Pats Vs. KC

Bust the Rust.


7-Things For Saturday Part I


Greetings Pats Fans,

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As result of all your great support, the start of the Patriots season, and the release of my third book And One (or should I say second novella on kindle), I will be offering Manfred's Argument (my first novella) for free on from September 10th to September 14th.

To all my faithful followers. Thank You.



1. 1st Off- Do you know who Alex Smith is? In Patriots parlance, he is a Brian Hoyer with a much better arm. He is as smart they come. He is a veteran who has played in four Playoffs games over the past five years, and won two of them.

Alex Smith is a veteran QB that you really don't want to face. Plus, their offense is designed to make D-ends, like JJ Watt, look foolish. "You have to be smart," Ninkovich said. "You can't obviously be too aggressive and let him step up and run for first downs and you can't just stand there and let him pat the ball. It's definitely a balance that you have to be smart as a unit collectively rushing the quarterback." He will not give the game away in the Playoffs.

He also has played in a Champ Game, which means he won one Playoff game in San Fran after helping his team earn a Bye. "I'd just say he's a good quarterback that's won a lot of football games," Andy Reid said. "He can throw it, he can run it, he can manage the game well. He understands the game, he gets it. I think every quarterback that has had a career like he has, I mean he's 30 years old and he's been a starter in this game for a long time. Those guys that survive learn to manage the game and play it the right way. He does that." However, last week was only the second playoff win of his wacky career.

The consistency he has had over the past three years to be in the same system has helped him tremendously. "I think the one thing is that he has been in this system for three years," Reid said. "He went through, I don't know, I think it was eight or nine, you guys would know better than me, but eight or nine coordinators in his career. Some crazy number of offenses he was trying to learn. That's tough. That's tough on a quarterback, so I think just the stability of being in the same offense in the last three years here has been good for him." He is playing with the most confidence I have seen him have.

Andy Reid likes to call him the smartest guy on the team. "I would totally agree [about being a game manager]," Smith said. "You take the public's meaning of the word and the negative connotations of it, but yeah, hands down, there absolutely is. There's so many different situations, especially at this level that you have to know and they're hard to teach. Sometimes it comes from experience and playing a lot and being around, and the more you play, you just kind of bank all that stuff and you learn from watching other games and guys and what they do and talking about situations. But no question, I think that's a huge aspect of football, especially situational football. But at this point, the whole negative side of that I certainly could care less about. I'm at the point in my career where I don't get caught up in that stuff anymore, honestly. I'm worried about winning and doing my job. I could care less what anyone's really saying as far as that goes." He does not choke under the face of pressure.

He does not turn the ball over. "He's smart," Hightower said. "He's got a great arm, and again, he doesn't make many mistakes in the pass game or the run game. Andy Reid and those guys have a lot of respect for him and obviously we do, too, with him being as competitive as he is. We've just got to be able to contain those guys." He is not going to pee his pants in the Playoffs like Payton.

He can get yards with his feet. He can also use his feet to avoid the rush. The question is if Maclin is out does he still have enough weapons to keep him effective. I just don't think so. Without Maclin, he looks a little like Brady without Edelman, and they don't have an Amendola who can step into his role. The Pats were able to maintain a little, with Amendola, but only for a couple of games. Smith is more over reliant on Maclin than Brady is on Edelman.

Which makes Kelce the most important player on offense for Smith (like Gronk for Brady), if Maclin is out. "He's a good player," McCourty said. "Yards after the catch, he's only behind Gronk, so I think that speaks for itself. Whatever as a team we think of Gronk, this guy is right there. I think it's like three yards that separates them. He makes tough catches, he gets the ball in his hands, he makes plays, so [he's] definitely one of their best weapons offensively. So we'll have to know where he's at." He will be in the Gronk role for KC, a tight end in the Number One receiver role. Stop him and we win.

