Friday, November 29, 2013


Happy Friday, Gabbers. Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.  I don’t indulge much in mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pies, bread, etc. usually for health reasons, but on Thanksgiving I say “To Hal with it” and indulge for my annual orgy of hideous parades on television, vast quantities of food, and of course football. This week, since I plan to be in a food coma most of the afternoon, I figured I’d get started a little early with the Sports Spectacular this week and have a plan and all that crap. Since I wasted my Thanksgiving rant LAST week, this week I’d switch gears and focus on some free agency and hot stove baseball.

First off, the Dodgers did not take long to get involved.  They signed former Oakland/Arizona starting pitcher Dan Haren to a one-year $10 million deal.  A lot of cash, but a decent move. No longer a Cy Young pitcher, he is solid (when healthy) and is a good back end of rotation veteran. Courtesy of Jonah Keri of
In Haren's final 15 starts of 2013 (plus a one-inning save), he threw 87⅔ innings, amassing a tidy 3.29 ERA with 84 strikeouts, 18 walks, nine homers allowed, and an opponent's’ line of just .228/.271/.355.

Of course, that deal looks great when you see the Royals throwing money at back end of the rotation starter Jason Vargas from the Los Angeles/Anaheim/California Angels. Four years and $32 million is a lot of money for a franchise in Kansas City with a lot of holes to fill. Yes, Kansas City got over .500, but Vargas does not buy a championship.

The Royals already made one questionable pitching decision last year when they dealt prospect outfielder Wil Myers to the Tampa Rays for pitcher James Shields. I am usually the first to shout out that stockpiling pitching is a must decision, but not at the expense of young power hitters.  In less than a year, Myers has established himself as one of the most exciting young prospects and jumped right into the middle of the Tampa lineup.  Shields is a decent third starter.

If the Royals were a contender loaded with young power hitters locked up long term and a starting pitcher away from contending and Myers was in single-A, then maybe (MAYBE!) you make that deal. But that was just an effort to be relevant by the Royals that will hurt for years and years to come as Myers becomes a perennial all-star and Shields remains...Shields….turning 32 years old this season. .

Speaking of the Rays, they kicked off the catching signings with re-signing 39 year old Jose Molina to a two year contract....CLICK HERE FOR MUCH MORE:

Cover32: Fans should be thankful for the 2013 New England Patriots


As the Thanksgiving holiday arrives, the New England Patriots have given fans a number of reasons to be thankful this 2013 NFL season.  After their dramatic victory on Sunday night against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, the team heads into the final quarter of the season at 8-3 and a three game lead in the AFC East. With three Super Bowl titles and a consistent level of success for well over a decade, it seems appropriate to count the teams blessings.
The Patriots have given fans many things to be thankful for this season:
  • Tight end Rob Gronkowski’s forearm is healthy;
  • Cornerback Aqib Talib carrying the defense early in the season and shutting out top receiver after top receiver;
  • Slot wide receiver Julian Edelman returned to the team this offseason after being a free agent;
  • The offensive line has kept quarterback Tom Brady upright;
  • Running back Shane Vereen returned to health and sparked the offense replacing the free agent departure of running back Danny Woodhead;
  • Safety Devin McCourty stepping up and having his best season to date;
  • The steady consistency of kicker Stephen Gostkowski;
  • The growth of young wide receivers Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson;
  • and the return-to-form of linebacker Brandon Spikes who is quietly having a great season.
Despite all these things to be thankful for, Patriots fans really have three huge reasons to be thankful about the team this Thanksgiving:
1. Owner Bob Kraft:
It may be hard to believe, but a young Patriots fans who have watched the team as they grow up in the last twenty years may not remember that the team was once the laughing stock of the NFL.  Since Bob Kraft purchased the Patriots in 1994 they have had a grand total of two losing seasons (1995 and 2000) here for much more:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cover32: Patriots outlast Broncos in amazing SNF game


