Sunday, December 20, 2015

New England Patriots: Running Game No Longer Running to Stand Still?

The NFL season is heading down the home stretch as evidenced by the return of NFL football on Saturday night. The New England Patriots in one week went from looking like they would be playing in the Wild Card round to the top seed again in the AFC. However, as quickly as it swung to the favor to the Patriots, it can swing back.

Last night, the Dallas Cowboys almost did a favor for a number of AFC squads by almost hanging a loss on the Wild Card New York Jets deep in the heart of Texas. The Jets needed to late drives to overcome a poor kicking game (missed field goal, extra point, bad punts) and hang on for a desperately needed win 19-16.

Staying in the AFC East, the New England Patriots are running out of running backs and have signed free agent Montee Ball (a second round draft pick in Denver) and had veteran Steven Jackson in for a visit this week. In a typical Patriots maneuver, it was an unknown running back added to the roster as former U of Hawaii player and practice squad fullback/running back Joey Iosefa.

Iosefa has been on the practice squad since October and at six-foot and 245 pounds fits the bill as a power back in the New England two-tight end set. Mike Reiss at ESPN.com brought up the comparison between Iosefa and free agent fullback/running back Heath Evans and the 2005 Patriots team. Since he did not dig deeper, I decided to take a peek:

Evans was released by the Dolphins and had just one carry in 2005. The Patriots were sitting and 4-4 and had just been blown out in Gillette Stadium by Peyton Manning and the Colts 40-21 and it was not even that close. Early in the third quarter it was 28-7 Colts and while it had been close earlier, it was a Corey Dillon fumble which opened the floodgates.

Dillon had just 40 yards on 12 carries and averaged just 3.5 yards per carry for the 2005 season. He was injured and missed the next three games: Enter Heath Evans. Evans rumbled for 21 yards on his first carry in New England against Miami the next week and finished with 17 rushes for 84 yards. In addition, he added 16 rushes for 74 yards in a win the next week.

Evans was a role player from then on out as Dillon returned shortly but Evans established himself as a player who head coach Bill Belichick and Tom Brady could trust on offense. Evans stayed a few years and now has a good gig as an analyst on the NFL Network...something not likely to happen without his high-profile role in New England.

No one is expecting Iosefa to come in and roll for 80 yards on the ground this week against Tennessee, but an opportunity to make an impact is upon him. Jonas Gray took advantage of his opportunity for one week last year (before he somehow got himself deep into Belichick's dog house), and Iosefa could be the next.

Look for number 47 in the backfield against the Titans and remember this could be a big game for a player expected to be a minor contributor in New England.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

MusketFire: W2W4: New England Patriots vs Houston Texans

The New England Patriots are facing off against the Houston Texans on Sunday Night Football. While the Texans are currently on the outside looking in at the playoff race, they are a unique opponent as defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel and head coach Bill O'Brien are both long-time New England assistants under head coach Bill Belichick.

Can the Texans' strong pass defense slow the Patriots passing attack? Can New England take advantage of Houston's weak run defense? Who covers DeAndre Hopkins? Is the success of Houston's running back by committee a trend or a mirage? Get ready for Sunday Night Football with What to Watch For (W2W4) when the New England Patriots travel to Texas to take on the Houston Texans.

W2W4: New England Patriots vs Houston Texans

Sunday, December 06, 2015

MusketFire: W2W4: New England Patriots vs Philadelphia Eagles

The New England Patriots return home to Gillette Stadium to face off against the Philadelphia Eagles following their first loss of the 2015 NFL season. The Patriots fell to 10-1 and welcome Chip Kelly and his 4-7 Eagles to Foxborough, MA. The Patriots will be trying to prevent consecutive losses since September 2012 when the Patriots lost to Arizona and Baltimore in back-to-back weeks. Do the Eagles have what it takes to pull an upset on the road against the defending Super Bowl champions or do the Patriots get back to their winning ways? Find out what will happen and who has the advantage when the Eagles try to run and pass and when the Patriots run and pass the ball.



Read much more here:

W2W4: New England Patriots vs Philadelphia Eagles

Cover32 Grade Day: The Patriots offense against Denver's defense | Cover32

How did the Patriots offense fare against the Broncos top ranked defense?



Read all about it here: Grade Day: The Patriots offense against Denver's defense | Cover32

Cover32 Grade Day: Patriots defense against Denver offense | Cover32

How did the Patriots defense do against the Broncos?



Read about it here:Grade Day: Patriots defense against Denver offense | Cover32

Saturday, November 28, 2015

MusketFire: W2W4: New England Patriots at Denver Broncos

A battle of two of the best in the AFC takes place on Sunday night as the New England Patriots face the Denver Broncos. Early on it appeared this could be a matchup of two unbeaten teams, but the Broncos dropped games to Indianapolis on the road and Kansas City before quarterback Peyton Manning was mercifully benched. With third year quarterback Brock Osweiler behind center last week, the Broncos managed to put up 17 points against a bad Chicago Bears defense to eke out the two point victory. The Patriots having been depleted due to injuries and having problems scoring make this matchup much closer than it appeared it would be a few weeks ago. The Denver defense is strong and tops in the league in fewest yards, fewest passing yards, fewest passing touchdowns, and second fewest yards per rushing attempt.



W2W4: New England Patriots at Denver Broncos

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Chowder & Champions: Boston Red Sox: Potential Free Agent Starting Pitchers

Everyone knows the Boston Red Sox need to find starting pitching this off season. Who should they be targeting in free agency? As much as Dave Dombrowski may want Harvey, Sale or Gray at the top of the rotation, the price may be simply too high. So if the trade market is not amenable for a starting pitcher, the next route is free agency. Let’s take a look at the top free agent pitchers and their potential fit in Boston...

Boston Red Sox: Potential Free Agent Starting Pitchers

MusketFire: W2W4: New England Patriots vs Buffalo Bills

The Patriots defeated Buffalo way back in week two of the season up at Ralph Wilson Stadium where New England eschewed the running game (15 carries for 56 yards) and Tom Brady threw 59 passes. Of course, Brady completed 38 of the passes for 466 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Patriots built 37-13 lead going into the fourth quarter. Buffalo added three scoring drives in garbage time and the final was 40-32.  Both teams are looking different from when they did earlier as injuries have impacted both squads. As we do each week at MusketFire.com we will preview what each offense will try to do during the game and how each defense will try and stop their opponent...

For much more, click here: W2W4: New England Patriots vs Buffalo Bills

Sunday, November 15, 2015

MusketFire: New England Patriots vs Giants About Injuries, Not History

Forget what the so-called analysts are talking about with the New England Patriots matchups from 4 or 8 years ago having any effect on today's matchup. Overcoming injuries this week will have much more to do with what happens on the field: New England's offensive line has to continue to giveTom Brady time to throw and the Giants' defense will miss the underrated defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins on Sunday afternoon. 



New England Patriots vs Giants About Injuries, Not History

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Cover32 Grade Day: How did the Patriots offense do against the Washington Redskins? | Cover32

The win over Washington was notable for the continuing run of injuries which tests the depth of the New England Patriots offense. Starting running back Dion Lewis was lost for the season to a knee injury and left tackle Sebastian Vollmer was lost to a head injury (presumably a concussion per reports) during the game. Without Vollmer’s strong pass blocking and Lewis, the Patriots turned to a retro 2003/2004 look with a run-heavy and quick-pass offense and shut down Washington with an attacking, aggressive defense.

The New England Patriots offense had another strong game against Washington, but how good did they really do? As we do each week at Cover32.com, here are the grades for each position group on offense from the New England win. Check out the grades to find out:

Grade Day: How did the Patriots offense do against the Washington Redskins? | Cover32

Cover32 Grade Day: How good was the New England Patriot Defense on Sunday? | Cover32

While the New England Patriots were banged up on offense, they needed a strong game on defense to help a unit which carried the team the first two months of the season. The defensive line may not have had their usual bevy of sacks, it was a solid game by the unit as Washington was under pressure from Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, and Dominique Easley.The New England Patriots defense had another strong game against Washington, but how good did they really do? Check out the grades to find out:

Grade Day: How good was the New England Patriot Defense on Sunday? | Cover32

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Cover32: Five key matchups as the New England Patriots take on the Washington Redskins | Cover32

The Washington Redskins have been using the bye week to try and get their defense ready to play the explosive New England Patriots' offense. Their cornerbacks have all been dinged up this season and with run stoppers Terrance Knighton, Stephen Paea and Ricky Jean-Francois up front, the New England offense should again run through quarterback Tom Brady on Sunday afternoon as he looks for his deep group of pass-catchers.

