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New England Patriots

Patriots Have A Two-Headed Monster In BackField



Following an embarrassing week 1 loss, the Patriots returned to the field seeking redemption. They trounced the New Orleans Saints 36-20, this past Sunday. Ah, sweet misplaced aggression. From Bill Belichick’s offense, we saw a multi-faceted passing attack that was redolent of the good ol’ days.

Tom Brady stood immovably strong in the pocket, going through his progressions with laser-like precision. We saw him make crafty check-downs to receivers manifold. An unleashed Rob Gronkowski ran crossing routes like a human-boulder, tearing the Saints secondary to shreds. It all made for a beautiful sight to see.

As prolifically as Tom Brady threw the football, it was the effectiveness of our running backs that was most surprising. In this department, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels hit the Saints with a dual-pronged weapon. Power runner Mike Gillislee scored his 4th rushing TD of the season, while finesse halfback James White pulled in 8 receptions for 85 yards. In tandem, they were absolutely dynamic. And with all our injuries, we’re going to need them to be just that going forwards.

The continued performance of this two-headed monster will arguably be the most critical thing to the Patriots’ success this year. White and Gillislee, early on, have mirrored each other in a productive manner. But beware: The utilization of this duo could become rather calculable. Our one-two punch is going to have to learn to play outside of their respective comfort-zones.

A Tale of Two Tailbacks

When appraising the Patriots backfield, Mike Gillislee and James White should be viewed as a single entity. There’s a mutually beneficial marriage between these two players. They are polar-opposites, who collaborate to produce a formidable rushing attack.

Disclaimer: Some may say that I am negligent to not mention the contributions from Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead. But if this backfield was a cheeseburger, Lewis and Burkhead would merely be the condiments that make it taste just a tad better. There’s no doubt that Gillislee and White are the featured athletes here.

As many Patriots fans would admit, calling James White a “running back” is sort of inappropriate. This is his formal title, yes, but it’s a misnomer of a title. Go back and watch last year’s Super Bowl. White should just be listed as a wide receiver on the depth chart. That’s what we’ve always used him as. In the absence of Julian Edelman, he may be our most dependable option on passing 3rd-downs.

This year, White is on track to haul in 88 receptions for 920 yards, while racking up an additional 392 rushing yards. That type of production would be invaluable. His hands are immeasurably better than any other RB’s on this Patriots team. Opposing defenses cannot commit to defending one facet of his game or the other, at least so far. But on Sunday afternoon, we saw a pattern being established.

Chances are, if White’s on the field, Tom Brady is going to be throwing the football. It’s no secret. James White has only 12 rushing attempts, this season. Here is where Mike Gillislee comes in. He’s the jelly to White’s peanut butter; the ying to his yang.

Gillislee is off to a fast start, with his new team. He is a virtual inversion of James White. Gillislee is a durable smashmouth back, who acts as a battering ram on the goal line and on rushing downs. Currently, he’s on track for 912 rushing yards and 32 rushing TD’s.

But again there is an appreciable formula, in regards to how Mike Gillislee is leveraged. This is something that will not be overlooked by our future opponents. Since the start of last year, Gillislee has 0 receptions. That’s right, a big fat goose egg. When Gillislee is on the field, 99% of the time he’s going to be hitting his holes as the running play is designed.

Variety is the Spice of Life

It’s odd that both White and Gillislee play such singular roles, because they are physically comparable. James White is slightly more compact, at 5’9” 204 lbs. Mike Gillislee is a rugged 5’11” 208 lbs. But concerning their speed, they’re almost interchangeable. Just look at their 40-yard dash times. White runs a 4.57, while Gillislee runs a 4.55. This is encouraging: They should be able to learn how to imitate each other.

Bill Belichick doesn’t allow any of his players to become complacent. Such comfort could compromise the Patriots playbook. In the coming weeks, look for Mike Gillislee to be a part of more passing formations, and for James White to run the ball more frequently. The Pats have to keep their opponents honest and unprepared.

A live-action attrition has been induced in the Patriots’ leading receivers. Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, and Rob Gronkowski are currently banged-up. Whether these guys are sidelined or active, the Patriots will be using them minimally. Hence the importance of the running game. Our backfield, with James White and Mike Gillislee at the helm, will certainly be carrying more of the load than anyone expected.

Columnist operating out of Manchester, NH. Retired pitcher (unprofessional not amateur). Voracious consumer of all things Celtics and Red Sox. Sometimes I produce content as well.

