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Archive for September, 2012

My Five Keys To Victory For The Patriots Against The Bills

The Patriots are coming off of a last second 31-30 away loss against the Baltimore Ravens. They are looking to bounce back on Sunday on the road against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Here’s a preview with my five keys to the game that I hope will lead to a Patriots victory.

WHERE TO WATCH: The game will be shown live Sunday on WBZ-TV at 1:00 PM EST. You can also listen to the game on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston.

GAME NOTES: The Bills are coming off of a 24-14 away victory against the Cleveland Browns. The home team are 2-1, and they are actually ahead of the Patriots in the AFC East by one game. The Patriots lost in Buffalo last year, and they will have to play well to get the victory on the road this year.

On defense, the defensive line is very good and is lead by new defensive ends Mario Williams, and former Patriots player Mark Anderson. However, the Patriots offensive line will have their hands full with defensive tackles Kyle Williams, and Marcellus Dareus as well.

Honestly, the linebackers and the secondary are average at best for the Bills. The defense as a whole is currently 23rd in the NFL in points allowed giving up 26.3 points per game. Overall, this defense is good, but not one of the elite units in the NFL.

On offense, this unit will go only as far as quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick can take them. He reminds me a great deal of Brett Favre as he is a gunslinger. He can throw the ball all over the field, but he has the tendency to force the ball over the course of a game, and he has his share of good and bad performances. The question for this game will be which Fitzpatrick will show up against the Patriots?

In the running game, if they have healthy running backs, the Bills can run the ball very effectively. Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller are both impressive running backs, but both are on the injury report as questionable for this game.

In the passing game, the Bills do have a serious deep threat with Steve Johnson, who is averaging 13.2 yards per reception. However, a player to also watch is tight end Scott Chandler, who can get open, and the Patriots secondary will have to watch this player.

With the Patriots losing the last two games, and the fact that they are on the road, I certainly can see why some fans could be nervous of this match-up. However, I do feel the Patriots should win this game, and eventually pull away in the second half.

Here are my ‚Äúfive keys‚ÄĚ which I believe could play a role in a potential victory for the Pats.

1. The Patriots Offensive Tackles will have to do an exceptional job in pass protection. Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer did a nice job against the Ravens, and gave quarterback Tom Brady enough time to throw the ball.

The Patriots tackles will need to do their job against Williams, and Anderson. If the Patriots can neutralize these two defensive ends, it could go a long way in earning the team a victory.

2. Rob Gronkowski needs to take advantage of the middle of the field in the passing game. This was a key last week, and Gronkowski did not get the ball enough against the Ravens.

As mentioned prior, the Bills secondary is average, and Gronkowski could have a huge game as he heads home to Buffalo. He is listed on the injury report as questionable, but I just have that feeling he will play, and be an integral part of the Patriots offense.

3. The Patriots offense should go “No Huddle” with Brady in the shotgun early and often against the Bills. Last week, the Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden had a pretty good game against the Bills. He threw for 237 yards, and completed 62% of his passes. Weeden had plenty of time to throw the ball, and honestly this rookie quarterback has a long way to go to become even an average quarterback.

I think if the Patriots spread out the Bills and run the “no huddle”, they will carve up the Bills secondary, and also tire out the front four of the Bills.

4. The Patriots defense needs to stop the run at all costs. As mentioned prior, if you can stop Jackson, and Spiller, you will force Fitzpatrick to beat you. Fitzpatrick could have his moments against the Patriots defense, but if you put the Bills in third and long often enough, he could just make some serious mistakes.

5. The Patriots special teams need to contain Leodis McKelvin. The Bills punt and kick off returner is very dangerous, and has the ability to change a game with a return. He already has returned one punt for a touchdown this season, and is also averaging 26.3 yards per punt return.

Now, I respect what the Bills are building, but I think they are still a year or two away from being a real contender in the AFC East. I feel this game will be a challenge in the first half, but the Patriots offense should take advantage of a defense that is getting better, but not yet elite at this moment.

I also think the Patriots defense will be much improved this week, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this unit cause more than a few turnovers as Fitzpatrick can throw more than the occasional pick. I see the visitors wearing down the home team in the second half, and I am predicting a 31-21 Patriots victory.

