Author Archives: Ian Logue

Ian Logue

About Ian Logue

Ian Logue is a Seacoast native and owner and senior writer for, an independent media site covering the New England Patriots and has been running this site in one form or another since 1997.

Patriots QB Brady Sees His Peers Show Him Serious Respect

Ian Logue
October 18, 2017 at 9:14 pm ET

It’s one thing when your fans believe you’re the best in the game.  It’s probably quite another when you find out that a group of your peers apparently agrees.

ESPN conducted a survey among NFL players around the league and when it comes to quarterbacks, Brady appears to the one who, even at age 40, players believe he’s not done winning championships yet.

According to the poll, 21% of those players believe that Brady will be the quarterback in the NFL who will win the most Super Bowls over the next 10 years.  That’s pretty remarkable given that Brady’s best years should be behind him, yet here he is, still playing at the top of his game in a league full of younger players.  The player he edged out is the Raiders’ Derek Carr, who got 20% of the votes, while Aaron Rodgers (18%) and Dak Prescott (10%) rounded out the list.

Meanwhile, despite the fact Brady might have respect from many of those players, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s the quarterback that they most want to sack by a landslide.  Brady received 49% of the votes, while Ben Roethlisberger (14%) and Aaron Rodgers (10%) fell in behind him.

One funny note was the fact that one player said of why he picked Brady, “Most of the time after a sack, you get a good picture with the quarterback on the ground next to you. That’s why I would love that.”

Brady also made the list in the four quarterbacks who “talks the most trash.”  Cam Newton was at the top of the list at 26%, followed by Philip Rivers (24%) and Aaron Rodgers (17%).  Brady was fourth with (16%) of the votes.

One player said that despite Brady’s demeanor off of the gridiron, he’s a different player on it.  “People don’t really know that,” said a player who voted for Brady.

There were a couple of interesting lists from this one, including which quarterback they wouldn’t want as a teammate (Miami’s Jay Cutler) as well as who they believed was the most overrated (NY Giants QB Eli Manning).

But the comments obviously prove that Brady remains one of the most respected players in the league, and it’s nice to see that he garners just as much praise from the players he competes against as he does from the fans who support him.

Gronkowski Feels Like Allen is “Going to Turn The Corner Soon”

Ian Logue
at 8:30 pm ET

It’s been a rough start for newcomer Dwayne Allen, with the tight end having seemingly struggling through a difficult time getting acclimated to the offense here in New England.

Through six games he’s been targeted six times, with the veteran so far having failed to connect with Tom Brady after not yet making his first reception with his new football team.

He saw his offensive snap count dip to just nine plays against the Panthers three weeks ago and then saw it spike to fifty during their Thursday night game against the Buccaneers with teammate Rob Gronkowski sidelined due to an injury.

With Gronkowski back in action Sunday against the Jets, Allen was in on just six plays in another limited outing, leaving some to wonder what the future might hold for a player who has yet to establish a role for himself in this offense.

However, while his critics only see what he does on game days, his teammates see him on a daily basis in the locker room and get a first-hand look of the work he continues to put in.  Gronkowski told reporters on Wednesday that Allen’s work ethic hasn’t wavered, and he believes that it might not be long before we see big things from his fellow tight end.

“Dwayne’s been a great teammate,” said Gronkowski. “He’s a great guy and he comes out and works every single day, works his tail off, works his butt off, and I feel like he’s going to turn the corner soon. He’s right around the corner.”

It’s an interesting statement given that his progress to this point has certainly been a little slower than some had expected.  But clearly he’s still here and both Bill Belichick and his teammates know him better than anyone, which hopefully means that he hasn’t had his breakthrough moment just yet.

For now, Gronk believes in Allen, and enjoys having him around.

“He’s been working hard,” said Gronkowski. “He’s been grinding and he’s a great guy. I love having him out there with me.”

Lewis’ Blitz Pickup Garners Praise From McDaniels

Ian Logue
October 17, 2017 at 8:25 pm ET

One of the biggest topics of discussions so far has been the amount of hits that quarterback Tom Brady has taken, but Dion Lewis received a little bit of praise on Monday for his part in keeping the veteran upright Sunday.

Lewis joined James White in playing 29 snaps Sunday, which included moments where he had to battle a relentless Jets’ pass rush that never managed to sack him. After the Jets went up 14-0, he was provided enough time to put together a 24-3 run that helped lift the Patriots to their fourth win of the season.

Offensive coordinator praised Lewis on Tuesday during his conference call, pointing out that his efforts certainly didn’t go unnoticed.