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New England Patriots

NFL Talk: Week 3 Picks



NFL Talk: Week 3 Picks


The NFL season is going to be here for awhile but fantasy and replays will keep football fresh for all of us who are currently waiting to see Thursday Night Football (I wonder how many that would be). However, week 3 is now here and teams are still somewhat trying to form their identity. Trying to guess any NFL team’s record by the end of this year usually 9 times out of 10 will look stupid. Doing it it week-by-week gives everyone a more in depth idea about how each team will look moving forward.I overall did remarkably better than last week. I guessed 12-4 correct for week 2, so that makes my current record: 21-10. Now let’s see how the rest of this week turns out.


Los Angeles Rams @ San Fransisco 49ers: Winner - Rams


I can understand why many people would say the 49ers are not being taken seriously enough. They have a  young Front 7 that on paper, could give anyone in the NFC West trouble. In terms of pressure they can generate at the defensive line, the 49ers are capable of giving Jared Goff issues. The reality is that Brian Hoyer is a player that has difficulties when dealing with zone coverage. He has a bad habit of locking down his receivers and while he is easily capable of noticing pressure, he tends to falter under it. The Rams defense has a defensive tackle like Aaron Donald who by himself can cause massive pressure on the field. Both teams could easily mess with either QBs to make this into a very low scoring game. So this will lead to the teams relying on their running backs. Carlos Hyde is easily capable of breaking 100+ yards (He made 169 yards against the Seattle defense which speaks volumes of his production) but so too is Todd Gurley III who was Rookie of the year in 2015. Hyde is having a tremendous opener to his year but the reality is that the 49ers offense has yet to score a touchdown this season. Now some people believe that this is a trap game as the 49ers seemingly are beat up after being exhausted against a strong Seattle defense that plays hard, but their defense also was playing against arguably the worst offense line in the NFC. With the improvements in the Rams offensive line, things could change here. The 49ers being underdogs in this game makes a lot of sense as their offense still seemingly needs time to gel but I think the Rams can pull it off even on the 49ers home turf. I have the Rams winning close 18-16 tonight at 8:25 EST.



Baltimore Ravens @ Jacksonville Jaguars: Winner - Ravens


The battle of London is here. One of the few away games that are overseas, this will be one of the early games to start our Sunday morning. Many people had the Jags as an a underdog team that was on the rise but due to injuries in the secondary cost them in their Week 2 game against the Tennessee Titans. And while I think the Jags are a young upcoming team, their main offense is centered around Leonard Fournette. Blake Bortles is a player that if left alone, can lead to turnover issues and that is why Fournette was drafted in the first place. However, the Ravens defense has been one of the most dominating so far into this season. I think the Ravens are legit, they are a team that has been plagued by the injury bug for the past couple of years (same can be said of the Los Angeles Chargers). While the Jags have a very productive running game and an upcoming defense, they are still trying to fight back injuries (Cornerback Jalen Ramsey was limited in practice with an ankle injury and Safety Tashuan Gipson didn’t participate in practice). Right now, the Ravens are in a prime moment to dominant and I believe their defense can help them win this game. Ravens win 21-14.



Denver Broncos @ Buffalo Bills: Winner - Broncos

Anybody who says that Trevor Siemian is a franchise QB is kinda overstating things a bit. He is a player that, if he gets consistent with the offense, can be a great game manager. CJ Anderson is the essential equivalent of a wrecking ball and once he went down with injury last year, they became reliant on the passing game, which hurt their season going forward (despite going 9-7 for the 2016 season). Right now, the Broncos look like they are getting things going and Siemian is able to advance the ball further down the field thanks to having a wide receiving core of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. The main highlights with the Buffalo Bills right now is in their running game but the Broncos have quite possibly the best secondary in the NFL so they will be difficult to beat just passing the ball but with Von Miller possibly out with injury (he has been seen only as questionable so this could change), it could mean that the Broncos defensive line will be significantly weaker but we will need to see how the defense steps up if he is out for Sunday’s game. Either way, I have the Broncos winning by a score of 27-18.



Pittsburgh Steelers @ Chicago Bears: Winner - Steelers


The Chicago Bears are a team that is still trying to form an identity and right now their greatest strength is their interior offensive line and elite running game. However, the Pittsburgh Steelers have both an elite passing and running game which makes them much more difficult to stop especially while on offense. The Bears defense isn’t like what it once was in in the 2000s. In addition, Kyle Long is limited in practice along with starting running back Jordan Howard and rookie Benny Cunningham. This could lead to problems for Mike Glennon on the offense as they have been plagued with injuries in their wide receiving core as well. The Steelers are the healthier team and while Big Ben Roethlisburger may not be as good on the road, i think this team is built to win. Steelers win against the Bears 28-10.



