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.