“Yeah, Dion did a good job the few times that they pressured the safety on Sunday. He took care of his responsibility and handled that well,” said McDaniels.  “You know, we ask all our backs to really do a good job in blitz pick up, whatever down that is, whatever the protection may be. It’s difficult to play in pro football if you can’t block blitzers as a running back. So, we ask all our guys to be prepared to do that. Some guys have to do it on different situational downs.”

McDaniels went on to say that each Patriots running back has had their role in their blitz packages, and he’s pleased with the progress they’ve made.  With the Falcons coming in, that will likely be another area to watch again this weekend.

“James White usually does it on third down or in two-minute situations for us and does a really good job of that,” said McDaniels. “You know, the guys that play on early downs, like Dion and Mike [Gillislee] and Rex [Burkhead] and Brandon [Bolden], those guys, there’s a different set of blitzers and packages sometimes that you’ve got to be ready for. But, I thought they did a good job of being ready and prepared for those things when they came up on Sunday. It certainly helped us in the game.”

Patriots Will Wear All-Blue vs Atlanta Sunday Night

Ian Logue
at 8:00 pm ET

Just a couple of weeks after wearing all white against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night, the Patriots will be changing things up again this weekend when the Falcons visit Gillette Stadium for Sunday night football.

The team tweeted earlier this month that the Patriots will be wearing all blue against the Falcons Sunday night in another “Color Rush” themed game, making an already interesting game a little more intriguing.

The Patriots wore all blue during Jacoby Brissett’s first career start last September.

Their last all blue outing happened last September against the Texans, which saw Jacoby Brissett make his first career start in a Thursday night game during Tom Brady’s suspension. In that game, New England’s defense stepped up in a big way as the Patriots shut Houston out 27-0 and improved to 3-0 to begin the season.

While some are calling this a “Super Bowl Rematch”, it doesn’t change the fact the Patriots won the game that mattered in February. However, the Falcons will likely be fired up coming into this match-up but Atlanta coach Dan Quinn said Monday that they’ve moved past that outcome, although it still stings.

“We’re not facing any demons here this week,” Quinn said Monday via “It’s the 2017 version of us and them. We don’t get to replay that one. How it ended was a bummer.”

Five Monday NFL Thoughts After Week 6

Ian Logue
October 16, 2017 at 8:40 am ET

Sunday was an interesting afternoon with a variety of stories from around the league that stood out.  We’ll attempt to cover a few of them here each week, including several from yesterday.

1)  Undefeated no more – The Kansas City Chiefs suffered their first loss of 2017 after the Pittsburgh Steelers came into Arrowhead Stadium and dropped them to 5-1 on the season after a 19-13 loss.  They held the Chiefs to just three points through three quarters and the 12-3 lead Pittsburgh managed to put together over that span ended up being enough to hold them off.  Kansas City closed to within 12-10 with just over six minutes to go in the game, but Ben Roethlisberger came right back and hit Antonio Brown for a 51-yard touchdown on the ensuing drive to put the game away.

Roethlisberger was coming off of a loss to the Jaguars the previous week where he questioned whether or not he still “had it”, but that seemingly was just him whining after he came out earlier in the week calling himself “one of the best in the world”.

“You wake up Monday morning, and you realize, ‘Man, I’m still one of the best in the world [to] do what I do,’ ” Roethlisberger said via the Post-Gazette. “I’m gonna have that confidence. I’m gonna have that when I go out there Wednesday to practice and Sunday when we go to Kansas City.”

Fortunately for Roethlisberger, his team did enough to improve to 4-2 on the season and lift his ego for at least another week, while also helping New England’s chances at getting the top seed now that the Chiefs finally have one in the loss column.

Rodgers won’t get an opportunity to potentially battle with Brady in February.

2) Tough break for Rodgers – Aaron Rodgers season may have come to an abrupt end after the veteran took a big shot out in Minnesota that saw him get carted off the field during a 23-10 loss out in Minneapolis.

Unlike New England, where there the news might have taken a few days to come out, the Packers announced the injury over their Twitter channel saying that “he could miss the rest of the season.”  It’s disappointing because his loss likely will put the Packers’ postseason chances in jeopardy, eliminating a potential match-up between Brady and Rodgers in February.

Brady found out about the injury during his press conference.

“I didn’t know that. That sucks,” said Brady.

Rodgers’ injury turns the reins over to back-up Brett Hundley, who head coach Mike McCarthy said is “my quarterback”, with Joe Callahan as his back-up as the team now tries to move forward with Rodgers sidelined.

