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Tuesday, 03 December 2013 19:28

New England Patriots: The Wrath Of Bill Belichick

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LATEST UPDATE: The judge has ruled on Alfonzo Dennard: 60 Days Jail starting in March, or 38 with good behavior. The judge told him "I want you to know this is your last chance."

The Patriots have re-signed Austin Collie. The signing indicates they may be without Aaron Dobson (foot) again Sunday

THE WRATH OF BILL BELICHICK

If he ever reads this (sure, that's gonna happen) I am about to incur the wrath of Patriots' Head Coach Bill Belichick. But I'm not worried...what's he going to do, make me stand on the sidelines holding a football like Stevan Ridley? Actually, that would be great...wonder if I can goad him into it. Maybe I can sneak out to that white area, a'la Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin, and accidently make sure no one breaks free. No,  bad idea, I don't have the $$$$ to pay the fine.

So now, you may ask, what are you doing that's so terrible, Bob. Well...if you're ready...here's my answer: I'm going to write about the New England Patriots opponent in this year's Super Bowl! Yep, I'm actually going to defy ol' BB and look beyond the next 4 games, the bye-week and the 1st two play-off games the Patriots will play (and win), to their epic showdown in Super Bowl XLVII versus the current fan-favorite Super Bowl pick, Seattle Seahawks. My apologies to all other pretenders, but did you see Seattle dismantle Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints on MNF?

I know that one game doesn't mean much, but they are the 1st team to clinch a playoff spot in the NFL...and they still have 4 games to play. Their 11-1 record is the best in the league and they've beaten some pretty good teams along the way...at Carolina, home against SF, at Arizona and now,at home, versus New Orleans.

If they win Sunday in San Francisco, this is the team to beat. Right now they would have home field advantage for all play-off games up to the Super Bowl.  They are a little out-of-control and over agressive, but Pete Carroll has done a great job of motivating them.

I mean, "c'mon girl"...I'm tired of the macho "c'mon man" of ESPN that ignores the large legion of knowledgeable female football fans.

WHO IN THE NFC CAN BEAT SEATTLE?

Not New Orleans. I know the game was in Seattle, where the 12th man has a big impact, but when did you last see a good team get dominated like that? San Francisco? I thought so early this season, but not anymore. Sunday's game at SF will be the true test. Crabtree will be back, and that makes them better, but I still go with the Seahawks, with apologies to San Fran Fans. The Panthers? Right now they are hot and can give them a challenge, but it's not realistic to think they can win in Seattle. Please don't say the Giants. I know they have done it before. I just don't want to even think the Patriots could play them in another Super Bowl...do you? They are 5-7 and have 4 tough games still to play (SD, Seattle, Detroit & Washington again) Some have suggested Dallas, but they live in Texas, so you have to take what they say with a quart of oil. The 7-5 Cowboys do not have a particularly difficult schedule ahead (Chicago, Green Bay, Washington & Philly), but history tells us they will probably win 3 of the 4 and go into the play-offs a soft 10-6.

Is there another team in the NFC you really believe can match-up with Seattle? Some teams are playing well right now, but no one else is a serious challenger..

JUMPING AHEAD TO FEB. 2, 2014

It's a cold (-12 degrees), windy (20 MPH) winter day as we stare down at the frozen make-believe plastic grass of Met Life Stadium. Football fans and groupies have travelled from all over the world to freeze their buns off and watch the two best teams in the NFL...the Seattle Seahawks and, your own, New England Patriots, in an epic struggle between two juggernauts. Then again, many just came to be seen, party and enjoy the nightlife of the Big Apple.

ARE THE PATRIOTS CAPABLE OF WINNING

OK, enough hyperbole. You get the picture. The point is, in the only game that really means anything to New England Patriot fans, is this team going to be able to win when it counts? And, believe it or not, the answer is yes. And here's why: ·

Tom Brady hasn't played well in a playoff game since who knows when. Those games are always at the end of the season. This year, in order to reverse that trend, TB began this season really bad. Got all of those "play off" games out of his system early.  Rob Gronkowsky wasn't hurt at all. It was a shell game. Bill Belichick, noting that Gronk broke down at the end of the past few years, decided to sit him out of those early games in order for him to be fresh when the games counted.  All the Stevan Ridley fumbles were intentional! He was following orders. They were intended to make other teams think he can't hold onto the ball. Suck them in...then drive them crazy when he runs wild when it really counts...in the biggest game of them all. Danny Amendola is really Wes Welker in disguise. The Pats don't want to make it too obvious during the regular season so they can spring it on an unsuspecting defense when it matters most. The fella playing in the Bronco's uniform is "the real Danny Amendola."

ENOUGH FOOLISHNESS, LET'S TALK ABOUT "NOW"

I'm not going to dwell on just how bad the Patriots' defense was against the Houston Texans. It won't do any good and will be like picking at a scab (ugh). Let's just be happy they won and the offense played a near perfect game...in the 2nd half.

“It ended up being a dogfight for us, but we found a way to pull it out,” said Brady “I think that’s the most important thing -- no matter what the situation, if you’re ahead late, if you’re behind late, you’ve got to figure out a way to win it at the end.”

THE OFFENSE IS PEAKING...NOT PEEKING AS SUGGESTED BY HOUSTON DL ANTONIO SMITH

The offense, with the return of Gronkowski and Shane Vereen is really rolling. Julian Edelman is playing like he's in a contract year...LaGarrette Blount has surprised everyone with his tenacity. All three rookie WRs are contributing...Aaron Dobson long... Kenbrell Thompkins in-between...and Josh Boyce on kick-off returns. After a great first game and numerous injuries, Amendola is due a big game, and I'm predicting Cleveland is the one.

The only concern I have with this offense is their recent inability to start the game with any intensity. It takes them a full half before they jell. Is it coaching? Complacency? Over confidence? I just can't believe any BB coached team comes in unprepared.

No one knows what the problem is, but it needs to be fixed quickly. They can't continue to overcome the large deficits they have been creating early in games. It won't work in the playoffs.

One of the surprises in the recent games is the complete reversal of their 3rd quarter performance. In the first 7 games this year they did not score a single TD in the 3rd quarter. In the last 5 they've scored 10! Yes, they now have all their weapons, and Gronk makes a huge difference, but if that's the answer, why aren't they scoring as much early?

INJURIES

It will be interesting to see who practices this week. Injury forced Dobson (foot) out Sunday and Thompkins was banged up after falling hard making a leaping grab. Gronk was also hobbled for a while.

Alfonzo Deneen, Aqib Talib and Steve Gregory are all game-to-game. Their return is important to a defense that is giving up points in bunches and is really showing huge cracks against the run. It was just a matter of time before the loss of Mayo, Wilfork & Smith would catch up with them...and it has. 

I'll take a closer look at the Patriots home game next Sunday with the Cleveland Browns later this week. Meanwhile, be happy they pulled out the win Sunday and are standing tall as the #2 seed in the AFC with their 9-3 record.

You can follow me on Twitter @SnowdonBob and I welcome your comments.

PS: If you are working security, don't get your picture taken with Tom Brady...you never know who's watching.