|Tedy Bruschi on D&H: ‘[Rob] Gronkowski is the best tight end I’ve ever seen’||11.17.14 at 6:48 pm ET|
Tedy Bruschi tries to maintain some sense of journalistic detachment while watching football games as an NFL analyst for ESPN. But even though he’d picked the Colts to beat the Patriots on Sunday night, the former New England linebacker couldn’t help himself in the middle of the game.
“The Colts attempted to be tough. They attempted to come back and punch back, but the Patriots took out their heart and they left it by a TV camera,” Bruschi said, referencing Rob Gronkowski bulldozing Indianapolis safety Sergio Brown on a Jonas Gray rushing touchdown. “I picked the Colts to win, but was I high-fiving my kids when Gronk threw that kid on the TV camera? Absolutely. It was awesome to see, and just to see the toughness of [Julian] Edelman and the toughness of Gronkowski and just this team to respond the way it did was a great sign for this team.
“I don’t think anyone on the team had a problem with that [penalty],” added Bruschi. “It just took me back when I saw Gronk throw that kid into that TV camera. That made me fired up and that old Patriot in me came out.”
Bruschi suggested that teams have yet to find a successful formula for handling Gronkowski. Indeed, Bruschi suggested that the tight end is the best player he’s ever seen at the position. Read the rest of this entry »
|Setting the scene: Patriots put 5-game streak on fast track in Indy||11.16.14 at 1:47 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — For the first and only time this regular season, weather and the elements won’t be a factor for the Patriots as they play inside climate-controlled Lucas Oil Stadium.
Lucas Oil is not a dome but rather a retractable roof. But the roof, as it was the last time the Patriots played here for Super Bowl XLVI, will be closed, protecting both teams and the fans from the 28 degree temperatures, wind and snow in the forecast for central Indiana tonight.
This is the 78th meeting between the Patriots and Colts all time and the second time the Colts are playing the Patriots off the bye. In 2005, Peyton Manning and the Colts came into Gillette Stadium and handed Tom Brady and the Patriots a 40-21 defeat. As Chris Price points out, the Bill Belichick-coached Patriots have been very good in the last 10 years off the bye, losing just twice (2011, ’13). Including the playoffs, the Patriots hold a 48-29 series lead over the Colts.
The Patriots have won the last four games in the series, dating back to Nov. 21, 2010. The Colts haven’t beaten the Patriots since the infamous “4th-and-2″ game in 2009. Five years and a day after Kevin Faulk was stopped inches short of a first down in the flat on a Sunday night showdown, the Patriots get their chance to show they can actually win at Lucas Oil Stadium.
In addition to losing Super Bowl XLVI, the Patriots lost in 2008 and 2009 to the Colts at the facility that opened in 2008.
Since 2010, the Patriots are a combined 30-3 in the second half of the regular season. The Patriots were a perfect 8-0 in 2010 and ’11, 7-1 in 2012 and 6-2 last season. Since Bill Belichick took over as head coach in 2000, the Patriots are 90-23 in the second half. The Patriots also need one more win to guarantee a .500 season for the 14th straight season. Since 2001, the Patriots are the only team to finish above .500 in every season. Every other team has had at least one losing season in that stretch.
The lack of elements on a fast track certainly could help both quarterbacks and rejuvenated offenses light up the scoreboard. Tom Brady has thrown for 18 touchdowns and just one interception over the course of New England’s five-game winning streak. Andrew Luck has 26 touchdowns (9 INTs) for the season. He has seven straight games of 300 yards passing and leads the NFL with 3,085 yards through nine games.
|10 things you have to know about Patriots-Colts||11.15.14 at 9:00 am ET|
Here’s everything you need to know about Sunday night’s contest between the Patriots and Colts:
Our three favorite matchups on the night:
1. Tight end Rob Gronkowski against the Colts secondary/linebackers: Indy has a good secondary and has done moderately well when it comes to slowing down opposing wide receivers and running backs in the passing game. They haven’t been as successful when it comes to slowing down tight ends. According to Football Outsiders, Indy is 29th in the league in DVOA against tight ends — the Colts have allowed 49 receptions for 577 yards and seven touchdowns against tight ends, an average of 11.8 yards per catch. Contrast that with the work of Gronkowski over the last five weeks (36 catches for 516 yards and five touchdowns), and you see why this is maybe the most winnable matchup of the evening for the New England offense.
