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Six Takeaways From The Patriots 34-31 Victory Against The Texans

Each week I am going to look back, and give you six takeaways I got from watching the Patriots game. I want this to be a balanced post so I am going to give you an equal share of the positive and the negative takeaways in this match-up for the Pats.

The Positives

1. Julian Edelman continues to make catch after catch for the Patriots offense. I know I mentioned him last week, but Edelman made some huge receptions yesterday, and scary to say reminded me of Wes Welker.

Edelman ended the day with nine receptions for 101 yards against the Texans. He now has 70 receptions for the season, and continues to prove me wrong.

2. Tom Brady had an elite quarterback performance against the Texans. I always believed that the Patriots offense would get back into gear, once a few players returned from injuries.

Well, now you are seeing an offense that is really getting into shape, and Brady looks like a future Hall Of Fame quarterback once again. He ended the game throwing for 371 yards, and two touchdowns. He was on his game especially in the second half.

3.  Special Teams makes a big impact in this game. The kick-off returns this season have been horrible, but in this game, they made a difference. Josh Boyce had a total of 149 in six returns, and his longest went for 41 yards.

Stephen Gostkowski missed one field goal, but hit two clutch 53 yard field goals in this game. His last field goal was the difference in the game. Special teams overall stepped up against the Texans.


Stephen Gostkowski hits two field goals against the Texans.
(USA TODAY Images)

 

The Negatives

1. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower continues to be a problem on defense for the Patriots. Unfortunately, it is now two weeks in a row that he has been in the negative category, and his lack of play is affecting both the run and pass defense.

I don’t know why we did not see more of Dane Fletcher in this game as he only had 12 snaps. Hightower was in on 49 snaps, and he is not worthy of that much playing time right now.

2.The run defense was poor against the Texans. The Patriots gave up 121 yards on the ground, and this is just unacceptable against a team who was missing Arian Foster. On top of that, running back Ben Tate had three touchdowns, and really gashed the Patriots defense.

3. Cornerback Kyle Arrington struggled on the outside against the Texans. On one catch for DeAndre Hopkins, it seemed like he gave up on the play. Arrington is a great slot corner, but when he is on the outside he is a liability.

In concluding, once again this was a game of two halves, as at the end of the first half we saw the Patriots trailing by ten points. We are seeing too much of this lately by the Patriots, and needs to stop moving forward.

However, once again we saw the Patriots play a great second half, and find a way to win. No matter what I criticize, the bottom line is the Patriots won this game. It is a good sign that they win these close games, because it should prepare them well for what to expect in the playoffs.

Patriots Fourth And Two Podcast – Pats vs. Texans Preview

In this episode, we first looked back extensively at the Patriots 34-31 victory against the Broncos. Later on in the show, we previewed the upcoming game for the Pats against the Texans.

Six Takeaways from the Patriots 34-31 Victory Against The Broncos

Each week I am going to look back, and give you six takeaways I got from watching the Patriots game. I want this to be a balanced post so I am going to give you an equal share of the positive and the negative takeaways in this match-up for the Pats.

The Positives

1. Aqib Talib continues to show his value as the number one cornerback for the Patriots. The job for Talib on Sunday was to shut down Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.

Well, this was a battle for Talib, and overall he really did his job well. He limited Thomas to four receptions for 41 total yards. Thomas did score a touchdown, but these two players were fighting down the field often, and overall I would have to give the victory of this battle to Talib.

The Patriots have a much better defense when he plays, and he sure showed his value on Sunday. This defense has not had this great of a cornerback since Ty Law, and that is high praise.

2. Linebackers Dane Fletcher, and Jamie Collins make important contributions in this game. With the poor play of linebacker of Dont’a Hightower in this game, it was nice to see two players step up when the Patriots desperately needed it.

Fletcher had seven total tackles, and forced a fumble in the second half, which was a help in the Patriots second half comeback. Collins had a total of ten tackles, and for a rookie that is impressive in an important AFC match-up. The next man up mentality certainly applies to Collins and Fletcher.

3.  Julian Edelman stands out on offense and in special teams. In a season that the Patriots offense was dealing with injuries early, Edelman has stepped up, and has been an impact player at times on offense, and on special teams.

In this game, he had nine receptions for 110 yards, and two touchdowns. On top of that, he had an additional 39 total yards on three punt returns. Edelman has proven me wrong, as there is no question his value to the Patriots has been pretty high this season.

