The Patriots come into this week to face the struggling Houston Texans after an improbable comeback win against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
The Texans started the season 2-0 and looked poised to compete with the Indianapolis Colts for the AFC South Division Title. But then things went downhill fast for this Houston Team. Since then the Texans have dropped 9 straight games including their last game in which they lost to the lowly Jaguars 13-6.
They have switched quarterbacks from a struggling Matt Schuab to a young talent in Case Keenum. If you are unfamiliar with Case Keenum he is the quarterback who led The University of Houston to a 12-0 season and a win in the Ticket Master Bowl against Penn State, a game in which he threw for 500 yards. Although Keenum has not won a game as an NFL Quarterback, he has played very well. He has thrown for 1161 yards to go along with 8 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions through 5 games. Case Keenum could be a star in this league, but he is still young and is still learning the game.
Arian Foster, Houston’s All Pro running back is out for season after undergoing back surgery, which was successful. His job was handed down to Ben Tate, a very capable backup who will most likely land a starting job on a different NFL team next year.
With Case Keenum, Ben Tate, and a dangerous outside wide receiver in Andre Johnson, this is an offense that is capable of putting up points, but has not clicked just yet.
The Texans have a solid defense led by arguably the best defensive player in the league, JJ Watt. JJ Watt could be a matchup nightmare as Patriots Tackle Marcus Cannon is not expected to play, leaving third string tackle Will Svitek to block JJ Watt. This matchup could be extremely problematic for the Patriots.
Aqib Talib, Alfonzo Dennard, Steve Gregory, and Alfonzo Dennard are all questionable for Sunday’s game. All four were limited in Thursday’s practice, expect Dennard who did not practice at all. I believe all of them will play besides Dennard, which is big because the Patriots need Talib to shut down Johnson.
In the end I like the Patriots to win this game, but in a closer game than most people expect. The Texans will be able to move the ball against the Patriots defense, but I believe the Patriots will be able to force Case Keenum into mistakes which will lead to turnovers, something the Patriots defense has done so well throughout the years. Tom Brady will be able to capitalize on these mistakes and the short field which will lead to easy scores. I like the Patriots to win this game by 2 scores with a final score of 31-21.
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GB DET (-6)
Matt Flynn is still the starter for the Packers as Rodgers continues to nurse a broken collarbone. Flynn played well against the Vikings last week, after he replaced Scott Tolzein, but the Vikings have the 31st ranked passing defense in the league. The Lions passing defense is not much better (21st against the pass) but they tout the 9th ranked run defense led by Ndamukong Suh. To put that in perspective for this game, Eddie Lacy led the Packers Offense last week with 110 rush yards and a touchdown. I like the Lions to win by more than six.
OAK DAL (-9.5)
This is an interesting matchup, and could be the upset special of the day. Darren McFadden is returning from a hamstring injury. Dallas has the 32nd run defense in the league and have a depleted line backing core. Rashard Jennings has also been playing very well with 413 rush yards and 2 touchdowns in McFadden’s 4 week absence. With McFadden returning this week, this rush offense could be deadly against the Cowboys defense. Mathew McGloin has also been playing well and has been named the Raiders new starting quarterback. I like the Raiders to win this game.
PIT BAL (-3)
Pittsburgh has been hot as of late, winning their last three games. The Ravens have been inconsistent all year, and their offense has been hard to watch. Ray Rice has been a disappointment, rushing for over 70 yards only twice this year. That being said, the Steelers defense is banged up so the Ravens should be able to move the ball against them. I like the Steelers to win this game, but by only three points or less.
Wow what a game last night. The Patriots fumble the ball three times on their first three possessions, fall behind 24-0 at half, and somehow pull out a miracle victory in overtime.
Like I stated before, brutal first half for the Patriots. They could not hold onto the ball if their life depended on it. Ridley fumble, Blount fumble, Brady sack fumble. It was horrible. It was hard to watch. But everyone who has watched the Patriots play in the last 12 years knew this game was not over. Why? Because Brady, Bellicheck, and this team will always find a way to win. Brady threw for 344 yard and 3 touchdowns on the evening, all three TD’s coming in the second half. Bolden filled in nicely for Ridley and Blount and racked up 58 yards on 13 carries.