2. Cornerback Darrelle Revis against wide receiver T.Y. Hilton: The Patriots secondary is one of the best in the league when it comes to limiting big pass plays — New England is best in the league when it comes to limiting pass plays of 40 yards or more (the Patriots have only given up one, coming in the last game against the Broncos) and 12th-best in the NFL when it comes to allowing pas splays of 20 yards or more. Meanwhile, Hilton is one of the best receivers in the NFL when it comes to explosive pass plays. The 5-foot-10, 183-pounder out of Florida International averages 16.7 yards per catch (sixth-best in the league). His 15 catches for 20-plus yards is third in the NFL, and his four catches of 40-plus yards is tied for fifth. With the understanding that it won’t be exclusively man coverage against the Indy pass catchers all night — you can’t do that against a mobile quarterback, as it can get really dicey when things break down — expect to see a lot of Hilton against Revis. At the same time, you would have to think that the Patriots would yield some occasional chunk yardage against Hilton if it meant preventing the big play. In the end, if New England and Revis can limit the damage he’s capable of inflicting (say, allowing seven catches for 90 yards), you would have to think the Patriots could live with that if they can keep him out of the end zone.
3. Head coach Chuck Pagano against offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels: The Colts love to send extra rushers (Pagano has always been a proponent of extra pressure, dating back to his days as the Baltimore defensive coordinator), and he will likely increase the amount of pressure on quarterback Tom Brady on Sunday night. It will be on the Patriots — specifically, McDaniels and Brady — to find ways to get the ball out as quickly as possible. As has been the case for much of the season, figure on New England utilizing two tight end sets, with a heavy dose of fullback James Develin thrown in for good measure. In addition, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Patriots offer some misdirection in the form of some screens, as well as (if they are able to get any traction in the running game) some play-action as well.
4. Under the radar opponent who Patriots’ fans need to know: Tight ends Colby Fleener and Dwayne Allen present a unique set of challenges for the New England pass defense — they’ll put pressure on a defender like Pat Chung or Jamie Collins to have a big night in pass defense — but when you’re talking about the Colts, you have to discuss Andrew Luck‘s ability to run the ball. It can be overstated (we’re not talking about Michael Vick, circa 2006 here), but he does have the ability to make plays with his legs. He’s the third-best rusher on the Indy roster through nine games with 35 carries for 129 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and while it’s not like the Colts are diagramming plays for him to run, he’s still capable of making teams pay if they don’t play all the way to the whistle. He’s passed for at least 300 yards in seven straight games, and at this point in the season, he’s one of two quarterbacks who have a completion percentage better than 60 percent (64), has thrown for at least 3,000 yards (3,085) and has at least 20 touchdown passes. But he’s also got some wheels, and his running ability has to be taken into consideration when you’re game-planning.
5. By the numbers (tie) — 13: The number of first-quarter points allowed by the Colts through the first nine games of the season. It’s the lowest total in the league.
40.2: The Patriots have averaged a league-best 40.2 points per game in the last five contests, the best stretch in the league in that period.
|Adam Schefter on MFB: When choosing a QB for next 4 years, it’s Andrew Luck over Tom Brady||11.14.14 at 12:58 pm ET|
ESPN’s Adam Schefter checked in with the Middays with MFB crew on Friday for his weekly chat about NFL news, and he discussed comparisons between Andrew Luck and Tom Brady. To hear the interview, go to the Middays with MFB audio on demand page.
Asked which quarterback he would prefer for the next four years, Schefter tabbed Luck over Brady.
