|Around the AFC East: Dolphins, Bills pull off narrow victories||09.15.13 at 5:12 pm ET|
With the Patriots having Sunday off, it gave us a chance to check out what’s going on in the rest of the AFC East. Here’s a quick look at what happened in the rest of the division over the weekend:
Dolphins (2-0): Miami won a highly entertaining contest Sunday against the Colts and Andrew Luck, coming away with a 24-20 victory to stay unbeaten on the year. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill went 23-for-34 for 319 yards and one touchdown to give Indy its first home loss in 12 months. Miami, which is 2-0 for just the second time since 2004, saw Mike Wallace (nine catches, 115 yards) and Charles Clay (five catches, 109 yards) go over 100 yards receiving. The Dolphins needed the firepower, as Luck had the Colts in position to pull off another comeback win — he had the ball at the Miami 23-yard line with 1:45 left, but tossed three incompletes and was sacked on fourth down to finish things.
Next up: Sunday, Sept. 22 vs. Falcons
Jets (1-1): Like the Patriots, New York also had the weekend off, but managed to make its share of headlines with the decision to place quarterback Mark Sanchez on injured reserve with a designation to return. While coach Rex Ryan said he believed Sanchez could contribute later in the season, the move means that Sanchez will be on the shelf for the next eight weeks. (The earliest Sanchez could be back is Nov. 17 at Buffalo, following the Jets’ bye week.) That means that for the foreseeable future, the quarterback job belongs to rookie Geno Smith, who was a bit of a mixed bag in Thursday’s loss to the Patriots. The West Virginia product was 15-for-35 for 214 yards, and was sacked four times and intercepted three times.
Next up: Sunday, Sept. 22 vs. Bills
Bills (1-1): Buffalo got its first win of the season on Sunday with a dramatic 24-23 victory over the Panthers, thanks in large part to rookie quarterback EJ Manuel, who connected with wide receiver Stevie Johnson on a 2-yard touchdown pass with two seconds left to lift the Bills. Manuel engineered a game-winning drive late in the fourth, a nine-play, 80-yard series where he went 6-for-8 for 51 yards. (He ended the game 27-for-39 for 296 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.) Manuel got some help down the stretch when Carolina (and former Boston College) linebacker Luke Kuechly was penalized for pass interference on a third down play with less than a minute to go to help keep Buffalo alive.
Next up: Sunday, Sept. 22 at Jets
|What they’re saying in New York: ‘Buttfumble’ in the past, Patriots appear vulnerable||09.11.13 at 12:26 pm ET|
When the Jets and Patriots take the field Thursday night at Gillette Stadium, the game will feature a complete overhaul from the teams that faced off on Thanksgiving last year. That meeting resulted in a 49-19 Patriots rout and produced arguably the most infamous play of the season: the “Buttfumble.”
Absent is the man at the center of it all, Mark Sanchez, who smacked into the backside of his own lineman, Brandon Moore, and dropped the ball that New England’s Steve Gregory returned for a touchdown. Sanchez is out with a shoulder injury to start the season.
Moore retired at the end of the season.
“There’s so many new guys in that locker room,” said Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post during a Wednesday morning appearance on Dennis & Callahan. “I’m walking around there yesterday, as we do covering teams, and you look at these lockers where you’re going to go talk to a guy that you’ve spoken to for the last three or four years, and you’re like, ‘Oh, jeez, that guy’s not on the team anymore.’ There are so many new guys now.’
“Most of the guys in that locker room weren’t even a part of the thing last year.”
The team on the positive side of the blowout also underwent a transformation this offseason. The Patriots lost both their tight ends — Rob Gronkowski for the interim, Aaron Hernandez permanently — along with wide receivers Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd, and running back Danny Woodhead.
New England signed wide receiver Danny Amendola to make up for the loss of Welker, and the Patriots looked to guys like Shane Vereen to pick up the slack offensively for the injured Gronkowski. However, Vereen (broken wrist) is out two months, while Amendola (strained hamstring) reportedly will not play Thursday night.
Cannizzaro wrote in his column Tuesday that these injuries mean New York has a great shot at beating New England for the first time in their last five meetings.
Here’s a look at what others in New York are saying about Thursday’s showdown:
• The Bergen Record echoed Cannizzaro’s opinion that New England looks particularly vulnerable this season.