3) Colin Kaepernick trying to land a death blow to the CBA – For some odd reason, Kaepernick seems to believe that his ongoing unemployment is related to NFL owners conspiring against him, which will now reportedly see the quarterback file a collusion grievance, which holds some significance due to its potential effect on the CBA if he’s successful.

According to, Kaepernick is hoping to trigger the termination of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement if he’s able to prove collusion by the owners.

It seems to be a long shot, because one of the things that’s seemingly gotten lost surrounding the beleaguered quarterback is the fact that he’s not unemployed because of the fact he started the kneeling movement during the national anthem.  People seem to forget he was wearing police portrayed as pigs on his socks during training camp, as well as featuring a police officer badge as a “runaway slave patrol badge.”

Kaepernick’s bad decisions, not his anthem protests, are likely the reason he’s still unemployed.

Those statements were pretty telling and while his actions sparked the current league movement, what Kaepernick has already done has been ugly enough where given that teams are escorted by police and security on a weekly basis, bringing a player who openly wears socks portraying them with a word that most officers dislike being called is something that is probably the bigger reason keeping owners from seeking his services.  Not to mention the fact that adding that drama and attention to their locker room is another thing they likely don’t want either.

Given that some of Kaepernick’s concerns involve racially charged accusations that most people dislike making blanket statements about, it’s ironic that Kaepernick made such strong blanket statements about police.  While it’s hard to deny that there may certainly be legitimate things that need to be discussed with this issue, he didn’t handle it as well as he could have and he really went too far, which has also hurt his cause.

The other issue is the fact that Kaepernick wasn’t playing at a high level during his final days in San Francisco and the negatives he brings as a distraction likely outweighs a substantial enough reason for a team to take the chance of bringing him in.  Had he knelt and then made his thoughts known to media outlets to bring his grievances to light in a more controlled manner, it might have played out differently.  But the pig socks and the strong Twitter statements haven’t helped his cause, and when you take into account the national backlash the league is already feeling over the anthem protest to begin with, it would be tough for one member club to want to take the additional baggage surrounding Kaepernick on.

Let’s be honest, when you look at how things have been handled by concerned players even here in New England, it’s completely different from Kaepernick’s actions.  Even Indianapolis has handled things better, with former Patriots Darius Butler and Kamar Aiken doing positive things to try and spark productive discussions with local police.  It’s a stark contrast to what the now unemployed player did, and it’s amazing that people seem to have forgotten that.

At the end of the day, Kaepernick had the right intention with his plight but it’s ultimately been his poor execution and decision-making that has him in this position.  He may try and prove collusion, but these are likely the real reasons his NFL career may be over.

He needs to look in the mirror instead of pointing any fingers when it comes to why NFL owners don’t want anything to do with him.  Hopefully the progress he ultimately makes someday years from now in sparking a positive change, which if Kaepernick is being truthful in some of the other things he’s said, will be more rewarding than the NFL career he cost himself by going too far with his actions.

He’s his own worst enemy.  The sooner he admits that and shifts his focus to truly wanting to finish what he started, the sooner maybe he’ll finally bring about the change he sought to begin with.

Matt Ryan fell apart Sunday against Miami.

4) Dolphins come away with big second-half over Atlanta – With the Falcons set to visit Gillette Stadium next Saturday night, they’ll likely be fired up after dropping a disappointing game at home against the visiting Miami Dolphins.

Atlanta put together a 17-0 first half lead, but were shut out by Miami in the second half as the Dolphins put up 20 unanswered points and forced an interception by Matt Ryan with 0:47 to go with the Falcons sitting at the Dolphins’ 26-yard line.  The turnover sealed the win for Miami, who improved to 3-2 on the season and kept them even with the 3-2 Bills, who are on a bye this week.

It’s the second loss to an AFC East team in successive weeks for Atlanta and it’s also the second-consecutive loss at home for the Falcons, who will face another AFC East foe this week on the road when they come to Foxboro next Sunday in a rematch of February’s Super Bowl.

Falcons free safety Ricardo Allen said that two home losses is a disgrace and at 3-2, they need to “reset” with a critical game on tap next weekend.

“We’ve got to reset,” Allen said via ESPN. “It ain’t no other way. What you going to do, just lay down? There’s s— else you can do. You’ve got be a man. You’ve got to know what we work for when we wake up every morning. What we grind for. What this team stands for. We’ve got to reset.”

Rivers and the Chargers did just enough to beat the Raiders Sunday.

