Sunday, October 30, 2011

Patriots: A Look At The Road Ahead.

Well the bye week is over. New England has had time off, but at the same time have had extra time to look at The Pittsburgh Steelers. Roethlisberger and his crew are sitting at 5-2 but aren't actually as good as their record indicates. As of right now I'd put Baltimore, New England, and Houston ahead of them as AFC heavyweights to win it all. That being said, things could change drastically with a win over The Patriots.

That's exactly what Brady & Belichick will be looking to avoid. This New England teams has seemingly figured out the Pittsburgh puzzle over the past few seasons and I wouldn't expect anything to change for the '11-12 season. Especially not coming out of the bye week.

Since 2005 New England is 47-15 coming out of the bye. That record includes a 9-4 "post-bye" record in 2008 with Matt Cassel as QB. In that same time span The Patriots are also 3-0 against Pittsburgh when Tom Brady is playing. Brady passed for over 1,100 yards in those three games.

Many experts are forcasting failure for the Patriots inexperienced defensive backs, but I think as a whole the entire defense will take a giant step forward against the Steelers. Coming out of the lockout teams didn't have their usual off-season mini camps. Across the board NFL teams struggled to defend the pass, and NFL offenses put up gaudy numbers at their expense. After a couple wild weeks everything has fallen back down to Earth. Analysts still get caught up in The Patriot defense's large amount of yards given up, but if you really analyze the games you'll see that New England has done a tremendous job of buckling down within their own Red Zone. Belichick's defense is living by the term "bend don't break".

Tom Brady and the offense have been scoring so fast and efficiently that their breaking a common misconception in football, "win the time of possession and you win the game". With points flying up on the board at will it's almost like opposing teams run down the clock on themselves with long drives that ultimately either end up resulting in only a field goal.. sometimes a turnover.

Against Dallas The Patriots allowed 317 passing yards, but because they only allowed one TD all game Tom Brady was able to orchestrate a comeback drive to win the game. That game, in my mind, was a blueprint for how this defense needs to play in order to complete the final goal.

After The Steelers New England will have it's chance at home for revenge against The New York Giants. The G-Men will most likely win this week against Miami to sit at 5-2 coming into Foxboro. Much like the Steelers I beleive that the Giants are somewhat of a wolf in sheeps clothing.

In two weeks Tom Brady and the Pats will face their biggest challenge of the year. They travel to The Meadowlands to battle The New York Jets, this game will ultimately determine the AFC East Champion. Miami is a stepping stone, and Buffalo will never come to Foxboro and win on the road... hell they couldn't even win in Cincinnati.

The next three games will be a good test for this Patriots squad, but it's a test they should pass with flying colors. Tom Brady will win another Super Bowl ring before he's done, it's just a matter of whether or not it's this year.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

San Diego Tops Short List Of Destinations For John Lackey.

The San Diego Padres are reportedly interested in acquiring John Lacky, aka The Worst Red Sox Starter Of All Time. Why would they want to do that? Here's a few reasons:

With all the negative media in Boston surrounding Lackey, it's not hard to tell that he's on his way out. Add that to his horrible contract, San Diego's trouble holding on to top notch players, and Boston's bottomless wallet... you essentially get a former All-Star pitcher locked up for a couple year at Boston's expense. It really does make alot of sense for San Diego.

Another reason for this hookup? The Padres' Manager, Bud Black, used to be Lackey's pitching coach with the Angels. Black was alongside while John had his most productive seasons. Embarrassed and reunited with old friends, Lackey has his best chance at turning things around.

Petco park is also one of the largest parks in all of Major League Baseball. It give new meaning to the term "Pitcher's Ballpark". It makes it even easier to pitch in once you eliminate the designated hitter and cold weather... boy does pitching in the NL West sound fun.

According to Peter Abraham The Red Sox would have to pick up most of the remaining $45.75 million on his contract. Lackey’s deal also calls for a $500,000 payment if he is traded.

(plus Lackey could also wear those great camo uniforms. I guarantee

he loves those)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mayne Event: Wes Welker & Jared Allen

MVP Candidacy: Tracking Welker's Season.

I've said it before, but now i'll make it official. I believe that Wes Welker has a chance to become the first wide receiver to win the NFL AP Most Valuable Player Award. In 1987 Jerry Rice won the Pro Football Writers of America MVP Award, and he's actually the only WR to win the award, but the AP MVP is the award that is most commonly referred to as "THE MVP".

Let's take a look at this. In 1987 Jerry Rice set the record for TD's in a season with 22. Despite dominating the league with TD's, this wasn't actually Jerry Rice's best season. In 1995 Jerry set career highs in receptions and receiving yards with 122 for 1,848 yards. Through 5 games Wes Welker is on pace to shatter both of those marks.

