Twelve thoughts on the Patriots blowout of the Titans…
Once again injuries are a concern. Danny Amendola leaves with a knee injury, Dont’a Hightower hurts his knee, and Patrick Chung hurts his hip. The only thing than can derail this Patriots team in the AFC is injuries to key players. Those three players have had very good seasons and the Patriots will need them back healthy.
Next man up. Joey Iosefa went from the practice squad to carrying the ball 14 times for 51 hard fought yards. Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks had a sack and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. And James White more than made up for the loss of Dion Lewis with 7 catches and showed he can be that all important 3rd down back. No-name players who come up big is one of the hallmarks of Belichick system.
The running game just has to do enough. With Lewis and Blount out the Patriots are not looking for their running game to put up 200 yards a game. They just have to do enough to keep the defense honest. And against the Titans that’s just what it did. The Super Bowl title will be won on the arm of Tom Brady and with a stingy defense.
The Patriots defensive front was dominating again. The team had five sacks and put a ton of pressure on the Titans. This is the best pass rushing team in the Belichick era.
Chandler Jones is The Man. He has become the type of player that other teams have to game plan for. He has 12.5 sacks this year and I think he is the Patriots best pass rusher since the great Andre Tippett. Jones will command big bucks when his contract is up. Be interesting to see whether the usual tight-fisted Patriots will pay market value for Jones.
I have been known to make a wager or two. Yesterday I bet two big favorites: the Patriots and Seahawks. Both were two touchdown favorites at home and both covered. Usually I don’t like to give that many points but there is such a disparity between the truly good teams and the bad teams in the league that I find myself betting on a lot of big favorites.
The Patriots magic number to clinch the No. 1 seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs is one. That is huge because I do not see any team in the AFC coming into Foxboro in January and beating a healthy — that’s the key word — Patriots team. The only team with a punchers shot would be Pittsburgh, or maybe Kansas City who has quietly won 8 straight games.
Tom Brady went yet another game without throwing an interception. That’s 9 games this year without a pick. He has a 35 touchdowns against just 6 picks, crazy numbers. Brady just doesn’t beat himself.
The Patriots special teams have been not so special. Sunday was the third straight game the Patriots have fumbled a punt and we all remember the debacle against the Eagles. This must be cleaned up before the playoffs.
Once they clinch home field should the Patriots rest their players or build momentum going into the post season. Brady has taken a beaten this season sacked twice as much as last season. I believe rest is more important. They need Brady feeling good and get their injured players back for the playoffs. That’s a lot more important than trying to dominate the Jets and Dolphins in the last 2 weeks of the season.
I am a little concerned about the Patriots offense. The Titans game was the 7th straight game that the offense failed to score 30 points. In the first half of the season the Patriots were scoring at will but it has become much of a struggle in recent weeks. The offensive line has to play better and having Julien Edelman back healthy should give Brady a dependable weapon.
While Tom Brady has had a great season, the MVP goes to Cam Newton. Newton clinched it yesterday with the fourth quarter game winning drive against the Giants. I bet Brady would rather have the Super Bowl MVP anyway.