5) Chargers Upset Oakland – Despite a hapless Los Angeles team that seemed like their season was headed into the tank, the Chargers managed to get their second win of the year after beating the Raiders 17-16 with a last-second field goal.

The Raiders saw quarterback Derek Carr return from his back injury but he’s clearly still hampered, with Carr struggling his way through a 21-of-30 performance that included two interceptions.

For the Chargers, it’s their second straight victory as they appear to be gaining some momentum and confidence despite playing in a division where they’re going to have their work cut out for them in catching the 5-1 Chiefs and 3-2 Broncos.

“I thought the guys stepped up and made plays when we had to,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said via ESPN.  “That’s what we’ve been talking about. I’m so proud that they starting to see the fruit of their labor because these men work hard every single week.”

The Chargers will visit New England in two weeks on 10/29 and one stat to watch will be the fact that Los Angeles’ defense has struggled in the first quarter, having been outscored 50-7 in the opening quarter through six games.   The Patriots have had some success scoring points in the first quarter, which has been the Patriots’ second highest scoring quarter with 40.  The Patriots’ highest scoring quarter has been the second quarter, which has seen them put up 71 points through six games.

Dion Lewis Shines in Victory Over Jets

Ian Logue
October 15, 2017 at 8:47 pm ET

Dion Lewis has had his moments in the early part of the 2017 season, but Sunday’s performance against the Jets was just what the Patriots needed during their 24-17 win down in New Jersey.

Lewis had a strong showing, taking over the lion’s share of the carries after a first quarter fumble by Mike Gillislee in Jets’ territory forced him out of the game.  It sparked a big opportunity for Lewis, with the veteran carrying the football 11 times for 52 yards along with a touchdown.

His rushing touchdown came after a pass interference call against the Jets in the second quarter put the ball at New York’s one yard line.  From there, Lewis took the ball into the end zone and it got New England’s offense started as it was the first touchdown during a 24-3 run that ultimately allowed the Patriots to come back after they initially trailed 14-0.

Nine of Lewis’ 11 carries came on first down, with the veteran averaging 4.7 per carry over that span as well as four first downs.  From there, Lewis had two carries on second down, both of which moved the chains.

It was a productive outing for a player who has seemingly come on as of late, and he was glad he was able to go out there and make the most of his opportunities as the Patriots picked up a key division game on the road.

“Whenever you get a chance, you have to make plays,” said Lewis after the game.  “That’s my job.  I was just happy to go out there, move around a bit, and help my team.”

The victory improved them to 4-2 on the season, which will now see them come home and get ready to take on the Atlanta Falcons next Sunday night at Gillette Stadium.

Brady All Alone With the NFL Regular Season Win Record

Ian Logue
at 8:09 pm ET

People have questioned Tom Brady’s place among the greats in NFL history, but on Sunday he did something to ensure there shouldn’t be any further argument about who the best of all time is.

Quarterbacks are judged on wins and losses and against the Jets, Brady won his 187th career regular season game, moving ahead of Peyton Manning and Brett Favre to become the all-time leader in that category.

While the win didn’t happen quite the way he hoped, Brady said after the game that he’s proud of how his team fought back along with how they also were able to close out the game.

“I wish we would have done better, but we won, so (there is) probably a lot to learn from it,” said Brady.  “I wish we could have played a little bit better offensively. We got down early and fought back. We had a good series before the half and hung in there at the end.”

Brady finished the afternoon 20-of-38 for 257 yards along with two touchdowns, but also had a first half interception.  He seemingly struggled as the Jets mixed things up in coverage and seemed to have difficulty deciphering coverages.

It took a while for them to get going, but Brady and the offense managed to put up 14 second quarter points to allow them to knot the score at 14-14 at the half.  However, in the second half, Brady missed just five passes, opening the second half with a 6-of-8 performance for 103 yards and a touchdown in the third quarter and never looked back, with the Patriots adding a field goal by Stephen Gostkowski early in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach, allowing New England to complete a 24-3 run after the Jets took a 14-0 first half lead.

Bill Belichick told reporters after the game that while he was happy for his quarterback, the goal every week is to win football games.

“Great, that’s what we’re all here for is to win games. We’ve been very fortunate to have had Tom at the helm for a lot of those wins. That’s what we’re all in it for is to win.”

Now his team is 4-2 on the season, with a Sunday night battle against the Falcons up next weekend at Gillette Stadium.

Despite Being Banged Up, Brady Says “I’m Good”

Ian Logue
October 12, 2017 at 9:21 am ET

When you’re the best quarterback who ever played the game, it’s not unusual for fans to get a little nervous when you’re not out at practice.