Knowshon Moreno gashed the Patriots for 224 yards on 37 carries, a 6 yard average. Although that looks bad, you need to ask yourself this. Would you rather have Peyton throw for 350 yards or Moreno run for 224? The answer is you would rather have Moreno run for 224. It is better to keep Peyton handing off the ball and not let him establish a rhythm. Did Moreno hurt last night? Yes. But it is better to have Moreno running for 6 yards per play than have Peyton throwing for 15.
What do the Patriots do with Steven Ridley? He has shown he is a very good runner, but he cannot hold onto the ball. So what is the point of having a back who can gain yards but coughs up the ball way to often? There is none. Do we give up on Ridley? No. But he needs to sit a few games and really just practice ball carrying and how to handle the ball. If he keeps fumbling after that, then you seriously start thinking about parting ways.
Ryan Allen had phenomenal punts last night and Bill’s genius showed on why he only drafts left footed punters (Tony Carter fumble).
Now the real question is, what does last night’s game say about these two teams.
For the Patriots it shows that this team is for real. It shows that they can fall in a hole and climb out of it against a previously 9-1 Broncos team. It shows that Tom Brady is the best quarterback in the NFL today (sorry Peyton). It does not matter who Brady has around him, because he makes them better. He expects a high level of play from all his teammates and they are really starting to deliver. It shows that this defense has always had the next man up mentality. One player goes down, another fills in. Obviously guys like Vince Wilfork are unreplaceable but the two new DT’s (Jones, Vellano) are still out there fighting on every down and trying to make plays, and sometimes even making them. It showed that this New England Patriots team is the best team in the AFC, and arguably the best in the league (Seahawks). Are there things we need to work on? Of course. We need to stop the run and our running backs need to learn how to hold onto the ball. But overall a very, very promising win for this Patriots team.
Now for the Broncos. What a brutal way to lose a game. To go up 24-0 against a weak defense and to not be able to close the game is embarrassing, especially when you are “the best team in the league, with the best quarterback in the league”. Peyton never got in a rhythm the whole game and I do believe the cold really did affect him. Peyton is now 1-6 in games below freezing, and like I said coming into this game, the weather would affect him. But either way Peyton did not look good last night. Moreno would run the ball on the first two plays of each set of downs, setting the Broncos up in 3rd and 5 or shorter. Peyton did not make a play on these favorable 3rd downs, and it cost his team the game. But you cannot blame everything on Peyton. The defense also let the Patriots score 34 in the second half and overtime. This Broncos defense is just as suspect as the Patriots defense.
Oh by the way I predicted the 34-31 score in my Broncos vs Patriots Preview. Sure, maybe I didn’t predict how we would get to the final score, but I did predict it.
Now if the Patriots win out and the Broncos drop one more, the Patriots take home field advantage throughout the playoffs. If you do not think that is a big deal you apparently did not watch last night’s game. The Broncos still need to face a tough Chiefs defense at Arrowhead, so if there is a game the Broncos are most likely to drop, it’s that one.
The Patriots (8-3) face a struggling Houston Texans team next week who have dropped nine straight games (2-9). Although this should be a blow out win, I think the Texans will play the Patriots well. Case Keenum is a solid young quarterback and Ben Tate is a talented running back. That being said, I like the Patriots by at least two scores. I will be back later in the week with my official prediction.
I will be back with a full recap tomorrow but you do not doubt Tom Brady or Bill Bellichek. Tonight he solidified why he is the best Quarterback of our generation. Down 24-0 at halftime and he leads this team to a miracle comeback. We also showed why we were the best team in the AFC. We have a better defense, despite the Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie injury. And we have a better offense. Why?
The Celtics (5-10) finally snapped their six game losing skid by pulling out an ugly win in Atlanta (8-6). But a win is a win and at this point we will take them any way we can get them.
Although the Celtics won, they turned the ball over 19 times, opposed to the Hawks 9 turnovers. Turnovers continue to be a problem early in the season for this Celtics team
After only shooting 9 free-throws against the Pacers, the Celtics shot 24-31 from the charity line against the Hawks.
The Celtics out rebounded the hawks 48 to 37, which is surprising because Kelly Olynyk did not play due to a right ankle sprain. He will miss at least two weeks with this injury.
Although both teams played for a second night in a row, the Hawks seemed like they were much more worn down than the Celtics. The Hawks led 74-64 heading into the fourth quarter, after another lackluster third quarter by the Celtics (outscored 21-15). The game seemed like it was over, history seemed to be repeating itself for the third straight night. Play with a team for the first half and then choke away the game in the 3rd. The Hawks closed the third with a 17-5 run.