The Negatives

1. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower was a disappointment in this game. Hightower was beat by tight end Jacob Tamme in the first half, on his touchdown reception, and overall was a non-factor in this game. He ended the game with three total tackles, and apparently was replaced in the second half. I expect more from a player that was drafted in the first round.

2. Running back Stevan Ridley continues to fumble the ball. For all the good that Ridley can offer the Patriots on offense, his fumbling diminishes tremendously his impact.

The Patriots were driving in their first possession, and his fumble led to a touchdown, and totally changed the momentum of the game early. I honestly do not know what his future will be with the Patriots the rest of the season.

3. The turnovers destroyed anything positive the Patriots did early in this game. The Patriots defense got off the field against the Broncos on their opening drive, and that was followed by a promising drive by the Patriots offense.

The positive early beginning for the Pats was wiped out by three turnovers that all came very quickly. They were very fortunate that they found a way to come back in the second half, because in the majority of games, a team does not recover from that type of deficit, that was caused mostly from the turnovers.

In concluding, this was a tale of two halves of football. I have to give credit to Denver, because they seized the opportunity in the first half, and put themselves in a great position to win a game.

However, for the Patriots to fight back in the second half, shows some serious character that might be a great indicator of things to come in the near future. The Patriots got lucky in OT with the punt, but that shouldn’t diminish what they accomplished to get to that point of the game. This was a well earned victory for the New England Patriots.

Five Things To Look For: Patriots vs. Broncos

The Patriots are back in action Sunday Night to face the Broncos. Here are Five Things for you to look for in this match-up.

1. Will the Patriots “pick their spots” to play fast on offense?¬†The match-up last year saw quarterback Tom Brady us the “hurry up offense”¬†at times to throw off an aggressive Denver Defense.

I think it is important at times to play fast against the Broncos, and I would certainly use this style to run the ball. The “hurry up” is not just effective in the passing game, as it can be a true weapon on the ground as well.

2. Can the Patriots get the ball to running back Shane Vereen early and often against the Broncos? Vereen led the Patriots in the last game with receptions, but only ran the ball once. I think you need to feed him the ball in the running and passing game.

3. Can the Patriots step up their “red zone offense” against the Panthers? ¬†This might be the biggest key in the game. The Patriots cannot afford to kick field goals in this game once entering the red-zone.

This game has the potential to be a shoot-out, so touchdowns are necessary, and Brady now has the weapons to get seven, instead of three when in the red-zone. If you see the Patriots settling for field goals in this game, you will know they are in trouble.

4. Will acting Denver head coach Jack Del Rio play his standard defense against Brady? A huge advantage I feel the Patriots have is that Brady knows how to beat the Denver defense.

In Brady’s history against a Del Rio defense, it has been so easy for him as he usually knows what is coming. Unless Del Rio makes changes, and adjusts during the game, the Patriots should have little problem moving the ball.

5. Can the Patriots defense disguise their coverage against Peyton Manning? Listen, they aren’t going to do anything that Manning hasn’t seen before, but they can make it difficult for him to read what defense the Patriots are playing.

The idea here is to try to slow down an excellent offense, and it will be difficult to do, but you need to try. I hope the Patriots are switching often from zone to man to man looks in the secondary. Just maybe it will pay off in this game.

This is my fifth Brady vs. Manning, and the Patriots are 3-1 in those games. There is no question that this game should be close as the Patriots can score to keep up with the Broncos.

I have much respect for Manning, and know this is a huge challenge for the Patriots, but they have a few factors working in their favor. First, it is going to be very cold, and Manning over his career has not played well in cold weather.

The other factor is the head coach right now for the Broncos. I have a feeling Del Rio will be playing checkers, while coach Bill Belichick will be playing chess. This is a huge advantage for the Patriots, and could be the difference of a field goal, so that is why I am predicting the Patriots win this game by three points.

If you are looking for more of an extensive preview of this game, please take a listen below to Patriots Fourth And Two.

Patriots Fourth And Two Podcast – Patriots vs. Broncos Preview

In this episode, we first looked back at the Patriots 24-20 loss to the Panthers. We did discuss the final play, but went into more depth about the rest of the game.

The second half of the show we previewed the upcoming game for the Patriots against the Broncos. We ended the show by giving our predictions for Sunday Night Football.

Six Takeaways From The Patriots 24-20 Loss To The Panthers

Each week I am going to look back, and give you six takeaways I got from watching the Patriots game. I want this to be a balanced post so I am going to give you an equal share of the positive and the negative takeaways in this match-up for the Pats. Since the Patriots lost, the negatives have to come first.