With the NFC East opponent not necessarily a known quantity, the Patriots have a lot of preparation work to get ready for Washington. With our homework done here at Cover32.com, here are the five key matchups that will determine whether the New England Patriots go 8-0 this weekend.

Read much more here: Five key matchups as the New England Patriots take on the Washington Redskins | Cover32

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Cover32: Grade Day: How did the New England Patriot’s offense do against Miami’s Defense? | New England Patriots

On offense, the Patriots piled on with 437 total net yards on a Miami defense which had been dominant in back-to-back victories against Tennessee and Houston. The Patriots ran and threw the ball displaying offensive balance consistently despite a penalty filled first half.

Read more:

Grade Day: How did the New England Patriot’s offense do against Miami’s Defense? | New England Patriots

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Cover32: Grading the New England Patriots offense against the New York Jets | New England Patriots

The grades are in for the New England Patriots offense after their 30-23 win over the New York Jets on Sunday.The Patriots offense was able to score two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to turn a 20-16 deficit and turn it into a 30-20 lead. Led by quarterback Tom Brady, the Patriots wore down the Jets defense and pulled away to go to 6-0 in 2015.

How did the offense grade out?

Grading the New England Patriots offense against the New York Jets | New England Patriots

Monday, October 26, 2015

Musketfire: Inside the Numbers: New England Patriots Beat Jets

The New England Patriots defeated the New York Jets on a cloudy and warm Sunday afternoon in Foxboro, MA. The Patriots continued their dominance in the AFC East as they improved to 69-19 against their division rivals since 2001. The Jets came in and gave the Patriots all they could handle–including being the first team to have a lead against the Patriots in the fourth quarter–but fell just short. With the win in the books for the Patriots, it is time to go inside the numbers and examine the 30-23 win over the Jets. The first number that jumps off the statsheet for the Patriots offense is 30. For the fifth straight game the Patriots scored 30 or more points and with 213 points in six games the offense is on pace for 568 points.

Musketfire: Inside the Numbers: New England Patriots Beat Jets

The New England Patriots defeated the New York Jets on a cloudy and warm Sunday afternoon in Foxboro, MA. The Patriots continued their dominance in the AFC East as they improved to 69-19 against their division rivals since 2001. The Jets came in and gave the Patriots all they could handle–including being the first team to have a lead against the Patriots in the fourth quarter–but fell just short. With the win in the books for the Patriots, it is time to go inside the numbers and examine the 30-23 win over the Jets. The first number that jumps off the statsheet for the Patriots offense is 30. For the fifth straight game the Patriots scored 30 or more points and with 213 points in six games the offense is on pace for 568 points.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Musketfire: W2W4 New England Patriots vs New York Jets

The New England Patriots face off against the New York Jets in a meaningful division game for the first time in many years. This is a big game for New England in the division as the Jets are playing a last place schedule and have only the Patriots and Cowboys (in week 15) as the only remaining 2014 playoff teams on their schedule. Since both teams are focusing on the game on the field, let’s do the same and investigate both teams and what to watch for on Sunday and the game score prediction at the end of the analysis:

Read much more here: W2W4 New England Patriots vs New York Jets

Musketfire: W2W4 New England Patriots vs New York Jets

The New England Patriots face off against the New York Jets in a meaningful division game for the first time in many years. This is a big game for New England in the division as the Jets are playing a last place schedule and have only the Patriots and Cowboys (in week 15) as the only remaining 2014 playoff teams on their schedule. Since both teams are focusing on the game on the field, let’s do the same and investigate both teams and what to watch for on Sunday and the game score prediction at the end of the analysis:

Read much more here: W2W4 New England Patriots vs New York Jets

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Cover32: Five matchups to keep an eye on for the Patriots and Jets this week | New England Patriots

The 5-0 New England Patriots faceoff against the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA. The Jets are a surprising 4-1 and are looking for a big road win against their division rival to stake claim to first place in the AFC East. In what has become the biggest test for the Patriots in this young season, as always the game will come down to the individual matchups on the field. To get ready for the game, here are five key matchups to watch on Sunday as the New England Patriots host the New York Jets.



Read much more at: Five matchups to keep an eye on for the Patriots and Jets this week | New England Patriots

Cover32: Five matchups to keep an eye on for the Patriots and Jets this week | New England Patriots

The 5-0 New England Patriots faceoff against the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA. The Jets are a surprising 4-1 and are looking for a big road win against their division rival to stake claim to first place in the AFC East. In what has become the biggest test for the Patriots in this young season, as always the game will come down to the individual matchups on the field. To get ready for the game, here are five key matchups to watch on Sunday as the New England Patriots host the New York Jets.



Read much more at: Five matchups to keep an eye on for the Patriots and Jets this week | New England Patriots

Saturday, October 17, 2015

6 position battles to watch in Patriots vs. Colts game | New England Patriots

As much as the New England Patriots players will want to continue their dominance of the Indianapolis Colts, it will all come down to the matchups on the field at game time.

There are key matchups on Sunday night which will determine the outcome of the game including tight end Rob Gronkowski vs the Colts safeties and linebackers, the Patriots defensive ends matching up with the Indianapolis offensive tackles running back Dion Lewis against whoever the Colts try to use to contain him.

And many more here: 6 position battles to watch in Patriots vs. Colts game | New England Patriots

Friday, October 16, 2015

MusketFire: New England Patriots Cannot Take Indianapolis Colts Lightly

While history has shown that the New England Patriots have feasted on the Indianapolis Colts defense and shut down Andrew Luck and the explosive offense in recent years, both teams have made numerous changes on both sides of the ball and the teams are both trending upwards: New England is undefeated in 2015 and Indianapolis is on a three game winning streak.

The Patriots cannot take the Colts lightly as they travel on the road for the second straight week to play a 2014 playoff team.

Click here for much more: New England Patriots Cannot Take Indianapolis Colts Lightly

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Chowder and Champions: Boston Celtics: David Lee is the X-Factor

The Boston Celtics need to take the next step forward and finish above .500 and give themselves a chance to advance to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, they need an X-Factor to step up and take their game to the next level.



In the 2015-16 season, look for forward David Lee to be that X-Factor in Boston.

Click here for much more: Boston Celtics: David Lee is the X-Factor

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

MusketFire: New England Patriots: 3 Post-Bye Week Improvements

With an early week off to get ready to play the shorthanded Cowboys, the Patriots had some concerns of their own to figure out last week to get ready for the next three months of the regular season. Here are three areas of concern for the 3-0 Patriots to focus on in the coming months: 1) maximizing the tight ends; 2) figuring out how to stuff the run; and 3) integrating new pieces on the defensive front seven and the offensive line



Read much more here: New England Patriots: 3 Post-Bye Week Improvements

Friday, October 02, 2015

MusketFire: New England Patriots Bye Week Review: Four Key Points

While the bye week was at midseason last year, the Patriots have the earliest break in 2015. While head coach Bill Belichick and the coaching staff are using this week for self-scouting, it makes sense to look back and review the previous three weeks. With so little game tape at the bye week, here are four things we have learned about the Patriots at this early part of the season including the offensive line, running backs, the vertical pass defense, and the run defenders.



For much more click here: New England Patriots Bye Week Review: Four Key Points

Sunday, September 13, 2015

MusketFire: Digging Deep: Analyzing the New England Patriots' Offense in their 28 to 21 Victory Over the Pittsburgh Steelers

No New England Patriots game this Sunday? No problem.

With both the Patriots and Steelers both starting the season off with less than ideal circumstances, the game was bound to be a little messy at times. While many predicted a high-scoring game, the first quarter was scoreless. The Patriots led 14-3 at halftime, but during the fourth quarter the Steelers cut the lead to 21-14 and should have made it a lot closer. With their final touchdown by the Steelers with 0:02 seconds on the clock, the only concern was for gamblers who were watching the point spread.

Go back to Thursday night and dig deep into the offense's performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers in New England's 28 to 21 win.

