NEPD Staff Writer: Joon Lee
This is in replacement of this week’s NEPD Mailbag due to a lack of questions. So to make sure we have one next week, follow me on Twitter @iamjoonlee and ask me questions throughout the weeks so we can put one together!
Lets quickly take a look at this week’s injury report:
Out: Defensive lineman Justin Francis (ankle), Tight end Aaron Hernandez (ankle) Questionable: Offensive lineman Dan Connolly (concussion), Defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick (ankle), Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring), Tight end Daniel Fells (shin), Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd (thigh), Left guard Logan Mankins (hip), Offensive lineman Nick McDonald (shoulder), Cornerback Sterling Moore (knee), Running back Shane Vereen (foot), Tackle Sebastian Vollmer (back) Probable: Safety Patrick Chung (shoulder).
Some of the notables are Lloyd, Deaderick, Mankins and Vereen. Vereen has yet to produce in his Patriots career and with the emergence of running back Stevan Ridley. Vereen may be running out of chances to make an impression on this team as Ridley, Woodhead and even Bolden are in front of him on the depth chart. While Vereen was drafted in the second round, it doesn’t appear that Belichick would be afraid of cutting him due to the various high-profile cuts made during training camp.
Although the bum knee of new tight-end Kellen Winslow has been notable lately, he has played all 16 games the last three years and 5 of the last 6 years. “The thing I concentrate on is not missing games, because then there is nothing held against me.” Winslow admitted that he plays through a lot of pain, “but that it doesn’t matter.” In the end, it’s mind over matter. “I would say will, man. Overcome,” said Winslow. “This is my dream to play.”
Winslow looks to make a big impact on the field filling in for the injured Aaron Hernandez.
One possible theory that I thought about this past week with the signing of Winslow and Branch was how the two of them would fill in the stats missing from the production of Hernandez. In 2011, Hernandez had a total of 79 receptions for 910 yards and 7 touchdowns. Winslow pulled in 73 catches for 763 yards and two touchdowns. Branch had similar numbers, bringing in 51 receptions for 701 yards a five touchdowns.
While a lot of the yards are going to go to Julian Edelman and Wes Welker, Branch and Winslow may be able to fill in the void admirably as both had pretty solid seasons last year.
Speaking of Edelman, it will be very interesting to see the production of Edelman as the number two receiver in the system. Edelman continued to practice as the second receiver in two receiver sets, while Welker stood on the sidelines. Boston Herald reporter Karen Guregian called this sight “very strange” during this week’s Blitz video recap.
One thing the defense has done admirably in the two games this season was how the unit was able to shut down the most dangerous offensive weapons for the Cardinals and Titans. Chris Johnson had his lowest yards total ever week 1 and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was a non-factor in last week’s game. While Ray Rice has killed the Patriots in the past, I fully expect the Patriots to shut him down on Sunday to force quarterback Joe Flacco to throw to his receivers.
Final Score Prediction: 24-21 Ravens
While the Patriots have had a stellar record in the past following losses, I don’t think the Patriots will be able to bounce back against a tough Ravens defense. Still led by the un-aging Ray Lewis, the defense has been absolutely stellar over the last couple of years. Even with the absence of Terrell Suggs of Ball So Hard University, the defense still has studs in Ed Reed and Haloti Ngata.
The Ravens offense has also been good thus far this year. Flacco has had more poise in the pocket and has been using his weapons very effectively.
While Brady will try his best to lead the Patriots to victory, I don’t think they’ll be successful in the end.