  • A starting safety not dressing and an already injured cornerback out of the game in the second quarter? Check.
  • Two more cornerbacks injured and playing nowhere near close to full speed? Check.
  • Three turnovers in the first eight minutes of the game? Check.
  • Bitter cold and wind affecting the passing game? Check.
  • Third string right tackle in the game after ten offensive snaps? Check.
  • A 24-0 deficit at halftime? Check.
  • An incredible 280 yards rushing allowed by the defense? Check.
  • A starting linebacker and (yet another) defensive tackle lost to injury in the second half? Check.
  • A typical day at the office for Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and the New England Patriots? Hardly.

With an undermanned secondary, gaping holes in a defense that refused to stop playing sub packages and baited the Denver Broncos out of their high-powered aerial attack, and an offense that could not stop putting the ball on the frozen turf early on in the game, the New England Patriots dug themselves an early hole that looked insurmountable. Down 24-0 at halftime, the New England Patriots turned in their greatest comeback to date in order to get a 34-31 overtime victory.
According to the NFL Network, since 2001 NFL teams are now 2-148 in 150 games in which they trailed by a minimum of 24 points at the half.

Sunday, November 24, 2013 New England Patriots Game Plan to Defeat Denver

BY  - 
The New England Patriots face theDenver Broncos on Sunday night in Foxboro, MA in a match-up of two of the top teams in the AFC. There are a number of plotlines beyond simply Tom Brady and Peyton Manning facing off again:

  • Denver wide receiver Wes Welker is returning to New England as an opponent after an acrimonious separation this offseason;
  • The mind of Bill Belichick on defense versus Peyton Manning;
  • Two of the most dynamic tight ends in the league on the field (Julius Thomas and Rob Gronkowski)
  • Tom Brady versus Von Miller, old enmity with an old enemy Shaun Phillips (remember those post-season battles and bad blood with San Diego);
  • Four of the five top defensive backs for New England listed as questionable coming into the game;
  • The potential return from injury of Denver cornerback Champ Bailey;
  • The under-the-radar Denver special teams play that has made a number of big plays this season;
  • and two passing offenses matching-up on a bitterly cold evening and the possibility of an icy wind cutting into the passing game.

With all these plot lines in play, the noise will end when the kickoff finally happens and the game leaves the stories behind and comes down to the match-up on the field with the players lining up against each other.  In that light, here is an examination of both teams and their match-ups on both sides of the ball.

It is amazing that in light of all the Patriots-Colts/Patriots-Broncos games in the past seven or eight years that analysts, media, and fans still bring up the idea of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick being in Peyton Manning’s head. When Manning was defeated soundly in the past, it had more to do with Ty Law, Rodney Harrison, Lawyer Milloy, Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, Richard Seymour, et al than any schemes.  The best schemes in the world mean nothing without the players intelligent enough to run them and athletically gifted enough to make an impact.

The strength of Peyton Manning has always been beating the defense before the snap. His arm strength may not be what it once was, but his accuracy throwing the ball more than compensates....Click here for much more:

Friday, November 22, 2013 The Patriots keys to victory against Denver


Admit it. You, like every other NFL fan had this game circled on the schedule when it came out. After Baltimore threw a monkey wrench into the New England – Denver rematch in the playoffs last season, the anticipation has built-up for another classic tilt. The Wes Welker contract issues and defection to Denver just factored into the drama. With another Peyton Manning-Bill Belichick battle (Manning and Tom Brady do not exactly “face each other”) and Tom Brady lining up across from Von Miller and matching up against another Cromartie, the country will have their eyes on another New England prime time match-up.
After the sour taste left in the mouth of New England players, coaches, and fans from Mondays non-call of the interfering on tight end Rob Gronkowski (or call and then picking up of the flag to be accurate) the Patriots have no time to waste with a short week of preparation. Coming to Foxboro, MA on Sunday are the Mile High Monsters, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. With their explosive offense, the Patriots have will face a huge test on both sides of the ball.
On offense, the Patriots need to be on top of their game. There is no room for the silly mistakes like in the first half against Carolina. Running back Stevan Ridley needs to refrain from putting the ball on the ground and run hard between the tackles to extend drives.The Patriots will need their offense to finish drives and score touchdowns in the red zone rather than coming up short and kicking field goals. The key to beating Denver is to get touchdowns early and make the Broncos offense one-dimensional and predictable...Click here for much more:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cover32: 32 Minutes Podcast

