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2017 Season Blog.

Defending

Super Bowl Champs.

7 Things for Sunday: Part III.

By TOM

Greetings Pats Fans,

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Run-Run Rudolph.

By TOM

5. Pats D Vs Pitt O- The Steelers offense is as good as it gets in the NFL, and it's not just Bell, Brown, and Jesse James. "We have a huge challenge in front of us this week. I think in the first part of your question there, going into Pittsburgh and having an opportunity to play in that environment is certainly something that as difficult as it is and as hard as it is to go play in their stadium with their crowd and their fans which really come out in droves to support them," Patricia said. "It's loud. It's everything you want a football environment to be when you're a visitor in that stadium. It's a difficult place to play but it's also a great challenge for us. We always say if you like the game of football, if you love football and you love those environments, then you love to go play in them whether you're either home or away. I'm sure that place will be rocking." The Pats have never faced the Steelers with a healthy Roethlisberger, Bell, James, Brown, and Martavis Bryant (and JuJu Smith-Schuster obvious;) on the field at the same time.

Van Noy being out again is a huge hit for this defense. He would be covering Bell out of the backfield, and James sometimes as well. Plus, he is there best LB at stopping the run outside on the edge. Alan Branch is a huge loss (pun intended;), because he is a guy who could get to Brown when he delays at the LOS to find a hole.

The scariest question is whether Trey Flowers will play. "It's a big game because it's our next game and we've got to go out and play well. It's a big game for them too and there's a long rivalry and history there, which is great with all the good things about the game," Patricia said. "The game itself is really obviously going to be played out on the field. It's really about us trying to do a good job defending these guys. They are a very explosive, very dangerous offense. I mean, [they have] skill players across the board. You start with the quarterback and his ability to just make great plays. Again, throw the ball, get the ball downfield, get it to his skill guys. He does a good job of moving the ball around, gets it to his playmakers in critical situations. [He] does a great job of reading the defense and he can change plays if he needs to and change protections and just does a really good job of managing and running that offense. [He's a] great player that we're obviously going to have a difficult time against and we've got to do a good job against him." The idea that would bench Butler this week, because of some weak comments after the game, is ludicrous.

With JuJu in, they have as good a group of three-WR sets as you will see in the NFL. "Bryant, Brown, I mean obviously great players outside on the perimeter along with the tight end position which they do a good job of utilizing those guys," Patricia said. "Jesse James inside and working him in space. Antonio Brown is a great player. He's one of the best wide receivers in the league so obviously he gets a lot of attention which frees up some opportunities for some of those other guys and the quarterback will do a great job of exploiting those situations whether it's a check down to the back or get the ball to the tight end quickly." They are going to need every ounce of talent in their defensive backs to not break when these receivers get going.

Which makes play action devastating when you have an elite RB. "Bell, one of the best backs in the league. [He's] very explosive, dangerous guy not only in the run game but in the passing game," Patricia said. "I think you saw the other night how hard he runs and how physical he is as a player even though he has a very patient running style. When that determination that he has to burst through a hole or take the edge or cut back or make a play, you've really got to do a great job of just tackling and driving and playing physical because he's a tough guy to get a hold of. [James] Connor is in there also, the running back. So [he's] another really good player for them that they'll get in the." These are the two best offenses in the NFL right now, and which ever defense can slow the other offense a little will win the shootout.

6. Pats O Vs Dolphin D- Run-run Rudolph, Santa's gotta make it to town. "Shazier's a tremendous player and certainly wish him nothing but the best in his recovery from that injury. The linebacking core is a typical Pittsburgh Steeler linebacking core," McDaniels said. "They do a tremendous job there coaching their entire defense. That's kind of been one of the staples of their defense over the many years that we've coached against them. This is the next group of them." Shazier was the keystone of their run defense.

They are going to go after Brady with a vengeance. "Dupree and Watt and Chickillo and Harrison on the edge. Moats plays some out there, too," McDaniels said. "Williams, obviously, a guy that leads their team in tackles. [Tyler] Matakevich, he's been injured a little bit, but he's also in there and been productive. And then they brought [Sean] Spence back. So, they know what to do, they play their system and their scheme extremely well, they're disciplined and detailed, they're all aggressive, they're physical, they all blitz in different combinations with one another, they all drop into coverage. Also, and do a decent job in their defense in terms of what their responsibilities are there, too." They use their LBs in run defense as well as anyone.

And they also use their LBs to hit the QB as well as anyone. "So, they can bring a lot of different combinations at the quarterback, try to disrupt your running game a lot of different ways," McDaniels said. "Each one of those guys has been productive in their role this year, and it's going to be really important for us to identify where they're at, get a hat on them and try to block them, whether it's in the running game or in the pass protection, or they're going to create negative plays that put us in third-and-long situations. So, that's going to be a key for us this week for sure is to identify those guys and make sure we get a body on them." The O-line is going to be key again.

They know what is coming, and they have to play it smart. "We've had the opportunity to play against them a number of times there over the years. It will be a tremendous atmosphere. I mean, if you like football, that will be the place to be on Sunday. This is a really good football team. I mean, the best team we've played," McDaniels said. "Statistically, where do you want to start: yards allowed, rushing defense, passing yards allowed, sacks, turnovers, points allowed, [and] 3rd down. This is a team that does everything well, and they've got a lot of good players. I know they've dealt with some injuries the last so many weeks here, but the guys that have stepped in have done a nice job. They've got very talented players at all three levels of their defense. Their scheme is difficult. They pressure as much as any team we'll play all season." They have a veteran defense that is going to get pressure in the pocket.

The more the Pats run the less likely their rush is to get to Brady, and hit him for the thousandths time this season. "I mean, everybody's got sacks and pressures on the quarterbacks from the safeties, to the nickel backs, to the linebackers, down linemen," McDaniels said. "[Cameron] Heyward, Tuitt, Hargrave, those guys are tremendously disruptive, both in the running game and the passing game. Their edge guys rush good. They challenge you with a ton of different coverage variations. And then, obviously, you're going to deal with the noise. So, this is as much as you'll want in terms of preparing for a really good team, on the road, important game. We have a lot to improve on from yesterday offensively. We were not good in any area of what we did. So that starts with me, so I've got to do a better job of putting us in a good situation, having a good week of preparation and practice and going out there and playing and coaching a lot better than I did yesterday." This is not going to be an easy victory, no matter how you look at it. 

7. Pats Win- The Patriots have an 80% chance to win this game. This is the exact opposite of last weeks game against Miami, where everything seemed to look like an upset for Miami. This week all sign point to Patriots. Shazier out. Gronk in. Gronk pissed he let down the team last week. The Pats lost last week.

The biggest key this week is Brady's record after a loss. He is 40 and 11 in games after the Pats lose (okay so it like a 79% chance of victory;). "I think you can always learn more from losses than wins because you more critically evaluate where you're at, what expectations are, and what's needed to get the job done," Brady said. "I think everybody took (the loss in Miami) very hard. The locker room was not in good spirits, and the plane ride home was very quiet. But there's always the ability to learn from it. I think we've always felt that one loss shouldn't become two." You do not want to play the Patriots after they lose.

The Second biggest factor is the Gronk home coming. Gronk grew up in Buffalo, and we all saw how he plays in Buffalo (no cheap shot intended;). But he also moved to Pennsylvania to play High School Football. So playing the Steelers is as much of a homecoming as Buffalo is. He plays as well in Pitt, as he does in Buffalo.

Pats win this game. I'm not saying it is going to be easy, but the Pats pull this one out and secure home field for the Champ Game.

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