Tom Brady.

3. Color Rush!

It’s always a sight to behold when the Pats wear their Color Rush uniforms, and last night’s victory improved them to 5-0 in their alternates.

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(Photo via Getty Images)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 31/41 for 334 yards and 1 interception
  • Rushing: Sony Michel – 22 carries for 86 yards
  • Passing: Julian Edelman – 9 receptions for 113 yards
  • Defensive: Jason McCourty & Jonathan Jones – 4 tackles each

Giants

  • Passing: Daniel Jones – 15/31 for 161 yards, 1 touchdown & 3 interceptions
  • Rushing: Jonathan Hilliman – 11 carries for 38 yards
  • Receiving: Golden Tate – 6 receptions for 102 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Defensive: David Mayo – 13 tackles (including 0.5 sacks)

 

What’s next?: The Pats head over to Metlife Stadium to play New York’s other team, the Jets (0-4), for the second time this season, under the bright lights of Monday Night Football. Unlike Week 3’s matchup, Sam Darnold will likely be playing for New York. 

 

Super Pats stifle the Rams to win their sixth title!

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I’m not sure that most fans or casual viewers were expecting a defensive slugfest when they tuned into Super Bowl LIII, but that ‘s what we got yesterday, as the Patriots prevailed 13-3 over the Los Angeles Rams (15-4) to win the Super Bowl for the sixth time in the last seventeen years. Although points were at a premium in this game, Julian Edelman capped off his impressive postseason with a performance that earned him the Super Bowl MVP Award.

Here are some takeaways from Super Bowl LIII.

1. Defense wins championships!

As most Patriots fans lament, the New England defense was the weak link the last time the team was in the Super Bowl, as they didn’t have an answer for Nick Foles or the Philadelphia Eagles who dropped 41 points on them. Following that dreadful performance, not much was expected of the defense, with most people overlooking them throughout the season and also leading up to this game, as pundits felt that the Rams had the edge against Bill Belichick’s defensive unit. That was not the case last night, as the raw physicality and ferociousness of the Pats’ defense sent the high-flying Rams crashing down to earth. Whenever Tom Brady and the offense struggled to finish off drives, the defense had their back, as they didn’t allow Jared Goff and the Rams to gain any sort of momentum.

Belichick and Brian Flores ensured that Goff would never be comfortable, as they consistently sent pressure after him which caused the young signal caller to either rush throws or absorb vicious hits. In total, the Pats sacked Goff 4 times and hit him an additional 12 times, with Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy playing a huge part. The Rams were one of the NFL’s best offenses due to a steady balance between their rushing and passing attacks which allowed them to either stretch the field with play action or punish their opponent with the speed and power of Todd Gurley. Neither facet of their identity was in play yesterday, as Gurley only got 11 touches, and Goff was forced to drop-back more times than he was accustomed to. This resulted in the Rams being shut out in the first half for the first time under Sean McVay.

In the second half, the Rams had a chance to take the lead, as Brandin Cooks was wide open in the end zone due to a busted coverage, but a second’s hesitation by Goff resulted in a wobbly ball that allowed Jason McCourty to cover 10 yards and dislodge the ball from Cooks’ hands. Later on in the fourth quarter, with the score at 10-3 in favor of the Patriots, the Rams were driving to tie the game, and Goff lofted a perfect pass to Cooks that was knocked out by Duron Harmon to save a touchdown. On the very next play, Harmon came on a safety blitz that caused Goff to panic and float a ball in the vicinity of Cooks that was picked off by Stephon Gilmore to all but seal the victory.

The game plan constructed by Belichick and Flores was absolutely remarkable, as it befuddled the normally impervious McVay, and knocked the Rams out of rhythm. As the Pats proved last night, defense wins championships.

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(Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

2. The offense was clutch when it mattered

As the final score indicates, the Patriots’ offense left a bunch of points on the field, as Wade Phillips’ defensive unit were able to consistently make stops in order to ensure that the Rams were in contention throughout the night. Tom Brady had a nightmarish start to his night, as his first pass was intercepted (due to a bad read on his part), which wiped out a promising opening drive that appeared to be destined for points. Julian Edelman (10 catches for 141 yards) was a consistent mismatch for the Patriots, as the Rams could not cover him regardless of who was on him, with Nickell Roby-Coleman and Aqib Talib being burnt on several occasions. Edelman was Brady’s security blanket throughout the night, and was especially clutch on third down.

