NEPD Staff Writer: Doug Kyed
Back when making their Monday Night Football schedule, I’d imagine these were ESPN’s thoughts:
“Oh boy, we’ve got Cassel vs. Brady, Pioli, Crennel and Haley vs. Belichick. Two playoff teams! Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry! This game’s gonna be an instant classic. HUGE ratings!”
ESPN’s thoughts now: “Aw shoot.”
As we get ready for Tyler Palko, Jackie Battle and Jon McGraw to come into Foxboro on Monday night, here are some of my thoughts leading into the game:
PLAY SMART, WIN.
I’m not exactly talking out of school in saying that this is a game that the Patriots should win. This was an easy win with the though of Matt Cassel playing, it should be a shoo-in with Tyler Palko at the helm.
I don’t want to be wrong, I don’t want to look stupid and I don’t want to be mad, so if the Patriots play their game, play smart, avoid turnovers and avoid penalties, they should win handily.
I know this isn’t something that Belichick would actually do, but if Chung isn’t 100% healthy, I wouldn’t mind the Patriots activating him, but not necessarily playing him. If the Patriots can win with Ihedigbo and Moore like they did against the Jets, while also resting Chung another week, it’s a win-win situation. I only say the Patriots should activate Chung is because they’re so shallow at safety, if Ross Ventrone or Sergio Brown are called upon, this game could actually become a little closer than it should.
DOUBLE TEAM TAMBA HALI, PROTECT BRADY.
After Hali, there are basically no other pass rush threats on the Chiefs. I’d like to see Nate Solder helping out Matt Light a lot on Monday night to eliminate Hali. Sebastian Vollmer should be able to handle Justin Houston one on one and none of the Chiefs interior lineman are much of a threat in the pass rush.
Patriots fans complain about the pass rush? The Chiefs have only 9 sacks and 43 QB pressures all year. New England has 22 sacks and 98 QB pressures.
ESTABLISH THE RUN EARLY
The Patriots have seemed downright hesitant to establish the run at times this year. If there’s a game to get Green-Ellis and Ridley going again, this is it. The Chiefs have actually been a better rush defense per attempt than a pass defense, but neither facet of their defense is overly strong.
I have a feeling this will be a big game for the Lawfirm. I’d expect him to get over 20 carries, and when BenJarvus gets his carries, he gets it done.
One thing that should be pretty interesting about this game is the match up between the Patriots offense and Romeo Crennel’s Chiefs defense. No one knows Crennel better than Belichick, and no one knows Brady better than Crennel.
Crennel has some talented defenders on his roster, especially in run defense in Hali, Derrick Johnson, Brandon Flowers, Brandon Carr and Kelly Gregg. Logan Mankins and friends will have to overpower them to open holes for all the Patriots backs.
I’ve made it pretty well known lately that I think Deion Branch might be on his last legs. He had a nice game against the Jets, but he’s actually got a pretty good history of coming up big against them. Branch has had trouble beating man coverage all year, and if Chad Ochocinco or Taylor Price can get going before the playoffs, it could be huge for Brady to have another weapon in his arsenal.
Between all the tweeting that Chad’s been doing, the fact that this game’s on national television and the fact that KC is letting up 8 yards per passing attempt, I’ve got a good feeling about Ocho’s output Monday night against Carr and the Chiefs safeties.
CONTINUE LAST WEEK’S DOMINATING PASS RUSH
After weeks (years?) of complaining about the Patriots pass rush, they finally broke out in a big way last week against the Jets. Andre Carter, Mark Anderson and compandy should have an even bigger opportunity against KC.
Barry Richardson have been an absolute sieve this season for the Chiefs allowing 26 QB pressures and three sacks. Mark Anderson should have a field day in sub packages and, I hope I’m not getting too ahead of myself, but we might actually see some pressure from Shaun Ellis this game.
We shouldn’t expect four sacks from Andre Carter every game, but going against Tyler Palko and a mediocre Chiefs offensive line, I’d definitely expect some pressure from Carter.
NO NAME DEFENSE
I figured there’s no better way to talk about the fill ins the Patriots will be using at linebacker and defensive back this week.
Last week, Sterling Moore, Phillip Adams, Jeff Tarpinian and Tracy White played pretty well. Hopefully they won’t be starting for long, but they will probably be expected to play extended reserve roles. With Brandon Spikes and Dane Fletcher ruled out another week and Devin McCourty doubtful, we will see Tarpinian and either Philip Adams or Antwaun Molden starting for at least one more week.
I really liked Belichick’s move last week to bench Gary Guyton and play the more athletic Tarpinian and White. At this point, we know what we’re getting out of Guyton… and it’s bad. At very least, there is some upside with Tarp and White. Until Spikes comes back, I’d like to see Mayo stick to MLB and see Tarp and White continue to share the role of WLB.