Pats Vs. DBs

Break The Curse.

7-Things for Sunday, Part II.


Greetings Pats Fans,

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2. The DB's D-  Manning sucks. He was bad all season. The had 9 TDs and 17 INTs this season, but he was terrible at Home. He only threw 1 TD-pass in six games at Home! That is beyond terrible. Not only did he only have one TD in six home games, he also had 8 INTS. But, the Broncos were 5 and 1 in those games? You cannot have a QB that has a TD to INT ration of 1/8th and win, unless there are some extreme exigent circumstances. So how do they win?

Pitt had one of the worst, it not the worst secondary in the NFL, and Manning didn't throw a TD against them. They win with a veteran QB who manages the game better than anyone in the NFL not drinking spirulina. "Well, I’d say the preparation is definitely different," BB said. "Peyton has tremendous experience running this offense and having control of things at the line of scrimmage, more variations, more fluctuation in what they do as opposed to probably more plays that are called and run with Osweiler. [Those guys are] both good players obviously. We’ve had trouble with both of them so we’ll have to be ready for both guys. I think Denver did a great job yesterday of doing what they had to do. They made the plays on offense, defense, and special teams that they needed to make when they needed to make them and that was the difference. That’s what good teams do and they did it." That’s what Payton brings to the offense. He makes more adjustments after the defense lines up than any QB in the NFL not married to a super model.

Oh yeah, and the defense. "I think there is enough volume in Wade’s defense to do what they need to do, so if they feel like blitzing is the right way to attack somebody then you’re going to get blitzed, and if they feel like covering a different way with different varieties and coverage elements. they have those available to them as well," Josh said. "I think every good defense has good players, number one, and a sound scheme, and I think that that would certainly fit the bill for this Denver group. They’ve got good players, they’re well coached, and they certainly have enough volume to do what they need to do on a week-to-week basis. Each team that you watch them play is not played identically. There’s no question about that. He’s going to taper what he thinks is best for his team against the offense that they’re playing and try to stop the people that he needs to stop and apply pressure and create negative plays and turnovers the way that he feels best about doing it. We’re going to have to try to prepare for a lot of different things and go in there with hopefully a good week of practice and a sound game plan and let our guys go out there and play fast. I’m sure there are going to be some things that we haven’t seen a whole lot of or some changes that they’ve made that they feel good about that we’re going to have to adjust to during the game on Sunday. There’s always an element of that in these types of games because there’s nothing to hold back and whatever you think you can do to help your team, I’m sure that we’re going to see that on Sunday." Their defense has been spectacular this year.

They started hitting the QB at record rates early in the season, but it curbed down at the end. However, they still led the NFL in Sacks with 52, three ahead of the second best passrushing team the NEP (because they they didn't really rush the last two games). "Yeah, this is a great unit," Josh said. "They’re well coached obviously with Coach Phillips and their staff. They do a great job of putting these guys in positions to make plays and they have great players, Pro Bowl players at every level of the defense. Ware being back, certainly he’s a great player, adds an element opposite of Von Miller but they have [Shaquil] Barrett and Ray that have stepped in and done a great job as well, too. It’s just more depth in a position that’s already a deep position for them on the team. They’re aggressive. I think they’re in the top five in every category that you can discuss: yards, rushing yards, passing yards, points, third-down, first-down, turnovers, sacks. This is the best group we’ve played all year as you would expect in this game, and it’ll be a great challenge for us to prepare for them this week." If the Pats O-line holds up, pick ups blitzers, and wins on passing downs, the Pats win (I won't say easy because they are in Denver).

But that is easier said than done. The Broncos will be coming for Brady like their lives depended on it, and their Playoff lives do. "Wade’s got an aggressive style, there’s no question about that," Josh said. "His players play extremely hard. He has seen probably everything you can see from an offensive group, and they’ve got really good players that he puts in great positions to play aggressively. We’re going to have to do a good job of having our plan and going out there and playing offense the way that we play offense. [We’re] just trying to make plays and stay out of long yardage situations and do a good job of trying to get the ball to the places that we need to get it to. There’s no one formula that you can say has been very good against this group. They’ve shut most teams down and there’s a reason why they lead the league in defense. We’re going to have to do a good job of preparing hard for the best defense that we’ve played all season, but we’re going to have to play a complementary game with the defense and the special teams. I’m sure it’ll be a very hard-fought game. Both teams want to win and we’ll give it our best on Sunday." They beat the Steelers last week with their QB unable to throw a single TD reception. That is a major accomplishment by their defense and special teams. 

