|WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 12: Pats drop out of top 5||11.20.13 at 11:58 am ET|
The Seahawks are showing no signs of wanting to fly south as winter nears. Seattle continues its reign at No. 1 as it heads into its bye week and prepares for a tough stretch against the Saints (3) and 49ers (8).
The Panthers (4) claw their way into the top five after a statement win in the Monday night game. The Patriots drop three spots to No. 7 and have no time to focus on a controversial call in Week 11 because the Broncos (2) are set to roll into Foxboro. Tom Brady will prepare for his 14th showdown vs. Peyton Manning. Brady has had the upper hand in nine of the 13 meetings between the two stars.
The bottom five welcomes its latest playoff team of 2012. The Falcons plummet to No. 30 and join the Vikings (28) and Texans (31) as teams to have hit rock bottom after reaching the postseason last year.
Many teams still are in the thick of the playoff race as the final quarter of the season approaches. Check back next week to see who’s on the way up and who’s on the way down.
1. (1) Seahawks (10-1) — The Seahawks look to be getting stronger and stronger as they inch closer to capturing the No. 1 seed in the NFC. They go into their bye week with six straight wins.
2. (2) Broncos (9-1) — Manning has been the story all year, but the Broncos offensive line deserves the credit after Sunday night’s performance. The O-line came up huge on the biggest stage by not allowing a sack to the team that led the league in that category going into the game.
4. (7) Panthers (7-3) — Cam Newton and the Panthers finally got the league’s attention. Newton needed to prove he could lead his team late in the fourth quarter against a playoff-caliber team, and he accomplished just that.
5. (3) Chiefs (9-1) — That ferocious Chiefs defense was non-existent Sunday night. Kansas City had a tremendous opportunity to rough up Peyton Manning but was unable to even knock him down. Despite the loss, many of the mistakes are fixable and the Chiefs should be able to rush Manning better when they face him again at Arrowhead.
|WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 11: Patriots climb into top 5||11.12.13 at 11:28 am ET|
The Seahawks continue to soar high above the rest in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. As fellow NFC teams suffer injuries and decline, Seattle seems to be getting stronger, and its big offseason acquisition, Percy Harvin, is set to debut in Seahawk green. The Broncos stand pat at No. 2 as they survived a health scare to their franchise QB. The Chiefs are proud owners of a perfect record and jump the their highest spot all year at No. 3. They sat back and enjoyed their bye week as the Colts (6) and Niners (8) suffered losses and fell in the rankings.
The difference a year makes continues to be the story across the league. Playoff teams in 2012 like the Texans (28), Vikings (27), Redskins (26) and Falcons (25) continue to plummet in 2013. It seems highly unlikely any of those teams will make a return to the postseason. On the other hand, the Chiefs, Panthers (7) and Jets (11) all have exceeded expectations and are in the thick of the playoff race after being completely out of it at this time last year.
Week 11 will deliver one of the most anticipated matchups of the year as the league’s best offense clashes against one of the league’s best defenses in an AFC West battle. The Broncos and Chiefs will duke it out to maintain their position in the NFL’s elite. It should be an exciting week of football.
1. (1) Seahawks (8-1) — Last year Seattle owned a 3-5 record on the road; this year the Seahawks boast a 5-1 record away from CenturyLink Field. As Harvin nears a return to the field following hip surgery, the Seahawks’ lead in the NFC continues to grow.
2. (2) Broncos (8-1) — Peyton Manning re-aggravated an ankle injury, but that won’t sideline him when the Broncos take on the first-place Chiefs. Denver needs to be extra cautious with Manning. It may be even worth considering shutting him down for a week or two. Their chance for a Super Bowl title could be on the line.
3. (5) Chiefs (9-0) — The time finally has arrived for the Chiefs to prove to the rest of the league they are as good as their record indicates. It’s quite simple why Kansas City is at the top of the standings. The defense has been ferocious. The Chiefs have forced a league-high 23 turnovers.