Click here for much more: http://musketfire.com/2015/09/13/digging-deep-analyzing-the-new-england-patriots-offense-in-their-28-to-21-victory-over-the-pittsburgh-steelers/

Monday, September 07, 2015

Cover32: Grading the preseason performance of the New England Patriots’ defense | New England Patriots

Grading the preseason performance of the New England Patriots’ defense | New England Patriots

The preseason is finally over and the real games are set to begin on Thursday night with the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots facing the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Taking one last look back at the preseason, here are the cumulative grades for the Patriots players. Part one is here for the defense and you can find part two grading the offense here: http://cover32.com/patriots/2015/09/07/grading-the-preseason-performance-of-the-new-england-patriots-offense/

Cover32: Grading the preseason performance of the New England Patriots’ offense | New England Patriots

Grading the preseason performance of the New England Patriots’ offense | New England Patriots



The preseason is finally over and the real games are set to begin on Thursday night with the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots facing the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Taking one last look back at the preseason, here are the cumulative grades for the Patriots players. Part one is here for the offense and you can find part two grading the defense here: http://cover32.com/patriots/2015/09/07/grading-the-preseason-performance-of-the-new-england-patriots-defense/

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

MusketFire: New England Patriots pre-Preseason Game Four 53-man Roster Prediction

With the New England Patriots making a flurry of moves to get to 75 players, they still have more work to do. They have just one game to go this preseason and with most of the starters sitting, the final preseason game should give the New England coaching staff a final look at the players fighting for a spot on the final roster. With 22 players to be cut here is a look at the projected 53-man roster and what players I think will miss the cut and fight for a spot with another team or end up on a practice squad.

Click here for much more: http://musketfire.com/2015/09/02/new-england-patriots-pre-preseason-game-four-53-man-roster-prediction/

Friday, August 28, 2015

Cover32: Five important battles for the New England Patriots against the Carolina Panthers

Get ready for preseason game three as the New England Patriots travel to Charlotte, North Carolina to take on Cam Newton and the Panthers. Here are five match-ups to watch for in the third preseason game Friday night as the New England Patriots face the Carolina Panthers.



Tuesday, August 25, 2015

MusketFire: Digging Deeper: New England Patriots Preseason Game Two Analysis of the Offense

Game two of the preseason did little to resolve the position battles raging on both sides of the ball for the New England Patriots. However, analysis reveals some clues as to who was in the lead for playing time with so many injuries. Starting off with the offense, here is a look into the performance and status of the running backs, the tight ends, offensive line, and wide receivers against the New Orleans Saints.

For much more click here: http://musketfire.com/2015/08/24/digging-deeper-new-england-patriots-preseason-game-two-analysis-of-the-offense/

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Cover32: Grade Day: Who performed best in the New England Patriots first preseason game?

The Patriots struggled on offense in the second half as quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was out of sync with the backup receivers and under pressure with a backups on the offensive line. The defense battled in the second half and there were several players who made a strong case for earning a role on defense. However, most of the players who earned a majority of the snaps during the Thursday night loss will not be depended on in 2015.
The Patriots’ preseason opener revealed several issues on both sides of the ball that will need to be addressed before the start of the season, but there were also a number of positive impressions picked up from the loss. With so many fringe roster players, the grades do tend to skew lower. Here are the grades for the Patriots for each position group:
Read more at http://cover32.com/patriots/2015/08/18/grade-day-who-performed-best-in-the-new-england-patriots-first-preseason-game/

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Musketfire: Digging Deeper: Analyzing Preseason Game One --New England Patriots vs Green Bay Packers

The New England Patriots opened the 2015 NFL Preseason with a 22 to 11 loss to the Green Bay Packers. With four of the five expected starting offensive linemen out, the offense was going to be limited. However, with Green Bay playing a number of starters on both sides of the ball, it was an impressive showing for the New England defense and backup offensive players to lead 11-9 at halftime.
Digging deeper into the game tape and following up with other sources, it was clear that the New England coaches were going to have their work cut out for them getting the team improving on both sides. Here is a deeper examination of preseason game one looking at all aspects of defense and offense breaking down pass coverage, pass rush, run defense, passing offense and rushing offense:

Read much more at: http://musketfire.com/2015/08/16/digging-deeper-analyzing-preseason-game-one-new-england-patriots-vs-green-bay-packers/

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Cover32: Five things to watch for during the New England Patriots first preseason game

With the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers coming to Gillette Stadium Thursday night, the Patriots will finally get a chance to step on the field for the first time since defeating the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl. with so much attention on Brady and the NFL Commissioner battling in court this week, it has been easy to forget that the preseason is gearing up and the Thursday Night Football regular season kick-off game against Pittsburgh is less than a month away.

To catch-up on all things non-deflategate with the Patriots, here are five key areas to watch on Thursday night as the defending champions take on the team they should have faced in the Super Bowl.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Cover32: The New England Patriots receiving corps is facing an early test

Do the New England Patriots have enough depth at wide receiver? The group, which got scant attention in the offseason, is suddenly running thin.

Read more at http://cover32.com/patriots/2015/08/10/the-new-england-patriots-receiving-corps-is-facing-an-early-test/#1d2zHUMoRrTURUtx.99

MusketFire: New England Patriots Back-end of Roster Moves Highlight Their Weaknesses

As Bill Belichick makes moves at the end of the roster, they are not random. Every player he picks up is intended to be a potential contributor in 2015. The moves also serve a dual role to motivate the existing players at the position and send the message that everyone’s job is in jeopardy. Investigating the moves made by Belichick at the backend of the roster shows where he thinks the team needs improvement heading into the first preseason game. Here are four positions where the recent moves show Belichick is not happy with the results to date.


Monday, August 10, 2015

MusketFire: Three Reasons the New England Patriots Will NOT make the Super Bowl in 2015

Injuries are just one aspect of the game that can derail a season. Suspensions, ineffectiveness, slow learning curves and poor offseason decisions can hurt a team as well. For the Patriots, they have persevered through all of these in the Bill Belichick era and yet seem to constantly be in the hunt for the Super Bowl. However, there are three key reasons why although the New England Patriots are a favorite to return to the Super Bowl after the 2015 season, they will NOT return to the big game after this season. Whether it is due to deflategate (Tom Brady), an injury to a key player (Rob Gronkowski), or a defense dependent upon a number of young players to step-up and make up for key losses, the Patriots may not make the Super Bowl this season.

For much more, click here: http://musketfire.com/2015/08/10/three-reasons-the-new-england-patriots-will-not-make-the-super-bowl-in-2015/

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Cover32: 4 under-the-radar New England Patriots players you need to be watching in camp

Last year undrafted free agent guard Josh Kline was starting and dominating in the running game in the AFC Championship game. Another undrafted free agent (and rookie) cornerback Malcolm Butler came off the bench in the Super Bowl to make a dramatic, game-changing play. A player often overlooked can make a big impact during the season. Here are four "under-the-radar" Patriots you need to watch this summer.

Read much more at: http://cover32.com/patriots/2015/08/05/4-under-the-radar-new-england-patriots-players-you-need-to-be-watching-in-camp/

MusketFire: Three Reasons Why the New England Patriots Will Return to the Super Bowl

Injuries are just one aspect of the game that can derail a season. Suspensions, ineffectiveness, slow learning curves and poor offseason decisions can hurt a team as well. For the Patriots, they have persevered through all of these in the Bill Belichick era and yet seem to constantly be in the hunt for the Super Bowl. Read on for three reasons why the New England Patriots are a favorite to return to the Super Bowl after the 2015 season including the "Gronk Factor" and more.

Read much more here:
http://musketfire.com/2015/08/05/three-reasons-why-the-new-england-patriots-will-return-to-the-super-bowl/

Friday, July 31, 2015

MusketFire: New England Patriots Fanbase Needs to Embrace the Deflategate Hate

The New England Patriots fanbase has been approaching this offseason all wrong. This is no time to argue and worry about "Deflategate". The league will brand the Patriots as the new-age Al Davis "Just Win, Baby" Oakland Raiders? Good. Embrace it, New England. Your Patriots are that New York Yankees dynasty that Red Sox fans hated for so long. So just go with it!
It is time for Patriots Nation to step up and embrace the DeflateGate hate.
(If you can't, well, read on because there are some interesting footnotes, public statements by Ted Wells, and technical facts which you can latch onto)

READ MUCH MORE HERE: http://musketfire.com/2015/07/31/new-england-patriots-fanbase-needs-to-embrace-the-deflategate-hate/

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Cover32: What will be the New England Patriots’ top training camp battle?

The New England Patriots have a number of position battles this preseason on both sides of the ball. However, one key performer from 2013 is fighting for playing time in the base offense and the three wide receiver set. Can Aaron Dobson and exceptional athletic abilities force his way past Brandon LaFell and Danny Amendola and back into the offense as a top target of quarterback Tom Brady?

Read more at http://cover32.com/patriots/2015/07/30/what-will-be-the-new-england-patriots-top-training-camp-battle/

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Cover32: New England Patriots Preseason Preview

The New England Patriots officially kick-off the defense of their Super Bowl championship with their first scheduled team practice at training camp starting at 9:15am on Thursday, July 30 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA. With the players all required to report by Wednesday — and many having already been in the weight room and getting unofficial work done on the field already — the players will be ready to show their form in front of the thousands of fans flocking to see them on the first official weekend of the 2015 season.