After missing time earlier this week due to a reported AC joint sprain to his non-throwing shoulder, which he suffered against Carolina and then re-aggravated four days later against the Buccaneers, Tom Brady was back at practice Wednesday and assured fans he’s just fine.

“I’m good,” Brady said, sporting a red TB12 baseball cap and hooded sweatshirt as he stood at the podium.  “I’m not worried about it.”

It’s been a rough start for Brady, who has already been sacked 16 times this season, eclipsing the 15 he endured during 12 regular season games in 2016.  The last two games have been particularly brutal, with Brady having absorbed 6 of those sacks over that span, as well as 13 quarterback hits that the NFL managed to officially log in the stat sheets.  That total is likely higher, as not every trip to the turf receives recognition in those totals and don’t exactly tell the whole story.

The game against the Buccaneers was probably the most striking, with Brady very slow to get up after several plays, which goes against his mantra of trying not to let the other team know they hurt him.  But coming off a short week that was already physical to begin with, Thursday night’s punishment seemingly pushed him to the limit.

Fortunately, as bad as it’s been, he’s still standing and still smiling.  With Sunday’s match-up against the Jets now looming, Brady finds himself with one final road game before his club gets to spend the next two weeks at home against Atlanta and Los Angeles before their bye week.

The timing of their bye will likely be a welcomed sight, since from there the club begins a tough stretch that includes a trip to Denver, followed by a game against the Raiders in Mexico City.

The biggest question now will be whether or not they can finally start to give Brady a little better protection, since asking him to survive another 16 sacks on top of another barrage of hits over another five-game span is a little much.

For now, Brady said that there are plenty of guys who are dealing with injuries,  he’s no different than anyone else when it comes to trying to play through pain.

“You know, it’s a physical sport, so I think everyone is dealing with something,” said Brady. “It’s just part of the sport. Everyone’s running around and they’re big and they’re fast and they hit hard. You have bumps and bruises, but you just deal with them the best you can and try to get ready for the next week.”

What Lies Ahead: After Tough Start, Hard to Bury This Patriots Team Just Yet

Ian Logue
October 9, 2017 at 6:24 am ET

It’s safe to say that five games shouldn’t define a season, but given the trouble this Patriots team has had over that span, they’ve made some progress but obviously still have their work cut out for them.

One of the biggest bright spots is the fact that despite the bad place they’ve been in defensively, the one saving grace is the fact that Tom Brady and the offense haven’t been participating in those woes.  New England’s offense currently leads the NFL by a considerable margin in yards per game, averaging 419.4 and are third in points per game behind the (this isn’t a misprint) Rams, as well as the Chiefs.

The latter stat in the above paragraph is a reminder of how strange this year has been so far in the NFL. It’s also a reminder of how wide open things still are despite the 3-2 record this team is currently saddled with.  All things considered, they’ve surprisingly lost to two teams that will be contenders in their respective Conferences and are currently sitting at 5-0 (Kansas City) and 4-1 (Carolina).

But this year’s version of the NFL appears poised for some surprises, and it’s definitely a little early to write off a team that is among the best in the league on the offensive side of the football.  That being said, let’s take a quick rundown over the final 11 weeks to talk about where some of those teams are at this point in the year, and predict week-by-week how things might shake out, including this week’s first AFC Division battle against the Jets.

Oct 15th – at NY Jets – The Jets took the Browns to the wire Sunday and pulled off the win, moving them to 3-2 on the year, matching the same record as both Buffalo and New England in the AFC East.  After starting out 0-2, the Jets have surprisingly won three in a row and have the opportunity to make it four when the Patriots visit this weekend. With 10 days to prepare, it’s hard not to feel like Bill Belichick will have his team ready to go in what will certainly be an important meeting as they try and make a push to get back on top of the AFC East. Rob Gronkowski’s return this weekend, which Adam Schefter reported should be a strong possibility and if that’s the case, it’s tough not to like their chances. – Prediction: Win – 4-2

Tom Brady already got the best of Matt Ryan in February.