featuring Hal Bent

PODCAST: 32minutes

cover32 is proud to provide you with the Week 12 episode of 32Minutes, the official cover32 weekly podcast with @reedmarks and @cubbuenning.
As always, cover32 goes “Around the League” with columnists from Philadelphia, New England, Seattle and Chicago.
And once again cover32’s traveling reporter, Pierre Brian-Reign, back from Denver to talk about the big Sunday Night AFC West showdown.
Lastly, “Four Down Territory” where the guys role play Josh McCownLuke Kuechly,Tom Brady and Wes Welker.

H4TV: NFL Shotgun Radio Show

by Hal Bent 

Tune into NFL Shotgun every Monday night at 9pm eastern as H4TV’s Dan Siegel, Hal Bent, and John DeRosa discuss all the games from that week’s NFL slate as well as giving you insights and analysis of the Monday Night game as its happening. Listen to the guys take your calls and answer your questions about teams, players, or issues around the leagues. NFL Shotgun, Monday nights at 9pm eastern at H4TV. Join us at 9PM Monday night here:

Prior episodes available to listen to here:

and here:

H4TV: New England Patriots Need to Move on From Monday Night

by Hal Bent | Posted on Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

The New England Patriots faced off against the Carolina Panthers in one of the most entertaining Monday Night Football games of the season to date. While the game was not decided until the final play of the game, the it was sixty minutes of entertainment elevating the game to the grand stage it deserved.  With just three punts and only one turnover in the game, it was a matchup of offenses as each team moved down the field deliberately and efficiently taking up big chunks of the game clock with each drive.

The last play of the game has garnered all the attention since the game ended. While no NFL fan wants to see a game coming down to a penalty flag on a pass in the end zone, there are times when the officials are required to make a judgement call on an infraction.  While quarterback Tom Brady was under pressure and under-threw the pass, an unimpeded receiver would have been able to come back to the ball and make a diving attempt.

Whether uber-athletic tight end Rob Gronkowski could make the reception or not is up to debate, there is little doubt that he has–and will again–put himself in position to at least attempt to make the catch in that situation. Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly clearly had his arms wrapped around Gronkowski and prevented him from moving towards the ball.  If the officials did not want to call pass interference, that is fine. Defensive holding or illegal contact both fit the bill for that play and would have only given the Patriots a play with no time on the clock rather than be placed at the one yard line (as defensive pass interference would result).

For Patriots fans, the game brings up memories of another November game where a pass interference call at the end of the game...CLICK HERE FOR MUCH MORE: Patriots vs. Panthers Recap


The New England Patriots faced off on Monday night against the Carolina Panthers in a rare prime-time time slot for Carolina quarterback Cam Newton. New England’s veteran quarterback Tom Brady has the experience on the Monday night stage over the past decade plus of his career. On a warm evening in Charlotte, NC, the Patriotsand Panthers wrapped up week eleven of the NFL season with two high-quality playoff-caliber teams locked in battle with the entire nation watching.
On their opening drive after stopping Carolina on a three-and-out to open the game, quarterback Tom Brady attacked the Carolina zone defense mixing runs with short passes.  However, the drive ended when New England’s offensive line blew a coverage rotation and allowed Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy free access unblocked to Brady to stall the drive.
On their second drive, the Patriots went on a long drive converting a fourth-and-two at the Carolina 35. However, inside the fifteen yard line running back Stevan Ridleycoughed up the ball and the Panthers recovered. By the time new England got the ball back they were trailing 10-0 and had less than four minutes to play in the half.  Again the Patriots offense self-destructed, this time a fifteen yard unnecessary roughness penalty on guard Logan Mankins stalling the drive and forcing a field goal attempt to make it 10-3 Carolina at halftime.
Early in the game, the Patriots offense nixed strong drives against the resilient Carolina defense with stupid penalties, mental mistakes, and turnovers...CLICK HERE FOR MORE: England Patriots Self-Destruct on Monday Night Football