Their edgerushers kept coming up field all game. "He's a really good defensive player," BB said about Ware. "They've got a lot of them at that position. They've got Barrett, they've got Ray, [Lerentee] McCray's played for them, obviously Von Miller. So they've got five guys they play out there, and they've all been productive. I mean they're all good. When he was out Barrett came in and played. Ray played, and obviously Miller is good. Ware is good. They're all good." It is mainly Ware and Miller on the edges, and Miller rarely comes out of the game.

If the Pats score TDs they win. I struggle to see Denver scoring more than one offensive TD on the Pats defense. If they are forced to punt, like the Steelers, or kick FGs, it is going to get very tight. "It's [a] good [defense in] short-yardage situations, third-down situations, third-down in the red area situations, fourth-down situations," TB12 said. "They've got a lot of good schemes. They've got a lot of good players. They've got a lot of smart players: T.J. Ward, Chris Harris, Aqib Talib, and Stewart is a really smart player. Smart linebackers, and they've got a very experienced defense. They know what it takes to get the job done, so I think that's the part that makes it tough, is sometimes you get them in a second-and-one like we did in this last game, and it goes from second-and-one to third-and-three. Now you're going for it on third-down, you miss it, and you're off the field. So, what's normally second-and-one, and you might run the ball and get a first down on the next play, but these guys, they try to shoot gaps and knock you back and get you into third down. They've done a lot of those things and that's why they're one of the best teams, that's why they're so good at keeping teams from scoring points, because all of those different situations become very challenging. It's hard to drive the ball 12-13 plays down the field, because they have so many dynamic players, guys who can intercept the ball, strip the ball from the quarterback, they've got rushers, they have linebackers who can cover, big, physical defensive front that makes it tough to run the ball. So, that's why they're the best in the league." The Pats biggest worry is that the DB's defense and special teams control this game, like they did against Pitt (almost done with film study).

The other problem is that the Denver defense is strong on all three levels like the KC defense. "They're a great team and they've got a lot of good players," TB12 said. "I think that's the hard part about playing them, is there aren't a lot of things you look at on film and go, ‘Wow, I really want to run that again.' Even our first game, we missed some opportunities that maybe we could have taken advantage of, but in the end we just didn't play well enough and I think that's how that defense has played all season. When you watch the opposing offenses, yeah, you may make a couple plays, but you don't make enough to score enough points to ever get away from these guys. They haven't been in a game where it's been out of control because their defense is so good. They've got some great guys on offense and some very good special teams units, so that's why I said it's going to be a 60-minute game. Maybe more." So it's not just their edgerushers. They have a strong front three. Sylvester Williams and Derek Wolfe were two of my favorite guys in the Drafts the years they came out. Antonio Smith gives them a nice inside rusher.

They did a great job against the Steelers. But, Roethlisberger had a bad shoulder, and the best WR in the NFL was out with a concussion. Like the Pats, their top two RBs were out as well. Does anybody really believe that Denver wins that game if Brown, or even DeAngelo Williams is on the field? Because, Edelman and Gronk will be on that field Sunday. "Well, I mean Julian is an experienced player, and he's taken a lot of snaps with us," BB said. "Even though he didn't play at the end of the season and with the bye week and all that, he had an opportunity to get some time back in there. But that being said, I'd expect him to get better this week than last week with the extra time and the extra amount of time he had to work with our offense and the quarterback and so forth. Hopefully, that will continue to improve with him and other players that fall into that similar category." Amendola, Collins and Hightower, will be on that field on Sunday. Plus, the Pats were still flipping O-tackles when last we played. As Cannon and Vollmer switched sides against the DBs. Cannon was at OLT, and Vollmer was at ORT before they went to Denver. And Cannon was still suffering from that toe injury which he said hurt his kickslide.

But again, their defense showed weakness on the quick underneath slot guy patterns against Pitt, with their best WR missing. If you can't cover the quick crossing, slanting, and dragging pattern Edelman will chew up your defense. "Yeah, that guy has got the heart of a lion,' Ninkovich said. "He's just never going to give up on a play. I've been with him for a very long time now, and I respect the way that he plays and how much he gives this team. So again, tons of respect for #11, and I'm happy that he was able to be out there doing his thing." The more I watched KC film, the less ways I saw that KC could beat the Pats. The more I watched the DBs, the more confident I am the Pats beat them in Denver. Which I do not say lightly (yes, I was ah-scared of going to Denver).