The Negatives

1. The Patriots failed to contain Cam Newton in the pocket. A major concern in this game was to prevent Newton from getting outside of the pocket, and running the ball. Well, he did that well last night, and a few carries led to key first downs for the Panthers.

I do have to give credit though to Newton, who showed why he is a serious threat to become an elite quarterback. The Patriots should have done better on some runs, but their were others that there was nothing they could have done, because of the talent that Newton possesses.

2. The fumble by Stevan Ridley really hurt the Patriots in this game. There is no way getting around the fact that Ridley has a fumbling issue, and this game it really cost the Patriots points, as he gave up the ball in the red-zone.

Each team had serious time consuming drives, and this fumble took at least three or possibly seven points off the the board for the Patriots. He was benched for awhile in this game, but I was glad he came back in later. Ridley is a talent, but until he fixes the fumbling problems, he will not be the complete running back he should be.

3. The pass protection in the final drive broke down. Honestly, I thought the offensive line did a decent job protecting Tom Brady for the majority of the game, but on that final drive the protection struggled a great deal against an aggressive defense.

I am not used to seeing the offensive line struggle the way it has this season. They needed more from this line late in the game.

 

The Positives

1. Shane Vereen made a difference in his return to the offense. Vereen was used often in the passing game, as he ended with eight receptions for sixty five yards. He was key player on third down, and reminded me of a young Kevin Faulk. The return of Vereen should pay off big time as the season goes on.

2. Tom Brady proved he is still one of the best in the game. This game became a battle of the quarterbacks, and Brady was up for the challenge. He was extremely accurate most of the game, and did everything he could to help the Patriots try to win. He threw for 296 yards, and was 29-40, with a passer rating of 91.2 in this game.

3.  The Patriots defense stops the run against the running backs. I already talked about the problem in stopping the running of Newton, but the Patriots defense did a nice job against the running backs. The Patriots held the three Carolina running backs to a total of 41 yards, with only a 2.56 yards per carry average which is excellent. This was an improvement for the Patriots defense.

In concluding, this was a disappointing loss for the Patriots, because I thought overall this was a well played game by both teams. In the end, one team made just a few more plays than the other.

However, there are serious positives to take out of this game, and I mentioned them above, regardless of how the game ended. You can build on these positives as we head into the stretch run of the season.

Five Things To Look For: Pats vs. Panthers

The Patriots are back in action Monday Night to face the Panthers. Here are Five Things for you to look for in this match-up.

1. Can the Patriots offense play fast and feature the passing game against the Panthers? The Patriots are probably going up against the best defense they have faced this season. First, the Panthers defense is currently second in the NFL in rush defense, and they are only giving up 82 yards per game. Their front seven is aggressive, and I think establishing the running game against this team does not make sense.

The Patriots need to spread this defense out, with multiple wide receivers, and tight end Rob Gronkowski. If I were offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, this is an opponent that I would have quarterback Tom Brady back in the shot-gun most of the game, with a running back next to him.

Also, this is a defense, that the hurry up offense could really tire out, so I am hoping we see the Patriots play very fast in this game. If the Patriots can up the tempo on offense, and move the ball through the air on offense, the Pats could control this game.

2. Can the Patriots offensive line finally protect Tom Brady? The Patriots offensive line did a great job against the Steelers with protecting Brady, but they will be asked once again to step up. The Panthers have two excellent defensive ends, as Greg Hardy has five sacks this season, and on the other other side, Charles Johnson, has 8.5 sacks for the Panthers.

Two key players in this game could be Patriots tackles Nate Solder, and Marcus Cannon. If they can contain the outside rush of the Panthers, Brady could have time to do damage against an average secondary.

3. Can the Patriots step up their “red zone offense” against the Panthers? San Francisco last week against the Panthers was forced to kick several field goals instead of getting touchdowns.

The Patriots offense cannot afford to kick field goals against the Panthers. They are going to have to be aggressive in the red-zone, and do whatever they can to score touchdowns rather than settle for field goals.

Gronkowski is getting healthy, and he is your number one option in the red-zone. Also, wide receiver Danny Amendola is back, and the Patriots might have running back Shane Vereen available for this game. If Brady has all of his targets available, there should be opportunities to capitalize in the red-zone with touchdowns.

4. Can the Patriots defense stop the run? The Panthers offense is ranked number ten in the NFL in rushing. It is imperative that the Patriots defense, does not let the Panthers control the clock with the running game.

