The Mossless Patriots VS A Rolling Stone.
October 14th, 2010
This is going to be the most interesting game of the year. Whether you are siding with Moss or BB, you have to agree that everything on this offense has changed. We will be getting the first glimpse of what this team is going to be the rest of the season. Who will pick up the momentum as we roll through the season? Who will gather more production? Whose role will be covered by defenses no longer worried about the "Cap" coming off? And probably most important of all, can this young defense continue to grow while still making big game changing plays.
This game will also be a good test, because the Ravens are the type of team the Pats will be playing in the Play Offs. Tough, physical, veteran laden teams are usually the teams that make the Play Offs. Not to mention that if they want to go to the Super Bowl they will probably have to face this very team. Non-Divisional in the first half of the season are usually the least important games of the season. This game is the most important game of the first half of the season, for all the factors I wrote about above.
Don't let anybody kid you, the Raven's defense is as good as defense in the league this year, and I think they are the best defense in the NFL this year. They are big, physical, tough, and defend 3rd Down better than anyone in the NFL this year. They have a terrific front-seven. Haloti Ngata plays as strong as any D-Linemen in the league, but he is not unblockable. Greg Kelly and Cory Redding are excellent compliments. The strength of their Defense is still in their Linebackers. The Ravens secondary is not as good as the front seven, but clearly is an underrated group, as is their passrush. Take Chris Carr, a second round pick from last season. Does anybody in this area really have any idea how good a player he is? No. However, the Ravens are second in the NFL against Pass (YPG). There Run defense is actually worse than their pass defense, as they ranked 10th, giving up just over a 100 yards per game. Overall they are ranked 3rd giving up 257.8 yards per game.
What the Raven's defense does best is defend the first down marker, like their great Super Bowl defense. I loved that defense. They weren't an overpowering defense, or a blitz happy defense like the '85 Bears. What that defense did better than any defense I ever saw was defend the First down line like it was the goal line. I never saw a defense that could defend ten yards better than that team, it was such an anomaly. Getting a first down on that defense was an accomplishment. This years defense is similar to that one. It defends the first down marker better than any team in the NFL. They don't defend it as well as the 2001 team, but who does? As far as playing defense in the NFL under Bill Polian's rules for Payton Manning, this is as good a defense as you can have. Don't kid yourself. Just because they are not a spectacular defense doesn't mean they are playing above their heads. This will be the best defense we face this year, and it will be the first defense we face without Randy Moss. This will be a long, slow, painful, and ugly game.
So the Raven's come rolling into town with an impressive 4 and 1 record after three out of five road games, and not an creampuff road victory either. However, I am picking the Pats. The Pats have a few important factors going into this game. First, the Bye Week and BB's seething brain. You do not want to give the mad genius an extra week to prepare for your team. The second is mad. When I said BB was mad, I didn't mean like a mad scientist (okay, maybe a little), I meant pissed off. There are two factors here. The fallout from the Moss trade and all the criticism he has been receiving, has to be pissing him off. And, the beating they took last year at the hands of the Ravens. Who didn't beat them with any finesse at all. The Ravens simply beat the crap out of the Pats. Third, this is the 4th road game of the season for the Raven. They have played three tough road games already this year against: the Jets, Bengals, and Steelers. Football is a game of emotion. If one team is on the road an looks tired, and the other team is mad and at home, I'll take the home team every time, even if it isn't gathering any moss.
There is some more good news for the Pats as well. Most people come to this site because of my Draft site. Well, I saw three big, strong, fast Junior Wide Receivers play last weekend, any of which could be available in the 2nd Round for the Pats. First, there's Greg Little. I had him rated as a 1st rounder last year. I think he has near the potential of Julio Jones, and has just as much potential as A.J. Green. Because of the suspension and rumors of diva problems he very well could be available in the 2nd round, where he would a steal. Miami's Leonard Hankerson is a tall lanky and smart WR, who looks like he is going to be a good one on the next level. He is a Jr who could come out next season. South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery is a 6-5 WR who most people have never heard of. Coming into last week he was averaging 125 receiving yards per game, which ranked him 3rd in the NCAA. This guy is big, and in a weird anomaly, he doesn't jump very well. I always find it interesting when tall fast guys can't jump very well. It seems, so, counter intuitive. Doesn't it? I mean, a tall skinny guy who reportedly runs 4.4s consistently, should he be able to sky over guys, right? Anyway, just one of the things that I find oddly interesting;-) He is a junior, and I'm not sure he will last into the second. Then of course there is Malcolm Floyd who put on a show last week. Every time I watch ND play he looks great, but he doesn't seem highly rated. If he came out and lasted into the 2nd round, he would be a steal for the Pats.
I see the Pats four biggest needs in next year's draft as OG, WR, RB, and of course the infamous edge rusher. I watched Penn St play last week, and they have an OG that bares watching. He was said to be highly rated, but when you first see him he is not impressive. He is a body ugly guy that the more I watched him play the more I liked him. Stefen Wisniewski is Steve Wisniewski's nephew. He has the knack for sustaining blocks, which is very important at the next level. Kansas ST has a terrific RB named Daniel Thomas, he is a big strong RB that is also exceptional receiver out of the backfield. He is a senior who could still be around come Day Two. As for edge rusher, this Saturday at 4:PM Iowa is playing Michigan on ESPN. If you haven't seen Adrian Clayborn play this is you opportunity to see something great. I warned people last year about Ndamukong Suh, and I warning you now, Clayborn is the real deal. Like Suh and Seymour, he plays with freakish strength. I have seen him push off OT's and watch them snap back a yard or two. He plays D-End for Iowa, and has the strength to play 3-4 D-End, and I think he has the quickness to be a dominate edge rusher in the 3-4. His best position in the NFL will probably be as a D-End in a 4-3, but he is such a unique talent that I think he could bounce all over the right side of a 3-4 can cause havoc. If the Pats end up with a top 5 pick, he could easily be their man.
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