What are your predictions? Feel free to post them in the comments section below.

Also, please feel free to listen to a preview of the upcoming game from the radio show Patriots Fourth And Two.

Listen to internet radio with PatriotsFourthAndTwo on Blog Talk Radio

Patriots Fourth And Two: Patriots vs. Bills Preview

In this episode, we first discussed in detail the Patriots loss to the Ravens. In the second half of the show we previewed the upcoming game for the Patriots against the Bills. Please do take a listen.

Listen to internet radio with PatriotsFourthAndTwo on Blog Talk Radio

My Five Keys To Victory For The Patriots Against The Ravens

The Patriots are coming off of a disappointing 20-18 home loss against the Arizona Cardinals. They are looking to bounce back on Sunday Night on the road against the Baltimore Ravens at M & T Bank Stadium. Here’s a preview with my five keys to the game that I hope will lead to a Patriots victory.

WHERE TO WATCH: The game will be shown live Sunday on WHDH-TV at 8:20 PM EST. You can also listen to the game on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston.

GAME NOTES: The Ravens are coming off of a 24-23 road loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. This was a game that the Eagles came from behind to get the victory. The Ravens just like the Patriots are 1-1 so far this season, but something tells me they will be ready for this game.

On defense, the Ravens have several familiar names, but so far this season they have not played at the same level as the defenses you normally see from this team. Last week against Philadelphia, Michael Vick threw for 371 yards, and was 23-32 which is a 71 % completion rate. It is only two games, but the Ravens defense is 27th in the NFL in passing yards, and 20th in rushing yards. The loss of Terrell Suggs to an injury seems to have really affected this defense.

As mentioned prior, they do have players the Patriots need to watch for on defense. On the line, it all starts with Haloti Ngata who is tough to run on, and also has gotten after the quarterback this season with two sacks.

In the middle of the Ravens defense, you still have to deal with Ray Lewis as he might have lost a step, but continues to make plays. When you talk about the secondary with this unit, they still have one of the best safeties in the game with Ed Reed. Tom Brady will still have to account where Reed is on the field at all times.

On offense, this unit is going through a transition as they are attempting to change to a more high powered “no huddle” offense led by quarterback Joe Flacco. The Ravens quarterback so far this season looks comfortable running this offense, and Flacco has done a nice job so far as he currently has a 60% completion rate.

In the running game, they do have one of the best in the game with Ray Rice. The Patriots run defense has been excellent so far, but Rice is a challenge, and so far this season he is averaging 6.4 yards per carry.

In the passing game, a player to watch out for is tight end Dennis Pita, who leads the team with 13 receptions, and is definitely a favorite target of the quarterback. The Ravens also have a deep threat with Torrey Smith who is averaging 27 yards per reception, and has the speed to go down field.

What makes this game so interesting is that both teams are different on both sides of the ball from the last time they played in the AFC Championship game.  However, after really looking at this match-up, I think it will be close, but I definitely see ways the Patriots can pull off a mild upset on the road.

Here are my ‚Äúfive keys‚ÄĚ which I believe could play a role in a potential victory for the Pats.

1. The Patriots offense needs to establish the run with Stevan Ridley. The Ravens over the years have been very difficult to run against, but this season is different as they are giving up 129 yards per game so far. Benjarvus Green-Ellis ran for 91 yards, and  5.1 yards per carry in the opening game of the season against the Ravens.

If Ridley can run the ball, this is just going to open up the play-action passing game, which could be huge against the Ravens. I think if Ridley has a good day of running the ball, it could go a long way in getting this offense in gear.

2. Rob Gronkowski needs to take advantage of the middle of the field in the passing game. I think the Patriots waited too long to get the ball to Gronkowski against the Cardinals. In this game, they need to go to him early and often.

In their last game, The Ravens defense had a horrible day in covering Eagles tight end Brett Celek. He was able to have 8 receptions for 157 yards, and gave the Ravens problems all game long. The Ravens could be really vulnerable in the middle of the field in the passing game, and Gronkowski is the player that could really take advantage of it.

