|11.24.10 at 11:49 am ET|
FOXBORO — Who says Bill Belichick is only focused on football from July to January?
This week, he dropped a little NBA analogy on everyone when he was asked how difficult it is to cover Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, someone the Patriots corners and safeties will have plenty of eyes on come Thursday.
“He’s never covered. He’s never covered,” Belichick raved. “The play against Green Bay [Oct. 3], there’s 10 seconds left to go in the [first] half, [Charles] Woodson‘s on him, the safety’s over the top, they throw it up to him, he goes up for a touchdown and gets it. I mean, it looks like Shaquille O’Neal going up for a rebound against two point guards.”
When Belichick wants to really make a point, he repeats it time and time again. He did exactly that with Johnson, who leads the Lions with 55 catches, 725 yards and the entire NFC with 10 TDs. He trails only Dwayne Bowe, who has 11 for Kansas City.
“He’s never covered. He’s never covered,” he said again. “There’s always an opportunity somewhere. He’s got such a great catching radius. He’s so big that he can catch the ball in such a wide amount of space that if the quarterback puts it where the defender can’t reach it, then this guy’s got great hands, he’s got tremendous ball skills. Yeah, I would say, he’s definitely not covered even when he’s covered. You got to worry about it. And they have a lot of confidence in him and they should. They throw some balls to him that you look at and say, ‘Wow, that’s pretty tight coverage. I don’t know if he should be throwing it there.’ Then he comes up with the catch and you understand why ‘ I don’t want to say the ball is being forced in there ‘ but it’s tight coverage, but it isn’t good enough because he’s got really good ball skills and he’s a big target. He’s an impressive player.”
|11.24.10 at 11:29 am ET|
So you think the Patriots are getting a breather this week after their tough schedule over the last several weeks? Be careful. Detroit isn’t the pushover that you are used to. New England should win, but it’s worth tuning in!
As I mentioned last week, when you see “passing ratings”, I don’t use the NFL’s rating. What I’m using is basically net passing yards above or below the league average adjusted up for touchdowns and down for interceptions. There are some other adjustments to make the numbers easier to compare as well.
Enjoy the game and Happy Thankgiving! I’m thankful for all of you that take the time to read my work.
* – Don’t panic. The Lions have scored first in three of their last four Thanksgiving Day games, but ended up losing all three by more than 10 points.
* – New England has allowed 37 total points in their last two fourth quarters. That’s the most such points allowed in two consecutive wins in the NFL since at least 1997. The closest: 35 allowed in consecutive wins by the 2006 Bears.
* – The Patriots allowed 78.6 percent conversions on third downs last week (11-for-14), the highest single game percentage by any NFL team since Week 16 of the 2008 season and the first time that the Pats have allowed greater than 72 percent conversions in any game since they began tracking the stat in 1991.
* – The Pats have allowed nine fourth quarter touchdown passes this season through 10 games. That’s more than they allowed in the fourth quarter in any other FULL SEASON except one since 2000. (2005)
* – Detroit converted nine first downs via passing on third-and-7 or fewer yards to go in last week’s game, the most by any team in the NFL this season and only the fifth time it’s happened since 2003. Nobody has had more than nine since 2003.
* – The Patriots allowed 396 passing yards to Peyton Manning and the Colts last Sunday, their most allowed in 229 games (413 in 1996). In between, they allowed an average of 214 passing yards per game.
* – The Lions are on their way to their 10th straight year allowing 10 or more first half points per game as they are at 12.6 so far in 2010. The Patriots have allowed an average of 10 or more such points exactly ONCE in the last 10 years and are at 9.0 this season.
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|11.24.10 at 10:53 am ET|
Dilfer offered his analysis of the Patriots. “I don’t think they’re a great team,” he said. “I don’t think anyone’s saying they’re a great team. But I don’t know if you have to be right now. They have a great quarterback, they have great systems, they have a great perspective week in and week out. I think they’re the best team when it comes letting go of what happened last week or last play and moving on to the next week and the next play, the next task at hand, having a clean focus on what it takes to win that down or that game. And they play that way. They don’t panic. They’re just kind of going to do their thing. They’re going to wait for you to implode. And the golden rule in this league is if you don’t beat yourself, you really can sit around and wait for someone else to beat themselves for you.”
With the Patriots and Jets tied atop the AFC at 8-2, one of the East powerhouses appears destined to the playoffs as a wild card and start on the road. Dilfer, who quarterbacked the wild-card Ravens to the 2001 Super Bowl, isn’t concerned about that. “I don’t see it being a necessity that you win the division and get home field throughout,” he said. “It’s obviously a bonus and something you’d like to do. But I think both the Patriots and the Jets are teams that can go on the road.
“I think the Jets probably have a little bit better blueprint to go on the road and win, because they don’t put quite the burden on their quarterback that the Patriots do, and then crowd noise becomes an issue. And defensively they can come up with more key third-down stops, red zone stops in a hostile environment. So, they’re probably built a little more to play on the road, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be more successful. Once again, you take a [Bill] Belichick and [Tom] Brady team, you put them on the road, they’re not going to blink. That’s the big thing. They’re not going to blink. They’re not going to panic. They’ve been there, done that. So, I’m not from the school that you have to win the division.”
Asked for his favorites to go deep in the playoffs this season, Dilfer responded: “Start with the New York Jets. I think they’re the least-flawed team in the National Football League. They do have tremendous upside. They have a lot of bells and whistles and flashy names. But more than anything else, they have the least amount of flaws.