4. (6) Patriots (7-2) — The Patriots are an astonishing 87-24 coming off their bye week since 2001. They’re 26-4 over the last three years alone. There’s no reason to believe Bill Belichick and Tom Brady won’t lead the Patriots to another impressive post-bye week performance when they take on the Panthers on Monday night.
|Sebastian Vollmer, Kyle Arrington on M&M: ‘We had a good feeling it wasn’t going to be over’||10.14.13 at 12:02 pm ET|
Patriots offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer and defensive back Kyle Arrington joined Mut & Merloni on Monday morning to talk about Sunday’s thrilling 30-27 victory over the Saints.
Vollmer, a five-year veteran, has seen Tom Brady engineer comebacks before, but this one was something special.
“It definitely doesn’t get old,” Vollmer said. “While you’re in it, while the drive is going on, you can’t think about anything else but doing your job, but just looking back, you don’t want to have anybody else behind you, orchestrating that drive. We have all the trust in the world, he’s done it so many times in his career, and once again yesterday. There’s no doubt, I don’t want anybody else in there.”
Vollmer said the players did not lose hope after squandering a couple of opportunities late.
“We had a pretty good feeling we would get the ball back,” Vollmer said. “Our defense was playing good; they gave us the ball back three times. So, we had confidence and we knew we had to deliver. I think that’s what it was, everybody concentrating on their job and going through what you had practiced before, knowing what’s probably going to come and what you have to do. I think we were all quite confident, and we knew we had a chance.”
The Saints celebrated after stopping the Patriots twice inside the final three minutes, but Vollmer said he thought his team would get another opportunity to pull out the win.
“I saw [the Saints celebrating] a little bit while I was walking off the field, but I think we all knew — at least we had strong feelings about it — that we were going to get the ball back. Luckily, we did,” Vollmer said. “We had a good feeling it wasn’t going to be over then.”
That chance came because the Patriots defense continued to play stellar football, even with the loss of some more key players (Aqib Talib, Jerod Mayo) to injury.
“Hopefully we can continue to ride this momentum,” Arrington said. “Definitely a great win. That was a heck of a football team that we played yesterday. The goal from this point is to improve every week, and we’ll take it from there.”
Added Arrington: “We play for each other. We have such a great group of guys. It’s not about yourself. Everyone understands, it’s all about the team and what’s best for the team. Everybody understands just what their job is, and then they’re working as hard as they can to get that done.”
|Snap Judgments: Tom Brady engineers another comeback in 30-27 win over Saints||10.13.13 at 7:43 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots pulled off a remarkable comeback Sunday, as quarterback Tom Brady engineered a fourth-quarter scoring drive that ended with a 17-yard touchdown pass to rookie receiver Kenbrell Thompkins with five seconds left to lift New England to a shocking 30-27 win over the Saints.
After a 34-yard touchdown pass from Drew Brees to Kenny Stills with 3:29 left in the fourth quarter, it appeared the Patriots were on their way to a second straight defeat. But Brady led an eight-play, 70-yard drive with no timeouts left, a series that culminated with the game-winner to Thompkins.
Brady went 25-for-43 for 269 yards with one touchdown and one pick, while Brees was 17-for-36 for 236 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception.
Here are a few quick notes on the game.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE PATRIOTS
• While Brady struggled throughout the third and into the fourth quarter, it was more late-game magic from the veteran quarterback, who put together his first comeback win of the year.
• Hard not to mention the work of Stevan Ridley, who consistently picked up tough yards between the tackles and kept the chains moving at several key moments on the afternoon. The LSU product, who was out last week because of a knee injury, finished with a season-high 96 yards (on 20 carries) and two touchdowns. A good, consistent effort.
• The New England defense again came up big several times on the afternoon, holding the Saints high-powered offense to 24 points. All around, there was a lot to like about the work of the defense, whether it was the fact that they held all-world tight end Jimmy Graham without a catch for the first time since midway through his rookie season. Then, there was the fact that they came away with another pick, this one in the fourth quarter on a Brees pass for Graham that was forced in there by the quarterback. Kyle Arrington came away with the takeaway, which led to a fourth-quarter field goal.