Here are the NFL receiving records, and where Wes Welker stands as of Week 5:

Most Receptions in a season:
Marvin Harrison (2002)- 143
Wes Welker (2009)- 123
Herman Moore (1995)- 123

Wes Welker as of Week 5 (2011)- 51.
(on pace for 163)

Most Yards in a season:
Jerry Rice (1995)- 1,848
Isaac Bruce (1995)- 1,781
Charley Hennigan (1961)- 1,746

Wes Welker as of Week 5 (2011)- 785
(on pace for 2,512)

Most Touchdowns in a season:
Randy Moss (2007)- 25
Jerry Rice (1987)- 24
Mark Clayton (1984)- 18

Wes Welker as of Week 5 (2011)- 6
(on pace for 19)

Wes Welker is on pace to shatter 2 of the 3 most important receiving records. Not to mention that he's on pace to finish 3rd on the single season TD list.

Not bad for a short, undrafted, special teams guy. Huh?

(check back for weekly updates on where Welker stands.)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Wes Welker Talks With Michael Irvin.

Seguin & Thomas Save Boston In Shootout.

Down 2-1 in the third, Nathan Horton forced OT on slap shot from Johnny Boychuk and Tyler Seguin. After coming up with nothing through the extra period, both teams were awarded a point with a 2nd to be earned in the shootout. Tyler Seguin scored for Boston and Tim Thomas stopped shots from Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp.

The Boston Bruins stand at 2-3, they will face Carolina for the 2nd time this Tuesday.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Detroit vs.Texas A.L.C.S. SHOULD Make Boston Feel Sick.

2 Years ago The Red Sox whole team was devastated by injuries, the field was packed with backups and no names, but while all that was going on Adrian Beltre stood alone. Beltre and Boston missed the playoffs but individually he would finish Top 10 in MVP Voting, be selected as an All-Star, and win the Silver Slugger Award as the best hitting 3rd Baseman.

In the off-season Theo Epstein acquired MVP Caliber 1st Baseman Adrian Gonzalez. With former All-Star Kevin Youkilis capable of playing both corners, it seemed like it was time for Boston to cut ties with Adrian Beltre. The supporters were claiming that Beltre was just playing for a contract, that he couldn't repeat his high caliber performance over an entire contract. Kevin Youkilis on the other hand was Boston's dirt dog 1B/3B/Superhero, he could do no wrong, Youk would never struggle over at third... it was a no-brainer.

Then there's Victor Martinez. After being traded to Boston for Justin Masterson in '09, Victor was what he always was: A Double Machine. V-Mart looked to be the answer for Jason Varitek's inability to hit. Victor could catch, play first, or DH in spots. Martinez finished the 2010 Season hitting .302 with 20 HR's, 32 doubles, and 79 RBI's, all were Top 5 on the team.

Like Beltre, Victor Martinez was on his way out of town last off-season. The only problem with this is who pushed him out. Boston elected for Youkilis and Gonzalez over Beltre. Fine, but they elected for Saltalamacchia and Varitek over V-Mart. They can say that Martinez doesn't project to be a full time Catcher, but neither does Varitek.

Let's now flash forward a year. The 2011 Red Sox have missed the Playoffs, The Yankees and Rays have been eliminated, and former Red Sox Victor Martinez & Adrian Beltre are playing each other in the A.L.C.S. for the right to play in the World Series.

Obviously hindsight is 20-20, but The Red Sox should have kept at least one, maybe both, of these guys. Supporters will tell you that Boston's pitching is what killed their season, but look a little closer to see the truth. While The Red Sox lineup scored a ton of runs all season they were FAR from consistent. They may have scored over 5 runs a game but they didn't come close to actually putting up around 5 a game. One night they'd score 12, the next night they'd score 2... you can't win games like that. You especially can't win if you lost by 2 when you score and when you don't.

The top part of the 2011 lineup was dominant. Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, and Adrian Gonzalez will all get MVP votes... but the bottom half was a problem. JD Drew was hurt for half of the year and invisible the other. Carl Crawford struggled but was the 7th hitter when it was going right. Saltalamacchia provided power but provided even more strikeouts. Jed Lowrie is constantly recovering from injuries no one can remember. When The Red Sox won in 2007, 8 of the 9 primary starters had OBP's over .300. The bottom half of the lineup could set the table for top half, they'd extend innings, run up pitch counts. On the 2011 version only 6 out of the nine. An offense needs consistency to win.