3. The Patriots defense needs to limit the big plays in the passing game. Flacco does throw a really good deep ball, and has a serious weapons with Torrie Smith and Jacoby Jones.

The Patriots secondary needs to keep the play in front of them, and not let the Ravens wide receivers go deep. This is going to force Flacco to methodically drive his team down the field which he still needs to prove he can do on a consistent basis.

4. The Patriots defense needs to contain tight end Dennis Pita, and especially on third down. Pita has become a security blanket for Flacco, and when he needs that reception to keep drives moving, he will probably look to Pita.

Whether the Patriots have a safety or a linebacker on this tight end, limiting his receptions could be a huge key in this game. If the Patriots can stick to Pita especially on third down, they could really affect the Ravens offense.

5. The Patriots need to contain Ravens running back Ray Rice. I feel Rice is one of the best in the game, and if you can limit his yards, you will force Flacco to beat you, and I think that is what you want if you are a part of the Patriots defense. Again, I want to see if Flacco can take a team on long drives consistently throughout the game.

If you asked me a few months ago, I think I would have predicted a victory for the Ravens in this game. However, I feel a couple of factors have changed my mind for this game.

First, the Patriots defense is much improved from the unit the Ravens saw last season. Second, the Ravens defense is not as dominant as it was in years past, and I think Brady will have opportunities to take advantage of this unit. I am predicting a close 20-17 victory for the Patriots that will be won I feel by the defense.

What are your predictions? Feel free to post them in the comments section below.

Also, please feel free to listen to a preview of the upcoming game from the radio show Patriots Fourth And Two which includes an interview with Greg Bedard from the Boston Globe.

Listen to internet radio with PatriotsFourthAndTwo on Blog Talk Radio

Greg Bedard On Latest Episode Of Patriots Fourth And Two

In this episode, we looked back at the Patriots 20-18 loss to the Cardinals. Later on in the show, we previewed Sunday Night’s game against the Ravens.

Also, joining us fifteen minutes into the show was Greg Bedard who is the Patriots beat writer for the Boston Globe. We discussed several topics regarding the Cardinals loss, and also asked him a few questions about this Sunday’s opponent which is the Ravens. I think you will find this interview very interesting. Please do take a listen.

Listen to internet radio with PatriotsFourthAndTwo on Blog Talk Radio

The Troy Brown Patriots Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony Brings It Home

Saturday September 15th at 5PM EST began a very enjoyable night that I will never forget. My wife and I were invited to have V.I.P. seating for the Troy Brown Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony in front of the Hall at Patriots Place.  For two lifelong Patriots fans, this event meant so much as the evening went on. It brought home the reminder that our bond began with the Patriots.

We were seated about twenty rows back from the stage, and many family members of Troy Brown along with past teammates were seated in front of us. We could see Joe Andruzzi, Scott Zolak, and Deion Branch who was three rows right in front of us. The joy on our faces just to be there was obvious as we had a perfect view to see one of the best Patriots ever get inducted into the Hall Of Fame. This recognition was well deserved because he represents everything that the Patriots stand for.

We heard Jonathan Kraft talk about Troy, and also the owner of the Patriots Robert Kraft talked about number 80, and he shared his thoughts. One of the highlights of the night was Troy Brown talking about his time as a Patriots player, and also the love he has for his two boys.

However, the best part for us was when four of his ex-teammates were up on stage to tell stories about Troy. When you see Drew Bledsoe, Ty Law, Tedy Bruschi, and Kevin Faulk all together on stage sharing their thoughts on their ex-teammate, it was pure heaven for these two Patriots fans. We thought they could have kept going for two more hours.

Well, that would have been good enough for these two fans, but the evening would continue to get better. We were also invited to the V.I.P. reception after the ceremony which proved to be an incredibly special moment for us.

Many former Patriots greats were at this reception, and it was amazing to look at my right and see Drew Bledsoe, and then turn to my left and see Ty Law. Now, I did not get the chance to speak to any of these former Patriots players as they were all signing autographs and taking pictures. However, the lasting impression I have of this night was watching my wife take a picture with one of her favorite players of all time, and that is Deion Branch.

