Patriots Week Two Recap

Bill Belichick is no genius
Smug Bill – Guess he showed his critics this week

In week two, the Patriots punched Chicken Little square in the mouth, beating the Minnesota Vikings 30 – 7 on the Vike’s home turf.

Wild speculation about the demise of the New England Patriots ran amok last week after the team failed to show up for the last 30 minutes of football against the Dolphins. In week two the Patriots showed up for the last 50 minutes of football and regained most of their rightful respect as a top tier team in the AFC.

Still, one wonders where they were in the first ten minutes of the game. Things grew tense when Minnesota drew first blood. What made it worse is the manner in which they did so.

Every so often Bill Belichick likes to send Shane Vereen out of the backfield and up the sideline on a wheel route. I think the play has worked all of once for a .05% success rate. Then yesterday, the Vikings ran the same play with Matt Asiata. You’d think the defense would’ve recognized the play, but no, it went for a touchdown. Maybe the Patriots run that play so much because the D can’t stop it in practice, so they can only assume it’s the golden ticket to TD land. (Note to the coaching staff: it only works against the Patriot’s defense.)

The Patriots offense responded with a three and out.

Then the defense came to life with a pick (nearly six) by Devin McCourty. Stevan Ridley followed with a touchdown run from the one.

From that point forward, the Patriots controlled the game, forcing three more turnovers, as well as a FG blocked and returned for a touchdown, and the offense even managed a passing touchdown (Brady to Edelman). Gostkowski kicked three field goals, too. The Vikings never saw the end zone again.

Patriots Nation are now packing their bags for a trip to Arizona in February.

Not so fast, my friends. This is a Vikings team led by all world backup quarterback Matt Cassel. He showcased why he earned that label by providing four interceptions on some really poorly thrown balls. But he had to keep throwing because the Viking’s running game was completely destroyed when they decided to deactivate Adrian Peterson for the game. AP truly is all world and the Patriots were the beneficiaries of a real gift in his not playing. (I don’t take lightly the off-the-field situation surrounding Peterson, btw, but it’s a discussion for another time after all the facts – and videos – have been reviewed.)

If there’s anything to be learned from the week two performance, it’s that the defense isn’t dead in the water and they still have a knack for creating the turnover, especially with Chandler Jones on the edge and Revis Island covering a receiver older than he is. Special teams looked like they belonged as part of a professional organization. The offense is still very concerning, though.

Earlier this summer, Brady said he would quit playing when he started sucking. He’s walking a very fine line this year between being excused for having limited weapons and a bad O-line, and just plain not making the plays or throws that should be made…or put simply: sucking. However, it’s still too early to make any kind of judgment on his playing. Let’s revisit this after week five, when all the pieces have more time to gel and there’s a larger sample size.

Gronk is still clearly not close to being 100% and the receiving corps still look and play very small. Except you, Burger Tyme Edelman, you’re the man. But the passing attack can’t live on burgers alone.

Dobson, Amendola and LaFell need to pick up the level of play if the Patriots are going to sustain any drives and put the ball in the end zone.

Overall, I still see the Patriots as a .500 team at this point. They’ve shown they can let things go horribly wrong (Miami) and that they can put the screws to a team that is missing their MVP running back and has no quarterback so to speak (Minnesota). With Oakland coming to Gillette next weekend, there’s no real chance to show improvement. The Raiders are relying on a rookie QB who has even less weapons at his disposal than Brady.

But in regards to the Patriots keeping pace with the Red Sox in the cellar of the AFC East, the sky most certainly is not falling.

—Ryan Varney

Patriots Week – or Is That Weak? – One Recap

Bill Belichick is no genius
Smug Bill – Look into his eyes

Last week I picked the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl. Later, I found out ESPN host Mike Greenberg of Mike and Mike in the Morning also picked the Patriots to win the Super Bowl. The cumulative effect of these two predictions may be too massive a hurdle for the 2014 Patriots to overcome. Forget the play on the field. This dual hex is crippling to the Patriots’ chances at winning even a game this season (forget the Super Bowl).

Perhaps Tom (not so) Terrific agrees with my sentiment, uttering this eye-opening statement after the 33-20 shellacking at the hands of the Miami Dolphins, “You can’t go out there and play the way we played today and think you will win a game this season…”

Could the Patriots actually go defeated this year?

AL East and AFC East standings
Boston Strong

It wouldn’t be a first in Boston this year as the last place Red Sox have essentially gone defeated a year after winning the World Series (see standings to the right).