New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers: Winner - Panthers


This is one game that I usually will say could go either way, but with the addition of injuries including Jeremy Cash and Charles Johnson on the defensive line, the Panthers will need to put extra pressure on Drew Brees in order to get him to falter. The Panthers also lost Greg Olsen, their starting TE to severe injury and is now out for quite possibly the whole 2017 season. This will put extra pressure on the receiving core including Kelvin Benjamin. However, I don’t feel confident with the Saints defense, many thought this defense would step up this year, but its arguably stepped back from last season. Brees is going to have a tough time with an inconsistent running game (including a heated Adrian Peterson who has been limited in snaps these last two weeks) and his receiving core being without Willie Snead until Week 4. In addition, their starting corner backs Sterling Moore and Marshon Lattimore are both potentially out for next week and with the addition injuries on the defensive line, which includes: Trey Hendrickson, Bryan Braman, and Devaroe Lawrence. I just can’t see this defense stopping the Panthers, especially rookie running back Christian McCaffery who will likely have a huge game on Sunday. I see the Panthers winning around 24-20.



Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Minnesota Vikings: Winner - Buccaneers


Man oh man, poor Sam Bradford. Guy might as well be called Mr. Glass at this point in his career, guy was red hot to start his season and then falls to injury. Now the Vikings have no choice but to bring out…Case Keenum as their starting QB (If Bradford of course is as badly injured as the reports have stated). Vikings fans I am so sorry.  While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are definitely a team that has the firepower to compete against their defense, I think the Vikings will be more reliant on their running game, which can be bad for the Bucs as Gerald McCoy and Brent Grimes are listed as questionable. It comes down to which team can perform at a higher level I think that the Bucs are capable of this under Jameis Winston. I have the Bucs winning 24-14.



Cleveland Browns @ Indianapolis Colts: Winner - Colts


Literally had to think about this one and it ultimately came down to a coin flip because these teams are so godawful. The Cleveland Browns are without Cory Coleman now, Myles Garret is still a big question mark due to not participating in practice. Deshone Kizer is starting to look more normal now especially as he is showing severe inconsistency in the passing game. Jacoby Brissett, former New England Patriot, is still going through some growing pains but he is showing that his time in New England isn’t wasted, he is filling for Andrew Luck (who is unlikely to be back till October). The young man still has a lot to prove and if he can get connections with his receiving core, he might be able to put some points on the board (he pushed the Cardinals into overtime, whose defense is much better than the Browns right now). Due to losing play makers like Jaime Collins Sr. due to injury, the Browns are unlikely to get through this game without potentially losing it. I think this game really is a close one that will be decided by who gets a touchdown only. I see the Colts winning by a score of only 16-14. This game will be potentially close but I think if given the right opportunity, the Browns could be a surprise come Sunday.



Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets: Winner - Dolphins


Can’t believe I am back on the diabetic train with Jay Cutler on the Dolphins. However, the Dolphins actually have difference makers on both sides of the ball. The Jets, most definitely do not. The Jets defensive line is potentiality  top 10, but everything else especially on offense is hot garbage. Jay Cutler is middle of the road, but he is a guy who can get points on the board for the team and he will likely help his team stay atleast somewhat consistent. I won’t say that I am beating a dead horse here with the New York Jets but I also am not betting against a type 1 diabetic (Jay Cutler) either. The Dolphins should win this game 19-10.



Houston Texans @ New England Patriots: Winner - Patriots

I already explained my thoughts yesterday about this game. Right now, the Houston Texans I don’t trust offensively and Belichick eats rookie QBs alive. The team is built to handle most offenses and the Texans offense is still trying to work itself out. Right now, Deshaun Watson is still working out his issues but the young man has talent. However, the Patriots defense is still working on improvements as the New Orleans Saints got shut down hard last week. We will see if the performance this week will be the same. I see the Patriots winning 30-16.



Atlanta Falcons @ Detroit Lions: Winner - Falcons


I think betting against the Falcons is a mistake this time around. The Lions have shown they deserve to be recognized as a legit team. However, the Falcons still have a fast moving defense and a offense that is almost impossible to shutdown. They have play makers like Matt Ryan and Julio Jones (who finally emerged last season as the best receiver in the NFL). I like Matthew Stafford and what he is doing this season (most 4th quarter comebacks in league history last season), but the Falcons have too much firepower. Even though the Detroit defense i capable of holding its own, there is no way I can see them containing this Falcons offense, who are very hungry after the Super Bowl. I think hangover doesn’t describe this team at all, but rather, hungry for another shot at the Super Bowl might be a better description. The Falcons should win this game 32-24.