I have been a Patriots fan most of my life, but it means so much more that I can share these moments with my wife. We started our journey together over twelve year ago as Patriots fans, and Saturday Night we got a reminder of what the Patriots mean to both of us. The Patriots are in our blood and the Troy Brown Patriots Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony was a night of pure joy.

 

 

My Five Keys To Victory For The Patriots Against The Cardinals

The Patriots are coming off of an impressive 34-13 road victory against the Tennessee Titans. They are back in action on Sunday with their home opener at Gillette Stadium against the Arizona Cardinals. Here’s a preview with my five keys to the game that I hope will lead to a Patriots victory.

WHERE TO WATCH: The game will be shown live Sunday on WFXT-TV at 1:00 PM EST. You can also listen to the game on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston.

GAME NOTES: The Cardinals are coming off of an opening game victory as well as they beat the Seattle Seahawks 20-16 at home. It was not an attractive victory for the home team, but a win is a win. The Cardinals should prove to be a tougher test for the Patriots as they do have some talent on both sides of the ball.

On defense, this team has several players you should be watching for on Sunday. The defensive line is very good, and led by defensive ends Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell. Patriots offensive tackles Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer will have their work cut out for them.

Patriots fans might be familiar with middle linebacker Paris Lenon, who was briefly with the team, but overall the linebacker unit is strong. This front seven as a whole could be handful as they run the zone blitz defense made famous by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Cardinals secondary is led by strong safety Adrian Wilson, who happens to be one of the best in the game. The cornerbacks are also decent, and not to be overlooked either. This unit is solid and will be a challenge for the Patriots.

On offense, this unit is not nearly at the level of the defense. The first issue is at quarterback where John Skelton won the starting job in the beginning of the season over Kevin Kolb. However, Skelton is dealing with an injury, and reportedly the Patriots could see Kolb this week as the starting quarterback for the Cardinals. We probably won’t know for sure until the final injury report comes out on Sunday.

Regardless of who starts at quarterback, both options for the visitors are average at best. To add insult to injury, the offensive line for the Cardinals is pretty poor, and the Patriots front seven should be able to take advantage of this group.

However, the Cardinals do have some talent at the skilled positions led by one of the best wide receivers in the game, and that is Larry Fitzgerald.  You should expect to see Fitzgerald double-teamed the majority of the game. However, Andre Roberts is a nice option at the other wide receiver position.

At running back, Beanie Wells is a talented back, but I have doubts on his effectiveness in this game. He could have serious issues finding holes to run through.

The Cardinals are a step up in competition, but their issues on offense could really hurt them in this game against the Patriots. I expect the visitors to make it a game for awhile, but eventually the Patriots should pull away with the victory.

Here are my ‚Äúfive keys‚Ä̬†which I believe could¬†play a role in a potential victory for the Pats.

1. The Patriots offensive tackles will need to upgrade their pass blocking against a dangerous defense. Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer will be needed to limit the damage that Dockett and Campbell can do with getting after the quarterback. If they can do a better job than they performed against the Titans in pass blocking, the Patriots could be on the road to a victory.

2. The Patriots tight ends need to take advantage of the middle of the field in the passing game. The Cardinals do offer a challenge to Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, but they should be able to find mismatches in the secondary.

3. The Patriots defensive line needs to take advantage of a poor offensive line, and put pressure on the quarterback. This is the opponent for the Patriots defense to attack, and I expect to see Chandler Jones to have a big day. Also, don’t be surprised to see Jermaine Cunningham be a factor on Sunday as well.

4. Devin McCourty and company need to stop Larry Fitzgerald from taking over the game. There are a few dominant wide receivers in football, and Fitzgerald is definitely one of them. If you can limit the damage from the ball going often to Fitzgerald, it could really change the game.

5. Zoltan Mesko and the special teams unit need to contain punt returner Patrick Peterson. Special teams are always important, but they have a big job on Sunday against Peterson. Whether it is directional punting or the coverage itself, this unit needs to do a great job on Sunday. Peterson has the ability to change the game with one punt return for a touchdown.

I am feeling confident that the Patriots should be able to win this game, and think it could be won in the trenches on both sides of the ball. I am hoping the Patriots lineman win their battles, and lead the team to another win. I see the Patriots winning this game 31-17 against the Cardinals.

