1.I really wish that Gronk and Edelman were available because it would prove conclusively that when a great offense and a great defense meet, under the rules of today's NFL; the offense is going to win conclusively. With both Gronk and Edelman the Pats would have had the receiving numbers to spread the Niners out consistently so that it would be impossible for the to consistently defend them. That isn't to say that they can't win now, but they'll have to do it "differently". With all our weapons we would have done to SF what we did to the great Steeler defenses in the superbowl years....and that was when Defenses were allowed to play defense. Who knows Josh may be able to do that even without 2 key weapons. 2. Just another fact about the Houston game that will impress the hell out of you. Usually when a team scores over 40 in the NFL some of those points were put up by the defense, of set up by the D with turn overs deep in the opponent's territory. IIRC, The Pats scored all 6 of their TD's with ball starting in their OWN territory. In fact the shortest drive was the first one after the Welker punt return which was still around 60 yds. No cheap TD's in this game. (except the last TD by the Texans ) This is made more amazing by the fact it was against one of the best defenses in the league. 3. You know, I'm getting tired of the Giants players talking like they "own" the Patriots. Like they have some kind of magical formula to beating them. And you can throw the mediots into that too. Hey, the Giants have won the last 3 times they've played. Its true. But in each case it was by the skin of their teeth, with no small small amount of luck, good calls, and 2 unworldly plays, needed to make it happen. Not to mention the Pats self inflicted wounds. ...And what's that blueprint? Hit the QB. Well there is a ******* revelation it there ever was one. Let me know the game that WON'T be won if you can manage to hit the QB. Jeus Christ. They deserve all the credit in world for winning the 2007 game. Great upset. However last year they barely managed to win a game against what was the 2nd worst regular season defense in NFL HISTORY!. You won the games. Congratulations. Get over yourself. Stop acting like you've invented the wheel, and that you are on another level. Thank you for allowing this rant. Its been building up for while now. 4. Its gotten personal now. Nate Solder vs A Smith. Smith had 3 sacks against Solder when he was at Colorado. Now the top sacker in the league is looking to duplicate that on Sunday. And of course, the chicken littles are all getting their pants in a bunch at the thought of Solder's impending doom. Well I doubt we shut him out. The guy IS the best pass rusher in the league.(not the best DL) The best in NFL history over the his first 2 years, and Brady is likely to drop back over 35 times. Its must be frustrating to offensive linemen that the defensive player only has to win twice to be declared a victor in their personal war. Dante will have Solder ready for this one. He's a lot better now than he was then. In a few years he will be recognized as one of the top LT's in the league. He's already the best offensive lineman taken in his draft class BUT... he's not their yet. Like we saw in that one play against Watt, he CAN be beaten. So I won't be surprised to see Smith get to Brady for some hits, or even a sack. In fact I'd be shocked f he doesn't. When you drop back 35+ times, you have to expect that you are going to lose a few of those battles to the great pass rushers. (and Smith IS a great one). BUT...I'm confident Nate will win enough of those battles to win the war. 5. Another reason Brady is likely to get hit in this game is that because he is likely to need to hold on to the ball longer to find his open man. Unlikely the Texans, the Niners are not going to Blitz much and aren't going to use a lot of man coverages. THIS is going to be the game when we see if Brady has learned from his playoff game vs the Jets during the 2010 season, and all those games against the Ravens. Because that's what we are going to see, only with better personnel. That's not to say the offense can't be successful. The rules still favor the offense, even for the most talented personnel. IMHO. it just means that Brady is going to have to be more patient. He is going to have have to be willing to dump the ball off to RB's who weren't the first option. He is going to have to commit to the running game for 30+ plays. Lets see. 6. Amazing stat from the myriad of stats we get each game. The Niners RARELY substitute on defense. IIRC, 10 of their starting defensive players play 90+% of the snaps. That's astounding on 2 levels. First because of the stamina required. Second, because of the fact they've had no one injured all season. As a long