New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles: Winner - Eagles


The Giants don’t have an offense. Let’s make that clear. Brandon Marshall was suppose to help make this receiving core better between Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard and of course Odell Beckham Jr. However, this team’s offensive line is terrible (by the way, Ben McAdoo, cut Ereck Flowers, he is a waste of an offensive tackle at this point if he doesn’t get help). The Eagles front seven is going to have a field day with that offense and honestly, I think Wentz won’t feel too pressured since the Giants defense will be on the field more than their offense will. The Giants defense is easily a top ten defense in the league, but the issues with the offense are hurting the defense badly. Time of possession is a key factor in this game and I have more faith in the Eagles ability to create pressure on Eli Manning (who is already too old to scramble when out of the pocket). I think the Giants are going to let Eli have more control over the offense as it is clear Ben McAdoo doesn’t seem to understand how to get the team running under his scheme. The Giants will bounce back but I have a feeling that this team will go 0-3 to start this season. Eagles should win 24-18.


Seattle Seahawks @ Tennessee Titans: Winner - Titans


This is possibly my biggest upset for this week shockingly. The Seahawks defense is killer but I am already convinced that the Seahawks defense is becoming gassed out due to the offensive line being basically made out of paper. The Seahawks offense lives and dies with Russsell Wilson. Their team sadly has some serious issues due to how much was invested into their defense. The Seattle’s Legion of Boom defense is still as dangerous as ever, but the reality is that the offense has been underwhelming to say the least. Wilson’s ability to extend plays has been the saving grace for this team. However, the Tennesee Titans showed up last week against the Jaguars. And while I think Mariota will have difficulties with this Seattle defense, I feel that the team’s offense can manage to score just as much as the Seahawks can. I think this will be a very close game with the Titans barely winning 17-15 (I am secretly hoping the Seahawks get a double digit score but they have failed at getting above 10 this season).



Kansas City Chiefs @ Los Angeles Chargers: Winner - Chiefs


Man, the Chargers have been hit badly these last two weeks with back-to-back games ending with a  missed field goal. The Chargers are possibly the best team out of any that are starting 0-2 for the season but misfortune on both schedule and injury is hurting this team’s chances of making it to the playoffs this year. The Chiefs are currently the team to beat, with their new hot shot running back Kareem Hunt exploding onto the NFL season. The Chiefs without Eric Berry look like a legitimate Super Bowl contender this year. While the Chargers are still a very good team, if this a continuous affair of bad special teams, then there is a likely chance that the Chargers are in for alot of turnovers. The Chiefs should win 28-23.



Cincinnati Bengals @ Green Bay Packers: Winner - Packers


The Packers got beat up hard last week against the Falcons but the Bengals arguably got the worse beat down from the Houston Texans. The Bengals offense is UGLY. I mean, just plain ugly, this is a team that has been a disaster and has failed to score a single touchdown this season already. The Bengals went as far as to fire their offensive coordinator but I don’t think that will be enough to fix their problems. This is a team that has talent on the defensive side of the ball and has deep threat receiver like AJ Green. However, the Packers are the better from both a coaching and offensive perspective. The Bengals will need to sort out their problems but until then, I ain’t seeing them win this game. Packers should win 24-16. The Bengals are the only team in Aaron Rodgers entire career that he has never won against. This is a game that Rodgers will likely look forward to, but I can’t say the same for the Bengals who are looking to make a bounce back performance this week.



Oakland Raiders @ Washington Redskins: Winner - Raiders


While the Redskins are trying to keep their season alive, the Raiders are one of the hottest teams coming out of the AFC this year. With Marshawn Lynch seemingly back in form, and the offense looking solid, this Raiders team will have a big day against the Redskins, especially with Josh Norman (who was limited at practice today) on the other side of the ball. Kirk Cousins has struggled this season but he is out to prove he is worth a  long-term contract. While he is trying to get his connections with Terrelle Pryor, he is about to face an Raiders’ defense with Khali Mack on the other side of the ball (I will expect Trent Williams will be covering him to avoid Cousins from getting sacked). This is a match up that on paper should be good, but with the news of Jordan Reed not being available at practice, it seems that the Redskins will be without their starting Tight End. The Raiders had Amari Cooper limited at practice but he is one of many weapons on this offense. The Raiders should win 28-21.