BY  - 
On a warm evening in Charlotte, NC the New England Patriots faced off against the Carolina Panthers on ESPN on the national broadcast Monday Night Football game.  Two teams with strong-armed quarterbacks (Tom Brady and Cam Newton), strong running backs (Stevan Ridley and DeAngelo Williams), productive, but unheralded, receivers (Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson et al and Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, and more), and big, pass-catching tight ends (Rob Gronkowski and Greg Olsen).

On defense, the Patriots had been ravaged by injuries to both starting defensive tackles (Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly) and linebacker Jerod Mayo.  The secondary saw starting cornerback Aqib Talib return to the lineup while fellow starter Alfonzo Dennard was injured in practice and out of the lineup for the near future. The secondary later had cornerback Kyle Arrington dinged up and Talib was in and out of the lineup during the game.

The Panthers defense is one of the top units in the NFL and is responsible for their 6-3 record and spot just behind New Orleans in the NFC South. The unit is built around former Boston College standout in linebacker Luke Kuechly and his running mate linebacker Thomas Davis. Their freedom to operate in space is a result of the dynamic defensive line with rookie Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei inside and Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy outside. This Panthers unit has been a solid unit all season being at or near the lead in defensive categories, but tonight it was the New England offense that stopped themselves.

The missed opportunities hurt the Patriots as the defense fell short at the end and the offense just did not have enough at the end as they fell short...Read more here:

Thursday, November 14, 2013 Three keys to Monday night victory over Panthers


The New England Patriots return from their bye week to face off on Monday Night Football against the Carolina Panthers to close out week eleven of the 2013 NFL season. The Panthers, at 6-3, are coming off a huge victory on the road against the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers.
Coming out of the bye week there are some areas that the Patriots have had unexpected success in the first half of the season and they will be under the spotlight in their upcoming prime time games on both sides of the ball. The play of safeties, the defensive tackles, and the offensive line are three areas to watch against the Panthers that will play a large role if the Patriots can win the game on Monday night:
1. The Patriots’ Safeties:
Forget free agent safety Ed Reed. Even if the Patriots decided to bring in the slow aging veteran cast-off at veteran’s minimum. They are not going to have many snaps for him to play due to the safety position being a position of strength. Quietly so far in 2013, the safeties have been the surprise of a vastly improved New England defense.
In fact, the duo of Devin McCourty and Steve Gregory have been easily the most effective tandem in the NFL to date. With McCourty graded by as the top safety in the league (+17.9 overall) and Gregory rated eleventh (+5.3) there is no competition in the league to match this dynamic duo.
Unfortunately, with Gregory sidelined at least a few more weeks with a broken thumb incurred in the Pittsburgh game, the Patriots will be forced to lean on their younger players. Fortunately, in the past two drafts, the Patriots have taken a safety in the second round (Tavon Wilson #48 overall) in 2012 and in the third round (Duron Harmon #91 overall) last year...Click here for much more:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