Here is where to be and what to watch as the New England Patriots get ready for the 2015 NFL season: http://cover32.com/patriots/2015/07/26/new-england-patriots-preseason-preview/

Friday, July 24, 2015

FirstStopFantasy: CLEVELAND BROWNS: TOP TRAINING CAMP POSITION BATTLES

Coming off a frustrating 2014 season that saw a promising 7-4 start end in with five straight losses and another year on the outside of the playoffs looking in. The Browns made a number of moves in the offseason replacing their quarterback, wide receivers, and working on beefing up the defense. With a strong draft and active on free agency, the Browns are counting on 2015 to play out like the promising first half of the season and not the disappointing finish. Here are some of the most intriguing position battles on both sides of the ball for the Browns as training camp kicks off:

Read much more here: http://firststopfantasy.com/articles/cleveland-browns-top-training-camp-position-battles/

Delusional Red Sox Ownership/Front Office has Doomed the 2015 Season

The Boston Red Sox front office and ownership group are clearly delusional.

The same problems that forced out dynasty building/curse breaking general manager Theo Epstein (twice) remain. The front office brings in free agents/makes moves to boost NESN ratings (where the real money is) and then the general manager is stuck trying to cram these unwanted players onto the manager.

Showing they learned nothing by trading for Adrian Gonzalez and signing Carl Crawford, they continued to meddle rather than let their baseball people re-sign their contributors and unload the unnecessary. The Red Sox kept World Series heroes Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino when their trade value was high and sold low last year on top starters Jon Lester and John Lackey.

The Red Sox could have signed Jon Lester last spring rather than let him get to free agency and have an ace lefty pitcher with experience in the American League East. However, the ownership group wanted to squeeze Lester and not pay him what he was worth. When he left, they had plenty of money to make a splash at third base and convert a lazy, injury-prone shortstop they traded away a decade ago to left field.

Lester and Lackey were not “sexy” television-friendly players. The Red Sox needed splashy signings and of former prospects and exciting World Series heroes (already in Boston or from other teams) to promote their product across New England on television sets. The focus for the front office is less on the field and more on the screen.

What was once an imposing offense now consists of veteran David Ortiz, young stars Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, and then a lot of question marks.

Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval have been worse than expected in their initial season in Fenway Park. Dustin Pedroia has been injury prone, average at the plate, and could have been replaced at second base by Mookie Betts. Outfielder Shane Victorino has been injury prone and first baseman Mike Napoli continued decline at the plate as well and a potent offense has struggled. The champions of 2013 seem a long way away for these two declining veterans.

Of course, Ramirez and Sandoval never fit the Red Sox hitting philosophy of working counts deep, wearing down starting pitchers to get to the weak underbelly of the middle relievers in the bullpen. Sandoval and Ramirez are free swingers who will chase that off-the-plate slider and ground into a double play on the first pitch of the at-bat. Add in Rusney Castillo as the highest paid AAA outfielder and the Red Sox are in a strange financial conundrum.

Garin Cecchini and Will Middlebrooks could have held down third base for about $1 million per year and put out the same defensive limitations and lack of production that Pablo Sandoval brings to the Sox. Yes, Middlebrooks was sent down to the minor leagues recently by the San Diego Padres and Cecchini is still struggling at Triple-A Pawtucket, but having that 5-years and $95 million to spend on a pitcher seems like a good investment today.

Allen Craig was part of the deal with St. Louis last year to unload veteran pitcher John Lackey right before he was forced to play for the veteran minimum contract for 2015. Rather than cash-in on the best deal in the league, the Sox flipped him for a left fielder/first baseman who could not hit in Craig (and pitcher Joe Kelly).

Rusney Castillo has been a washout--like one-year wonders Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli--and with scrap heap pickups such as All-Star Brock Holt and outfielder Alejandro De Aza outperforming their counterparts it is baffling how the front office swung and missed so completely on their scouting.

Of course, this sad offense may have been enough had the Red Sox had a pitching staff. With Jon Lester forced out the door and John Lackey inexplicably traded away, the Red Sox went into 2015 with an untested group. Clay Buchholz was the veteran of the group and continued his frustrating career with a strong performance marred once more by injury.

Behind Buchholz imports Joe Kelly, Wade Miley, Rick Porcello, and Justin Masterson have been below-average. Miley and Porcello were inexplicably extended by the front office before they even proved they were capable of pitching in the high pressure and high-tension American League East. The Red Sox passed on a rotation anchored by the durable and tested Lester and Lackey and able to handle Buchholz, Miley, Porcello and Rodriguez at the back-end of the rotation.

Masterson has been the expected flame-out (can anyone explain why he was not immediately put into the bullpen as a set-up/middle reliever in spring training?) and the Sox are now forced to lean on 22-year old Eduardo Rodriguez and promote prospect Brian Johnson and middling knuckleballer Steven Wright to the rotation.  

The bullpen has been overused and with Alexi Ogando, Junichi Tazawa and inconsistent lefties Craig Breslow, Tommy Layne, and Robbie Ross forced to pitch more than they should, the Sox are struggling to keep their season afloat. Now with the starting pitching, offense, and bullpen all on the verge of implosion, the Red Sox are watching their season disappear on the wings of a seven-game losing streak.

The starting rotation is exactly what the detractors called it this spring: five number four starters. The offense struggles to work starting pitchers, extend innings, or have enough talent to overcome their free swinging ways. By letting ownership sabotage the team-building philosophy makes the front office overly dependent upon drafting quality players to stock the farm system.

For the Red Sox, this team is another disaster in team-building and likely do not have the Los Angeles Dodgers waiting in the wings to bail them out as they did in 2012. Get used to the mediocre product on the field, Red Sox Nation--the front office paid dearly for it.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Cover32:15 Players on the New England Patriots Offense Roster Bubble Heading into Training Camp

As always with a Bill Belichick team, there is an undrafted free agent, late round draft pick, or unheralded offseason scrap heap signing who will play their way onto the 53-man roster.

There are 15 players on the  offense:
from veteran quarterback Matt Flynn
to young running back Tyler Gaffney
to rookie tight end A.J. Derby
to 2013 4th round draft pick wide receiver Josh Boyce
to offensive lineman Jordan Devey
and more.

Which players on offense are on the roster bubble as they approach the start of training camp next week?

Read much more at: http://cover32.com/patriots/2015/07/21/15-players-on-the-new-england-patriots-offense-roster-bubble-heading-into-training-camp/


MusketFire.com: New England Patriots: Top Position Battles on Offense Heading into Training Camp

The Patriots have four key position battles on offense heading into training camp next week:

1) The Patriots have two 2013 draft picks pushing Danny Amendola to claim the third wide receiver role;

2) At tight end, free agent Scott Chandler is challenging Michael Hoomanawanui for the second tight end role;

3) On the offensive line, the Patriots drafted two interior linemen to h challenge young guards Josh Kline and Jordan Devey; and

4) at running back the Patriots have three players vying for the third down/receiving back role with the departure of Shane Vereen in free agency.

Read on to examine these four roster battles at wide receiver, tight end, guard and running back...

Click here for much more: http://musketfire.com/2015/07/23/new-england-patriots-top-position-battles-on-offense-heading-into-training-camp/

Monday, July 20, 2015

Cover32: New England Patriots defensive players on the roster bubble heading into training camp

As always with a Bill Belichick team, there is an undrafted free agent, late round draft pick, or unheralded offseason scrap heap signing who plays their way onto the roster.

In the past players such as Super Bowl hero cornerback Malcolm Butler, defensive end/linebacker Rob Ninkovich, guard/center Ryan Wendell, running back Jonas Gray, and even quarterback Tom Brady emerged from the roster bubble to become contributors on a championship team.

Kicking off with the defense, here is a look at some of the players on the back-end of the 90-man roster fighting to last through the cut downs and secure a spot on the regular season roster...