In the fourth quarter, the Pats got the ball back with just under 10 minutes left, and Tom Brady relied on his old friends, Edelman and Rob Gronkowski, on a 5 play, 69 yard drive that helped the Patriots drive down the field. Gronk turned back the clock on this drive, as he first beat Samson Ebukam on a 18-yard catch and run, and he set up the Pats deep in the red zone with a diving 29-yard catch. On the very next play, Sony Michel pounded the ball in for the game’s only touchdown to give the Patriots a 10-3 lead that they would never relinquish.

I also feel that the penultimate possession by the Patriots was equally impressive, as they were able to use Gilmore’s interception to milk the clock. They rushed the ball from their own 4-yard line all the way to the Rams’ 24-yard line, with Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead leading the way to set up Stephen Gostkowski’s 41-yard field goal to make it a two possession game.

One of the headlines leading into this game was the matchup between the Rams defensive line and the Pats offensive line, who were amongst the NFL’s best at their respective positions. I think it’s fair to say that the Patriots’ offensive line performed much better than people expected, as the Rams only sacked Brady once (the first and only time he was sacked during the postseason) and hit him 4 times. The duo of Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh were limited to 2 combined QB hits.

Brady did look erratic at times and he was hardly his best self, but it is hard to deny that #12 and the rest of the offense were absolutely clutch when it counted.

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(Photo via Getty Images)

3. Special teams was remarkable!

Apart from Stephen Gostkowski’s missed field goal in the first quarter, the Pats’ special teams unit had an unblemished performance, with Ryan Allen constantly booting impressive punts that resulted in the Rams being pinned deep in their own territory. Matthew Slater also played a big role, as he was responsible for downing Allen’s punts and stopping punt returns before they could become deadly.

Gostkowski made up for his early miss with a late field goal that made it all but impossible for the Rams to mount a comeback.

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(Matt Rourke/AP)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 21/35 for 262 yards, and 1 interception
  • Rushing: Sony Michel – 18 carries for 94 yards, and 1 touchdown
  • Receiving: Julian Edelman – 10 catches for 141 yards
  • Defensive: Jonathan Jones – 8 tackles (including 1 sack)

Rams

  • Passing: Jared Goff – 19/38 for 229 yards, and 1 interception
  • Rushing: Todd Gurley II – 10 carries for 35 yards
  • Receiving: Brandin Cooks – 8 catches for 120 yards
  • Defensive: Cory Littleton – 10 tackles

 

What’s next?: The Patriots enter the offseason as champions, but will need to quickly turn their attention to the draft and free agency, as they may end up losing key contributors to either free agency or retirement. It will be interesting to see how this team looks during the 2019-20 season.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Pats may end up hosting the Chiefs, Steelers, Cowboys, or Browns for their season opener.

Bonus: Check out this sweet Disney World promo featuring Brady and Edelman!

 

 

The Pats march past the Chiefs in OT to advance to Super Bowl LIII!

 

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What a game!!!

The Patriots secured a berth in Super Bowl LIII yesterday, as they triumphed over the Kansas City Chiefs (13-5) 37-31 in a thrilling contest that went into overtime. The Patriots dominated the Chiefs in the first half, as they grabbed a 14-point lead going into halftime, but the Chiefs roared back, led by their young phenom Patrick Mahomes, and gave the Patriots almost all they could handle.

Here are some takeaways from yesterday’s AFC Championship Game. 

1. TB12 and his weapons came up clutch again!

When the Chiefs took the lead just under 8 minutes to play in the fourth quarter, it appeared as if the Pats had squandered their chance to advance to the Super Bowl, as they had just turned the ball over (due to a drop by Julian Edelman), and watched their lead evaporate in just 10 seconds of game time. The Pats were able to answer the Chiefs by driving down the field, partly aided by an incredible one-handed catch by Chris Hogan, which was upheld following a challenge by Andy Reid. After the Chiefs retook the lead, Tom Brady and the offense had to drive 65 yards with just under 2 minutes left in the game. For a moment, it appeared as if the game was over, as an errant pass went off the hands of Rob Gronkowski and was caught by Charvarius Ward, who seemed to have clinched the AFC for the Chiefs. However, the Pats were aided by the left arm of defensive end Dee Ford, which was over the line of scrimmage, and gave the Pats a second chance. They didn’t waste their opportunity, as their next play was a 25 yard pass to Gronk that got them to the 4-yard line. The Pats quickly scored, but the Chiefs answered, which sent the game to overtime.