The two main running backs for the Panthers are DeAngelo Williams, and Jonathan Stewart. Plus, the Patriots have to be concerned with the running of quarterback Cam Newton. If the Patriots can stop the run, it will force Newton to throw more than he probably wants to, and possibly make a mistake.

5. Can the Patriots contain quarterback Cam Newton? What makes Newton very dangerous is he can beat you through the air, and with his legs. Honestly, I am more concerned with him getting out of the pocket, and running the ball as he is averaging 4.2 yards per carry.

The Patriots defense really should want to force Newton and his offense to work their way down the field. Newton has improved as a passer, but I still want to see if he can have long sustained drives. The job for the Patriots defense is to contain Newton, and see if they can force him to make mistakes in the passing game.

Now, on to the game, the Panthers showed me against the Niners that they have arrived, and are legitimate threat in the NFC. Their defense is really one of the best in the game, and will be a test for the Patriots. However, I just have a feeling that the Patriots offense in the passing game, could cause some problems for the Panthers defense.

This game could be fairly close, but the Patriots are coming off of the bye week, and with two weeks to prepare for the Panthers they will be ready. I see the Patriots figuring out a way to win this game in the fourth quarter.

If you are looking for more of an extensive preview of this game, please take a listen below to Patriots Fourth And Two.

Patriots Fourth And Two Podcast: Patriots vs. Panthers

In this episode, we first discussed the contenders in AFC besides the Patriots. Later on in the show, we previewed the upcoming game for the Patriots against the Panthers.

Patriots Fourth And Two Podcast: Mid Season Grades

In this episode, we first looked back at the Patriots 55-31 victory against the Steelers. Later on in the show, we gave our mid season grades for the Patriots.

Six Takeaways From The Patriots 55-31 Victory Against The Steelers

Each week I am going to look back, and give you six takeaways I got from watching the Patriots game. I want this to be a balanced post so I am going to give you an equal share of the positive and the negative takeaways in this match-up for the Pats.

The Positives

1. Rob Gronkowski shows just how valuable he is for the Patriots offense. Gronkowski had a great game as he had nine receptions for 143 yards, and one touchdown. 

However, another great value he offers is simply his presence on the field opens up opportunities for the other receivers in the Patriots offense. I don’t think it is an accident that Danny Amendola, and Aaron Dobson both went over 100 yards in this game. Moving forward the Patriots offense will continue to improve, and Gronkowski will continue to be a factor whether he catches the ball or not.

2. The Patriots offense on third down improved dramatically in this game. A major issue for several weeks now has been the ability for the Patriots to convert on third down.

Well, we saw a marked improvement against the Steelers, as the Patriots went 7-12, and many of these conversions were factors in the amount of points the team scored. This was a step in the right direction for the Patriots offense.

3. Defensive end Chandler Jones steps up for the Patriots defense. With the Patriots defense dealing with so many injuries, it is so important to see Jones having an impact on defense. Jones had six total tackles, and also had two sacks which included some solid pressure on the quarterback. He could be a huge factor in the progression of the Patriots defense this season.

The Negatives

1. Cornerback Kyle Arrington struggled in this game. He was asked often to cover wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, and he was burned on more than a few occasions. Arrington has been decent this season, but in this game he was the weakest link.

2. The Patriots rush defense was just not good enough against the Steelers. The defense this week faced an offense that was not running the ball well this season. Well, when you give up 108 yards to the Steelers, which is a 5.4 yards per carry average, you are just not getting the job done.

They are really struggling on the delayed hand-offs giving up good chunks of yardage. The rush defense needs to improve over the course of the season, or the Patriots could be in trouble when they get to the Playoffs.

3. The Patriots injuries continue to grow as more players go down against the Steelers. Injuries are a part of the game, but the Patriots have dealt with more than their share this season.

Against the Steelers, the defense took a hit as defensive end Rob Ninkovich went out with a reported foot injury. On top of that, safety Steve Gregory went out with a thumb injury, and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard went out late in the game as well. We have to hope these injuries are not too serious.

On offense, wide receiver Austin Collie went out with a knee injury, but honestly the Patriots have depth at that position so it shouldn’t hurt too much if he is out for significant time. The injures continue to come, so only time will tell what type of impact they ultimately have on the rest of the season.

In concluding, whenever you beat the Steelers it is a good win, but this was not a good team the Patriots played on Sunday. However, we got to see improvement with the Patriots offense, so regardless of the opponent, this was a victory that can help the Patriots moving forward.