But then the Celtics completely flipped the script on the Hawks. The Celtics outscored the Hawks 30-13 in the quarter, behind a 10-0 run the Celtics had in the fourth. But the real story of the fourth quarter was the Celtics defense.
“We have to be great defensively for us to have any success, we do not have All-Stars at the offensive end where we don’t need to play defense. Everybody has to be on point on both sides of the ball for us to get wins.” Said Brandon Bass.
To go along with his hard defense, Brandon Bass led all Boston scorers with 17 points, he also added 7 rebounds to his stat line.
The Celtics held Atlanta to 5-23 shooting in the fourth quarter (21%).
Jordan Crawford was in attack mode when the fourth quarter came around, but he was moving the ball around much better than he had been the previous night against the Pacers. He finished with 12 points and 10 assists, a double-double. The Celtics plus/minus when he was on the floor was plus 24.
The Celtics plus/minus while Kris Humphries was on the floor was minus 17, solidifying he is the worst player in the NBA and needs to be traded or released immediately. Oh and if you needed another reason…
Got 13 second into that video and had to exit out, I can not stand him.
Overall an ugly win, but still a win against a solid Atlanta Hawks team. If the Celtics can play like they did last night and still win, it says a lot about this team. The Celtics take on the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday night, a team they have already lost to once this season. Believe it or not the Bobcats are 7-7 this season, they are not the horrible team we are all used to seeing. That being said, I like the Celtics in this one. I still believe the Celtics are a better team than the Bobcats.
The Celtic’s were leading at halftime against the newly 11 and 1 Indiana Pacers 50-42, then the wheels fell of the wagon. The Celtic’s did not lose to the Pacers last night, they lost to themselves.
The Celtics shot 59 percent in the first half, followed by a 40 percent shooting performance in the second half.
The Celtics were outscored 25-8 in the third quarter, which is inexcusable. They were outscored by 10 in the third quarter against the Spurs in the previous game.
The Celtics turned the ball over 21 times, including 6 times by their current “point guard” Jordan Crawford. Crawford had his best scoring performance of the season, putting up 24 and leading all Celitc’s scorers. But he only had 4 assists, as the current point guard he is clearly not distributing the ball enough, and when he is trying to, he is turning the ball over. He is not setting other players up with the looks they need to be successful. I am not saying Crawford is not a good player, he is, and his scoring is essential to this team. But the team should look to other players on the roster to be their interim point guard.
I hate to keep beating on this drum but when Phil Pressey was in the Celtics truly looked like a better team. They pushed the ball and played a much faster paced game, something they need to do against teams that have a 7’2 Roy Hibbert playing in the paint. Something they especially need to do when players like Olynyk sprain their ankle and sit out the rest of the game.
Speaking of Olynyk if he can not go against the Hawks tonight, it would be a devastating loss for the Celtics. I know it is just a short term loss but the Celtics really need to get back on track tonight and the Sullinger Olynyk experiment has been working out very well so far and it would be great to see what they can do against the Hawks. And if you don’t think the Olynyk loss was huge last night, Olynyk played a good chunk of the first half and did not play in the second. And the game was a tale of two halves. You see my point.
Jeff Green played well, scoring 20 points and shooting 8- 13 from the field.
A little fishy how the Celtics shot just one free throw over the first 31 minutes of the game.
Overall, solid performance in the first half but the team needs to finish games. This is the second game in a row the Celtics have played well in the first half only to come out flat in the third quarter and to eventually lose the game. The Celtics play the Atlanta Hawks tonight a game in which they need to win, and I think they will do just that. Unless Olynyk is a no go, then the Hawks will most likely take this game sending the Celtics to a 4-11 record.
In other NBA news, a horrible scene took place in Chicago as Derrick Rose, who is returning from a left ACL tear, went down with a non contact injury to his left knee. It is not uncommon to see a player injure a non repaired knee after coming off major surgery to the other knee.
As a fan of the game you hate to see things like this. Derrick Rose is, in my opinion, the most fun player to watch in the NBA and the best point guard in the NBA (sorry Rondo). And to see him go down with what is most likely another serious knee injury is horrible. If the injury is what I think it is (ACL tear), it will change his career forever and will leave all of us thinking, including Derrick Rose himself, what could of been.
Some offensive highlights of Derrick Rose’s career.
