Friday, January 31, 2014

Cover32: Former Bears GM Jerry Angelo Wrong About Pats

By Hal Bent
January 31, 2014 11:14 am EST

Former Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo made news this week with his take on Twitter and as to why the New England Patriots lost to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game. It was not about how the teams matched up on the field per se and Angelo had little issue with head coach Bill Belichick. Rather it was an indictment on Bill Belichick the general manager.

The gist of what Angelo indicated when laying out his premise was that Denver beat New England because they invested in wide receivers and tight ends while New England built their team around their offensive line and their running backs. Unfortunately for him, it was far from the truth.

The Patriots lost the game because their best skill position players were not on the field (on offense and defense) due to injury first and foremost. With Rob Gronkowski at tight end, the Patriots put on a second-half offensive explosion in Week 12 of the regular season to defeat Denver. This past game featured Michael Hoomanawanui and Matthew Mulligan at tight end. This team was built around the tight ends in 2010 with Gronkowski and the presently incarcerated Aaron Hernandez.

While no one could predict the multiple forearm surgeries and subsequent knee injury to Gronkowski, even more unbelievable was the release of Hernandez after his alleged criminal activity in the off-season...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Shifting Balance of Power in the American League East

H4TV:  Shifting Balance of Power in the American League East

Does the Masahiro Tanaka signing show a shift in the balance of power in the AL East where Boston has been very quiet this off-season?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Cover32: Preview: AFC Championship will come down to matchups


The New England Patriots face the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game this afternoon with a trip to the Super Bowl for the winner. Travelling to the high altitude of Denver, CO is never an easy trip for any defense, particularly with future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning and his record-setting offense waiting. In addition, the Patriots’ hard-charging running game will meet the statistical top ten rushing defense of the Broncos.
One issue with comparing the two teams involved in the AFC Championship Game is that the teams have evolved significantly since their previous matchup in Week 12 of the NFL season. New England is without tight end Rob Gronkowski which has significantly changed their offense. For Denver, the loss of linebacker Von Miller has had a negative effect on their defense.
In addition to the injury to two of the most important players on their respective teams, both squads are dealing with recent injuries. Denver lost cornerback Chris Harris to a torn ACL, while New England lost top run-stuffing linebacker Brandon Spikes to a knee injury (or punishment for being late to the facility one time too many). With so much having been written about the quarterbacks for each team and their respective legacies and matchups in past seasons, it is finally time to focus on the other players on the field and what could happen when they finally meet on the field of play.
When Denver has the ball
Much has been made about the Denver offense and its record-setting ways in 2013. Just like the New England Patriots offense in 2007, the Broncos did a lot of damage early in the season in ideal weather conditions against inferior competition. Also like that Patriots team in 2007, the offense looked only a step above average in the playoffs. For all the records and gaudy performances against bad defenses (Tennessee, Dallas, Jacksonville, Oakland, and the New York Giants), the Broncos offense has been slowly regressing...CLICK HERE FOR MUCH MORE:

Friday, January 17, 2014

Cover32: Under-the-radar players who could decide Pats-Broncos game


The New England Patriots play the cream of the crop of the AFC, the Denver Broncos, at mile-high altitude on Sunday afternoon. The Broncos were sluggish in their first game back from the bye week, and it showed as their offense failed to maintain consistency against a gritty Chargers defense. However, the big Denver defensive line stepped up, stuffing the Chargers’ game plan to ground and pound and even adding some timely pressure and drive-ending sacks.
This week, with the knowledge gained from their dramatic Week 12 come-from-behind victory over the Broncos, the Patriots match up with them following their strong win against the AFC South champion Indianapolis Colts. The Colts were unable to replicate their dramatic come-from-behind victory in the Wild Card round over the Kansas City Chiefs last week. New England’s power running game punished the Colts defense and left them with no chance to catch up in the closing minutes.
The storyline that has been played out ad nauseum this week has been the matchup of quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Add in the rehashed wide receiverWes Welker offseason move and the endless rehashed stories that come out of that and the average Patriots fan is hungering for some knowledge beyond the stars of the game. As we did last week in preparation for the Colts game, we present four under-the-radar players (two from each team) who could have a huge impact on their team’s chances for victory on Sunday afternoon.
New England center Ryan Wendell
The New England Patriots have had success in the passing game and running the ball after a tough start to the season. At the beginning of the season, the team struggled to move the ball on offense, as the running backs struggled to find space and quarterback Tom Brady struggled under a pocket-collapsing pass rush.
A big part of that problem was the interior of the offensive here for more:

H4TV: The AFC Championship Game Between New England Patriots & Denver Broncos Looks to Be an Instant Classic

by Hal Bent | Posted on Tuesday, January 14th, 2014
The AFC Championship Game is ready to go: the New England Patriots are set to travel to Colorado and face the Denver Broncos in the match-up of the top two teams in the AFC.  Once again it is an epic battle between two Hall of Fame quarterbacks in the postseason. Denver quarterback Peyton Manning faces future Hall of Fame coach Bill Belichick’s defense while New England quarterback Tom Brady faces the underrated defensive acumen of Denver head coach John Fox.  While New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio handle the nuts and bolts of their defenses, both head coaches will have their fingerprints on the defensive game plans.
For New England, the offense has leaned upon their running game the last few weeks to great success. In week 16 against Baltimore, week 17 against Buffalo, and on Saturday night against the Indianapolis Colts the Patriots offense channeled their inner Olivia Newton-John and “got physical.”  With playoff losses in four straight season directly attributable to the finesse offense getting bullied by Baltimore (twice), the Rex Ryan New York Jets, and the Giants in the Super Bowl, this New England Patriots team is different than the high-scoring offenses of years past. The Patriots had to adapt to significant injuries and rebrand themselves as a “ground and pound” offense.
Unlike most teams with this offensive philosophy, the Patriots have a quarterback who can take over the game at anytime and put up big numbers and get yards in bunches.  Against Denver on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game the Patriots will have to do more than just run the ball again and again into Denver’s strong run defense.
Last week against San Diego, the Denver run defense shut-down the Chargers plan to control the clock and keep the high-powered Broncos offense on the sideline. By halftime the Chargers had to give up their ball-control plan as their running game put up only 44 yards on 12 rushes. With the San Diego offense consistently facing second and third and long yardage due to the Denver run defense buckling down, the Broncos were able to put the Chargers in obvious passing downs and tee off on quarterback Philip Rivers.
For the Patriots on offense, they will need to mix up their play calls and be prepared to attack the Broncos secondary. While cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has been Denver’s best option in pass coverage, fellow cornerback Chris Harris has not been far behind. Unfortunately, Harris was lost during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game with a knee injury that will require surgery and end his season. Not coincidently, not long after Harris left the game the Chargers passing game came to life.
Without Harris, Denver was forced to lean upon veterans Champ Bailey and Quentin Jammer and, as expected, the long-in-tooth veterans struggled.  For New England quarterback Tom Brady, finding the match-ups with these two cornerbacks–particularly with shifty slot receivers Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman–and attacking them at every opportunity. Last week San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers completed all three passes on Bailey and three of five for some big plays against Jammer by receivers Eddie Royal and Keenan here for more:

MusketFire: AFC Championship Preview: New England Patriots Offense vs Denver Broncos Defense

BY  - 
The New England Patriots are going to the AFC Championship Game.  After defeating Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night the Patriots will be facing off against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. After a dramatic week twelve comeback victory against Denver, this time the Patriots are in Denver as they battle for the right to represent the AFC against either San Francisco or Seattle in the Super Bowl.