“I think I’d take Luck because he’s entering the prime of his career, where you have to think that it’s going to get harder and harder for Tom to do what he’s done into his late 30s and 40s,” Schefter said, adding: “Look, Luck is the best young quarterback in football, period.”
One criticism of Luck is his turnover issues. In nine games this season he’s thrown nine interceptions and fumbled the ball six times, losing two. Schefter downplayed that concern.
“First of all, he’s still young quarterback. We lose sight of the fact that he’s in his third season,” Schefter said. “And I think it’s a case where they’re putting the ball in the air an awful lot, more this year than they have in other years. So, just by doing that you are risking yourself to turnovers, right? He’s also active in the pocket, rolling around, and could be vulnerable to strip sacks, I guess. But I’ll take Andrew Luck any day of the week, even with all the turnovers that he creates right now.”
Looking at Sunday’s game, Schefter said he’s going with the Patriots.
“I think we’ve learned that it’s foolish to pick against New England, particularly in big spots, particularly against younger quarterbacks,” he said. “So I’m going to pick the Patriots, which just about all but assures a Colts victory.”
|Colts fans still hate the Patriots, New England ‘public enemy number one’||11.13.14 at 2:04 pm ET|
If you thought a few years without Peyton Manning has changed the Colts’ fan base thoughts of the Patriots, you were wrong. The Colts fans still have a strong dislike for the Patriots after they have won four straight games, including last year’s playoff game over their former division-rival.
“I think people are looking at it and trying to make it into [Andrew] Luck vs. [Tom] Brady, but here guys, the hatred for the Patriots has never gone away,” said Derek Schultz of WNDE on with Middays with MFB on Thursday. “I think in New England it is one of those things where it was more Brady vs. [Peyton] Manning than it was Pats vs. Colts, here it has always been not only anti-Brady, but anti-Patriots. You can’t go around this town and say the word Patriots without people scoundering and hissing at you. They are 10 times what the Knicks were 20 years ago with Reggie Miller vs. Knicks heyday and that is how big the rivalry is here. This still here locally is the biggest game of the year since this has turned into an annual matchup, and since the Colts don’t have a relevant division rival in the AFC South, this is public enemy number one.”
Following seeing those remarks about Colts fans, who do Patriots fans hate the most? Is it the division-rival Jets? The Broncos for their recent dominance? Do fans still have something against the Colts, or do fans still think back to the two Super Bowl losses?
What team do Patriots fans hate the most?
- Jets (57%, 522 Votes)
- Giants (20%, 184 Votes)
- Broncos (17%, 159 Votes)
- Other (5%, 43 Votes)
- Colts (1%, 14 Votes)
Total Voters: 922
With the first wave of voting complete, three members of the Patriots lead Pro Bowl voting at their respective positions.
Rob Gronkowski leads voting among tight ends with 166,066 votes, while kicker Stephen Gostkowski (67,814 votes) and special teamer Matthew Slater (36,679 votes) are also currently leading their groupings.
As for quarterback Tom Brady, he’s fourth among quarterbacks with 254,807, behind only Peyton Manning (359,598), Andrew Luck (284,575), Aaron Rodgers (280,394). He’s fifth overall, as he’s just nudged out by running back DeMarco Murray (263,097).
Despite the fact that Brady is near the top of the voting totals, don’t expect him to make it, even if the Patriots are able to play. The quarterback has been voted to the Pro Bowl in 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, but the last time he actually went to the Pro Bowl was 2004.
The Pro Bowl will be played on Jan. 25 in Arizona the week before the Super Bowl.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
|Mike Petraglia, Chris Price tell you what to look for when Tom Brady, Patriots battle Andrew Luck, Colts||11.12.14 at 3:29 pm ET|
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price break down and preview Sunday night’s primetime matchup between Tom Brady and the 7-2 Patriots and Andrew Luck and the 6-3 Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Patriots enter the game with a five-game winning streak and the hottest quarterback in football while Luck enters the game with more passing yards (3,085) than any quarterback through nine games in NFL history.