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Patriot's Vs The Three.



November 14th, 2010

Sorry this Preview is so late Pat’s fans, but Saturday turned into Family Leaf Raking Day. And while it’s fun to play with the kids and try and have them help, let’s face it they sloooooooow the works way down.

Pittsburgh will offer an interesting insight into this season. How far can we go with this young defense? It looks like the race will be between the Pats, Steelers, Jets, and Ravens. The question is, where do the Pats fit in? They are young and have to learned to focus on every game. They learned a valuable lesson last week, and now we will be able to see if they learned from it or not. So far they failed the test in New Jersey , and past the test against the Ravens. This will be the third test against their prime competition for the right to host the AFC Championship game and become favorites to get to the Super Bowl. This is not homerism, this is a fact at the midpoint of the season. The pats have placed themselves in the discussion for the best team in the AFC, and nobody believes. Just what they like.

Even with the wounded wing of Brady I still think they can do it. The problem is, as I explained in my Moss rant, our opponent's safeties are moving closer and closer to the LOS. This is not the week you want the Safeties moving up, you want them moving backwards. The good news is that they have average, at best, Corners, and they have not been playing well. However, with Moss gone, Welker still hurting, and Branch still gimping on one hamstring, can they take advantage of Pitt’s CBs? The goods news is that they have their Power Spread formation, which should be able to attack the Steelers holes efficiently. Look for Gronkowski to have a good redemption game, and look for Hernandez to have a big game as well. They may be the Pats two best deep threats? Not that they get particularly deep, but they can test the Seam, and catch the ball behind the Linebackers in the deep middle. Plus, they can line up outside the Tackles and attack the outside edge guys on outside runs, and we can use the run to wear down their edge rushers. To me, the two rooks and Brady’s bad ankle are the keys to the offense. 

Pittsburgh is not the end all be all either. They have a good defense that puts a lot of pressure on the QB, but if they don’t reach the QB they are vulnerable. They are stout against the run, but they open themselves up to trouble when they blitz, and nobody plays better against the blitz then Brady. This is just the kind of team that can go into Pittsburgh and beat them. The Pats were embarrassed last week, and will be looking for redemption. They set up the run with the pass, and they have a defense that can give the Steelers trouble.

The Steelers have an interesting defense, they have three players who are as good as any player in the NFL when they are moving forward: Troy Polamalu, Lamarr Woodley, and James Harrison. However, when they have to move in reverse, not so much. If you can get those guys on their heels moving sideways or backwards, you can do a lot of damage. However, they are super aggressive, and the reason they are Pro-Bowlers is because they just keep attacking. It is near impossible to keep them on their heels for long. I hate to say this, you have to attack the edges in the running game, and get those big uglies out hitting Harrison and Woodley, and it will not be pretty or effective statistically, but if you don't hit them, beat them, punch them, then they will not wear down. If you allow those two guys to just keep coming forward, they will kill you. You have to get them moving backwards and absorbing hits. The problem is that the Pats have been more effective running inside. With Benny, almost a pure inside runner, and Woodhead, seems to be the most effective running Draws which is almost always a between the tackles run, they have been gaining most of their yards between the Tackles. They need to run more Off Tackle, Toss, and Power sweeps in this game. Hit those outside linebackers, and of course use the pass to set up the run. They have to keep Polamalu in coverage, moving backwards. Of course, with the loss of Moss they have nobody who can stretch the field. Lets face it, both their Safeties are better moving forward. Nobody is going to call either Polamalu or Ryan Clark a Free Safety. They are both hard hitting. down hill, run stoppers. Polamalu is aware in coverage, and will make the INT when the ball is thrown to him, but he makes his reputation playing in the box as the fifth Linebacker. The Pats have to pass to win, but they also have to run to wear Pittsburgh big three down, or they will feed on the blood of the wounded Brady.

The Pat's defense will have to face a tough offense as well. They can run well, but they don’t have an elite running game like they usually do. However, that is more a matter of their O-Line play than their running back play. With Max Starks and Flozell Adams as their starting Tackles, it is no wonder their offense is struggling. The Pats will be able to rush Rapistberger, and get to him. The problem is that he does not go down easy, just like his dates. The Pats OLBs have really struggled setting the edge the past few games, especially Cunningham. But have been showing good speed around the edges. The Steelers’ O-Line is vulnerable to the edge rush. They have to hit Rapistberger. Taking him down is another thing, but if you hit him he will make mistakes, and he will fight to stay up and you can really punish him while he is standing and in the grasp, for a change. The Pats D can handle their running game. The question is can they handle their passing game? I am picking the Pats to win. I think the Pats can stop the run and make them one dimensional, and I think the Pat's young Corners can cover the Steelers WRs. 

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