2. Bust the Rust- Every year it seems that people forget that the four best teams in the NFL don't play on Wildcard weekend. They watch the Wildcard game and think the winning teams are better than they are. This year, the bottom four Playoff teams are going into the stadiums of the top four Playoff teams, because the middle four Playoff teams choked like dogs on a bone. Remember, Carolina and Arizona didn't play last week, and they were the two best teams in the NFC all year. The Pats and Broncos didn't play last week, and they were the two best teams in the AFC all season.

So the problem the home teams face is that the four teams coming in are sky high from their four improbable victories. I cannot remember all four Home teams losing in either the Wildcard or Divisional round ever. It really was an odd piece of history last week. So all four road teams are coming into the Bye Teams' Stadiums sky high, and the Home teams tend to be a little too well rested.

You often see that the Home teams lose their edge a little with the much needed rest. Like last year when the Ravens came into Foxboro and got a 14-point lead in the 1st Quarter. So the Pats have to fight the rust and confusion they have garnered over the past few weeks. Because they have not really fully game planed over the past three weeks. They played halfhearted game plans against the Jets and Miami. Edelman has been out for weeks. Gronk has been out all week. Chandler Jones took a trip to Mars, and woke up half naked on an episodes of Cops. So the team really is landing in Foxboro today is a little discombobulated, and needs to come together as a team before KC can exploit it too much.

How good can Edelman really be even if his foot is approaching 100%. "It’s all good," Chung said. "Jules, what do they call him, 'the flying squirrel'. It was good. It was good to have him out there. We were all out there practicing, so it was good." We don't know. Can Gronk be Gronk? Can Jones make KC pay for his embarrassment? Can Vollmer and the O-line hold up for this game? Can Brady be Brady? They have a chance in the long run to win it all because of the rest they got over the past few weeks. But in the short run it hurts them in regards to consistency, continuity, and the connections offensive players need with their offense and QB. That will be the story of this game. How soon can Brady and the missing players find continuity with each other against a terrific physical defense.

The rest was also imperative to winning the Super Bowl last year, and with all the injuries this team has faced, it is even more critical this year. "I think it was big," McCourty said. "It’s what you try to succeed in the regular season for. I think every team, obviously you want to make the playoffs first and win your division, but being able to be a top two seed and get a week to rest up, to work on yourself as a team, you’re playing to earn the right to play again next week, so anytime you get an extra week, an extra couple days, I think it’s huge. Obviously in this case, with our team at this time of the year, it seems like we really needed it from a physical standpoint, but even mentally I think it’s been key for us. We’ve been able to slow everything down, go back over the season as a total from the coaching standpoint to the players and try to fix things that have hurt us and really focus going ahead on trying to do the right things." The problem is how long will it take them to bust off the rust. Because KC isn't going to wait patiently for the Pats to put it all together. They are going to come out and punch them in the mouth.

It happens every year where the top four teams start off slow. The quicker the home teams bust off the rust the bigger the disparity in the score. But if it takes too long there is danger all over the field. "I think their team, they're going to do what they do, and if they see a weakness that you have, they're going to attack it," Slater said. "And I think they do a great job of just playing to their strengths. They have guys who play with a lot of effort, and a lot of times they just outwork teams. It's very evident when you turn on the film. They're hungry to make plays, and sometimes it's just an effort thing. They out-effort a lot of the guys that they go against, and I think that mentality starts with him. If you know anything about his background, he has a military background. He was a D-line coach. Excuse me, not a military background, he was a D-line coach and he has a strength coach background. So I think that says a lot about him, and I think that character that he has pours over into his unit." So the Pats better bust the rust off quicker than last year when Flacco tore them up. Because the Pats have the advantage because they rested, but KC has the advantage because they are red hot.

