Friday, October 31, 2014

Cover32: Why is this week’s Patriots-Broncos matchup so different from last year’s? | New England Patriots

Why is this week’s Patriots-Broncos matchup so different from last year’s? | New England Patriots



The New England Patriots face-off against the Denver Broncos in a rematch of the AFC Championship Game from last season. Unlike that game, the Patriots and the Broncos will be meeting on the cold, wet, windy field of Gillette Stadium, rather than in the Mile High atmosphere of Denver. A year ago, a depleted Patriots offense was overwhelmed by a strong Denver front line on defense. On defense, a 3-0 game turned into a blowout as former Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib left the game after being hit by former Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cover32: Grade Day: Are the New England Patriots hitting on all cylinders, yet? | New England Patriots | Page 2

Grade Day: Are the New England Patriots hitting on all cylinders, yet? | New England Patriots | Page 2

On a beautiful autumn afternoon at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA, the New England Patriots crushed the Chicago Bears 51-23. It was a strong overall performance on both sides of the ball as the Patriots took a 7-0 lead after one quarter and put 31 points up during the second quarter putting the game away early and putting New England in high spirits as they prepare for a showdown with the defending AFC Champion Denver Broncos and record-setting quarterback Peyton Manning.
But first, a final look back to the Bears game and the weekly grades:

Sunday, October 26, 2014

MusketFire: New England Patriots Dominate Dysfunctional Chicago Bears

New England Patriots Dominate Dysfunctional Chicago Bears

With running back Jonas Gray (17 rushes for 86 yards) running hard, wide receiverBrandon LaFell (11 receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown) having a signature performance as a Patriot, and tight end Rob Gronkowski (9 receptions for 124 yards and 3 touchdowns) basically unstoppable the Bears defense was back on their heels and did not force a punt until well into the second half of the game. Quarterback Tom Brady (30 of 35 for 354 yards and 5 touchdowns) had his sharpest performance of the season as the Bears took away slot wide receiver Julian Edelman but no one in the Bears secondary could slow Gronkowski and LaFell.

MusketFire: New England Patriots vs Bears: Final Pregame Thoughts

New England Patriots vs Bears: Final Pregame Thoughts

The Patriots welcome the Chicago Bears to Gillette Stadium this afternoon. The Bears may be have a losing record so far in 2014, but the Monsters of the Midway have an offense that has big-play receivers and the most versatile running back in the league in Matt Forte. On defense, their defensive line play is superb and they have solid players in the secondary–especially with impressive rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller upgraded to “Probable” and likely to play.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Cover32: The New England Patriots need to find some consistency very quickly | New England Patriots

The New England Patriots need to find some consistency very quickly | New England Patriots

One tenet of the Bill Belichick defense in New England has been a deliberate attempt to prevent a big play in the passing game. Year after year, fans bemoan the “bend-but-don’t-break” defense that allows opponents to sustain drives after drives, giving the opponent small chunks of yardage in exchange for taking away downfield plays. The Patriots rank at the top of the NFL after seven weeks, allowing just 208 yards passing per game which would imply a top passing defense.



However, that is clearly not the case.



The Patriots are fifth from the bottom of the league in rushing defense, and teams have been eschewing piling up yards through the air in order to run the ball. Now, part of that is due to the level of competition as Minnesota, Oakland, Buffalo, and the New York Jets have subpar passing attacks and offenses that perform better with a running game. New England has had four games allowing under 80 yards rushing and three games allowing over 190 yards rushing.



How does that happen?