• The New England special teamers played well, whether it was the season-long 54-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski, another sold performance from punter Ryan Allen, or the work of punt returner Jullian Edelman.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE PATRIOTS
• This was a bad game injury-wise for the Patriots. Offensive lineman Dan Connolly went out in the first half with a head injury, and the team announced early in the third quarter than he would not return. Meanwhile, cornerback Aqib Talib came to the sidelines early in the third quarter after a defensive stop with what appeared to be a hammy issue. He was back in the game on the next series, but left shortly after that — the team announced that it was a hip injury, and he didn’t return. Linebacker Jerod Mayo suffered a fourth-quarter shoulder injury. But the worst shot was a second-half head injury for Danny Amendola on a play where it appeared the receiver was knocked out for a brief moment in the wake of a collision on the sideline. He did not return to the game.
• A look at the scoresheet seems to indicate that rookie receiver Aaron Dobson had a good afternoon (five catches on nine targets for 57 yards), but there were several key drops, including one late in the fourth quarter.
• Brady was hit by a hard-charging Saints defense throughout the afternoon, taking a season-high five sacks on the day.
|WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 6: Patriots plummet to No. 9||10.08.13 at 1:04 pm ET|
The Broncos steamroll their way to the No. 1 spot after another dominant performance from Peyton Manning and the offense. John Elway‘s undefeated team has looked unstoppable and is a lock for the top spot again next week as the No. 32 Jaguars travel to Denver in Week 6.
Only three undefeated teams remain. The Saints (2) and Chiefs (8) both missed the playoffs last year but look primed to return after starting 5-0. Meanwhile, the Jaguars (32) and Giants (30) continue to search for a win. The two teams have a combined 31 turnovers.
Upsets were the theme in Week 5. The Seahawks (3), Patriots (9) and Falcons (20) all drop in the rankings after losing games in which they were favored. There could be more shakeup looming with the Packers (7) traveling to Baltimore (11) and the undefeated Saints heading to New England this Sunday.
1. (2) Broncos (5-0) — Not much more can be said about the Broncos offense. It’s not too early to start talking about an undefeated season. Unless you put up at least 40 points, you’re not beating Denver. The 46 points-per-game average is 16 points higher than the second-place Cowboys.
2. (3) Saints (5-0) – Drew Brees threw a career-high 19 interceptions last year. The Saints defense was historically bad. This is a completely different team. New Orleans is winning close games, protecting the football and playing great defense.
3. (1) Seahawks (4-1) — The Seahawks went 2-for-12 on third down Sunday against the Colts. There’s no reason for major panic in Seattle, however, as injured starting tight end Zach Miller should be ready to go next week and Percy Harvin‘s return is on the horizon. That will dramatically help the offense.
4. (4) 49ers (3-2) — Protect the football, dominate defensively and pound the ground game. That’s been the Niners’ formula for success the last couple of years. Not many teams can win a game when the starting quarterback completes just six passes.
|Rob Ninkovich, Jerod Mayo on M&M: ‘Frustrating loss for us’||10.07.13 at 12:36 pm ET|
Defensive end Rob Ninkovich and linebacker Jerod Mayo appeared on Mut & Merloni on Monday to discuss the Patriots’ defensive performance in the team’s 13-6 loss to the Bengals.
New England lost its first game of the season on Sunday. Much of the consternation surrounded the offense, which failed to score a touchdown and accumulated just 248 yards, in addition to turning the ball over twice.
The Patriots defense allowed just one touchdown, but it came in the fourth quarter, and it proved to be the game-winning points.
“It’s a frustrating loss for us as a defense, because you play well early in the game, you have some big stops and turnovers, you keep them from scoring,” said Ninkovich, who recorded three tackles and half a sack in the game.
New England forced Cincinnati into a pair of turnovers, and the defense sacked Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton four times.
But the defense faltered on the most important drive of the game. At the end of the third quarter, the Patriots trailed 6-3 and had Cincinnati stuck in a third-and-15 from its own 2-yard line. Dalton pulled off the improbable, as he connected with wide receiver Marvin Jones for a 28-yard gain to move the chains.
The Bengals marched the ball up the field, and former New England running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis punched a touchdown in from a yard out.
“Obviously we didn’t play well enough,” Mayo said. “Our job is to go out there and hold them from scoring any points at all. Unfortunately they scored more than us yesterday. We had some good plays, but we also had a lot of plays where we just weren’t ready to go. That’s my fault. I’ve got to get the guys ready.”