Oct 22nd – vs Atlanta – After two straight road games, the Patriots will at least get to come home for two weeks and will face the Falcons in a Sunday night game at Gillette Stadium.  Atlanta is currently on a bye at 3-1 after having lost their first game of the season last Sunday against the surprising Buffalo Bills.  It’s possible Atlanta took them lightly as Buffalo has been the surprise so far after starting out 3-1 before their 20-16 loss to the Bengals put them at 3-2.  However, against New England, I’m sure Atlanta will be looking for a little vengeance and one can only hope that the Patriots will still be trending in the right direction defensively by the time this one is played.  The bigger question is the health of Julio Jones and the offense.  If the Falcons are healthy, this one could be tough, especially if New England’s defense is still allowing big plays. With this one being at home, I do think Brady will have some success against Atlanta’s defense. The bad news is, I still worry about New England’s ability to keep Atlanta from scoring, which could see this club drop another tough one at home. Fortunately, the Patriots won the one that mattered back in February, so if it does play out that way, the Falcons can at least feel good about themselves for one game. – Prediction: Loss – 4-3

Oct 29th – vs LA Chargers – The Chargers look pretty woeful right now, having opened the season 1-4 with little seemingly going right for this team.  Playing in an empty stadium has got to be quite disheartening, with each game likely feeling like a road game due to all the transplants on the West Coast flooding the stadium thanks to all the available tickets.  They lucked out with some significant mistakes and injuries in New York where the 0-5 Giants fell apart during the Chargers’ 27-22 win. Maybe they’ll play better away from home, but it’s doubtful given that they look like a team that’s simply going through the motions. – Prediction: Win – 5-3

Nov 12th – at Denver – This one should scare most fans given that the Broncos’ defense is back on top of the NFL leader board and they’ve had a history of making Brady miserable in the Mile High City.  This one will play out in a Sunday night match-up and may actually end up being a barometer of whatever turnaround they may have made at this point, especially given that the Broncos are currently 4th in the league in time of possession.   While their offense might not be lighting things up (they’re 11th in the league in points per game while averaging 24.5), they could still be a problem if New England’s defense is in a position where they can’t get them off the field.  Plus it’s in Denver, where wins are rare for Belichick’s club.  That being said, the Patriots still have Brady, so anything can happen. The only issue making this prediction now is the fact it’s a little early to be that optimistic until we continue to see them make big stops in key moments. Otherwise, I hate this match-up and I’ll probably hate the outcome more. – Prediction: Loss 5-4

Nov 19th – at Oakland – For anyone hoping for a tough battle, a back injury to Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has thrown a wrench into Oakland’s season and will now be the story to follow leading into this much anticipated match-up.  However, some reports say he could be back as soon as this week, which is surprising given the severity of his injury. Either way, it’s hard to make too many evaluations of how this one might go, aside from the fact EJ Manuel is his back-up.  If it’s Manuel, and not Carr, on the field for this one, the Patriots will have obviously caught a break. If Carr isn’t 100%, that could be another reason to like their chances. – Prediction: Win – 6-4

Nov 26th – vs Miami – The Dolphins are a mess this season and it appears that the loss of Ryan Tannehill and the addition of Jay Cutler isn’t working out too well.  They’re 2-2 at this point and things appear to be getting ugly down in South Florida.  While some thought the Dolphins might build off of last season and contend for the Division, one win over the Titans isn’t enough to make anyone believe that the Dolphins will be a threat to New England this year. They’ve got plenty of problems, with the most recent one being the fact one of their coaches was recently exposed for cocaine use. I doubt Brady will have an issue outplaying Cutler and expect the Patriots to hopefully get this one at Gillette Stadium. – Prediction: Win – 7-4

Brady still somehow has the Patriots offense at the top of the NFL.

Dec 3rd – at Buffalo – This might end up being one of the most interesting games of the year depending on where these two teams are heading into the final month of the season.  If the Bills are still fighting for the top of the AFC East and playing well, it could end up being one of the more intense battles we see this season.  We’re only five games in and the Bills’ new coaching staff and personnel moves have seemingly righted the ship, and their defense has been a big part of that.  Buffalo’s secondary has been forcing turnovers, with the Bills currently third in interceptions with eight.  Let’s hope that by December New England’s own defense will have finally worked out the kinks.  If they have, Brady and the offense should be able to score enough points to remind Buffalo that they’re not done yet. – Prediction: Win – 8-4

Dec 11th – at Miami – Thankfully the NFL’s schedule-makers put New England’s trip to Miami in December and on Monday night for that matter.  Hot afternoons in Miami have spelled trouble for the Patriots in past seasons, but with an evening battle on tap, this one should be a little more manageable for New England on both sides of the football.  Having played this team two weeks ago at this point, it will be interesting to see how the second match-up shakes out. Hopefully it will be a game where the Patriots take advantage of the last potentially comfortable weather they’ll see for a while as they start their playoff push, and one would have to believe they’ll be able to get this one. – Prediction: Win – 9-4