The Patriots and Broncos match-up will garner attention on the marquee quarterbacks involved: veterans Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. However, the two never set foot on the field at any time the clock is running and the game is really a chess match between the quarterback reacting to the look given by the defensive coordinator.  This game is a battle of wills and wiles between Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio and New England Tom Brady and Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

There are a number of intriguing plot-lines for Sunday’s AFC Championship Game. A big question revolves around how the Patriots offense will attack the Broncos defense.  In week twelve the Broncos defense made a number of big plays in the first half to stymie the Patriots offense. The Broncos defense forced and recovered three fumbles on the first three Patriots drives of the game to leap out to a 17-0 lead and eventually expand to 24-0. This would force New England out of their game plan and into a spread passing offense on nearly every down.

On Sunday the conventional wisdom is that Tom Brady and the New England offense will continue its smash-mouth power running offense that they have displayed in the last three games.  However, as San Diego found out last week, running the ball into the mouth of the Denver defense is an invitation to fall behind and struggle to play catch-up to the most potent offense in NFL history....Click here for more:

MusketFire: AFC Championship Preview: New England Patriots Defense vs Denver Broncos Offense

BY  - 
The New England Patriots will play the Denver Broncos on Sunday afternoon in the AFC Championship Game.  Coming off their defeat of Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night the Patriots will be facing off against the number one seed in the AFC in Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. After a dramatic week twelve comeback victory against Denver at home in frigid, windy Foxboro, MA, this time New England is in the Mile High city as they battle the Broncos for the right to represent the AFC against either NFC representative in the Super Bowl.

In the week twelve match-up against Denver Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia presented Denver quarterback Peyton Manning with an irresistible temptation: a two deep shell with extra defensive backs for every snap (all 90) on defense. The Patriots were in a 17-0 halftime hole (soon to be 24-0) due to Denver outside linebacker Von Miller inserting his influence all over the field.  Fortunately for the Patriots offense, Von Miller will not be on the field Sunday.

On the field will be quarterback Peyton Manning for Denver. In addition to his lightning-quick decision-making his much improved arm strength has allowed him to put up unparalleled statistics in 2013. With Manning, a defense does not so much as stop him as much as it simply slows him down.

While New England escaped with a victory in week twelve against Denver, the Broncos offense will again be the biggest test of the revamped, reworked, and renewed Patriots defense.  Previously the match-up of the Patriots offense and Broncos defense was detailed HERE at, this piece will focus on the match-up between the Patriots defense and the Broncos high-powered, record-setting offense....Click here for more:

Monday, January 13, 2014

Cover32: Guess who earned this week’s Cover32 New England Patriots Game Balls?


The New England Patriots defeated the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game 43-22 in a wet and rainy Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA. The Colts fell behind less than two minutes into the game, but hung around into the fourth quarter, when the Patriots finally put them away. Unlike against Kansas City in the Wild Card round, the Colts were unable to stop the power running of the New England Patriots.
It was a total team performance from the Patriots. Big plays were made in the running game and in the passing game by the offense. On defense, the Patriots took the Colts’ running game and rendered it irrelevant, holding the Colts to 69 total rushing yards. The defense intercepted quarterback Andrew Luck four times and held the hottest quarterback in the NFL to a 53.0 quarterback rating.
In light of the strong performance on both sides of the ball (and this being the playoffs), there will be a game ball on offense and another one on defense, as both squads were strong in the game.
There was consideration for a third game ball on special teams for kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who stepped up to handle punting duties following Ryan Allen’s injury. In addition, his booming kickoffs helped pin the Colts deep in their own end. But the offensive and defensive winners truly carried their team on each side of the ball.
In the past decade it would be shocking to think of the New England Patriots’ offense running the ball 46 times and passing the ball only 25 times. This season, with tight end Aaron Hernandez released, tight end Rob Gronkowski recovering from surgery yet again, and the trio of rookie wide receivers that contributed earlier in the season all injured, the Patriots’ offense continues to evolve to fit the parts that are on the field.
Quarterback Tom Brady made his share of big plays, particularly finding wide receivers Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman for big gains at times. But 13 completions for 198 yards is not the usual Tom Brady performance. Instead, Brady put aside any ego and ran —and even checked to—the plays that gave the team the best chance to win. Brady even contributed on special teams, serving as kicker Stephen Gostkowski’s holder on the final two extra points.
However, the big star was the Patriots’ running game. CLICK HERE FOR MUCH MORE:

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Cover32: New England Patriots - Indianapolis Colts Game Preview at What to Watch For On Both Sides of the Ball:


The New England Patriots are facing the Indianapolis Colts tonight in Foxboro, MA. The AFC divisional round game features two star quarterbacks wearing number twelve. One is a three-time Super Bowl champion; the other is the former number one overall pick and a de-facto future star of the NFL. Both Tom Brady and Andrew Luck are looking to take another step forward in their legacies with tonight’s game.
The Colts are coming off of their dramatic Wild Card Weekend win over the Kansas City Chiefs, in which they overcame a 28-point deficit to pull out the improbable victory. The Patriots have had a bye week in which to get their team as healthy as possible in preparation for a playoff run. In what is expected to be a wet and windy game, the quarterbacks will have significant impact on the final verdict as to who move forward to play in the AFC Championship Game.
When New England has the ball
The Patriots’ offense has been evolving throughout the 2013 season. Losing tight end Aaron Hernandez and letting running back Danny Woodhead and wide receivers Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker leave has changed the offense dramatically compared to the 2012 version. New England was also without All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski for an extended period of time this season. The offense continued to struggle early in the season as free agent wide receiver Danny Amendola missed time and was visibly hampered by injury when he returned. Add in the loss of receiving running back Shane Vereen and most key weapons were on the sidelines.
After a short stretch with the key players returning to the field, the team had to adjust the offense again when losing Gronkowski for the season. Since then, the Patriots’ offense has been operating with power running look. With big back LeGarrette Blount stepping in as the lead running back, the Patriots’ offense has been often loading up with blocking tight ends and fullback James Develin.
While running back Stevan Ridley has run effectively in the last quarter of the season, his reduced role has seen LeGarrette Blount literally and figuratively take the ball and run with it. With injuries to the core of rookie wide receivers in the second half of the season, the Patriots’ passing offense has seemingly focused solely on wide receiver Julian Edelman when passing the ball.
Surprisingly, the keys to victory could rest in the hands of fullback James Develin and tight ends Michael Hoomanawanui and Matthew Mulligan...Click here for much more:

MusketFire: 3 Key Match-ups Colts Offense vs Patriots Defense

BY  - 
The New England Patriots face theIndianapolis Colts on Saturday night in a home playoff game for the right to go to the AFC Championship Game.  After a week of rest and a chance to get some players as healthy as possible, New England has the comeback Colts in their sights. Following their 28 point comeback against theKansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card Round of the NFL Playoffs, Indianapolis is riding high in the saddle.

New England has a tough matchup on their hands as they face a Colts team brimming with confidence.  The Colts are led by a young, hungry superstar with a number of regular season late game heroics under his belt. Quarterback Andrew Luck now has a huge postseason win on his resume and expectations are sky high. For New England to slow down the red hot Colts, there are a few key match-ups that need to be won to have success and win to move on to the AFC Championship Game.

Below is a look at three key matchups of the Colts’ offense versus the Patriots’ defense that will will be indicators to which side comes out victorious on Saturday night.