“Their quarterback is playing excellent. When you get past the top five quarterbacks in this league ‘ Brady, [Drew] Brees, [Peyton] Manning, [Philip] Rivers, throw either [Michael] Vick or [Aaron] Rodgers in there ‘ then you’ve got to start saying [Mark] Sanchez is playing as good as that next five.”
Dilfer said the Patriots are his No. 2 AFC pick, while in the NFC he likes the Eagles and Saints. “I don’t know how you defend Michael Vick right now,” he said of the Philadelphia quarterback.
|11.24.10 at 10:01 am ET|
ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter checked in for his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to talk about news from around the NFL. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Asked which of the three Thanksgiving Day games is most likely to provide an upset, Schefter pointed to the Patriots-Lions matchup. “I think that New England is going to have a tough game,” he said. “That’s not going to be an easy matchup. If you watch the Lions this year, they play everybody ‘ everybody ‘ tough, and they always find a way to screw it up. Always.”
Looking at the Jets, Schefter said he isn’t convinced Mark Sanchez has earned his place among the NFL’s elite quarterbacks yet, despite his late-game heroics the last two weeks. “There’s still a nagging doubt in my mind with the consistency factor,” Schefter said. “I think that when you want to be talked about with the top quarterbacks in the game, there has to be an element of consistency, which, to me, is the only thing he’s been lacking. At times he’s looked very, very good. And he’s gotten better and better and better. He looks like he’s going to be a big-time quarterback in this league. And I am a Mark Sanchez fan. But I just think he needs some more consistency right now, that’s all.”
Schefter said Vikings owner Zygi Wilf should have fired coach Brad Childress a month ago instead of waiting until this week. “The truth of the matter is [Wilf] messed it up. He should have done it a month ago,” Schefter said. “Look what happened in Dallas when they made the move ‘ they won two games. [The Vikings] were heading into a key stretch of games against the NFC North ‘ at Chicago, home for Green Bay. He debated making the move on the Monday that Brad Childress was telling his team that he was waiving Randy Moss. That was November 1st. Since then, they’ve played three games, they’ve gone 1-2. Had they won those games against the division teams instead of losing by a cumulative score of 58-16, this team would still be alive.
“Now, I’m not going to tell you that going to Leslie Frazier would have won both games, but I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that the team would have been a lot more competitive with Leslie Frazier as its head coach. Zygi Wilf waited too long.”
Looking at the situation in Tennessee, where Titans coach Jeff Fisher and quarterback Vince Young had a fallout, Schefter said he wouldn’t be surprised to see the two reunited next season, after Young returns from his season-ending thumb injury and emotions are back in check. “Jeff Fisher’s a good coach. And Vince Young can be a good quarterback. Who are you going to get that’s better, in either case?” Schefter asked.
|11.23.10 at 5:40 pm ET|
FOXBORO – The question always comes up. Why do the Patriots and Colts always seem to play in November? And the answer is always for the ratings during November sweeps. Say this for the NFL, they know a good thing when they see it – especially on TV.
The Patriots 31-28 win over the Colts on Sunday drew the third-highest regular season local ratings in franchise history with a 42.04 household rating in the Boston market. Over one million people tuned in to WBZ-TV for the latest installment of Brady vs. Manning.
Sunday’s Patriots-Colts game was the highest-rated game of the season in the local market and the third-highest all time, surpassed only by New England’s Dec. 29, 2007 win over the New York Giants that completed the only 16-0 regular season in NFL history and a Dec. 7, 2003 victory over the Dolphins. The Dec. 29, 2007 Patriots-Giants game earned a 50.1 HH rating in the Boston market, a rating that represents an unprecedented four-way telecast in which the game was seen in Boston on NFL Network, WBZ-TV Channel 4 (CBS), WCVB-TV Channel 5 (ABC) and WHDH-TV Channel 7 (NBC).
The Patriots continued their record-setting pace for HH [household] ratings through 11 weeks in their designated market area with an average 33.4 HH rating. In addition, New England’s 10 regular season games are the 10 most-watched television programs in the Boston area for the 2010 NFL season, with the Patriots-Colts game topping the list.
Nationally, the battle between elite AFC rivals on CBS averaged a 14.2 HH rating with 23.6 million viewers tuning in to watch the game, making it the highest-rated and most-watched program of the week.
This season, the Patriots have also been part of two record-setting NFL broadcasts. New England’s 23-20 overtime victory over Baltimore on Sunday, Oct. 17 helped CBS set the mark for the highest rating for its single-game window since it acquired the current AFC package in 1998. The Patriots-Jets game on Sunday, Sept. 19 was the most-watched September CBS game ever.
This week, the Patriots travel to Detroit to face the Lions on Thanksgiving. The game will be broadcast to a national CBS audience with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms calling the game. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. and will air locally on WBZ in Boston and WPRI in Providence.
|11.23.10 at 4:19 pm ET|
When it comes to the injury report, the Lions added two players to the “Did Not Participate” group on Tuesday, with defensive ends Kyle Vanden Bosch (knee) and Lawrence Jackson (concussion) both sidelined. They did, however, move running back Jahvid Best from “Did Not Participate” to “Limited Participation.” Here’s the complete injury report:
DE Cliff Avril (quadricep)
RB Jahvid Best (toe)
LB Isaiah Ekejiuba (knee)
G Dylan Gandy (calf)
QB Shaun Hill (quadricep)
LB DeAndre Hill (groin)
|11.23.10 at 4:12 pm ET|
FOXBORO ‘ Quarterback Tom Brady was one of four Patriots players who did not participate in practice today ‘ he was listed on the Tuesday injury report with “right shoulder/foot,” which left him limited on Monday. Here’s the complete injury report:
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