Said Ninkovich: “With us giving up 13 points, it was too much and we lost. I’m not one to make any excuses, so I think that we’re going to get better, we’re going to continue to progress as a defense the younger guys are going to continue to mature and get better.”
One of those younger guys to show up on Sunday was defensive tackle Chris Jones, who filled in admirably for the injured Vince Wilfork. The rookie recorded 1½ sacks. Jones must continue to step up with Wilfork out for the season, and the other defensive tackle, Tommy Kelly, possibly sidelined as well with a knee injury.
“You don’t really have to communicate as much with those older guys because they kind of know the situation and they know kind of what to expect,” Ninkovich said. “But the younger guys, you’ve just got to make sure that, ‘Hey, expect this, play it this way.’ So you just kind of have more communication.”
The Patriots play host to Drew Brees and the high-powered Saints offense next Sunday.
“I think Drew, his track record kind of speaks for himself as far as the things he’s done in his career,” Ninkovich said “It’s going to be a good challenge for us, and I’m happy we’re going to be playing at home and not the [Superdome], because that’s a hard place to play, kind of similar to Georgia when you’re down there playing the Falcons, similar atmosphere.”
|Darrelle Revis still thinks Tom Brady, Peyton Manning are ‘both great’||08.13.13 at 3:22 pm ET|
FOXBORO — When he was with the Jets, Darrelle Revis had some of that swagger that came with playing for Rex Ryan. But one thing is for sure, he always had respect for Patriots superstar quarterback Tom Brady.
That, apparently, hasn’t changed.
Speaking after Tuesday’s practice, one in which he was limited to 7-on-7 drills due to his recovery from left ACL surgery, Revis made it clear that he still respects the quarterback who once gave him fits in the AFC East.
Asked if he still thinks Brady is one of the best, Revis didn’t hesitate.
“Oh yeah, it’s between him and Peyton Manning, but it’s a good race between both of them,” Revis said. “They’re both great. I played against both of them. They’re awesome quarterbacks. They’re tough, they’re tough to game plan against as well.”
That makes one think what he thinks of Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, New Orleans’ Drew Brees and Carolina’s Cam Newton, all of whom he’ll face twice a season in the NFC South.
Tuesday was a big day for Revis, who was back in pads for the practice but is being guarded carefully by head coach Greg Schiano, who indicated that there’s a possibility that Revis won’t play in any of Tampa Bay’s four preseason games but still be ready for the season opener Sept. 8 against his former team at MetLife Stadium.
Revis said he received words of encouragement from Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who was on hand for the joint practice.
“The New York Jets-Patriots, that’s a crazy rivalry, it really is. It’s almost like a hatred but now I’m a Buccaneer and this is something new for me, being in camp with another team. I’m just taking it in in stride. It was funny because Mr. Kraft came up to me and said some encouraging words and some good words. So, it just shows you how much respect you have with another team when you’re not on that side of the ball.”
The Bucs and Revis open the season Sept. 8 on the road against his former team at MetLife Stadium before visiting the Patriots in Week 3.
“It’s fine, it’s fine,” Revis said. “The schedule is what the schedule is going to be and we know we have them Week 3. It’s something new for me. I’m just trying to take it in stride. It’s kind of weird watching 1-on-1s and seeing Tom throw at our DBs. I wish I could be out here to practice because that would give me some tips if I could be out here in 1-on-1s and go against Tom because it’s good competition at the end of the day.”
Speaking of Brady, it was the Patriots quarterback who had to come back from left ACL surgery when Bernard Pollard hit him in the 2008 season opener against Kansas City. Brady came back and led the Patriots to the playoffs in 2009. That’s inspiration enough for Revis.
“Yeah, I think I’ll be fine,” said Revis, who injured his knee Sept. 23, 2012 against the Dolphins. “At the end of the day, you have to go through the ACL process and waiting, and let’s do this and do these drills, let’s do these exercises, let’s be patient, let’s not get on the field yet, let’s get on the field so, I’ll be fine. Trust me, I’ll be fine. I’m working. I’m back to my old self. I’m getting there. It’s just the confidence and getting that knee drive and breaking on balls.”