3. KC D- I was very impressed with KC's defense. "There are a lot of things that stand out about them," Josh said. "They do pretty much everything well. They're very talented at all three levels of the defense. Obviously, they've given up very few points and played their best football down the stretch, which is obviously an issue in terms of just being able to finish drives or get down into the red area in the first place to try to score points on them. They do a tremendous job on third down, put you in a lot of third-and-long situations and get off the field as well as any team we've played. They turn the ball over. They've got a real knack for creating issues in the passing game and then capitalizing on bad mistakes. All of their guys seem to catch the ball very well. There are a lot of guys who have vision on the quarterback, and their coverage is tight. They compete and contest every throw, and you're going to have to really do a good job of execution to avoid giving them opportunities to turn the ball over. And then they put a lot of pressure on the quarterback, and it's not just the two guys on the edge. They've got multiple people who rush on the edge. They've got good blitzers, both in the secondary and at the linebacking level, and then those guys inside have been very disruptive in the pass rush as well. It's a team that's already won a playoff game. They're obviously playing as well as any team we've played all year, and we would expect this to be the best defense we've played." If KC wins the game, it will because of their defense.

They have excellent on the line players. "They have a few basic looks with really kind of a three-man line in base defense, four-man line in sub defenses." BB said. "Their outside linebackers are really ends in sub, whether it's Houston, Ford or Hali, however that goes. They have some different looks. They don't need to pressure a lot because they get a lot of pressure with their front, but they do pressure some and that causes problems, too, because they already have a good rush without bringing extra guys. They mix it up, they time up their blitzes and disguise well, so they do a good job. They've got a lot of good players and they have a good scheme." They tore the Houston offense and Hoyer into pieces.

Plus, they have elite edgerushers and linebackers who they blitz from all angles. "That depends," Josh said. "It depends on the situation. Third down, you can get some different distances on third down where the blitz percentage goes up, and then during the course of different games there have been some games where they've pressured a little bit more, but they can do it both ways. They don't have to blitz to create negative plays. They don't have to blitz to create pressure on the quarterback, and yet they're a very good blitzing team. They blitz the secondary. They blitz the linebackers. So you're going to have to be alert and aware for four quarters because they've certainly made some negative plays with their pressure packages." They can cause a lot of problems for Brady in the rush.

Then they also have an excellent secondary. Berry, Smith and Peters are as good a trio of DBs as you can have. They are as tough and physical on three levels as any team in the NFL. They create turnovers all over the field. Brady has to be sharp in the face of their rush, or the secondary will take advantage.

The Pats have to be ready for anything on Saturday. Their defense wants to turn this game into a slugfest. "Well, you never know exactly how the week is going to go and who actually is going to be back and how much they're going to be able to play and all the rest of that," Josh said. "So that will kind of unfold as this week goes, and sometimes it goes down to the end before you figure out exactly how much you can or can't play somebody or if they're going to play at all. I think that's a constant conversation that you have all year long. There are players at different levels of health, there are players at different levels of conditioning, and you have to consider all those factors each week, not just this week, but each week as you prepare for the game because there are certainly some times where you have to make sure you monitor things as you're going throughout the course of the game so that you don't overdo something. We've got a lot of experience at that, and the most important thing is that we're smart with each one of the players, and whatever they can do, try to get them to do it the best that they can. That's why we've got a lot of depth and a lot of different people who will go to the game and be ready to go in their own role." So the Pats had better be ready for a physical war like they faced in the Super Bowl last year against Seattle. That is how the KC defense wants to play it.

4. Maclin- KC needs Maclin on the field to win this game. "I mean just fast, quick, great ball skills, good route-runner, gets open, finds open space, a very savvy veteran-type receiver, great speed," Patricia said. "Like I said, good hands, can go up and get the ball and just an overall real problem. They'll mix him in to some different types of plays whether it's handing the ball off or putting him through the backfield, obviously downfield crossers, run-and-catch type plays, so they really use him in a lot of different ways. That's always difficult when you've got a great skill player like that that's going to be kind of aligned or moved all over the field and then also designed to get the ball in a bunch of different ways. That's kind of the biggest challenge when he's out there, is to figure out where he's at, how he's getting the ball, we've got to be alert for him to get the ball, and then in the end being able to get on him and go up and make a play because he does a great job of going up and getting the ball and plucking it out of the air. We've just got to do a good job on him." He is the one weapon on their offense that can take over a game by himself.