Really, it is the edgerushers who can beat Brady. "Yeah, definitely," BB said. "Look, Wade is a great coach. He's one of the great defensive coaches in the league over the past, really 40-something years, 40 years, however long it's been. And he does a great job. He does what he needs to do. If he needs to change, he'll change. If he doesn't need to change, he won't. But regardless of what he does, he stops people. He doesn't give up a lot of points. They turn the ball over. They play great situational defense, and that's the way it's been ever since he's coached defense as long as I can remember through the National Football League and all the different places that he's been. We've played against him in multiple spots as a head coach, as a coordinator, but the thing in common is his defenses always play well. They're always well-prepared. They're hard to run against. They're hard to throw against. They turn the ball over, and they play smart, situational football. So he's got a lot of different tools in his bag. Whichever ones he decides to use, we've got to be ready for and deal with. So I'm sure he'll make whatever adjustments he feels like he needs to make, and they'll be challenging for us. They always are." Ware looked a little slower to me, but Miller was a killer on the Strongside edge.

If the O-line holds up the Pats should score over thirty on this defense. Now, wacky things happen when we go to Denver (just look at the last #%^*# &#& *# *&#% time we went up there). It never seems to turn out the way you think. But their offense is pedestrian with Payton at QB, and I struggle to see how they score touchdowns on our defense. And their defense can only hurt you in the rush (if you don't try to run into the belly of the beast). They will protect the edges against the rushers, and they won't slam into the belly of the beast like Pitt kept doing. The Pats are 6 and 1 when Brady throws the ball over 80% of the time like they did last week against KC (only the one loss came in Denver when he threw the ball 42 times).

And with a full compliment of receivers, especially Edelman, they will chew up this secondary. "I think he's worked his tail off," Brady said about Edelman. "He's always been one of the hardest workers, one of the hardest workers I've ever played with, one of the most determined young men that's on this team. And he's got as much heart as anybody. It's a serious injury to come back from, and to play the way that he did today was great. And all the receivers played great. Gronk played great. The backs played good. So it was a great team win." They have had to go zone more and more, because their man defense is not as good as their reputation. If you zone up on the Pats, Brady will carve them a new blowhole (that's right, I'm talking to you Antonio Smith). If you drop all the guys back and let Edelman run free underneath, forget about it.

The only real reason you can find that points to the DBs winning is the Pats terrible record in Denver. "It's always frustrating for me when we lose," TB12 said. "So, yeah, I know we've had a lot of lonely feelings when you're driving out of that stadium. We've had some pretty tough losses there over the years, because they've had really good teams. That's what it comes down to. They've always been a great organization. They've always had good coaches and good players. It's just a great organization, so it's not surprising they were in a Super Bowl two years ago. Last year, they were one of the top seeds. This year, they've had a great season. It's always a challenge going out and playing anybody on the road, especially a team that's as talented as they are. They've just got a lot of great players, really good coaches that put those guys in a position to play their best. It's not easy to go in there and win, but we're going to give it everything we've got. It should be a lot of fun." None more so than this year, where it seemed the entire League turned against them in the 4th quarter. And it started a long time ago, Elway never lost to the Patriots.

So they have to into this game like it is just another road game. "There's no concern about playing on the road," LaFell said. "At this time of year, you just have to be playing good, so whether we're playing at home or on the road, we know we have to go out there and play our best game. We can't have too many mistakes against a team that's been playing good football. I think this team has won three overtime games this year. They've been down a lot and always find a way to win games so we know we have to play our best football at this time of year." But this is not the same thing. I think losing the first game helps them in this game.

Brady is 6 and 2 against Denver, and 0 and 2 in the Playoffs. "I think it probably started when I was in middle school," LaFell said about the Brady-Payton rivalry. "I've watched a lot of these games and was part of two of them, last year when they came up here and this year when we went down there, but he [Payton] didn't play. But it's not him vs. Brady. It's us vs. them. The better team is going to win." Those are the only stats that favor the DBs. And this year just looks to me like it is the year Brady breaks the DB curse.

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