Rivalries, Rivalries, and More Rivalries:
Patriots 27 – Dolphins 17.
More importantly: Joey Porter – NOTHING. For all the smack and disrespect Porter dealt out this week, he sure didn’t do a damn thing to back it up. He was under the microscope from the beginning of the match and ended up in the spotlight; ridiculed on the Gillette Stadium jumbotron.
As expected, the Dolphins introduced a new wrinkle in the wildcat formation to the Patriots in the form of a 33-yard Pat White run. Overall, the defense did a pretty good job keeping Brown and Williams in front of the linebackers and shutting down a receiving corps that probably needs to go to New York to learn how to catch. Tom Brady threw an early interception to Vontae Davis on a pass to Randy Moss, but after replaying it, I’m not even sure that Davis has possession. Fast-forwarding a few quarters and past a stiff-arm to Davis’ face, Moss ended up in the endzone anyway. The montage of Randy knocking down the CB, high-stepping down the sideline, and Vontae Davis crying like a baby on camera has been replaying over and over in my mind. That wasn’t the best the Pats could have played, but any win tastes better with another AFC East team’s loss.
This week, the Patriots will take on the Indianapolis Colts in the the Lucas Oil Stadium. This will be Tom’s first time playing a game there and it should live up to all of the hype that has been stirring in the media. Bill Belichick and Brady both spoke this week on just how good the Colts and Peyton Manning are and only spoke highly about them. I can’t wait to see what Tom Brady and Randy Moss can do together during their second embark to Indy. Both the Pats and the Colts are plagued by injuries and still are playing at extremely high levels. Let’s get the ball rolling early!
The 9th Book of Weekly Match-ups:
* A Regular Season Game vs. The Battle For Something More – Sunday’s Primetime game is very much more than just that. This showdown of the NFL’s most elite quarterbacks has much more at stake than just a win or a loss. The Colts are sitting pretty at 8-0, leading their division and the AFC, while the Patriots are tied for the second-best record in the conference with the Steelers, Broncos, and the surprising Bengals. A win this week could flip the tables for Indianapolis’ hot streak, boost New England’s current confidence and winning streak, and make the playing field a little more level in the chase for a bye week in the Playoffs. That bye week grants home-field advantage for the Divisional round and possibly the Conference Championship; depending on who makes it there. If the Colts and the Patriots finish with the same record and get to meet in the AFC Championship, a win here would be the tiebreaker in deciding who would be rewarded with the luxury of playing on their own turf. I know the mission statement here: focus on one game at a time, but let’s be honest, the two teams that are playing Sunday night are among the best in the league and could very well clash helmets further down the road to the Super Bowl.
* The Hoodie vs. Commercial Boy – Have you seen that guy from the Saturday Night Live football skits on any Sony commercials lately? Oh yeah! He’s was playing ping-pong and speaking Chinese with Justin Timberlake. He was also in some MasterCard commercials a while back. That guy would be Peyton Manning and he’s a pretty funny guy to watch. Unless he’s lined up behind center playing against your favorite team. All of the sudden the NFL’s 3-time Most Valuable Player goes from a comedian to an adversary. Manning, as usual, is in the top 5 for all major quarterback statistics. He’s completing 70.6% of his passes and is averaging 318 yards per game. He has 16 TDs, 5 INT, (same as Brady) and 2545 passing yards. Teams were only able to muster up 7 sacks against this man so far in 2009 and he boasts a passer rating of 105.2. I’ve already complimented him too much, but it should be no surprise to those of you who are reading.
Now, it is up to Bill Belichick, with the help of Dean Pees, to create defensive schemes that will keep Peyton at bay. Because #18 likes to run a no huddle offense so often, Belichick’s famed substitution packages will most likely take a hit. The main Patriots who are on defense will need to be capable of locking down the receivers (Dallas Clark included) and getting Manning, if not to the ground, to a place where he is less comfortable. Manning has one of the sharpest 6th senses when it comes to reading defenses and has the brain to audible into a play that can beat them. It’s going to be up to the Hoodie to determine which guys will see the most action, based on their versatility and production thus far, and which formations they will play in. Everyone must do their job; and they must do it better than they have all year.