New England Patriots defensive players on the roster bubble heading into training camp
Read more at http://cover32.com/patriots/2015/07/20/18-patriots-defensive-players-on-the-roster-bubble-heading-into-training-camp/

Sunday, July 19, 2015

MusketFire.com: New England Patriots: Top Position Battles on Defense Heading into Training Camp

As training camp approaches for the New England Patriots it is time to preview some of the position battles which should be among the highlights of July and August in Foxboro, MA. Despite coming off a Super Bowl championship season, there are numerous battles on both sides of the ball that will be determined throughout camp and the preseason games. Starting with the defense, there is a free for all at the cornerback position; At strong safety, incumbent Patrick Chung faces competition from 2015 second round draft pick Jordan Richards; At linebacker, the Patriots let midseason acquisition coverage linebacker Jonathan Casillas leave and need a replacement; and on the defensive line, New England brought in free agent defensive end/outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard from Cleveland to push veteran Rob Ninkovich.
Click here to read more about each position battle in detail: MusketFire.com New England Patriots: Top Position Battles on Defense Heading into Training Camp

MusketFire.com: New England Patriots Position Battles Defense Training Camp

As training camp approaches for the New England Patriots it is time to preview some of the position battles which should be among the highlights of July and August in Foxboro, MA. Despite coming off a Super Bowl championship season, there are numerous battles on both sides of the ball that will be determined throughout camp and the preseason games. Starting with the defense, there is a free for all at the cornerback position; At strong safety, incumbent Patrick Chung faces competition from 2015 second round draft pick Jordan Richards; At linebacker, the Patriots let midseason acquisition coverage linebacker Jonathan Casillas leave and need a replacement; and on the defensive line, New England brought in free agent defensive end/outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard from Cleveland to push veteran Rob Ninkovich.

Click here for much more: New England Patriots Position Battles Defense Training Camp

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

MusketFire.com: Why the New England Patriots Will Remain a Super Bowl Contender

Why the New England Patriots Will Remain a Super Bowl Contender

The New England Patriots have dealt with deflategate and its fines, penalties and suspension this offseason. Soon all attention will turn to football and the Patriots defending their Super Bowl Championship. With Miami, Buffalo, and the Jets spending heavily to challenge the Patriots, they and the rest of the AFC will targeting the champions. However, certain statistics show the Patriots have a big advantage over their rivals. Read on to discover why the New England Patriots Will Remain a Super Bowl Contender in 2015.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Cover32: Will the secondary be the New England Patriots’ downfall? | New England Patriots

Will the secondary be the New England Patriots’ downfall? | New England Patriots

No position on the New England Patriots will be under as much scrutiny when training camp begins this month as the group of cornerbacks. Gone are four critical players from the 2014 Super Bowl championship secondary as Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Kyle Arrington and Alfonzo Dennard were let go. The cornerbacks may not be as good as the 2014 group, but the New England Patriots are compensating with changes on the defensive line and shoring up the safety position.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Cover32: Five offseason moves in the AFC East that should worry the New England Patriots | New England Patriots

Five offseason moves in the AFC East that should worry the New England Patriots | New England Patriots

This offseason all three teams in the AFC East made a number of big moves in the offseason to try and challenge the New England Patriots. Big moves in free agency, the NFL Draft, and bold trades highlighted the offseason for the Jets, Dolphins, and Bills. What are the five biggest moves made this offseason by the AFC East opponents to challenge the New England Patriots in 2015?


MusketFire: New England Patriots AFC East Analysis: New York Jets

New England Patriots AFC East Analysis: New York Jets

The New York Jets have been busy this offseason in their attempt to catch the New England Patriots in the AFC East. The Jets paid big money to lure Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie back to New York. In addition, cornerback Buster Skrine and safety Marcus Gilchrist were added to the secondary. With wide receiver Brandon Marshall and running backs Stevan Ridley and Zac Stacy added, have the Jets done enough to challenge the Patriots in the AFC East in 2015?

Thursday, July 09, 2015

MusketFire: New England Patriots AFC East Offseason Analysis: Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots AFC East Offseason Analysis: Miami

Are the Miami Dolphins a playoff team in 2015? Have they positioned themselves to challenge the New England Patriots for dominance of the AFC East? One area in which the Dolphins disappointed in the offseason was their inability to find help in the secondary. On offense the wide receivers have a ton of potential but are unproven. On the defensive line the Dolphins signed Ndamukong Suh who is capable of dominating games against most NFL guards and centers in the trenches and is a major force as both a run-stopper and a pass-rusher. He’s arguably the top 4-3 defensive tackle in the NFL, but is he enough to topple the Patriots in the AFC East?

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Cover32: How does Jerod Mayo fit into the new scheme of the 2015 defense? | New England Patriots

How does Jerod Mayo fit into the new scheme of the 2015 defense? | New England Patriots

New England Patriots veteran Jerod Mayo is coming off yet another season-ending injury. He was injured in week six in 2013 (torn pectoral muscle) against New Orleans and was lost for the rest of the season. Mayo was lost for the season again in week six last year (torn patella tendon) and took a paycut this offseason.
How does he fit in the team's plans for 2015?

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Cover32: The five most impactful rookies this season for the New England Patriots | New England Patriots

The five most impactful rookies this season for the New England Patriots | New England Patriots

Adding players on both sides of the ball, the New England Patriots continued their decade-and-a-half trend of using the draft to find a player who is better or cheaper to eventually upgrade all the positions on the roster. Here are the top five rookies taken in the 2015 NFL Draft who should have a significant impact this year for the Patriots:

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

MusketFire.com: Josh Kline a Surprise Starter for NE Patriots in 2015?

Josh Kline a Surprise Starter for NE Patriots in 2015?

At guard for the New England Patriots, Ryan Wendell is expected to hold down one spot in 2015, but the other spot is wide open. New England will not bring back veteran Dan Connolly but  theydrafted two interior linemen in the fourth round grabbing guard Tre’ Jackson and guard/center Shaq Mason. Those two could compete for the starting job vacated by Connolly but Josh Kline, Chris Barker, Jordan Devey and Caylin Hauptmann will all be competing for the job during training camp as well. Who will be the surprise starter on offense for the New England Patriots in 2015?

FSF Top 100 Players: #73 – Marcell Dareus – First Stop Fantasy

FSF Top 100 Players: #73 – Marcell Dareus – First Stop Fantasy

Coming in at #73 on the First Stop Fantasy Top 100 Players of 2015 is…Buffalo Bills defensive Tackle Marcell Dareus. Is that too high, too low, or just right for the dynamic--but immature off-the-field--defensive tackle?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Musketfire: Sealver Siliga: 2015 New England Patriots Secret Superstar?

Sealver Siliga: 2015 New England Patriots Secret Superstar?

New England Patriots defensive tackle Sealver Siliga is often overlooked as a contributor on the defensive line as he was with the team only a short time in 2013 and had an injury riddled 2014 season. Siliga is a premier run-stuffer with the strength and athleticism to get in the backfield and contribute as a pass rusher.

Could he be a secret superstar for the New England Patriots now that Vince Wilfork is in Texas?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Cover32: Defensive players on the New England Patriots who will surprise fans this season | New England Patriots

Defensive players on the New England Patriots who will surprise fans this season | New England Patriots

With all their new parts on defense the New England Patriots' front-seven should be much more athletic, explosive, and pressure generating unit. Last season, the Patriots drafted interior disruptor Dominique Easley and have since added another young, aggressive defensive tackle in Brown in via the draft.
However, the Patriots will need more surprise contributors like Malcolm Butler last year to step up in 2015, on defense to keep New England on the top of the NFL.

2015 BUFFALO BILLS GAME-BY-GAME PREDICTIONS – First Stop Fantasy

2015 BUFFALO BILLS GAME-BY-GAME PREDICTIONS – First Stop Fantasy

Adding LeSean McCoy is a significant upgrade of the perennially injured and since departed C.J. Spiller and veteran Fred Jackson.

However, the team has a lot of work to do in the preseason to improve upon their 9-7 record from last year. How many games will the Buffalo Bills win in 2015 in their first season under head coach Rex Ryan?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Musketfire: New England Patriots: Immediate Impact Rookies in 2015

New England Patriots: Immediate Impact Rookies in 2015

As the New England Patriots are a mere four weeks from training camp starting, it is time to look at the potential impact the newest players from the draft can have on the team. How much playing time the rookies will receive this year? Who will be the immediate impact rookie who helps the New England Patriots stay atop the AFC East in 2015?