Next season Boston will come into the year with players who have the "right attitude". The funny thing is that the perfect players needed to get over this historic collapse, could be the same players they let walk a year earlier. Kevin Youkilis isn't the 3rd Baseman everyone thought he'd be. Jason Varitek is most likely gone, meaning some no name catcher will be backing up for Jared Saltalamacchia... ironic isn't it?


Does Bruins Shakey Start Mean No Repeat In Titletown?

Last night The Boston Bruins lost their first game in their quest to retain The Stanley Cup Championship. Nobody is panicking as of now, but should they be? Let's take a look at how many teams have lost Game 1 of their title defense season but still went on to win back to back Cups.

'97 Detroit Red Wings- 3-1 Win on The Road.

'91 Pittsburgh Penguins- 5-4 Win at Home

'87 Edmonton Oilers- 4-1 Loss at Home

'84 Edmonton Oilers- 2-2 Tie on The Road.

'80 New York Islanders- 5-2 Win on The Road.

'68 Montreal Canadiens- 1-1 Tie at Home.

'65 Montreal Canadiens- 8-1 Win at Home.

'62 Toronto Maple Leafs- 3-1 Win At Home.

In the past 50 seasons 8 teams have won back to back Championships, a few have also won more than 2 in a row but that's not part of this discussion. Since 1962 teams that have won a Championship, and would go on to repeat, were 5-1-2 in their opening games of the 2nd season.

Ladies and gentleman, Boston could repeat Champions and no one would be surprised, or they could fall short without being faulted. The result of game 1 is no indication of how successful or unsuccessful a title defense will be.


Monday, October 3, 2011

In Case You Didn't Know... Wes Welker Is Good.

Everybody knows about Tom Brady. Everybody knows about his gaudy stats and MVP's. But it's also a potentially record breaking season developing for the 5'9" superstar. The undrafted wide receiver is averaging 154 yards per game, and on pace to finish with 2,400 yards. Jerry Rice's record is 1,848.

Welker is also average 10 receptions a game, on pace for 160 grabs. The current receptions record is 143 set by Marvin Harrison in '02. If I had to choose which record would be broken by Wes this season, i'd choose this one. Once Aaron Hernandez returns to the Pats Wes will lose some yardage, but there's no way Welker won't grab 100 balls in the next 12 games.

Even if Welker falls short of these otherwordly projections he'll still make giant leaps on the All-Time receiving lists. Welker will rank in the Top 50 for receptions by the season's end. He'll also jump from 150th to around 80 on the All-Time receiving yard list.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Patriots And Raiders: The Keys To Success.


#1. Richard Seymour- Seymour is Oakland's defensive leader, not only in the locker room but on the field. Despite what you were told about Richard he's still a dominant force, he will be fired up for this game. In order for Oakland to get to Brady, Richard will have to command double teams and beat single teams. No defense in the NFL can stop The Patriots offense, but to slow it down you need to have an excellent pass rush combined with lock down DBs. If Richard can't be dominant Tom Brady will.

#2. Control Gronkowski- Gronkowski is averaging 5 grabs, for 93 yards per game, with 5 TDs in 3 games. I don't know who's going cover him, but if they can't stop Gronk they aren't winning this game. Buffalo intercepted a would-be Gronk TD in the 4th quarter that WOULD have locked up a New England win. If Oakland let's Gronk dominate them they have no chance.

#3. Denarius Moore- The rookie 5th round Wideout didn't start in Week 1. In the 2 weeks since he has 9 receptions for 180 yards. The Raiders can't lean on McFadden alone, when New England puts all their attention on the running backs some one has to step up in the passing game. In the past 2 weeks that person has been Denarius Moore. If he can convert some 3rd & Long's he'll greatly increase Oakland's chances.


#1. Controlling McFadden Oakland Raider Running Backs are combining for an average of 185 rushing yards per game. On the other side The Patriots defense is allowing 91.6 rushing yards per game, not to shabby, but they aren't really shutting down running backs. Opposing teams are averaging 10 receptions a game from the running backs alone. Darren McFadden will stack up the numbers this weekend against the Patriots, but if New England can contain him in the running game they'll be able to keep Oakland honest with play action. Hell, Darren can have 20 receptions, but if they stop him from running up the middle it'll be okay.

#2. Get Pressure On Campbell- Andre Carter, and Shaun Ellis will have their hands full. They have to not only contain McFadden, but once Tom Brady posts some points, they'll then have to lower their ears and apply that pressure. If you get Oakland into 3rd and long situations they'll shoot themselves. Jason Campbell is not capable of making the plays Ryan Fitzpatrick did a week ago.

#3. Tom Brady- If Tom Brady is Tom Brady... New England's offense will be fine.