What are your predictions? Feel free to post them in the comments section below.

Also, please feel free to listen to a preview of the upcoming game from the radio show Patriots Fourth And Two.

Listen to internet radio with PatriotsFourthAndTwo on Blog Talk Radio

Patriots Fourth And Two: Patriots vs. Cardinals Preview

In this episode, we first looked back at the Patriots 34-13 victory against the Titans. We then previewed the Patriots home opener against the Cardinals.

We were also joined by Andrew Brooks of ESPN for an interview who helped us with our preview of the Cardinals game. Please do take a listen.

Listen to internet radio with PatriotsFourthAndTwo on Blog Talk Radio

Patriots Fourth And Two Tonight At 5PM EST.

Wednesday at 5PM EST will be another live episode of the internet radio show Patriots Fourth and Two . We will first look back at the Patriots 34-13 victory against the Titans.

Halfway through the show, we will have our preview of the upcoming home opener for the Patriots against the Cardinals. During our preview, I will play an interview I did earlier with Drew Brooks of ESPN, who will give us the Cardinals perspective on this game.

Please do join us at 5PM EST for Patriots Fourth And Two BY CLICKING HERE.

Patriots vs. Titans: Five Questions With Mike Patton Of The Titan Insider

Each week I am hoping to bring a view of the upcoming game from a writer who covers the Patriots opposition, and this week we have Mike Patton who covers the Titans for the Titan Insider.

Mike was generous enough to take some time to answer my questions about Sunday’s game, and it’s always interesting to get some insight from someone who writes about the opposing team.

Here are my ‚ÄúFive Questions About The Upcoming Titans Game With Mike Patton Of The Titan Insider”.

1) On offense, is it safe to assume that we will see a heavy dose of carries for Titans running back Chris Johnson to establish the run and ease the pressure off of quarterback Jake Locker?

I think you will see Chris Johnson start out getting touches running the football to ease Jake into the game. But as the game goes on, expect to potentially see some things like Chris Johnson split out some to potentially get him the football in the passing game with space to operate. I expect at least 25+ touches for Chris Johnson in this game.

2) With wide receiver Kenny Britt out of this game, who do you see as the main target for Jake Locker with the Patriots?

Honestly, I see a guy like Kendall Wright potentially being a guy that Locker looks for a lot. Wright has impressed people with his speed and ability so far and he and Jake seem to have a good repoire with each other.

3) On defense, do you see the Titans defensive line as a strength or a weakness?

The Titans defensive line is an interesting case. They are pretty deep and can rotate guys in and out. They should be solid against the run, but where they could or could not be good is with the pass rush. That’s where Kamerion Wimbley is a wildcard. I think that the defensive line is an positive in potentially stopping the run, but in the pass rush, they still are a negative due to what we saw last year here.

4) Give me a player on defense that needs to have a great game for the Titans to win.

Kamerion Wimbley is the most important player in this game. He has the potential to cause serious problems for offensive tackles Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer with his speed and he could also help slow down Tom Brady. With the Patriots being a pass-first team, he could be paramount.

5) Share with me your three keys to victory for the Titans over the Patriots.

The firsy key to the game is third downs. The Titans have to stop the Patriots on third downs and convert third downs. That keeps the Titans in possession of the football and Tom Brady on the sidelines.

The second key is to like previously said, establish Chris Johnson. He is the most important offensive player for the Titans and if he is getting touches and effective, the whole offense is better and it makes things that much harder for the Patriots defense.

The third key to the game is the pass rush. Will the Titans get one going vs. the Patriots or will Brady pick them apart? If no pass rush is generated, then Brady will destroy them.

Prediction: The Titans will win this game 27-23. This game rings very similar to the Titans/Saints game last year. But this year, I believe the Titans make the winning plays instead of letting the win slip thru their fingers.

A special thanks to Mike for taking time to give his thoughts on this weekend’s match-up. You can follow him on twitter right here.

You can also hear Mike Patton talk about this match-up as he was a guest on the latest episode of Patriots Fourth And Two.