Monday, June 22, 2015

2015 TENNESSEE TITANS GAME-BY-GAME PREDICTIONS – First Stop Fantasy

2015 TENNESSEE TITANS GAME-BY-GAME PREDICTIONS – First Stop Fantasy

All eyes in Tennessee will be on Marcus Mariota and his battle with second year quarterback Zach Mettenberger for who takes the reins on offense. It will also be interesting to see what changes are made as assistant head coach Mike Mularkey is given more control of the offense this year. With veteran defensive assistant Dick LeBeau signed to inject life in a defense which gave up 438 points last season under coordinator Ray Horton, the Titans are banking on improvement on both sides of the ball. Let’s examine how that will play out in 2015:

2015 HOUSTON TEXANS GAME-BY-GAME PREDICTIONS – First Stop Fantasy

2015 HOUSTON TEXANS GAME-BY-GAME PREDICTIONS – First Stop Fantasy

The Houston Texans saw running back Arian Foster returned to his Pro Bowl form rushing for over 1,200 yards in just 13 games while young wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins topped 1,200 yards receiving.  However, the team has a lot of work to do in the preseason to improve upon their 9-7 record from last year. Let’s examine how that will play out in 2015 at FSF with the Game by Game Predictions:

Cover32: Bill Belichick is keeping fans guessing with his personnel decisions at tight end | New England Patriots

Bill Belichick is keeping fans guessing with his personnel decisions at tight end | New England Patriots

This year the Patriots’ depth chart included Wright, veteran Fred Davis, and former Buffalo Bills tight end Scott Chandler. Michael Hoomanawanui and his knowledge of the blocking schemes and offense after three seasons in New England still has the upper hand as a depth option.



In addition, the Patriots drafted project and former college quarterback A.J. Derby in the sixth round, signed undrafted free agent Jimmay Mundine, and converted 2012 third round draft pick defensive end Jake Bequette to tight end. Former LSU tight end Logan Stokes was with the team briefly as an undrafted free agent but did not stick around.

Tim Wright was surprisingly released and subsequently claimed off waivers by his former team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers...Just what are the Patriots doing at tight end?


Cover32: Bill Belichick is keeping fans guessing with his personnel decisions at tight end | New England Patriots

Bill Belichick is keeping fans guessing with his personnel decisions at tight end | New England Patriots

This year the Patriots’ depth chart included Wright, veteran Fred Davis, and former Buffalo Bills tight end Scott Chandler. Michael Hoomanawanui and his knowledge of the blocking schemes and offense after three seasons in New England still has the upper hand as a depth option.



In addition, the Patriots drafted project and former college quarterback A.J. Derby in the sixth round, signed undrafted free agent Jimmay Mundine, and converted 2012 third round draft pick defensive end Jake Bequette to tight end. Former LSU tight end Logan Stokes was with the team briefly as an undrafted free agent but did not stick around.

Tim Wright was surprisingly released and subsequently claimed off waivers by his former team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers...Just what are the Patriots doing at tight end?


Sunday, June 21, 2015

FSF Top 100 Players: #83 – Nate Solder – First Stop Fantasy

FSF Top 100 Players: #83 – Nate Solder – First Stop Fantasy

Coming in at #83 on the First Stop Fantasy Top 100 Players of 2015 is…New England Patriots left tackle Nate Solder. Solder rarely makes headlines and hardly ever draws a group of reporters around his locker after a game. At a position where your name is only mentioned on the telecast when a mistake is made, it is actually a positive for Solder to be not talked about often. As he continues to perform at a high level, the secret of Solder will soon be known outside of Gillette Stadium. Well respected by his teammates and coaches, Solder will soon be mentioned in the same breath as other standouts on the offensive line around the NFL. Is he ranked too high, too low, or just right at #83 in the FSF Top 100?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

FirstStopFantasy: NEW YORK GIANTS 2015 FANTASY FORECAST – First Stop Fantasy

NEW YORK GIANTS 2015 FANTASY FORECAST – First Stop Fantasy

Which members of the New York Giants are going to launch your fantasy football team into first place? Can Odell Beckham Jr. replicate his rookie season performance? Will Victor Cruz bounce back from his knee injury and return to form in 2015? Is Eli Manning still a starting quality quarterback for your fantasy team? Is Shane Vereen ready to breakout with the Giants after his star performance in Super Bowl 49? Do the Giants have anyone to run the football in 2015?

FirstStopFantasy: NEW YORK GIANTS 2015 FANTASY FORECAST – First Stop Fantasy

NEW YORK GIANTS 2015 FANTASY FORECAST – First Stop Fantasy

Which members of the New York Giants are going to launch your fantasy football team into first place? Can Odell Beckham Jr. replicate his rookie season performance? Will Victor Cruz bounce back from his knee injury and return to form in 2015? Is Eli Manning still a starting quality quarterback for your fantasy team? Is Shane Vereen ready to breakout with the Giants after his star performance in Super Bowl 49? Do the Giants have anyone to run the football in 2015?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Cover32.com: Is depth a concern on the offensive line for the New England Patriots? | New England Patriots

Is depth a concern on the offensive line for the New England Patriots? | New England Patriots

At tackle, the New England Patriots had the solid blocking of Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer to keep Brady upright yet again in 2014. This offseason has seen New England part ways with veteran guard Dan Connolly and draft another pair of  offensive linemen to compete and add depth to the roster on the offensive line.

Do the Patriots have enough depth on the offensive line heading into 2015?

Friday, June 12, 2015

MusketFire.com: Patriots Players With Biggest Impact on Defense in 2015

Patriots Players With Biggest Impact on Defense in 2015

Who are the defensive players on the New England Patriots who were new in 2014 and now need to step up and be an impact player as they enter year two in the New England defense?


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

FirstStopFantasy.com: FSF Top 100 Players – #92 Matthew Stafford – First Stop Fantasy

FSF Top 100 Players – #92 Matthew Stafford – First Stop Fantasy

Coming in at #92 on the First Stop Fantasy Top 100 Players of 2015 is…Detroit Lions Quarterback Matthew Stafford. Is he a top 100 NFL Player? Is his ranking too high? Too low? Or is it just right?

FirstStopFantasy.com: CLEVELAND BROWNS 2015 FANTASY FORECAST – First Stop Fantasy

CLEVELAND BROWNS 2015 FANTASY FORECAST – First Stop Fantasy

While it’s certain the Browns will have an uphill battle in the competitive AFC North, the bigger question is can their fantasy options help you contend for your fantasy football league title?

Monday, June 08, 2015

FirstStopFantasy.com: NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 2015 FANTASY FORECAST

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 2015 FANTASY FORECAST

Can the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots stars help your fantasy football team this fall? Who is the sleeper? Who is the most likely to disappoint? Which New England  running back will be the surprise of your fantasy draft?

Cover32.com: Have the New England Patriots found a partner for Rob Gronkowski at tight end? | New England Patriots

Have the New England Patriots found a partner for Rob Gronkowski at tight end? | New England Patriots

The New England Patriots ended the 2014 season with tight end Rob Gronkowski ready to party after winning the Super Bowl, and this was his first offseason without a surgery or rehabilitation since his rookie season in 2010. Holdovers Michael Hoomanawanui and Tim Wright return as well. New England was active in free agency, adding a pair of veterans in Buffalo’s Scott Chandler and Washington’s Fred Davis. In the draft they added to their depth by adding a late round project snagging AJ Derby out of Arkansas. In addition, in the OTAs, the Patriots moved former third round draft pick defensive end out of Arkansas Jake Bequette to tight end. Does New England finally have receiving options at tight end to make the two tight end offense a reality again?

Friday, June 05, 2015

FSF Top 100 Players – #96 Haloti Ngata – First Stop Fantasy

Coming in at #96 on the First Stop Fantasy Top 100 Players of 2015 is…Detroit Lions Defensive Tackle Haloti Ngata. Ngata was voted as the #82 “Top Players of 2015” by his peers in the NFL for NFL.com but comes in a little lower on the FirstStopFantasy.com Top 100 Players of 2015. Ngata’s age, position, and lack of flashy numbers may work against him, but he remains a dominant presence on the interior defensive line. Look for Ngata to continue his dominance against offensive guards and centers as he transitions to the NFC in 2015. How do you feel about Haloti Ngata's ranking? Too Low? Just Right? Too High?

FSF Top 100 Players – #96 Haloti Ngata – First Stop Fantasy

Have the New England Patriots figured out what they’re doing at running back? | New England Patriots

New England went into the offseason with their 2011 duo of running backs, Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley, unsigned and free to sign with another team as unrestricted free agents. Vereen quickly cashed in with the New York Giants on a multi-year deal. His receiving skills out of the backfield should be a boon for quarterback Eli Manning in New York.
Stevan Ridley missed the last 10 games of 2014 with a knee injury and was on the market a while. Ridley eventually got a one-year, “prove-it” deal from the New York Jets and will fight for a roster spot. The Patriots’ front office seemed unconcerned about losing their two prohibitive starters at running back for the past few seasons, mainly due to their depth at the position.
Let’s examine that depth:

Read more at http://cover32.com/patriots/2015/06/04/have-the-new-england-patriots-figured-out-what-theyre-doing-at-running-back/#qVT4wXk32yimFr4b.99


Have the New England Patriots figured out what they’re doing at running back? | New England Patriots

Musketfire: New England Patriots: Biggest Year Two Impact Offense

As New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is keen to say, the biggest step from skill position players comes from year one to year two. It is literally the make or break season. This applies not just to rookies but to veterans in the unique New England Patriots offense.