Still, it’s unlikely that a group of veteran players like Vince Wilfork, Tom Brady, Darrelle Revis and Jerod Mayo will fail to produce a victory. But with the horrible coaching schematics and game planning along with obviously under-conditioned players, it could happen.

One has to think the Evil Genius Bill Belichick will move to improve the poor planning that went into creating turmoil in an already weak offensive line (he opted to trade Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins a week before the season started). Mankins wouldn’t have made yesterday’s game any closer, but maybe playing a consistent set of players instead of rotating so much inexperience in and out of the O line would have.

The Patriots started the game looking good, cruising to a 20-10 halftime lead. Then they proceeded to give up 23 straight points while looking absolutely gassed and overwhelmed, left behind in the (Cameron) Wake of the Dolphins. Pun intended. (This piece is honoring the quality of play produced by the Patriots yesterday, btw.)

The offensive offensive line was not the only problem. As it turns out, Revis Island is located somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle, where incompletions, pass break-ups and interceptions disappear into Mike Wallace touchdowns. And why wasn’t there a game plan for defending against that future HOF running back (read with sarcastic inflection) Knowshon Moreno?

I have a notion that most Pats fans know Knowshon, considering he gashed them for over 200 yards last year while with the Broncos.

And keep in mind the Patriots are heading to the land of Adrian “All Day” Peterson next week. He really is a future Hall-of-Famer and just might break the single game rushing record if he suits up (fantasy owners take note).

Needless to say, the Patriots may want to work on their off day this week and study up extra hard on the Vikings. But after having five months to game plan for the Dolphins, it remains to be seen whether five days is enough time to plan for the Matt Cassel-led Vikes.

The good news is that New England really can’t play much worse than they did in the second half against Miami. So there’s plenty of upside left for the season. I still expect them to win the division, but another performance or two like this one and I’m bailing on that idea faster than Josh Gordon can grab a quick joint, er, car sale (was that too blunt?).

Stay tuned for more glowing reviews of the 2014 Patriots as the season progresses. For the record, I plan to conduct a little experiment during next week’s game by standing barefoot on a pile of glass shards during the Patriots game. We’ll see what hurts less, the Pats play or the glass.

Or maybe it’s just your eyes that hurt…from reading this.

—Ryan Varney

2014 NFL Season Predictions

NFL Logo
Expert predictions for the 2014 NFL season

The 2014 NFL season kicks off tonight with the Green Bay Packers taking on the 12th Man, er, the Seattle Seahawks. Could very well be a preview of the NFC Championship game… No matter what, though, the game is sure to get pro football kicked off with a deafening bang.

Now that all the preseason exhibitions, practices and roster moves are behind us, I’ll give you my expert take on how the season will shape up.

Regular Season Predictions

X = Division Champion; Y = Wild Card

AFC North NFC North
x-Pittsburgh (10-6) x-Green Bay (11-5)
y-Cincinnati (9-7) y-Chicago (9-7)
Baltimore (9-7) Detroit (7-9)
Cleveland (4-12) Minnesota (5-11)
AFC East NFC East
x-New England (11-5) x-Philadelphia (10-6)
NY Jets (9-7) NY Giants (7-9)
Miami (8-8) Washington (6-10)
Buffalo (4-12) Dallas (4-12)
AFC South NFC South
x-Indianapolis (10-6) x-New Orleans (11-5)
Tennessee (8-8) Tampa Bay (9-7)
Houston (7-9) Atlanta (8-8)
Jacksonville (3-13) Carolina (7-9)
AFC West NFC West
x-Denver (14-2) x-Seattle (12-4)
y-San Diego (10-6) y-Arizona (9-7)
Kansas City (8-8) San Francisco (9-7)
Oakland (4-12) St. Louis (4-12)

AFC Playoffs

Wild Card

San Diego Chargers over Pittsburgh Steelers
Indianapolis Colts over Cincinnati Bengals

Divisional Round

San Diego Chargers over Denver Broncos
New England Patriots over Indianapolis Colts

AFC Championship

New England Patriots over San Diego Chargers

NFC Playoffs

Wild Card

Green Bay Packers over Arizona Cardinals
Philadelphia Eagles over Chicago Bears

Divisional Round

Green Bay Packers over Seattle Seahawks
New Orleans Saints over Philadelphia Eagles

NFC Championship

Green Bay Packers over New Orleans Saints

Super Bowl

New England Patriots over Green Bay Packers

In a rematch of Super Bowl XXXI (or 31 as I like to say), I have the Patriots coming out on top this time.