H4TV: Are The New England Patriots Ready to be Tested? - The Sports Journal

Are The New England Patriots Ready to be Tested? - The Sports Journal

After seven weeks the New England Patriots find themselves in a familiar situation: on top of the AFC East. Despite a shocking week one second-half meltdown in Miami in week one, the Patriots gutted out two ugly wins against the Minnesota Vikings and Oakland Raiders (a combined 2-11 so far in 2014). Week four saw the Monday Night Massacre as the Kansas City Chiefs ran roughshod on the New England defense while blitzing future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Tom Brady right off the field leading many to question if this is the end of the Bill Belichick Dynasty in New England...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

MusketFire: New England Patriots Have Match-up Options vs Bears

New England Patriots Have Match-up Options vs Bears



At five wins and two losses through seven games the New England Patriots are sitting atop the AFC East once again in a familiar position of strength after defeating their division rivals the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets these last two weeks. Now the Patriots are moving forward likely without top pass-rusher Chandler Jones as he is out for a few weeks with a hip injury. The Patriots face the Chicago Bears at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.



For the Patriots, the loss of Jones is huge. He has been their most consistent pass rusher and puts pressure on his replacement to pick-up the slack. Look for first-round draft pick Dominique Easley to pick-up playing time in Jones’ place, particularly on third down. Also, sixth-round draft pick Zach Moore generated some pressure inside in the past two weeks and could step in for Easley inside if he slides out to the edge. Rob Ninkovich will be expected to bring pressure Sunday, especially with young right tackle Jordan Mills the weak link of the Bears offensive line...

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cover32: Grade Day: Which New England Patriot performed best against the Jets? | New England Patriots

Grade Day: Which New England Patriot performed best against the Jets? | New England Patriots

The New England Patriots came out with their muskets firing against the New York Jets on a wet and humid October night in Foxborough, MA on Thursday Night Football. It looked like it would be a banner game for the Patriots after a four-play, 80-yard drive was highlighted by a 49-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tom Brady to running back Shane Vereen gave the Patriots the lead a minute-and-a-half into the game.



That lead did not last long as the Jets drove deep into New England territory on long, sustained drives on their first five possessions of the game. The Jets dominated the game as they ran 80 plays to the Patriots 53, had 28 first downs to the Patriots 16, 218 yards rushing to the Patriots 63 and controlled the ball for over 40 minutes. But the Jets still lost the game 27-25, falling short on a two-point conversion and a blocked 58-yard, desperation field goal.



The Patriots were gassed physically and mentally on the field after just a three-day turnaround from a tough, physical game against the Buffalo Bills. Factor in the emotional swings that came with the loss of defensive captain Jerod Mayo and starting running back Stevan Ridley, and the Patriots were in a vulnerable position. Fortunately, they escaped the trap game as they rode the leadership and strong play of quarterback Tom Brady and earned a few days of rest after playing four games in the last 18 days.



With the 27-25 win in the books, here are the grades from Thursday night:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

MusketFire.com: New England Patriots' Offense Needs to Avoid "Trap" Game

New England Patriots' Offense Needs to Avoid "Trap" Game

The New England Patriots kick-off week seven of the NFL 2014 season as they face-off against their division rival New York Jets on Thursday Night Football.  The Patriots are coming off back-to-back victories as they defeated Cincinnati 43-17 on an emotional Sunday night at Gillette Stadium and then went into Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, NY and beat Buffalo decisively 37-22. Now they face a hungry Jets squad with just one win and five losses.



A short week. A desperate opponent with nothing to lose. A division rival who knows all of the Patriots’ strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies. The Patriots coming off two emotional wins and suffering a number of major injuries. It screams “trap game”.



So how do the Patriots avoid a letdown on offense Thursday night versus the Jets? Here are two ways to do it:

Cover32: Grade Day: The New England Patriots are finally rounding into form | New England Patriots

Grade Day: The New England Patriots are finally rounding into form | New England Patriots

Sunday afternoon we saw the New England Patriots face the Buffalo Bills in Week 6 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, NY. It was a celebration in Buffalo as the Bills introduced new owner Terry Pegula for the first game with new ownership after over 50 years with the Wilson family. It was bittersweet for the Bills as they fell to the Patriots 37-22. It was bittersweet for New England as well, as starting running back Stevan Ridley and defensive captain and linebacker Jerod Mayo suffered what appear to be season-ending injuries.



