Tag Archive | "New England Patriots"

2016 AFC East Preview

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New England Patriots

 

New England Patriots (10-6)

 

The Patriots will start the season without Tom Brady for the first four games as he finally serves his suspension for “Deflate Gate.”  This suspension will not keep the Patriots from their dominance on this division, but it will keep them from winning the number of games they usually do.  Jimmy Garoppolo has the physical abilities and should keep the Patriots afloat for the first four games.  I expect Brady to have something to prove when he gets back, and he should be better than normal.  As far as the offensive game, it will be the short passing with Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola along with the tight end game of Rob Gronkowski and newly acquired Martellus Bennett.  Dion Lewis coming back from injury will be dangerous in this short passing game as well.  The defense doesn’t stand out individually but works together well as a unit.  The Brady suspension could end the Patriots reign, but I don’t see enough from the rest of this division to do so.

 

Buffalo Bills (9-7)

 

The Bills come into this season looking to take the next step and make the playoffs for the first time since 1999.  Tyrod Taylor proved himself last year, and he will look to Sammy Watkins in the passing game.  Watkins will have to keep himself healthy and be consistent on a game-to-game basis.  Defensively the secondary is very good with Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby.  Shaq Lawson comes into this season injured, which will hurt the pass rush.  Rex Ryan will dial up blitzes to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks which will mean Gilmore and Darby will have to hold up.  Buffalo will have to find a way to win the big games they haven’t been able to in the past few seasons if they want to break that playoff drought.

 

New York Jets (7-9)

 

The Jets did get Ryan Fitzpatrick signed, and it will be seen if he can continue on the career year he had last year or if it was an aberration.  He will, of course, look to the sensational wide receiver Brandon Marshall who is still at the top of his game.  The loss of Chris Ivory will really hurt this offense.  Matt Forte is 30 and, while he can still get the job done, he won’t be able to be a down-to-down back.  D’Brickashaw Ferguson also retired in the offseason and that will be a big loss on the offensive line.  The defense is strong on all three levels.  Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson are solid on the defensive line.  David Harris is a very good linebacker, and rookie Darron Lee will improve that unit too.  Darrelle Revis is still a top end cornerback, but they did lose Antonio Cromartie in the offseason.  The Jets snuck up on teams last season in my opinion, I don’t see that happening again and that is why they will be under .500 this year.

 

Miami Dolphins (5-11)

 

The Dolphins have way too many holes in their roster to be a legitimate playoff contender.  While they have big name players at some positions, it is few and far between.  Ryan Tannehill has not lived up to expectations (he has lived up to mine because I never expected much), and there is no reason to expect he is more than what has been revealed.  They did add Arian Foster but he is up there in age.  Jarvis Landry is their best offensive weapon, and Tannehill will look to get him the ball in the passing game.  They have big names on defense:  Ndamukong Suh needs to live up to his big contract, and they have added Mario Williams to help bolster their pass rush.  Byron Maxwell didn’t live up to his contract in Philadelphia so it remains to be seen if he can put that bad year behind them.  Miami has the star power but, with that aside, there are too many holes in this roster, and Miami will have another poor season.

 

Super Bowl XLIX – Seahawks vs. Patriots

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The Seattle Seahawks, fresh off their incredible comeback victory of the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game, look to become the first team since their opponent the New England Patriots to repeat as NFL champion.  The story in the two weeks between Championship weekend and the Super Bowl has been about ‘Deflate-Gate’ for the Patriots, but it’s time to forget about that and the opinions people have about it and get down to football because come 6:30 p.m. Sunday the ball is being kicked off regardless.

 

This matchup is interesting and tough to predict because of the dynamics of both teams.  New England’s strength is always going to be Tom Brady and his assortment of weapons in the passing game; however, Seattle’s ‘Legion of Boom’ secondary should be formidable in stopping most aerial attacks.  New England’s strength on defense is their secondary led by Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis; however, Seattle is a run-oriented offense with no true game breakers on the outside.  Both teams are also strong in their special teams.

 

LeGarrette Blount could be a huge factor in this game.  Seattle’s front seven is not quite as good as it was last year and their strength is more in pass rushing than run stopping.  Blount is a big back as well, and if he can break a few runs that require Seattle’s secondary to come up and make tackles, that could set Brady up in the passing game.

 

As much as Tom Brady’s strength is his use of a variety of different targets in the passing game, the Patriots most dangerous weapon is Rob Gronkowski.  ESPN NFL Analyst Ron Jaworski noted earlier this week on ‘The Michael Kay Show’ the success Antonio Gates of the Chargers had as a Tight End against Seattle’s defense way back in Week Two.  That was in September, however, and Seattle shut down future Hall of Famer Jason Witten of the Cowboys as well as Vernon Davis twice.

 

If Richard Sherman was 100 percent, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him lining up against Gronkowski a lot and that still may happen.  Sherman possesses the size to handle Gronkowski but an upper body injury would make it tough for Sherman to handle him in a physical game.  Kam Chancellor, who also has good size at 6’3, should draw Gronkowski most of the game and with the help of four-time All-Pro Earl Thomas, Seattle should be able to neutralize Gronkowski.

 

Seattle is likely to keep the offense simple as they usually do (though Pete Carroll is certainly capable of throwing in a surprise) by pounding Marshawn Lynch and getting Russell Wilson outside the pocket with the play action in the read option.  Wilson was awful against Green Bay so don’t expect two straight terrible performances by him.

 

With New England’s strong secondary and the lack of big time receivers for Seattle, the Patriots can commit as much as they need to stopping Lynch and putting the game in Russell Wilson’s hands.  Wilson may not be terrible this game, but whether he will be at the top of his game (which will be needed) in the Super Bowl is another question.

 

As noted earlier this is a tough game to predict.  From a black and white perspective, New England is the team I would expect to win and, if they do win, expect a blowout.  However, from what I’ve seen, there is just something about this Seattle team and Russell Wilson that I can’t go against.  I’m going off a hunch here that New England won’t be able to put Seattle away as the Packers could not, and in a more conventional fashion (meaning no miracle on-side kicks), Seattle comes away with the win and repeat championship.

 

Seattle-24, New England-21

 

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