Who are the players who were new in 2014 and now may be a big impact player as they enter year two with the Patriots?

New England Patriots: Biggest Year Two Impact Offense

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

FirstStopFantasy.com: FSF Top 100 Players – #99 Eli Manning – First Stop Fantasy

Eli Manning considers himself an elite NFL quarterback and he has two Super Bowl Championship rings to back himself up. He went from #31 in 2012 to #42 in 2013 and then off the list last year and this year at NFL.com in their ratings. At FirstStopFantasy.com's Top 100 NFL Players in 2015 the gun-slinging quarterback leaps onto the list at #99 after missing the top 100 last year. 
Is he rated too high? Too Low? Just right? How do you feel about Eli Manning's ranking as #99 in the 2015 FSF Top 100 NFL Players?
Read more at: 
FSF Top 100 Players – #99 Eli Manning – First Stop Fantasy

Sunday, May 31, 2015

MusketFire: New England Patriots' Biggest Surprise On Offense in 2015?

New England Patriots' Biggest Surprise On Offense in 2015?

The New England Patriots added veterans Fred Davis and Scott Chandler and drafted project A.J. Derby to shore up the tight end position. At wide receiver, the Patriots imported former Rams and Dolphins slot receiver Brandon Gibson and returned deep threat Brian Tyms and 2013 second round draft pick Aaron Dobson. At running back they have 2014 fourth round draft pick James White and free agent Travaris Cadet. All of these new additions make for an interesting mix of talent, but where the New England will find their biggest surprise on offense in 2015?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Cover32.com: Do the New England Patriots have someone to fill Vince Wilfork’s shadow? | New England Patriots

Do the New England Patriots have someone to fill Vince Wilfork’s shadow? | New England Patriots

New England went into the offseason with a big contract at defensive tackle with veteran Vince Wilfork taking up a big chunk of salary cap space despite having reworked his deal the year before. Wilfork was released, but the Patriots brought back underrated young nose tackle Sealver Siliga and mid-season acquisition veteran Alan Branch. Pass rushing youngster Chris Jones and undersized defensive tackle Joe Vellano return, too. In addition, last year’s first-round draft pick was joined by another top college player at the position.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Musketfire.com: New England Patriots' Biggest Surprise on Defense in 2015?

New England Patriots' Biggest Surprise on Defense in 2015?
The Patriots signed a duo of free agents with former Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Bradley Fletcher and former Falcons slot cornerback Robert McClain. In the draft, the Patriots waited until the seventh round before snagging Marshall standout and athletic Darryl Roberts. One or two of these three cornerbacks is going to rise up in training camp and become the starter for the Patriots. In order to challenge for another title, the New England defense will need to find a surprise contributor on defense for 2015. But who will it be?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Cover32: Which pass rushers will step up for the New England Patriots this year? | New England Patriots

Which pass rushers will step up for the New England Patriots this year? | New England Patriots

New England went into the offseason with a need for additional depth at the defensive end/outside linebacker position. With Ayers finding greener pastures in free agency, the Patriots found a bargain with former Cleveland Browns OLB/DE Jabaal Sheard. The Patriots did not stop there, either. In the 2015 NFL Draft they added three more players at the position to build up their depth. Let’s examine that depth:


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Cover32: New England Patriots positional outlook: Linebackers | New England Patriots

New England Patriots positional outlook: Linebackers | New England Patriots

The New England Patriots lost a number of key players from their Super Bowl 49 championship team this offseason and are looking at competition at a number of positions. With the loss of valuable mid-season acquisitions and depth players Jonathan Casillas and Akeem Ayers in free agency, the Patriots need depth on defense. Add in Dont’a Hightower, who is slowed by offseason surgery, and veteran Jerod Mayo coming back from a second straight season-ending injury, and the Patriots have had to rebuild at the linebacker position.

Monday, May 18, 2015

New England Patriots positional outlook: Cornerbacks | New England Patriots

New England Patriots positional outlook: Cornerbacks | New England Patriots

To ready for training camp when it kicks off over the summer, here at Cover32.com we will look at each position grouping during the coming weeks. With the loss of starters Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner after one season in the secondary, the Patriots have turned over their starting group. Lost in the “deflategate” scandal the Patriots shockingly released starting slot cornerback Kyle Arrington. With Revis in New York, Browner in New Orleans, and Arrington signing with Baltimore the Patriots will have a new cast at cornerback in 2015.

Friday, May 15, 2015

MusketFire: New England Patriots 2015 NFL Draft and Beyond

New England Patriots 2015 NFL Draft and Beyond

The New England Patriots' draft picks in 2015 confounded many NFL analysts as they anticipated a draft built around replacing cornerback Darrelle Revis, defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, and adding offensive weapons for quarterback Tom Brady. Instead New England balanced the present and the future as they shored up both sides of the football and addressed their needs in their typical manner.  As frustrating as the 2015 NFL Draft may have been to New England Patriots fans, there was–as always–a method to the madness of the Patriots front office.


Wednesday, May 06, 2015

New England Patriots: Bargains at Back of 2015 NFL Draft

New England Patriots: Bargains at Back of 2015 NFL Draft

The players selected by the New England Patriots at the back-end of the draft are intriguing prospects and one or two could translate into a contributor in the near future. Considering the value the Patriots have received in the past at the back end of the draft, this intriguing mix of athletes could bear more fruit in the near future.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Grading each one of the New England Patriots 2015 NFL Draft picks | New England Patriots

Grading each one of the New England Patriots 2015 NFL Draft picks | New England Patriots

Seemingly every season sees the media and fan base struggling to make sense of the Patriots’ picks. Head coach Bill Belichick has left Mel Kiper and company scratching their heads once again. As the talking heads argue about the second- and third-round draft picks, here is a quick look at each pick and a grading of the Patriots’ 2015 NFL Draft...

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

MusketFIre: New England Patriots: Bold Predictions NFL Draft Wide Receiver

New England Patriots: Bold Predictions NFL Draft Wide Receiver

New England Will Once More Dip a Toe in the Wide Receiver Pool: head coach Bill Belichick knows that the wide receiver position is one of the most important positions on the roster with so much of the offense running through quarterback Tom Brady. With Brady on board at least another couple of seasons the New England front office may be looking towards 2016 and 2017 when it comes to the wide receiver position.  If there is a better player available at wide receiver Belichick will not hesitate to cut bait and improve the roster.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Cover32: Seven-round New England Patriots mock draft | New England Patriots

Seven-round New England Patriots mock draft | New England Patriots

With the 2015 NFL Draft just two days away, no one knows what Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots are planning. Do they trade up as they did in 2012? Trade down like they moved in 2013? Do they stand pat as they chose to do last year? As always it is near impossible to predict. Do the Patriots pick a cornerback high in the draft? How about a running back? Offensive line help? Defensive tackle?  Who should the New England Patriots pick in the 2015 NFL Draft?

Monday, April 27, 2015

First Stop Fantasy: Buffalo Bills – 2015 NFL Mock Draft

Buffalo Bills – 2015 NFL Mock Draft – First Stop Fantasy

The Buffalo Bills surprised many in 2014 as they were in the middle of the playoff picture for the first time in a decade before faltering down the stretch as they finished 9-7.   The Bills gave up their 2014 first round draft pick and packaged this year’s first and fourth round picks last year to move up for wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Of course, they could have kept that extra first round draft pick and grabbed Odell Beckham Jr.  The Bills need depth at linebacker and the secondary on defense and are desperate for help at quarterback and the offensive line. The tight end position also should be addressed. Who should Buffalo pick in the 2015 NFL Draft?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Musketfire: New England Patriots: Predictions NFL Draft Offensive Line

New England Patriots: Predictions NFL Draft Offensive Line

The Patriots Will Draft at Least Two if Not Three Offensive Linemen: If there is one position that inspires fear in New England Patriots fans it is the offensive line. New O-line coach Dave DeGuglielmo received heaps of criticism as the offensive line struggled in the preseason and first few weeks of 2014. With a number of quality prospects on the offensive line in the 2015 NFL Draft, there could be a top talent dropping to New England at pick #32 overall. There may not be the star power on the offensive line in the 2015 NFL Draft, there is plenty of depth.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

MusketFire: New England Patriots: Bold Predictions for the NFL Draft

New England Patriots: Bold Predictions for the NFL Draft

New England Will NOT Take a Running Back in the 2015 NFL Draft: Last year the Patriots had just six running backs (counting fullback James Develin) on their 53-man roster. With Blount, Gray, Bolden, Cadet, and White likely to make the roster that leaves little room for a high draft pick. Do the Patriots take a running back to replace Shane Vereen or is James White and free agent Travaris Cadet the answer in 2015?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