Dallas Cowboys @ Arizona Cardinals: Winner - Cowboys


And finally the Monday night game where we will find the Cowboys being hosted at Arizona. While the Cardinals seem to be trying, this offense has lost its identity without David Johnson. Bruce Arians has been pushing this team far, but its clear that the 2015 season is in the rear view mirror at this point.  would suggest to just have Palmer ride out his contract, draft a QB in next year’s draft and just tank. The Cowboys had a bad game at Denver and everybody does sadly at Mile High. The cowboys got exposed by the Denver’s no fly zone defense but even so, there is no way that the Cardinals can replicate that blueprint with the players they have (They first of all need to have both corner backs play on the same level as Patrick Peterson and I only see one of him). The Cardinals low scoring, is a major concern and I think the Cowboys will win on the road to help get themselves back on track. I predict this to be a low scoring game but Ezekiel Elliot will show up at this game. Cowboys win 24-18.




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New England Patriots

Patriots Talk: What To Expect For Week 3




With the Patriots made a great bounce back after the season opener. However, there is still much that the team needs to do going into Week 3. The Patriots will be essentially repeating last season, a Sunday game against the Houston Texans. The thing about the Texans is that their staff is full of ex-Patriots but their team is completely the opposite of the Patriots. The Texans rely much more on their defense than their offense.

Bill Belichick has managed a consist record against O’Brien’s Texans with their last encounters in three years (with Jacoby Brissett being the starting QB for one of them). Two of the games were in the regular season and one in the postseason.

  • 2015: 27-6
  • 2016: 27-0
  • 2017: 34-16

If we are basing the scores from across both teams’ history, the Texans are completely lopsided in this case as well. Since the team first came into existence in 2002 (that means the Houston Texans are only 16 years old, to put that into even further perspective, Bill Belichick has been the Head Coach of the New England Patriots since 2000, 2 years longer than the Texans have been a football team), the Patriots have been 8-1 against the Texans all-time. In terms of overall scores, the Patriots have never scored lower than 23 points against the Texans.

However, the Patriots shouldn’t just push the Texans aside. This is a football team that has never had a fully healthy JJ Watt to face against especially with a defense that has Jadeveon Clowney or Whitney Mercilus. This is a team that can give the Patriots offense problems. In their last meeting, Brady was only able to make 18 completions on 38 passing attempts with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. The only reason the Patriots won that last game was due to the team having massive headaches at the QB positions and just simple special team mistakes that resulted in two different turnovers.

In addition, the Patriots best weapon, Rob Gronkowski, is currently dealing with a  groin injury and while reports seem positive, that can all change on game day and that simple injury could turn into something much worse (Remember Gronk’s arm brace being a bit massive? It is because they need him to wear that for the rest of his career to prevent further infection or else Gronk would likely have been permanently crippled). It’s still early in the week and things will change as we get closer to game day but its always better to be cautious.

The Patriots will be playing against the Houston Texans on Sunday, September 24th, at 1:00 PM EST at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA.  The game will be broadcast on CBS, and both teams are currently 1-1 to start the regular NFL season into Week 3.

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New England Patriots

Who Is New England’s NFC Rival?



New England hasn’t started off the greatest thus far this year. That comes as no surprise, however. The Patriots have had multiple rough starts in past years and still went to the big show and won it all. So, even though New England isn’t going to go undefeated, as many hoped, Tom Brady and company are still likely to be in yet another Super Bowl this year. But who will they play? What NFC team this year has what it takes to give the Pats a rival in this year’s Super Bowl?

How about the Detroit Lions? With the highest paid NFL player on the roster, quarterback Matthew Stafford has led his team to two victories so far and the Lions remain the only team in the NFC North to be undefeated. Detroit looks to be a contender all year-long. They upset the New York Giants on Monday Night with the win on the road. The biggest challenge for Detroit, however, will come Sunday when the Lions face last year’s Super Bowl losers, the Atlanta Falcons.

Are the Falcons tough enough to return to the big game? Matt Ryan is healthy as ever and Atlanta and their explosive offense are getting the job done. They also are undefeated going into week three. Devonte Freeman and Julias Jones are on top of their game. With the way they toppled the Chicago Bears on Sunday, the Falcons have a good start to returning to the Super Bowl again this year.

The Detroit Lions and the Atlanta Falcons play this Sunday. Could this be a preview of this year’s NFC Championship Game? Is one of these two teams going to be a rival for the New England Patriots in this year’s Superbowl? Granted, this is only week two and there is a lot more weeks of football left to play out. I believe that either the Lions or the Falcons could be the team to give us a good show and a close game against the New England Patriots in a great Super Bowl.

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