After a disappointing and controversial loss to the Carolina Panthers, The New England Patriots and Tom Brady are heading into a showdown against Peyton Manning and The Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football.
Now I could sit here and regurgitate various stats about the Brady and Manning showdown and the statistical history between them, but what is the point? Does it really matter how Manning played when he was throwing to Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne while facing a completely different Patriots team? No it does not. All that matters heading into this matchup is where these two teams, and two quarterbacks are at right now, in this point in time. Now that’s not diminishing the rivalry between the two, they are always both fired up to play against each other. But what Peyton did on the Colts against the Patriots of old does not matter, or vice versa.
In my opinion, which is right, this is a preview of the AFC Championship game.
Wes Welker is coming off a concussion he sustained just a week ago against the Kansas City Chiefs. He was a limited participant in practice Thursday, which is a good sign. Everyone, including myself, would be shocked not to see him on the field Sunday Night.
Julius Thomas was also a limited participant in practice Thursday, as he suffered a knee sprain against the Kansas City Chiefs. His availability is a little shadier than Welker’s, and it would be wise to keep an eye on his status as the week continues. If Thomas is a no go Sunday night it would be a huge break for the Patriots, as Thomas has caught 10 touchdown passes this year. He has been the second most productive Tight End, behind Jimmy Graham this year.
Alfonzo Dennard will likely be sidelined with a knee injury for a few weeks.
Steve Gregory returned to practice with a Clay Matthews type club on his right hand. Gregory is recovering from a broken thumb. Although Gregory has not been cleared to play, he is hopeful he will be back in time for Sunday Night’s game.
Aqib Talib (Hip), Brandon Spikes (Knee), and Rob Gronkowski (Back) are all expected to play Sunday.
The Broncos come in yielding what is one of the best offenses in recent memory. Peyton Manning is having a career and historic year. He is chasing the record for most throwing touchdowns (Brady’s record, 50) and passing yards in a single season (Brees’s record, 5476). Peyton will take advantage of this banged up New England Secondary, and defense in general. Peyton has the most talented group of receiving options in the league in Wes Welker, Demarrias Thomas, Julius Thomas, and Eric Decker. But what makes this offense so remarkable is the fact that not only can they throw the football, they can also run it. Knowshon Moreno has 601 rushing yards and 336 receiving yards this year. He is a duel threat that could really hurt this Patriots Defense. Look for Peyton Manning to carve up the banged up New Englend Secondary and throw for at least 300 yards, and look for a good chunk of those passing yards to be to Wes Welker.
This offense looked sharp last weekend against a talented Panthers Defense, and now they head into a matchup against a less talented Broncos’s defense that gave up 48 points to Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys earlier in the year. Shane Vereen returning last week may have been one of the major reasons for this. Vereen caught 8 Tom Brady passes for 65 yards. I would consider Vereen the X Factor of this offense. When pressure comes, Brady knows he can dump it off to Vereen and he will make a play, hence the 8 receptions last week. Another key player last Monday was LeGarrete Blount, as he rushed 49 yards on just 10 carries. When Blount gets the ball, there is no pushing him back. Brady also continues to develop chemistry with the young receivers, connecting with Kenbrell Thompkins for 60 yards on two receptions and Aaron Dobson for 32 yards on four receptions. The presence of Rob Gronkowski continues to help both these young receivers, as he draws a lot of attention. But none the less, Brady comes out looking to gash the Broncos’s 22nd ranked passing defense, which he will have to do in order to stay in this game. The offense will need to play fantastic and the defense will need to force a few turnovers. This is something the Patriots Defense has been about in the past few years, this bend not break mentality. The Patriots Defense has forced 17 turnovers this year.
I think this game will be a very close and high scoring game. My gut wants to go with the Broncos, based on their historic offense, but there are a few other key factors that play into this game. The Patriots are playing at home which is huge. The Patriots are 5-0 at Gillette this year. The crowd at Gillette can effect opposing teams, and so can the cold. For most of his career, Peyton has played in a dome. I think the frosty New England weather will effect Peyton Manning. The fact is Tom Brady rarely loses at home, and I think that continues here. Tom Brady and the Patriots beat Peyton Manning and the Broncos 34-31.
The winner of this game will most likely claim home field advantage throughout the playoffs, assuming the Broncos drop one more game and the Patriots win out, which is realistic. And it would be huge for the Patriots to play at home throughout the playoffs, given their success at home this year.
So I ask you guys, who do you have winning this game?