Some people are bold enough to pick actual scores, regular season, playoffs, Super Bowl or all three, but that’s just getting a little too crazy. There is no real sample population yet to help us determine just how potent each team’s offense or defense is going to be. Except that we know Jacksonville’s offense will be anemic.

Other Predictions

Here are some things I will be watching for during the season.

Johnny Manziel – not when he’ll start (week 5, BTW) but when he’ll get hurt (week 9 against the Bucs).
Rob Gronkowski – not when he’ll get hurt (week 5 against the Bengals) but which body part this time (ankle, BTW).
Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick – not which one has the better season (Kaepernick) but which one gets hurt running outside the pocket (Wilson – which is why Kaep has the better year).
Bill Belichick – just the over under on how many times he smiles this season during press conferences (cumulative). I have him at six. Six smiles.
Marshawn Lynch and Pete Carroll – when does Carroll finally realize he should just lead a trail of Skittles from the line of scrimmage to the end zone, thereby ensuring a Marshawn Lynch touchdown on every drive (for a blueprint of this plan see E.T.) and victory for Lynch fantasy owners everywhere.
Dallas Cowboys – Over/under on how many games it takes for a team to put up 50 against that stalwart D (4 games).
Andy Dalton – After signing the big money, does he live up to his salary a la Joe Flacco? What’s that – Joe Cool didn’t live up to his salary? Well then, sucks to be you Cincy.
Michael Sam – Will he or won’t he play in an actual game in 2014 – who cares? When do the nudes get leaked?

Finally, to all you fantasy football players out there, good luck from the bottom of my heart. My only advice: it’s not about the talent of the players, but how the coach’s game plans incorporate them. That being said pick up Tim Wright (TE, New England) now. I have no idea just how good he is, but you can bet Belichick will work him into as many plays as he can.

—Ryan Varney

Christmas Gifts for Patriots Fans

Christmas gifts for Patriots fans

Need a last minute Christmas gift for the Patriots fan in your life? Why not spread the cheer this holiday season with the smash CD “A Very Tom Brady Christmas”! Your Pats fan will love the merry tunes and joyful lyrics, celebrating our boys in red, white and blue. Check out some song and lyric samples below –

Here Comes Belichick

Here comes Belichick!
Here comes Belichick!
Right down Patriot Place!
Brady and Ridley and Gronkowski
are making all the plays.
Gillette is ringing, fans are singing;
All is merry and bright.
Don your jerseys and say your prayers,
‘Cause Belichick comes tonight.

Here comes Belichick!
Here comes Belichick!
Right down Patriot Place!
He’s got a book that is filled with plays
to beat those Jets again.
Hear those Brady passes sizzling by,
What a beautiful sight.
Stand and cheer, guzzle down that beer,
‘Cause Belichick comes tonight.

Playoff Time is Here

Playoff time is here,
happiness and cheer,
fun for all that Pat fans
call their favorite time of year.

Snowflakes in the air,
drunkards everywhere,
Brady finds an open man
with seconds left to spare.

The kick is in the air;
Gostkowski knows it’s fair;
Confetti falls, we’ve won it all
with such dramatic flair.

Playoff time is here;
the Superbowl is near;
oh that we could always see
us win it every year,
us win it every year.

O Little Town of Foxborough

O little town of Foxborough,
Gillette’s lights shining bright;
Above the D, past cornerbacks
The TD pass sails by;
Then in the end zone shineth
Gronkowski’s famous spike.
The hopes and dreams of all Pats fans
Come true for us tonight.

Brady Baby

Brady baby, give the handoff to Vereen,
been an awful good back,
Brady baby, so hand it off for six tonight.

Brady baby, Amendola wants in, Ridley and Gronk, too.
So spread out the cheer,
Brady baby, and let it all fly tonight.

The Christmas Song

Opponents roasting on an open fire
Brady nipping at your D
Forty yard bombs being slung by our hero
All the fans wearing ol’ number twelve.
Everybody knows a touchdown
with an extra point
Help to make the season bright
Pat fans with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight.

They know that Ninky’s on his way
He’s coming with such speed
and power on his sack sleigh
And every quarterback is gonna drop
As five-o comes ‘round the edge
And makes another stop.

And so I’m offering this simple phrase
To Pat fans, one to ninety-two
Although it’s been said
many times, many ways
Merry Christmas to you.

Enjoy other holiday Patriot favorites too –

Joy to Gillette
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Another Ring
I Saw Mommy Kissing Brady Claus
Ridley the Rock Hands Fumbler
Buffalo Got Run Over by the Patriots
Chandler the Sackman

—Ryan Varney

This CD is not actually available for purchase.