If Maclin doesn't play, I just don't see how KC wins. He is the center of their passing game. He is like Edelman to the Patriots passing game, only they have no Amendola to take over if he is out. They have some guy named Wilson, and some rookie named Conley as their starting WRs.

But their run game can drive defenses crazy. They have two big RBs, Ware and West, who are pounders that wear down the passrushers more than gain yards. "They’re good," Chung said. "I mean they’re good, they’re downhill and those guys back in the backfield can make plays. Not having Charles and those guys is going to hurt, but those guys are good, too. They’re producing in getting the ball and outside catching the ball. It’ll be good. They’re a good team, a very explosive team as a whole, so we have to do what we can, just play our game and not worry about what they’re going to do, just kind of worry about us and us playing good and executing as consistent as possible is what’s going to be key for us." An Andy Reid run game is designed to be the biggest and most physical run game in the NFL.

Plus, they use all the trickeration, misdirection, play action, and option runs to confuse and slow down the edgerushers to give Smith more time to throw. They are a great blend of the power run game and the West Coast offense. The O-line wants to turn this game into a slugfest, and the Coordinator wants to confuse the defense on every level.

So they not only challenge the defense physically, they challenge them mentally in the run game to help the passing game. "Obviously the Chiefs, we've got a huge challenge in front of us here," Patricia said. "They're the hottest team in the league coming in, great win streak, great team play by these guys, an offense that's really doing a great job of managing the game, getting the ball distributed to the receivers and skill players, a quarterback who's very dangerous, very smart, very fast, very athletic, can get the ball downfield. If you really look at this guy in the critical situations of the game, he really shows up as far as taking over, whether it's a run-game situation where he's got the option to keep the ball, or it's a pass-game situation where he can make plays with his feet, extend, get out, keep the drives going, got-to-have-it type of situations. He's very, very dangerous. [It's a] big challenge with him, got to keep him in the pocket, make sure he doesn't scramble around on us and get out and control the game that way so big challenge there. The tight end position, Kelce, really dangerous guy, big catch radius. We saw that first hand last year and tremendous actually run-after-catch, does a great job there. They'll play a lot of different personnel groups, put different guys in the game, move them around, a lot of formationing and things like that. Coach Reid and his staff do a great job of game planning week-in, week-out and putting the defense in a lot of different stressful situations. Obviously Maclin is another great player for them. They're just steady at the running back position. They're going to mix those guys in there: West, Ware, Davis. They'll put them in the game and kind of keep pounding with the run game to control the clock, a very balanced offense. They really do an excellent job of, like I said, running the offense, distributing the ball. They've got a smart quarterback, makes a lot of plays. They've got some good skill players. They can hand it off, they can control the game from that aspect. They don't turn the ball over very much. They're doing all the right things that they need to do to win, and that's why they've been so successful." They want to turn this game into as physical a fist fight as they can get away with.

They want to brutalize the defense and wear them down for later in the game. Then unleash the passing game. With Maclin out, Kelce becomes their number one option, like Gronk with the Pats. "I mean, definitely we see a very good tight end in practice every day so that's great, very challenging for us, but there's a lot of good tight ends in the league," Patricia said. "He's certainly one of the better ones and one of the guys that's most productive. It's a big challenge for us. We obviously just have to do a great job, whatever the design of the defense it is that we're going to run, just making sure we know where he's at and account for him, just understanding that you can't lose him somewhere in the scheme or in the system and make sure we know where he's at." But if Maclin is out, and the Pats can take Kelce out of the game, the KC offense will be decimated. If Maclin doesn't play the Pats win.

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