* Randy Moss vs. Jerraud Powers – Powers may be a rookie, but he has shown that he can hold his own with the stars this season. He has kept Larry Fitzgerald and T.J. Houz-yo-momma from scoring and stopped Ted Ginn Jr. from potentially winning a game. While all those receivers (or kick returners) have extreme talent at the wide receiver position(excluding Ginn), none possess the overall football knowledge and skill quite like Randy Moss. Moss will present Powers with his most challenging assignment yet: keeping Brady from connecting with Moss. We saw last week when Moss resurrected his former, Thundering Herd-self by running across the middle and stiff-arming his way into the endzone. This week we will see Moss all over the field, adjusting his routes himself depending on what the defense shows him, and taking the attention off of Wes Welker, Sam Aiken, Laurence Maroney, and Ben Watson. If Moss or Brady can freeze the D for one split-second, it will be lights out for Powers.
* Laurence Maroney vs. His Career – Maroney has scored a rushing touchdown in three consecutive games and will aim to make it four this weekend on National television. Over the past few seasons, due to injuries and lack of performance, Maroney has made Marion Barber look like the better Minnesota back and Patriot Nation regret drafting him over DeAngelo Williams in ’06. Recently, however, he has been running harder, making cuts faster, thinking quicker, and getting into the endzone more. Even though his numbers aren’t anything to drool over on paper, his production has created the perfect amount of balance in the Patriots offense and is a huge part of the reason New England is on a 3-game winning streak. That’s just too good to be a coincidence.
* Shawn Springs vs. Leigh Bodden – Reggie Wayne is a beast. Shawn Springs is a veteran. In my opinion, those are all the qualifications I need to support my belief that those two will match up against each other come Sunday, but I could be wrong. Leigh Bodden’s youth and athleticism could be just what we need to silence Wayne. Either way, some serious CB play will be needed to slow down Manning’s number one target. Whether it be veteran skills or hard-hitting speed; something will need to be done about Reggie Wayne. He has 753 yards receiving, 6 touchdowns on the year, and countless fantasy football bailouts… but that’s a whole ‘nother story. He is also second in wide-receiver receptions this year with 59. Limiti
ng Reggie will limit Indy’s scoring chances. That is, if Brandon McGowan does his job.
* Brandon McGowan vs. Dallas Clark – All season long McGowan has been performing magic against opposing tight-ends; he makes them disappear. He has shut down Tony Gonzalez, Kellen Winslow, and Bo Scaife and he has made it look pretty easy. McGowan has looked like a sleeper for most valuable free-agent signing in 2009 and he will face his ultimate test when he takes on the tight-end hybrid, receiving machine, Dallas Clark. Clark has the most receptions for TEs and second-most in the entire league. He has 703 yards and 3 TDs. McGowan will still need help from fellow safety, Brandon Merriweather, because Dallas Clark is the best in the league at his position and the most important to the Colt’s offense. He is Peyton Manning’s pacifier in the sense that no matter what the coverage, Clark always seems to bail him out. Tedy Bruschi spoke earlier this week on the rivalry and addressed the measures that will be necessary to keep Clark quiet.
“So how can the Patriots help McGowan in coverage? They could have a defensive lineman, outside linebacker or inside linebacker jamming Clark at the line, and after that jam, the defensive player will have other responsibilities to take care of, whether it’s rush the passer or pick up a running back in coverage. But the first responsibility will always be to jam Clark. That may affect the pass rush, but honestly, how often does Peyton get sacked?”
* SeaBass vs. Freeney – Whether Matt Light will be able to man the left side against Dwight Freeney or even play at all is yet to be seen. Worst-case scenario is that left tackle duties will fall to rookie Seabastian Vollmer, and that isn’t a bad scenario at all. Vollmer has been impressing people a lot since he had to fill Light’s big shoes. Save a few penalties and early mistakes, he has been playing like a boss. Freeney isn’t the biggest defensive end, but he is definitely one of the fastest. Even though he may be a little banged up with a quad and knee injury, he has recorded at least one sack in every game this season and has 9.5 total on the year. It will apparently be up to Vollmer to do everything in his power to stop a pro-bowl end in one of his best seasons. I have faith in this guy. So should you.
Every article I’ve read and every ESPN spot I’ve seen has be talking about whether or not the Patriots can stop Peyton Manning. The question I raise to all, because apparently they have forgotten, is this: What can the Colts do to stop Tom Brady?
By the way… Jay Cutler just threw 5 INTs and no TDs against the 49ers in a !0-6 loss. Josh McDaniel’s, you’re a genius.
Hope you’re all full.
Tags: Pre-Game Meal