The Patriots had a classic Bill Belichick game plan straight out of 2004 as cornerback Darrelle Revis played the role of Ty Law, taking away the top passing threat, who, in this case, was dynamic rookie Sammy Watkins. In addition, he took away what Buffalo does best as the defense and massive tackles Vince Wilfork and newcomer Casey Walker clogged up the middle of the defense. On offense it was the Tom Brady show as the veteran quarterback shook off an ankle injury that occurred at practice on Friday to again light up the scoreboard with a solid performance from an injury-riddled offensive line

Sunday, October 12, 2014

MusketFire: Instant Analysis: New England Patriots Get Tough Road Win

Instant Analysis: New England Patriots Get Tough Road Win

It was a celebration in Buffalo as the crowd was noisy and boisterous in Orchard Park, NY as Ralph Wilson Stadium welcomed new owner Terry Pegula. Less welcome was number twelve in the New England Patriots White and Blue road uniforms as quarterback Tom Brady once more faced off against his division rivals to the North, this time with sole possession of first place in the AFC East for the taking.



It was a game about toughness: both teams had strong running games and both teams were determined to not allow the other to control the clock and grind out yards. The Patriots had just 50 yards rushing on 27 attempts. Buffalo ground out 68 yards on 23 carries (all statistics from NFL.com). Both teams were forced to go to the air to try win the game (especially for New England after Stevan Ridley left with a knee injury in the third quarter). The Patriots had Tom Brady behind center and Darrelle Revis matched-up on the Bills top receiving weapon.



Advantage New England.



http://musketfire.com/2014/10/12/instant-analysis-new-england-patriots-get-tough-road-win-vs-buffalo-bills/


Saturday, October 11, 2014

MusketFire: What is the New England Patriots' Game Plan to Defeat the Buffalo Bills on Sunday?

What is the New England Patriots' Game Plan to Defeat the Buffalo Bills on Sunday?

The Patriots have their work cut out for them against a tough Buffalo defense on Sunday. In addition, rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins is emerging as a legitimate star in his first season in the NFL. With Buffalo still having a strong running game still and veteran Kyle Orton stepping in for ineffective second-year quarterback E.J. Manuel, the Patriots will be in for a sixty minute battle against a highly talented squad.



Here is a look at the offensive and defensive game plan for New England to beat the Bills.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Cover32: Grade Day: The New England Patriots’ stars came to play in primetime | New England Patriots

Grade Day: The New England Patriots’ stars came to play in primetime | New England Patriots

After last week against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Monday Night Massacre, the New England Patriots received some understandably harsh criticism in the week leading up to their showdown with the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals. Against Kansas City the Patriots run defense was carved up like a turkey, and the pass defense was swiss cheese. On offense the running game was invisible and an afterthought, while the passing game never got off the ground due to some poor pass protection and a rattled quarterback.
Now New England was facing off against the best defense in the NFL (11.0 points per game allowed entering the game) and a week of turmoil seemed ready to push the team to the edge of the cliff in Week 5 of the 2014 NFL season. There are just two options when backed up like the Patriots were: fall back off the cliff and watch the season free fall or fight back.
The Patriots came out swinging like a heavyweight champion on Sunday night...

MusketFire: Who Wins the Game Ball for the New England Patriots in Week Five?

Who Wins the Game Ball for the New England Patriots in Week Five?

After a blowout loss on Monday night, the New England Patriots desperately needed a bounce-back win in convincing fashion on Sunday night. A 43 to 17 victory later and the Patriots had not only rebounded with a big win but they regained the necessary momentum by beating an undefeated Cincinnati Bengals squad that came in with the top-rated defense.



Each week there is one player who stands out above the others on the field. In Sunday night’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals, the Patriots had multiple players who stood out on the field and on the statsheet.



Who do you believe should win the game ball?

FullPressCoverage.com: 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-...