Similarly to Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons, the Pats won the coin toss, and never looked back, as they methodically marched the ball down the field against the Chiefs. A common criticism of the Pats this season has been that their main targets (Gronk and Edelman) were too old and banged up to have an impact on a game. They changed the narrative last night, as the duo came up big on 3 consecutive third downs, which enabled the Patriots to win the game.

A vintage performance by Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, & Rob Gronkowski has the Patriots in prime position to win another Super Bowl.

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(Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

2. The running backs were impactful!

The  Pats employed a similar game plan to their Divisional Round victory against the LA Chargers, as they came out running the football during their opening drive that went on for over 8 minutes, and resulted with a touchdown by Sony Michel. Michel and James White were a big part of the offense during the first half, as they were utilized to run the football constantly in an effort to burn the clock and keep the ball out of Patrick Mahomes’ hands. In the second half, Rex Burkhead was primarily used, and he definitely delivered, as he scored 2 touchdowns, including the eventual game winner. 

The Pats will need another solid performance by their running backs if they want to have a good chance of winning Super Bowl LIII.

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(Denny Medley / USA TODAY Sports)

3. The offensive line was simply remarkable

I don’t believe that any unit in this game had more of an impact than the offensive line for the Patriots, as their brilliance was unmatched last night. Kansas City entered this game as the NFL’s top sacking defense, with superstars on the defensive line, including Dee Ford, Justin Houston, and Chris Jones. The Chiefs’ pass-rushing duo never got close to Brady during the game, as they were utterly and completely neutralized. The Chiefs had zero sacks and only hit Brady once. 

They were also heavily efficient in the running game, as they were able to constantly produce gaping holes that enabled their running backs to run rampant through the Chiefs’ defense.

The Pats’ offensive line will need to maintain this performance for them to succeed in the Super Bowl.

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(Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)

4. The defense did enough to win

As I mentioned in my preview for this game, the Pats were not going to stop Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, due to the immense talent permeating throughout their offense. However, they did succeed in slowing him down enough for the offense to grab an early lead, which allowed them to weather the second half explosion by Mahomes and the Chiefs. The Pats were able to get after Mahomes consistently, as they sacked him 4 times and hit him 10 times. Kyle Van Noy was extremely efficient in the first half, as he sacked Mahomes twice (including a strip sack that ended the half). The Pats had a great performance against Tyreek Hill (1 catch for 42 yards) and Travis Kelce (3 catches for 23 yards and 1 touchdown) who were virtually non-existent for the majority of this game. However, Sammy Watkins and  Damien Williams caused problems for the Patriots, as they were essential in sparking Kansas City’s comeback. 

I think that Bill Belichick and Brian Flores did a remarkable job in crafting the game plan, as they shut out the Chiefs for the first time at home during the Reid era. As mentioned by Tony Romo, Mahomes is a unique quarterback who is extremely hard to defend against. Hence, I don’t think that we can be too hard on the performance of Belichick’s defense.

For the second time this season, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs scored 31 in the second half against the Patriots, but New England’s first half heroics ensured that they would emerge victorious.

In order to prevent the result of last year’s Super Bowl, the Pats’ defense will need to be at the top of their game.

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(Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 30/46 for 348 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions
  • Rushing: Sony Michel – 29 carries for 113 yards and 2 touchdowns
  • Receiving: Julian Edelman – 7 receptions for 96 yards
  • Defensive: Kyle Van Noy – 10 tackles (including 2 sacks)

Chiefs

  • Passing: Patrick Mahomes – 16/31 for 295 yards and 3 touchdowns
  • Rushing: Damien Williams – 10 carries for 30 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Receiving: Sammy Watkins – 4 receptions for 114 yards
  • Daniel Sorenson – 14 tackles and 1 interception

 

What’s next?: The Pats head to Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII (on February 3rd at 6:30 EST on CBS), where they’ll take on the Los Angeles Rams (15-3) in a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVI. It’ll be interesting to see how the Pats match up against the likes of Aaron Donald and Todd Gurley, while coaching against the wunderkind Sean McVay. 