MusketFire: New England Patriots: Bold Predictions for the NFL Draft - 2 of 5

New England Patriots: Bold Predictions for the NFL Draft - 2 of 5

Vince Wilfork’s Replacement is not Coming From this Draft: The Patriots have a big order to fill in finding a replacement for defensive tackle Vince Wilfork.In 2013 the veteran was injured early in week four and the Patriots defense suffered against the run the rest of the season. Without Wilfork, the Patriots did bring back two key defensive linemen from 2014: Sealver Siliga and Alan Branch. The Patriots also have 2014 first round draft pick.  Dominique Easley who is expected to be back at full strength in 2015 and bring a pass rush presence to the defensive line.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Cover32: Which AFC East team has the best chance to top the New England Patriots | New England Patriots

Which AFC East team has the best chance to top the New England Patriots | New England Patriots

As all three AFC East opponents have been praised heavily this off-season and all seem confident in their ability to challenge New England in the AFC East this season, let’s take a look at where all three divisional foes stand as the NFL Draft approaches

Read more at http://cover32.com/patriots/2015/04/20/which-afc-east-team-has-the-best-chance-to-top-the-new-england-patriots/#POs3MREZMwBotfj5.99

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Musketfire: New England Patriots: Bold Predictions for the NFL Draft - 1 of 5

New England Patriots: Bold Predictions for the NFL Draft - 1 of 5

What can one expect from the 2015 NFL Draft from the Patriots? ? Based on their recent draft history there are tea leaves to be read. Here is the first of five bold predictions at Musketfire.com about what the New England Patriots will (or won’t do) in the 2015 NFL Draft:

Friday, April 03, 2015

Analyzing the New England Patriots Mock Draft Picks

Analyzing the New England Patriots Mock Draft Picks

The NFL Draft analysts always talk about the unpredictable nature of the Bill Belichick draft picks for the New England Patriots. For the middle rounds that is true. However, in the first round the Patriots draft for need each and every year. This year, New England has needs in the secondary, the offensive and defensive lines, and at running back. So what position will the Patriots address int he 2015 NFL Draft? Here is analysis of some of the top mock drafters with who they are predicting will become the newest member of the New England Patriots at the end of the month.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Cover32: Three New England Patriots who need to step up on offense next year | New England Patriots

Three New England Patriots who need to step up on offense next year | New England Patriots

Beyond their losses in free agency, the Patriots have a number of young players who need to make the next step forward and make up for some of their losses on both sides of the ball.  Starting with the offense, here are three players on offense who need to step up in 2015...

Monday, March 30, 2015

MusketFire: New England Patriots: Revisiting and Grading the Draft: 2011

New England Patriots: Revisiting and Grading the Draft: 2011

The New England Patriots finished the 2010 season with another disappointing post-season loss. After the 2009 season the Patriots were defeated by the Baltimore Ravens in the Wild Card round and then the 2010 season ended with a shocking loss to the New York Jets in the Divisional round.  In need of an influx of talent, the Patriots turned to the 2011 NFL Draft to re-stock the pantry. The Patriots had needs on the offensive line, at running back, in the secondary, and finding a pass rusher. Did the Patriots succeed in filling their needs through the draft? How do they grade out now that the 2011 draft class has reached free agency?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cover32: The New England Patriots have a lot of work to do in the NFL Draft | New England Patriots

The New England Patriots have a lot of work to do in the NFL Draft | New England Patriots

The New England Patriots finished a successful season with a Super Bowl win over the Seattle Seahawks; however, the off-season has not been kind to the Patriots and with a number of key departures on defense the Patriots have some holes to fill--particularly on defense. The offensive line, defensive line, and cornerback are three key needs in the NFL Draft. What other positions should the Patriots be looking to fill in the NFL Draft in just over a month?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Musketfire.com: New England Patriots Quiet Off-season Positions Them for Success Again

New England Patriots Quiet Off-season Positions Them for Success Again

The New England Patriots have been a model franchise since 2001 and once again found a way to win in 2014. They continued winning right through the Super Bowl. Their beleaguered AFC East opponents have been busy this off-season spending tons of money on free agents as they try to "win" the off-season. But how does usually work out for teams?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Cover32: After a week of free agency, are the New England Patriots still atop the AFC East? | New England Patriots

After a week of free agency, are the New England Patriots still atop the AFC East? | New England Patriots

While the Patriots slowly and methodically attempt to keep a complete and deep roster, the rest of the AFC East has gone crazy

trying to catch-up to New England. The Patriot Way to build a team may frustrate the fanbase by watching starting cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner hit the road and long-time defensive tackle Vince Wilfork not be brought back, the team has made a number of smaller, under-the-radar moves. The Patriots have been criticized for standing pat while the Bills, Jets, and Dolphins all spend millions and millions on free agents. But are any of the three other AFC East teams a threat to the New England Patriots in 2015 after all their moves?

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Musketfire.com: New England Patriots Off-season Outlook: Defensive Line

New England Patriots Off-season Outlook: Defensive Line

The loss of Vince Wilfork this offseason highlights the need at defensive line in New England. Rob Ninkovich is another year older and youngsters Dominique Easley and Sealver Siliga both struggled with injuries in 2014. Taking a look at what is in place, what is available via the draft and free agency shows the Patriots have a strong need on the defensive line for 2015.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

My DraftSeason.com Mock Draft

This past week I was invited to participate in a mock draft for Draft Season in their annual All-Blogger mock draft.  Draft Season had asked a representative from all 32 NFL team's home base to participate. Draft Season simply requested every blogger draft as though they were drafting for the team they represent. I was asked to take the last pick of the draft for the New England Patriots and channel my "inner Bill Belichick".

As much as my instinct told me to trade down, I stuck at #32 and made a befuddling pick just as I figured Belichick would do with the last pick of the first round. The mock draft made for an interesting piece as each blogger currently writes about the team they were choosing for and Draft Season had us write up a small piece about the pick. It made for a real interesting experience and gives some legitimacy for the real draft taking place at the end of April.

Here is the link to the mock draft; Here is the link to part two of the mock draft where my choice for the New England Patriots is at #32.

Check out the whole draft as it is real interesting.

My pick and analysis is below, but in analyzing the Patriots drafts under Belichick I was surprised at how often the team ends up drafting for need with their first pick. So many pundits laud the Patriots for picking the best player, but more often than not they fall into the same trap as other teams--especially with their first pick:

32. New England Patriots (www.bostonsportspage.com)

Selection: A.J. Cann G, South Carolina

patriotsAnalysis: Even if the New England Patriots lose both All Pro free safety Devin McCourty and All Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis in free agency this draft pick is not going to address the secondary. At safety, former third-round draft pick Duron Harmon would be given a chance to step in for McCourty after two years of seasoning. At cornerback, as the Patriots moved decisively in free agency to replace Aqib Talib with Revis expect the same move to get the next tier cornerback at a more team-friendly price in free agency.
In the draft the Patriots–when they do not trade down out of the first round of the draft–more often than not pick based on need. Bill Belichick has a history of having his top draft pick stepping in and contributing immediately to fill a hole.This pick should be no different: Right now, their interior offensive line is in desperate need of an upgrade.
Fourth-round draft pick Bryan Stork was solid as a rookie in 2014 but the two guard positions had almost every back-up guard, center or tackle start at least one game in 2014 in a quest to find a winning combination. Left guard Dan Connolly is 32 years old and a free agent. Even if he returns, the team needs a guard capable of stepping in and starting immediately. A decade ago the Patriots used the #32 overall pick on guard Logan Mankins and got a solid decade of service from him before trading him prior to the 2014 season. Look for history to repeat itself in 2015.
A.J. Cann is the top guard in the draft and unlike in 2005 when the Patriots were panned for drafting an offensive guard in the first round the position has grown in importance and that has reflected in the draft boards. Cann is tall (six-foot-three) and has decent size with room to add weight (313 pounds). He is quick off the line and gets low and under his defender. He needs work in technique for pass protection but was a hard worker in South Carolina. The Patriots should be comfortable putting Cann to work on opening day at left guard and have him play a key role in keeping future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Tom Brady upright for the rest of his time in New England.
Blogger: Hal Bent
Website: www.bostonsportpage.com
Twitter: @halbent01
The mock draft was a lot of fun and I really appreciate the opportunity. A big "thank you" goes out to Matt Falk at Draft Season for putting this together. Thanks, Matt!

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