Dec 17th – at Pittsburgh – One thing working against New England in this one is obviously the fact this one’s on the road, with the Patriots set to face a Steelers team that really could be heading one of two ways by this time. Sunday’s loss to Jacksonville saw Ben Roethlisberger throwing a staggering five interceptions, leaving the veteran questioning his future.  “Maybe I don’t have it anymore,” Roethlisberger told reporters after the game, with the quarterback also acknowledging that “I’m not playing well enough.” The biggest question heading into this game may be the health of everyone on the offensive side of the football for the Patriots at this point in the season.  If Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, Brandin Cooks, James White and Chris Hogan have survived this far, it’s hard not to like their chances against a Pittsburgh defense that always seems to struggle with coming up with ways to stop Brady.  Either way, this is another game where the odds are probably in their favor. – Prediction: Win – 10-4

Belichick will likely have his team much-improved by December.

December 24th – vs Buffalo – This one will probably have significant playoff implications at this point, making it another big game for Belichick’s team.  With just two games left in the season, a loss here or there may make this a key contest for New England if they’re still contending for a top playoff seed, which could make this one a nail-biter.  However, Brady and the offense are home where they tend to move the ball fairly well and it’s hard not to give Brady the edge if this one turns into a shootout. – Prediction: Win – 11-4

December 31st – vs NY Jets – With the Jets coming to Foxboro during the final week of the season, it’s going to be interesting to see what’s at stake for both teams at this point in the year.  The Jets have a tough final five weeks before this match-up, with battles against Carolina, Kansas City, Denver, New Orleans, and the LA Chargers on tap before they come to New England. By then, they may be out of the AFC East race and probably out of the playoffs, making this a dangerous match-up given that they’ll have nothing to lose.  However, unlike their first meeting, they’re at Gillette and I feel like they’ll have it together by then. – Prediction: Win – 12-4

Final Record Prediction: 12-4 – The big question will ultimately be where they finish from a playoff seeding standpoint, but barring injuries or unforeseen issues in Kansas City, the top seed in the Conference may be a little more elusive this year. Injuries will be the other big concern as they’re probably also going to need a little luck for things to play out this way.

Who knows? Anything is certainly possible and Thursday night’s win was still certainly encouraging given the forward progress we saw defensively.  But as we’ve already seen, there’s been some crazy things that have happened already around the league and it goes without saying that the Patriots have already played their part in that.  While previous seasons have no bearing on what happens this year, history has shown that Belichick will do whatever is necessary to have his team playing better in December and even more so if they’re in the mix in January. We’ve seen enough evidence to believe they’ll work through this and if they do, depending on a potential trade deadline acquisition and who’s healthy by the end of the year, the team we see now will probably look a little different in two months.

Needless to say, expect the unexpected, but don’t count them out just yet.

Six Takeaways From Patriots at Buccaneers

Ian Logue
October 6, 2017 at 7:48 am ET

New England improved to 3-2 on the season thanks to a 19-14 win over the Buccaneers on Thursday night.  While it wasn’t perfect, Bill Belichick’s club did enough to get a tough win on the road and we saw some improvements in a variety of areas.  Here are a few thoughts on the victory.

1) It was still an ugly win with still too many miscues – From Tom Brady’s opening drive interception to all of the untimely penalties, Bill Belichick will likely come out of this game happy with the win, but frustrated by the lack of discipline and poor execution.  The number of penalties was staggering, with his team committing 12 penalties for 108  yards, but the most irritating part of that total wasn’t so much the number as it was the timing.  There were several occasions where a miscue happened in a critical moment, including one of the more egregious penalties of the night coming on a 3rd-and-20 when Deatrich Wise made an untimely illegal use of hands penalty as he was coming off the edge against Winston.  Instead of an incompletion and another punt, the Buccaneers got new life and scored a touchdown.

The other sequence that was ugly happened in the closing minutes of the second quarter.  With the ball at their own 22-yard line and only 0:35 left to play, the Buccaneers seemingly had too little time to put up points before the half.  However, both Wise and Cassius Marsh committed back-to-back “roughing the passer” penalties during the drive, which helped the Buccaneers get into position to attempt a 56-yard field goal.  Thankfully Nick Folk missed what was one of three misses on the evening, but as we saw last week against Carolina, they’re not going to be that fortunate every week.