H4TV: Time for NFL Teams to Show if they Pretenders or Contenders

by Hal Bent | Posted on Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

After ten weeks in the NFL the weather turns cold and teams start to separate from the pack and make their playoff push. At this point of the season with only one victory, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay are the only two NFL teams without a chance to make the playoffs in 2013.  Although long shots in the AFC Buffalo at 3-7, the Texans at 2-7 and the Raiders at 3-6 are one loss away from looking forward to 2014. In the NFC, the Vikings at 2-7, Redskins at 3-6, and the Falcons at 2-7 are basically also a loss away from making the Wild Card round in 2013.
Last week’s NFL matchups made for an important week of separating the pretenders and contenders as the teams head towards the stretch run.  There a few teams that unbeatable this season, and there are eight teams in the NFC and another eight in the AFC with between four and six wins currently.
While Kansas City, Denver, and New England fight for position at the top of the AFC, there are big questions raised by the recent performances of division leaders Cincinnati and Indianapolis. In the NFC, Seattle and New Orleans have shown that whoever grabs home field advantage could be the difference between making the Super Bowl or not, Detroit is still playing inconsistently and no one can figure out the NFC East.
The week ten games all raised a number of questions and even answered a few. Here is a look, game-by-game, at some key games and what questions were raised and what questions were answered:
Embattled Miami loses to previously 0-8 Tampa Bay 22-19
An important question in the minds of the NFL fans was if Miami was going to take the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin controversy in a manner similar to the 2007 New England Patriots following “SpyGate” or respond like the 2012 New Orleans Saints following “BountyGate”...CLICK HERE FOR MORE:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 Patriots offense: the missing piece of the puzzle


With seven wins and two losses and their bye week behind them, the New England Patriots had a rough first half and hopefully were able to get some much needed rest for their dinged up players. The Patriots face a tough test coming back from the break with games against the 6-3 Carolina Panthers and the 8-1 high scoring, Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos. After their pre-bye week explosion on offense versus Pittsburgh, the Patriots may be adding a new weapon for the second half of the season.
In week one versus Buffalo, the Patriots got a 101 yard rushing game not from feature back Stevan Ridley but rather from former second round draft pick and third-year running back Shane Vereen. Vereen, added seven receptions for 58 yards in week one as well. After being near invisible in his first two season in New England, Vereen looked very much like another explosive option to add to the Patriots offensive arsenal.
In Vereen’s first two season in New England, he sat behind third down/receiving back Danny Woodhead. Woodhead filled a vital role in the Patriots’ offense as he converted so many third downs catching passes out of the backfield or using his quickness and agility to pick up big chunks of yards running the ball and keeping drives alive. This season, without Woodhead or Vereen, the Patriots offense struggled in that area...CLICK HERE FOR MUCH MORE:

Thursday, November 07, 2013 New England Patriots Bye Week: 2014 salary cap check in


With the New England Patriots on their bye week this weekend, there are numerous questions surrounding the team: is the offensive explosion against Pittsburgh an outlier or the new normal for the offense? Has anyone ever seen injured defensive tackle Armond Armstead? Is he a mirage or does he really exist? Will there be eleven healthy players on the defense by the end of the regular season or will the Patriots be running out Marquice Cole and ten un-drafted free agents?

One concept that the team needs to always be focused on is the long-term contract situations, extensions, and contract restructuring and reworking. Although the team does not always take care of contracts during the season, the bye week is the perfect time to look at the team’s contract situations on the horizon in 2014.

With former tight end Aaron Hernandez suiting up for the Bristol County Penitentiary, the team will go into 2014 with a $7.5 million dead money charge on the cap due to his release (all cap numbers courtesy of There are certain players who have hardly stepped foot on the field whose release could free up money quite painlessly such as defensive backs Tavon Wilson and Adrian Wilson. Their releases would save about $1.5 million combined salary cap space if they were cut.

Add in some veterans who might be in line for extensions and or reworking their contracts and cap space should again be readily available to lock up some younger veterans. Letting go of newly acquired defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga would free up $2.75 million in cap space. Fellow defensive tackle Vince Wilfork has a cap number of $11.6 million, guard Logan Mankins is at $10.6 million and guard Dan Connolly is a pinch over $4 million in cap space taken up.