The Pats end the regular season on a high note by grounding the Jets!

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The Patriots continued their dominance over the Jets (4-12) yesterday, as they eviscerated Gang Green 38-3. The Pats performed well in all 3 phases of the game, and generally made life miserable for the Jets. This victory improved the Pats to 11-5 on the season and helped them secure the second seed in the AFC.

Here are some takeaways from yesterday’s game.

1. The offense was remarkable

The Patriots offense has had its fair share of criticism in recent weeks due to uneven performances by Tom Brady and the passing game, which led the team to rely on Sony Michel and the other running backs for production. That narrative changed yesterday, as Brady caught fire early and dissected the Jets secondary for 250 yards and 4 touchdowns. Over the last week, there were several reports which stated that Brady had sustained a knee injury which would hamper his effectiveness. If that’s true, Brady did not appear to be any slower than usual, as demonstrated by the mobility he showed on his touchdown pass to Phillip Dorsett in the second quarter. All in all, Brady was sharp (except for some errant throws and a missed read in the red zone), and he was able to distribute the ball to receivers who had struggled to make an impact in previous weeks, such as Dorsett (5 catches for 34 yards and a touchdown) and Chris Hogan (6 catches for 64 yards). Julian Edelman was his usual effective self, as he corralled 5 catches for 69 yards and a touchdown. Rob Gronkowski (2 catches for 24 yards) showed some of the explosiveness he had lacked in recent weeks, especially on a 30 yard catch and run that was wiped out by an offensive penalty.

The offensive line was able to produce gaping holes at the point of attack which enabled the Pats to rush for over 130 yards, with Sony Michel (14 carries for 50 yards) and James White (4 carries for 30 yards) leading the way.

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(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

2. The defense was otherworldly

Many analysts expected the Jets offense to put up a fight against the Pats, but that never happened due to the strong performance of the defense. The Jets scored a field goal on their second drive of the day, but couldn’t sustain a drive after that. The defense was extremely opportunistic, as they forced 3 fumbles, including a 46 yard scoop and score for Kyle Van Noy, which made it hard for the Jets to score points even after getting good field position. Sam Darnold was rattled early, and was forced to consistently play from behind, which didn’t help his production. The Pats had a consistent pass rush which resulted in 4 sacks and Van Noy’s touchdown. Apart from Deontay Burnett, none of the Jets receivers crossed 30 receiving yards, which speaks to the dominance of the secondary.

This performance was a confidence booster entering the playoffs, but we should monitor the condition of Devin McCourty who left the game with a head injury.

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(Charles Krupa/AP)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 24/33 for 250 yards and 4 touchdowns
  • Rushing: Sony Michel – 14 carries for 50 yards
  • Receiving: Julian Edelman – 5 catches for 69 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Defensive: J.C. Jackson – 7 tackles

Jets

  • Passing: Sam Darnold – 16/28 for 167 yards
  • Rushing: Elijah McGuire – 18 carries for 41 yards
  • Receiving: Deontay Burnett – 5 catches for 73 yards
  • Defensive: Jamal Adams – 11 tackles

 

Bonus: 

(a) Here’s the complete playoff picture following the completion of the regular season

NFC

  1. New Orleans Saints (13-3)
  2. Los Angeles Rams (13-3)
  3. Chicago Bears (12-4)
  4. Dallas Cowboys (10-6)
  5. Seattle Seahawks (10-6)
  6. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)

AFC

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)
  2. New England Patriots (11-5)
  3. Houston Texans (11-5)
  4. Baltimore Ravens (10-6)
  5. Los Angeles Chargers (12-4)
  6. Indianapolis Colts (10-6)

 

(b) I began making predictions for every NFL game during Week 3, and my final record for the games I picked is 139-71 (0.662) 

 

What’s next?: The Pats have secured a first-round bye which means that they won’t be playing until January 13th when they take on either the Texans, Ravens, or Chargers at 1:05 PM.