suffering Pats fans (at least on the injury front)) I'd love to see that happen to my Pats. BUT that's also a flaw, if we can manage it. Long drives and a fast tempo can tire a defense, especially one that doesn't substitute. Harbaugh better be aware of it, because if he isn't getting a lot of 3and outs. His defense will have problems as the game goes on. Just look at the Houston game where most of our 140 odd rushing yards came in the 2nd half, as their defense began to tire. 7. Another SF stat that is hard to explain is this one. SF has allowed teams into the red zone, only 25 times this season. That's the lowest in the league. HOWEVER, when it does happen, teams have scored TD's over 50% of the time. A percentage that places them in the mid 20's in the league. Hard to compute those 2 facts, but it gives one hope, IF we can get into the red zone. 8. To my way of thinking, the fact that the Niners beat GB in week 1 and the Pats beat the Broncos in week 5 don't have a lot of meaning. Those games happened too long ago to be relevant now. So when break down what the teams have done since the bye (coincidentally they both had their's on week 9) The only 8 win team the Niners have beaten are the collapsing Bears who were without Cutler for that game. On the other hand, the Pats have beaten the 9 win Colts and the 11 win Texans. In this respect the Niners are a lot like last season's Pats team. who didn't face a lot of tough winning teams before the playoffs, so I take the weak Niner schedule with a grain of salt. However while being good, it does explain to some degree the impressive scoring D numbers. Though it should be noted that good offenses, playing poor games (like GB,NO, NYG) still put up 20+ points against them. 9. The yin and yang of Colin Kaepernick. You have to like our resurgent defense's chances against a 2nd year QB who has started only 3 games. OTOH, you have to think that Harbaugh HAD to have seen things from him in practice that led him to believe he'd go farther with him at QB than the guy who led him to one KO fumble away from the Superbowl. Just like BB saw things in Brady during practice that not only made it easy for him to move to Brady after the Bledsoe injury, but keep him there when Drew got healthy. Harbaugh is something of a blowhard, but he's NOT an idiot. Athletiic QB's always scare me, and the Niners have no qualms about using him to run, as Denver did withTebow.....only this kid can pass. Plus he has good WR's, a great TE and top 5 RB to surround him. I know the SF offense hasn't been leading the highlights like their defense has, they are still very good (11th in total yds). Don't think that this isn't going to be a as tough a test for the D as any we have had thus far. That would be a mistake. 10. This is kind of OT, but pertaining the the Saint's Bounty case. I really wish Drew Breas, Mike Florio and the rest of the Saints apology squad would JUST SHUT UP. I'm no fan of Roger Goodell, but I have yet to meet a Saint apologist who could answer this one simple question. Why would Goodell and the NFL go through all this tsouris, to defame one of the league's most popular franchises, and the poster child for how an NFL franchise can be a positive force in a community, after Katrina? Why would he do it if he hadn't be literally FORCED into it by the Saints refusal to dismantle an illegal bounty program. Don't forget that the punishments aren't just about the Bounties. Its about the Saints lying to the league and obstruction to the investigation. The punishments weren't about just bounties, but that the Saints didn't get rid of them. Rather than Brees claiming vindication for Tag's ruling, he should read the damned thing. All he did was essentially say that the players didn't deserve to be suspended for following the orders of their leaders. I hated the way Goodell handled spygate. I hated the over reaction to it. I hated the overly harsh penalties. BUT....even the most die hard Pats fan has to admit that the biggest part of BB's "crime" wasn't that he filmed the signals, (everyone knew it wasn't a competitive advantage) but that he KEPT filming the signal long after he was told not to. In the same manner. Goodell had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the Bounty gate result, not just because the Saints HAD a bounty program, but because the Saints kept lying and obstructing his attempts to make the game safer (a few of which I actually agree with) Until someone comes up with a motive that would have caused Goodell to go to the lengths he did, IF there was nothing going on, like Brees claims. Then I will continue to believe that there WAS a bounty program and the Saints lied about it and at LEAST the organization deserved to be punished like it was. Thanks again. 2 rants in one post.