Besides reworking those veterans and their high cap numbers, there are several free agents to here for much more!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013 New England Patriots: Three Under-the-Radar Key Issues for Second Half of Season

BY  - 
The New England Patriots head into the bye week with a 7-2 record and a two game lead in the AFC East.  With the Miami Dolphins up to their elbows in the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito hazing/bullying/extortion scandal, the Buffalo Bills desperately trying to get any quarterback to stay healthy, and the New York Jets trying to keep winning without any consistent passing offense, the Patriots are in position to fight for a top seed in the playoffs with a strong second half as their offense returns to health.  The offense had best be healthy, as defenders keep getting injured at an alarming pace. With the bye week coming up, it is the perfect time for a look back at three under-the-radar key issues to date:

1. For the offense, two key weapons have been on the field for only a combined 71 snaps: third down/passing backs Shane Vereen and Leon Washington.  With those two missing for most of the season and Danny Woodhead in San Diego, there is a major–often not discussed–element of the offense that is causing major problems with third down conversions: the outlet pass to the running back on third down.

With Brandon Bolden miscast in that role, he had two huge drops against the Saints and Bengals that wiped out a potential big play and a potential first down at key points of the game. While Shane Vereen was spectacular in that role in the first two games before getting injured, since he went down the Patriots have not had someone to fill that role...FOR MUCH MORE CLICK HERE:

Tuesday, November 05, 2013 Patriots offense explodes against Steelers

The New England Patriots faced off against a desperate Pittsburgh Steelers team who came to Foxboro, MA with a 2-5 record and a chip on their collective shoulder after losing to Oakland the previous week. The Patriots–coming off a four game stretch of disappointing losses to Cincinnati and the New York Jets with two comeback wins that easily could have been losses to Miami and New Orleans–needed a decisive victory heading into their bye week.
The Patriots jumped out to a 24-10 lead at halftime with a throwback performance by quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski. Showing what their offense can do when the key pieces are healthy, Brady put up 252 yards and threw touchdown passes to Gronkowski and wide receiver Danny Amendola. In fact, the duo accounted for all but 42 yards through the air in the first two quarters.
Meanwhile, the defense was hardly shutting down the Steelers, but they did get the Steelers off the field on third down repeatedly in the first half as Pittsburgh converted only one of six third downs through the first two quarters. The positive signs on defense for New England included sacks from defensive ends Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich (including a forced fumble) and an interception by safety Devin McCourty.
The excitement was ramped up in the third and fourth quarters as the Patriots let the Steelers come back and tie the game in the third quarter before a wild fourth quarter where the Patriots scored four touchdowns and turned a close game into a laugher....CLICK HERE FOR MUCH MORE: CLEVELAND BROWNS GAME REVIEW: BIG WIN BY BEATING BALTIMORE

by Hal Bent

The Cleveland Browns have been one of the biggest success stories of the NFL this 2013 season.  Expected to be fighting for the top draft pick in the 2014 NFL Draft after starting 0-2 and trading away former #3 overall pick running back Trent Richardson, the Browns ripped off three straight wins behind quarterback Brian Hoyer.  When Hoyer tore his ACL against the Buffalo Bills in the Browns nationally televised Thursday night victory over the Buffalo Bills, the team was expected to go back to their losing ways.
With quarterback Brandon Weeden back behind center, the wheels came off the offense and the defense seemed to regress in turn.  Losses to NFC Central powerhouses Detroit and Green Bay had fair-weather Browns fans thinking about the 2014 NFL Draft again.  However, with the Browns going into Arrowhead Stadium to face the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs last week, a change at quarterback revitalized the Browns.  The offense and defense stepped up and nearly pulled off a huge upset.
This past Sunday afternoon, with AFC North division rival and defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens in town, the Browns rode the strong arm and veteran smarts of quarterback Jason Campbell to big divisional win and positioned themselves to remain in the Wild Card race as they entered their bye week...CLICK HERE FOR MORE:

Sunday, November 03, 2013 New England Patriots: Three Hidden Keys for Victory on Sunday vs Steelers

BY  - 
The New England Patriots face a tough match-up against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday afternoon against the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Pittsburgh, who are 2-5 and desperate for a win, come in having won two of three games after an 0-4 start. The Patriots are coming off an inconsistent performance against the Dolphins where they trailed 17-3 at halftime before coming back to play one of their better halves of football and outscore Miami 24-0. With New England going into a bye week, the Patriots are in position to cap off a strong start to the season and get ready for the home stretch to the playoffs.

The Patriots have been inconsistent on offense and defense this season.  Injuries have ravaged both sides of the ball with top defensive tackles Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly (both out for the season), linebacker Jerod Mayo (out for the season), and cornerback Aqib Talib.  On offense, third down/passing running back Shane Vereen went out early in the season as did free agent wide receiver Danny Amendola after both starred in the opening season win against Buffalo. Of course, tight end Rob Gronkowski is just now returning to full strength after missing almost the first half of the season.

This week against Pittsburgh has all the makings of a “trap game”” Pittsburgh has a lot of talent on both sides of the ball that has underachieved; the offense can be explosive, especially through the air; the Patriots are a week away from a much needed bye week; and the Patriots were a no-show against Miami in the first half and came back to win despite playing thirty minutes of terrible football.  Here are three hidden keys that will play a major role in determining the outcome of Sunday’s game: CLICK HERE FOR MUCH MORE:

Saturday, November 02, 2013

H4TV: New England Patriots Face Big Test from Steelers in Potential "Trap Game" After Big Comeback Win Over the Miami Dolphins

by Hal Bent | Posted on Saturday, November 2nd, 2013
...The Pittsburgh Steelers come to Foxboro, MA in last place in the AFC North. That said, the team is 2-5 and in desperate need of a victory.  This Steelers squad is a different beast than the teams that faced off against the Patriots in some epic battles in the past.  The Steelers are a passing offense as the traditional Pittsburgh power running game is missing this season.  On defense, the Steelers have struggled to stop the opposing rushing offenses and as a result suffered in the passing game being susceptible to play-action.

Last week against Oakland was the Pittsburgh season in a nutshell: The Steelers rushed for only 35 yards on 19 attempts (1.8 yards per rush) and gave up 197 yards on the ground to the Raiders (including a 93 yard touchdown rush by quarterback Terrelle Pryor).  On offense, the Steelers passed the ball 45 times with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throwing for 275 yards, but two interceptions and was sacked five times.

For the Patriots, the offense has multiple options in attacking the Steelers offense. Getting running backs Stevan Ridley and bruiser LeGarrette Blount involved is going to be part of the plan.  What stands out with the Steelers defense is that the signature run-stuffing front seven is non-existent. Big bodies Ziggy Hood and Cameron Heyward are still learning and are often moved out of position by superior technique by blockers. While strong penetrating the line to get at the quarterback, that rush often leaves holes for running backs to scamper through.

At linebacker, Lamarr Woodley has been great at getting at the opposing quarterback and Lawrence Timmons has been effective covering up backs and tight ends in pass coverage.  Behind them, they have lacked the attitude and smarts of veteran James Harrison.  In addition, stopping the run is not a strength of Woodley or Timmons, and teams have been effective when their linemen get to that second level.

What the Patriots have done on offense against the Steelers in the past was to spread out the 3-4 defense and attack with four or five receivers...FOR MUCH MORE CLICK HERE: New England Patriots’ Top 2019 NFL Draft Picks Show Evolution on Both Sides of the Ball

The New England Patriots may have tipped their hand with their first two 2019 NFL Draft picks. Choosing a bigger, more aggressive outside-...