Listen to internet radio with PatriotsFourthAndTwo on Blog Talk Radio

My Five Keys To Victory For The Patriots Against The Titans

It is the beginning of a new season, and it starts on Sunday as the Patriots are on the road to face the Tennessee Titans. Here’s a preview with my five keys to the game that I hope will lead to a Patriots victory.

WHERE TO WATCH: The game will be shown live Sunday on WBZ-TV at 1:00 PM EST. You can also listen to the game on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston.

GAME NOTES: The Titans had a good season in 2011 season going 9-7, and ending up second in the AFC South. They have a decent chance to end up second in their division again this season, and maybe make things a little uncomfortable for the Houston Texans who should win the division.

On defense, this team has players you should be watching for on Sunday. On the defensive line, Kamerion Wimbley has been added this season, and he does have the ability to get after the quarterback.

Middle Linebacker Colin McCarthy is another player that could have an impact in this game as he plays right in the heart of the defense. However, a weakness of this unit could be their secondary where cornerback Cortland Finnegan has left. The safeties are good as they have Michael Griffin, and Jordan Babineaux, but overall the secondary could be a part of the Titans defense that the Patriots could try to exploit.

On offense, the big question will be the play of second year quarterback Jake Locker who won the job this pre-season over Matt Hasselbeck. He will be asked to run the offense this season for the Titans, and we should get an indication on Sunday if he is actually ready for the job.

The X-Factor in this game could be running Chris Johnson as he had an average season last year by his standards. I expect to see him get the ball often in running and catching the ball.

The Titans do have a significant loss in this game as wide receiver Kenny Britt is suspended. However, I would expect to see tight end Jared Cook and wide receiver Kendall Wright be factors in the passing game for the Titans.

The Titans are home, and are a tougher opponent than some might think. However, I think the Patriots offense will eventually take over this game in the second half, and lead the team to a victory.

Here are my ‚Äúfive keys‚Ä̬†which¬†¬†I believe could¬†play a role in a potential victory for the Pats.

1. The Patriots tight ends will need to play multiple roles well on Sunday. We all know how important tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski are in the passing game for the Patriots. However, Gronkowski could be asked often to help left tackle Nate Solder in pass protection during this game.

You could also see both being factors blocking in the running game. The tight ends in this match-up need to play well in every facet of their job.

2. The “no huddle” should be used when needed to set tempo and help with pass protection. One of the ways I noticed last season that helped the offensive line in pass protection was the “no huddle”.¬†This style of offense does wear down a defense, and the pass rush over time could be lessened just by calling plays at the line.

The “no huddle” can also establish a real good flow to the offense, and force the defense to play more in their base. This style could have two huge positive affects for the Patriots on Sunday.

3. The Patriots need to stop the run on defense, and make Jake Locker beat them. The Patriots will be facing one of the best running backs in the game with Johnson. If you can contain him, and force the ball more in the hands of Locker, it could end up being a recipe for success. Limiting the touches for Johnson and his yards, should seriously sway the advantage to the Patriots defense.

4. The Patriots front seven needs to play a disciplined game against Jake Locker. The  Titans quarterback can make plays with his arm, but also his legs with running the ball. This situation for the defense could be similar to playing against Tim Tebow.

The front seven needs to stay in their lanes when rushing the quarterback, and not let him break out of the pocket. He could make some plays in the pocket, but he could be more dangerous when he gets outside, and becomes a dual threat.

5. Chandler Jones needs to not only get after the quarterback but set the edge against the run. Jones has shown already the ability to get after the quarterback, but I think it is vital that he can also set the edge, and force Johnson back to the middle of the defensive line. Jones could be a huge factor in this game if he can do both tasks I just mentioned.

I am feeling confident that the Patriots can start the season with a victory, but it could be a struggle in the first half. If the offense can establish themselves by early in the second half, I could see the Patriots start to pull away. I am predicting the Patriots will win this game 31-20 against the Titans.

What are your predictions? Feel free to post them in the comments section below.

Also, please feel free to listen to a preview of the upcoming game from the radio show Patriots Fourth And Two.

Listen to internet radio with PatriotsFourthAndTwo on Blog Talk Radio