2) Brady took some serious punishment – Some of the noticeable issues that have seemingly resulted thanks to the the loss of Julian Edelman is how much longer Tom Brady is being forced to hold onto the football.  That additional time is clearly taking its toll, with Brady absorbing some of the most brutal hits we’ve seen him take in quite a while.  Brady was sacked twice during the game, with the stat sheet also showing he had been hit six times, although it certainly felt like more.

One of the hits he took early in the game saw his head driven to the ground with an arm around his neck, leaving him flexing his neck after he managed to get back up while obviously looking uncomfortable after the play.  Overall he took some serious punishment, needing to be helped up a few times after some of the crushing blows he absorbed. He also took another one late in the third quarter after the Patriots moved into Buccaneers territory when he was blindsided on a sack that saw him fumble away the football.

It’s been an ugly start given the fact so far Brady has been sacked 16 times in 2017, having already eclipsed the 15 he endured in all 12 games during the entire 2016 regular season.  The club has been fortunate that he’s managed to battle through it, but it should certainly be an area of emphasis moving forward for an offensive line that has had a tough stretch keeping the veteran upright.

3) Despite Gronk’s Absence, Hogan and Amendola carried the load – With Rob Gronkowski out of the line-up due to a thigh injury, it was Chris Hogan and Danny Amendola who stepped up during most of the key moments on Thursday night and were critical in the team moving the chains. The two combined for 10 of the 15 passing first downs Brady had Thursday night, with Amendola being Brady’s most reliable target after the veteran QB finished a perfect 8-of-8 for 77 yards targeting the receiver.   From there it was James White (7 catches, 57 yards) and Brandin Cooks (5 catches, 85 yards)  who rounded out a performance that certainly wasn’t perfect after their 19-point output.  Brady likely knows they left plenty of points on the board (they were just 1-of-3 in red zone efficiency), but thankfully, they did enough to get the win.

Jonathan Jones made the game-ending deflection Thursday night.

4) The defense finally had a better night – One of the stats that got lost for most of the night was the fact that the Patriots defense held the Buccaneers to seven straight failed third down attempts, with Jamis Winston and the offense not getting their first third down conversion until there was just over 3-minutes to go in the third quarter.

Things looked much better in the secondary, with Patrick Chung standing out after finishing with a game-leading 3 passes defensed, while Malcolm Butler (1), Jonathan Jones (1) and Duron Harmon (1) accounted for the other two.  Jones got his on the final play of the game as Winston tried in vain to throw a last minute touchdown, but Jones made a leaping deflection to close this one out.  Unfortunately he didn’t get his name mentioned on television after the game as the CBS post game crew gave it to “Cyrus Jones”, who is obviously on injured reserve and didn’t play.

Meanwhile, veteran safety Devin McCourty had a great game and was everywhere, finishing the night with a team-best 11 tackles and McCourty certainly stepped up on a night where they needed someone to set the tone and help spark their much-needed turnaround.  Overall, it was obviously not perfect, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

5) Terrific performance by Stephen Gostkowski – Despite his struggles,  the veteran kicker is now 12-for-12 through five games, including hitting all four of his attempts on Thursday night.

Two of those kicks certainly weren’t easy, with Gostkowski hitting a 45-yard kick early in the 3rd quarter that put them up 16-7, while later hitting a critical 48-yard field goal with just over a minute to go that ended up being the difference in the game given that it put the Buccaneers in a position where they needed a touchdown at the end of regulation to try and win it.

He’s taken plenty of criticism but he’s remained steady and seems like he’s gaining confidence.  After seeing Nick Folk miss all three field goals, it shows you just how fortunate the Patriots are to not have a similar problem like that of their own at that position.

6)  Aside from the interception, it was a strong performance by Brady, and he reached another milestone – Tom Brady finished the evening 30-of-40 for 303 yards along with a touchdown and his interception, but he was fairly sharp after a tough start and played really well in a hostile environment.

The veteran quarterback finished with a perfect 10-for-10 performance in the second quarter, which ended up being one of the big keys to the game given that the 10-points they put up over that span ultimately ended up being the difference in the game.

The more amazing part of this is the fact that Brady did it all while being beaten up all night, yet somehow he managed to still remain accurate throwing the football and it ended up being just enough to help them get above the .500 and improve to 3-2 on the season.

He also got his 186th regular season victory, tying him with Brett Favre and Peyton Manning for the most all-time in the NFL.  His next one will set the record, and one would certainly have to believe that he’ll have no issue passing that total and putting this one further out of reach for future NFL quarterbacks.

The Patriots will now have a long break before they travel to New Jersey to take on the Jets on October 15th.