I was eighteen rows from the floor last night at the Celtics game, The Garden crowd was the loudest I’ve ever heard and the fans were out of their minds. La La Vasquez, Carmelo Anthony’s vixen, was dressed in all white and Spike Lee was acting like a toddler behind the Knicks bench. While KG’s pre tipoff fist pounding resembles an Ivan Drago short jab, I shout out to my brother Vinnie next to me, “We open Monday Night in Miami!” The NFL Schedule Release is one of the most exciting days of a football fans year. Outside of the draft, training camp opening, and opening weekend, it is in that class. The C’s started slow and Rondo made the Knicks look like little kids driving to the hole. I did wait until the first timeout to take a good look at the full schedule. A few things stood out at me right away.
- We have three of our first four games on the road.
- The Jets have back to back road games before heading here in Week 5
- Dallas will be well rested before they come to Foxboro
- Ending with two divisional games at home is a big plus
Picking apart each game and analyzing it right now would be like trying to figure out LOST in Season 3. It just isn’t practical and there really is no right or wrong answer. I’ll start out with three games at a time, as this pissing contest between the owners and players is really keeping us from talking about our typical football issues. The fact we might not play these games, the draft hasn’t happened yet, the free agency enigma, health concerns, and 3,232,840 other variables all come into account when dissecting the schedule. Saying that, I’ll give it a shot and bring you the introductory X’s and O’s breakdown and your patsfans.com 2011 NFL Schedule Overview.
Week 1 – Miami Dolphins
If there is one team that typically gives Tom Brady problems on the road, it is Miami. I’m not sure if it is the heat, the defensive scheme Tony Sparano runs (more on him in a moment), physical corners pressing his receivers at the line, or Jason Taylor chasing him down like a rabid dog for years. Chad Henne is not an elite QB. He reminds me of young, rough around the edges Phillip Rivers. He even looks like him a little bit. Yes he has the perfect build and mechanics to be a top flight QB, but for some reason, he didn’t fit into Dan Henning’s system. Once Miami brings on a new Offensive Coordinator, the jury can come to a conclusion on Henne. Fasano is a guy who can beat the Patriots up the seam as it seems every TE in football did last season. Fasano has the potential to be a top tier TE if used properly. He runs great routes, great hands, and has great RAC yards.. Gary Guyton was the fastest LB in the combine a few years back? It doesn’t seem it. I actually saw him at Pandora last year before the Vikings game and said watch the TE over the middle. The Wrangler Vagina (Favre) loves going to him as a safety blanket. Our TE’s are too big and quick for Captain Dreadlock and Cameron Wake to hang with, so those matchups favor New England. The question if we address a deep threat WR in the draft or free agency will depend on the WR match ups. Vonte Davis is one of the top 5 CB’s in the NFL, and if they can draft another CB in the 2nd round, Miami’s secondary could have one of the top 1-2 punches in the NFL. On paper this is a winnable game for the Patriots and will probably come in at a -4 favorite. I will bet any amount of money Patrick Chung is triple covered on every special teams play. And by the way, how does a guy who scores 2 TD’s on defense not win a Player of the Week award? Also an even bigger mystery is what off season routine was Tony Sparano on last season? He went from being John Madden’s size down to Joe Buck’s in a few short months. -
Week 2 – San Diego Chargers
If there are five players I’d like to punch in the faccia (that is Italian for face), it is Phillip Rivers. His attitude, his demeanor, and his ability to make excuses is second to none. But honestly, we don’t have to worry about him. Patriot fans we have a 12th man on the field on both offense and defense. That person is none other than, Norv Turner. How this fraud still has a job is beyond me! He has single handedly lost them AFC Championship games, playoff games at home (2 or 3 times), and God knows how many games during the regular season. As we know, the Chargers are very slow starters. They decide to start playing football in mid October, and claw their way back into the race. They let two marquee RB’s go over the last 5 years in LT and Michael Turner. They let one of the most physical, throw it up and go get it type WR’s sit without a contract until the last quarter of the season. Once he came back, he was back in 2009 form. I think he had 3 TD’s his first week back. The Chargers are the type of team who can either beat themselves, play lights out, or let Norv lose it for them. Norv lost it for them last year, they went lights out on us back in 2009 with Cassel behind center, so it is time for them to beat themselves. I do fear Antonio Gates (who played hurt all season), Vincent Jackson matching up on McCourty and burning “I wasn’t the shooter, Big Bang Clock” Brandon Merriweather on the go route. Also their pass defense was in the top 3 in the NFL last season, but the Chargers find a way to lose games and this one will be no different. Home opener for the Patriots, Brady has a week to get the rust off, and The Law Firm puts up 125 yards on the ground. -
Week 3 – Buffalo Bills
If I have one wish on draft day, it is that the Bills draft Jarmarcus Russell: The Sequel. This guy had a productive year in college and is the next Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, etc. For a team that couldn’t stop the run, couldn’t stop the pass, couldn’t win a close game, they go and address a QB position when clearly there are 2 to 3 other QB’s that could be drafted ahead of Cam Newton. Now he may go to Carolina but I pray he goes to Buffalo. Watching him being undressed by Jon Gruden’s eyes during his QB School session the other night was priceless. Gruden, though funny and probably my favorite personality in football, really isn’t the brightest crayon in the box when it comes to QB’s. He was stroking Jimmy Clausen last season and look how that turned out. Buffalo has some great pieces in place already with Stevie Johnson, Fred Jackson, the speedster flex back CJ Spiller, and a solid young LB core with veteran Shawn Merriman. I even like Fitzpatrick, as he won a couple games on his own and almost won a few others. I’m sure we all remember the “Why Did God do this to me Stevie Johnson drop against Pittsburgh”. The streak of wins in/against Buffalo won’t come to an end here. The Patriots have too much talent, too many intangibles, and far too much experience to lose an early division game to an inferior opponent, especially one with Dave Wannstedt leading the defense. Things are bad when you leave Pittsburgh (the University) and have to head to Buffalo. Let’s not forget Ryan Fitzpatrick put up close to 400 yards last season against this same team, but our draft needs being addressed will bring a heavy pass rush to a Harvard kid who can’t think his way out of Bill’s blitz schemes. -
Weeks 4 -6 will be on their way in the upcoming days.