1. In a homecoming of sorts, two former Boston College offensive linemen are back in the Boston area. Unfortunately for Colts tackles for Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus they have a difficult day ahead of them on Saturday night. Lining up opposite the two former Eagles are Patriots defensive ends Rob Ninkovich & Chandler Jones and their 19.5 combined here for much more:

Friday, January 10, 2014

Cover32: Under-the-radar players who could decide Pats-Colts game

The New England Patriots play the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium Saturday night, thanks to the Colts’ dramatic come-from-behind victory over the Kansas City Chiefs last week. Indianapolis came storming back from a 28 point deficit behind the clutch play of outside linebacker Robert Mathis, quarterback Andrew Luck, and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. These three players have received plenty of attention from the media and likely are the focal point of the Patriots coaching staff.
Those three stars are likely to be the focus of the Patriots’ game planning, but the Colts are likely keying on Patriots’ key players as well. Quarterback Tom Brady, wide receiver Julian Edelman, and defensive end Chandler Jones are likely receiving extra attention in the film room from Colts coaches and players. But beyond these stars for each team are forty two other active players on each squad who will be fighting to give their team a chance to win and go to the AFC Championship Game.
Rather than focusing on the star players for Indianapolis and New England who have been covered ad nauseum, here are a four under-the-radar players (two from each team) who could have a huge impact on their team’s chances for victory on Saturday night.
New England defensive tackle Chris Jones...Click here for much more:

Talking Patriots with DKrom...

Talking Patriots with DKrom...

Discover Sports Internet Radio with SPORTS KRUNCH wXDKROM on BlogTalkRadio

Going live at 6PM on Friday 1/10/2013 to discuss tomorrow's slate of NFL Divisional Playoff action!! 

First, Pieter Kaiser joins Kromie to give us his take on the Saints/Seahawks matchup and then Hal Bent will give us his analysis on the Colts/Patriots matchup!!! Click the link and tune in NFL junkies!!!!

Thursday, January 09, 2014

H4TV: MLB Access BlogTalkRadio Show

Check out my spot behind the mike at H4TV's BlogTalkRadio Show: MLB Access: Talking Red Sox left side of the infield, AL East, Hot Stove Talk, Hall of Fame banter and debate, and sleeper teams in 2014.  

Remember, it's on every Wednesday night at 9PM eastern. 1/8/2014's show is below.

Current Sports Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with H4TV NEWS on BlogTalkRadio

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

MusketFire: Three Key Match-ups: Indianapolis Colts Defense vs New England Patriots Offense

BY  - 
The New England Patriots face-off against the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday in Foxboro, MA. The Colts come in on the heels of their historic comeback against theKansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card Round of the NFL Playoffs. The Patriots have a tough matchup on their hands as they face a young, hungry team with playmakers on both sides of the ball.  For New England to win, there are a few key match-ups that need to be won to have success and advance to the AFC Championship Game.

Below is a look at three key matchups of the Colts’ defense versus the Patriots’ offense that will will be indicators to which side comes out victorious on Saturday night.


1. First off, Indianapolis defensive end/outside linebacker Robert Mathis is a difference maker on defense. Without a doubt he stands as the best player on the Colts’ defense and has been a consistent disruptive force....CLICK HERE FOR MUCH MORE:

Monday, January 06, 2014

Cover32: The 2013 Patriots Game Ball goes to…


The New England Patriots finished the 2013 regular season with a dozen victories and only four close losses. In the loss to the Bengals, a pass in the end zone at the end of the game fell short in a monsoon; a bizarre penalty call sent the Jets game to overtime where the Patriots lost by three; the last two losses to Carolina and Miami saw the Patriots with a chance to win the game at the end of the fourth quarter. Of course, there were some close victories as well with Week 1 in Buffalo, the Week 6 Saints comeback, the Week 8 Dolphins game, Week 14 against Cleveland, and of course the Week 12 comeback against Denver, to name a few.
The Patriots have been good, lucky, and most of all competitive each and every week. Early in the season games were won by the defense when players like defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, linebacker Jerod Mayo, and cornerback Aqib Talib had big games and helped the Patriots win ugly as the offense adapted to having tight end Aaron Hernandez in jail, tight end Rob Gronkowski out injured, and wide receiver Wes Welker helping Peyton Manning set records in Denver. In their place the Patriots leaned on young wide receivers Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins as free agent signing Danny Amendola was injured.
When the defense was decimated by injuries (Talib, Mayo, Kelly, Vince Wilfork, and just about everyone in the secondary a one time or another), tight end Rob Gronkowski and running back Shane Vereen returned to spark the offense while running back Stevan Ridley took a back seat due to fumbling issues. QuarterbackTom Brady started putting up big passing numbers again and New England looked back to their 2012 level of production. However, another injury to Gronkowski, Vereen dinged up, the rookie wide receivers all injured, and the secondary still in flux due to injury left the Patriots leaning on running back LeGarrette Blount and wide receiver Julian Edelman to win games.
There are a number of deserving players for the cover32 Game Ball for the entire regular season: Click here for much more:

Sunday, January 05, 2014 New England Patriots Offense Adapts Again for Postseason

BY  - 
The New England Patriots have become one of the most difficult offenses to prepare for in the NFL.  Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is effective at devising game plans based upon the matchup and personnel healthy enough to play that week.  The Patriots offense going into the playoffs is very different from the one that started the season. In fact, it is also very different from the one that put up big passing yards after the bye week. This is the third distinct phase of the offense as they have now moved to a power running offense reminiscent of the Corey Dillon era Patriots teams.

The 2013  NFL season was a challenge for New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as the two-tight end offense of 2012 was decimated in the offseason by surgeries and an off-field arrest.  Even when top tight end Rob Gronkowski returned to action, he soon suffered another devastating injury to end his season and take away the offense’s most dynamic weapon.

Without tight end Rob Gronkowski the New England Patriots not only were missing a key component of the passing game, but also a huge cog in the running game. At 6-6 and 265 pounds, Gronkowski was a big part of the run blocking prowess of the offense. Without him, in addition to losing the mismatch in the passing game, the Patriots offense has to substitute Michael Hoomanawanui and Matthew Mulligan, neither of whom are as effective run blockers as Gronkowski.

In the absence of Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots offensive game plans have leaned heavily on the running game. Some games, the running game was still reduced as the team fell behind and was forced to spread the field and throw the ball to catch-up. In November and December for five straight games the Patriots were forced to come from behind leaning on quarterback Tom Brady and the passing game. While ultimately losing to Carolina and Miami with chances to win on the last drive of the game, the Patriots passing game thrived in the absence of a consistent running game.

Purely based on year-end total statistics the Patriots offense looked balanced in 2013 as they finished tenth in average passing yards per game and ninth in average rushing yards per game.  A closer examination instead shows that New England has gone through an evolution on offense in three distinct phases...

Friday, January 03, 2014

Cover32: No Matter the Opponent--New England Patriots' Health is Major Indicator for Playoff Success


The New England Patriots are still waiting to see which team comes out of the first round of the playoffs and comes to Foxboro, MA on January 11th for an 8:15pm Saturday night game. At this point either Cincinnati, Indianapolis, or Kansas City will be coming to town to try and squash the Patriots postseason hopes. San Diego, as the number six seed, would automatically travel to Denver if they knock off the Bengals on Sunday.

For the Patriots, whichever team comes into town next week is less relevant than one would believe. All three are good teams who are capable of making a run in the playoffs. However, the Patriots’ success in the postseason is more about taking care of their own house. For New England, the two weeks between games will give them the opportunity to get some key players healthy on both sides of the ball and get ready to bring forth their best effort against their next opponent.

For the Patriots, their Week 17 matchup last week against Buffalo was a microcosm of their 2013 season: an up-and-down performance highlighted by players stepping up who were not expected to be big contributors to the team. As we highlighted by awarding them both Game Balls this week, running back LeGarrette Blount and defensive tackle Sealver Siliga played huge roles in defeating a motivated Buffalo Bills team.

On offense, the Patriots have been consistently inconsistent. No matter the opponent, the Patriots have been impossible to predict... 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-...