• ESPN New York also took a look at the “Buttfumble” and how it marked the start of a downward spiral for the Jets, and even a number of their players’ careers.
|Geno Smith is no dummy||09.09.13 at 10:21 pm ET|
FOXBORO — When it comes to the Patriots, Geno Smith has done his homework.
A week after Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson displayed an alarming lack of knowledge about the New England secondary — saying Patrick Chung still played for the Patriots when he was with the Eagles — the Jets rookie quarterback proved Monday he knew the type of opponent he was up against this week.
Asked on a conference call by the New England media what stands out for him about the New England defense, the rookie out of West Virginia proceeded to rattle off 10 of the Patriots 11 starting defensive players, including minor tidbits along the way, like how linebacker Dont’a Hightower came out of Alabama and safety Steve Gregory was with the Chargers before signing with New England before the start of the 2012 season. (The only starter he didn’t mention was new defensive tackle Tommy Kelly.)
It seems like a relatively minor point, but when rookie quarterbacks routinely forget who was in which division (hello, Ryan Tannehill) and players like Johnson forget who suits up for that week’s opponent, it was a sign — no matter how small — that the youngster has an appreciate for the challenge that lies ahead.
Smith — who was taken 39th overall this past spring by the Jets — said the New England defense is more than just a collection of individuals.
“They’re a very well coached defense,” Smith said. “They obviously present mismatches for anybody, so it’s going to be tough for us. We just have to continue to stay smart.”
Read the rest of this entry »
|Pete Prisco on D&C: Tim Tebow ‘just not good enough to play in the National Football League’||08.22.13 at 11:04 am ET|
Pete Prisco checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning, and the CBS.com senior NFL writer didn’t hold back when it comes to expressing his dramatic views on Tim Tebow and the Patriots’ AFC East rivals.
Tebow, as Prisco sees it, doesn’t have an NFL future, nor did he ever. The only reason he’s still in Patriots camp is because Bill Belichick is stubborn and is still trying to prove everyone wrong.
“He is what he is,” Prisco said of Tebow.
“He’s just not good enough to play in the National Football League, and if his name was anything other than Tim Tebow, the New England Patriots would have cut him by now. How can the Patriots look at that skill set and think he should be a quarterback in the National Football League? OK, let’s talk about other the positions. What else can he do? He can’t do anything else. The bottom line is he needs to be let go, he needs to get on with his life’s work, let the end come.”
Fortunately for the Patriots, their season doesn’t exactly hinge on Tebow’s fate. Prisco said he expects Tom Brady and the offense to be just fine this season, despite the losses of Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez, plus Rob Gronkowski’s pending health situation.
Prisco went as far to say the combo of Brady and Danny Amendola would be even more productive than the Peyton Manning-Welker duo in Denever, if only because Brady has fewer receiving weapons.
“Last year, even with Gronkowski and Hernandez, when you watched them play and they put up big numbers, they were a slow team,” Prisco said of the Pats offense. “They were a slow offense. I think this year you’re going to see a faster offense, so from that standpoint there’s going to be some change, some adjustment, but it’s Tom Brady. Brady will make those younger guys be better football players.”
|2013 NFL Power Rankings: Pre-draft edition||04.24.13 at 10:34 am ET|
It’s that rare time of year when the 32 NFL teams are graded by what they’ve done off the field just as much as what they’ve done on it. The last time we watched football, the Ravens were crowned Super Bowl champs. Since then, the champs have lost six starters on defense and their best pass-catching weapon. The Ray Lewis-less Ravens are at No. 7.
Once the joke of the NFL, the NFC West looks to be the preeminent division in the league. The Niners take the cake at No. 1, and the upgraded Seahawks, third in our rankings, will be a formidable opponent for the defending NFC champs.
The Patriots enter the draft in need of another receiver and a pass-rusher. The departure of Wes Welker has Tom Brady and company down to No. 4.
1. 49ers (11-4-1) — I’d like to hear an argument against the Niners being ranked the No. 1 team. They have a ferocious defense and an offense improved by the reliable Anquan Boldin. Right now San Francisco looks like the team to beat in 2013. (Pick 31 in Round 1 of the draft)
2. Broncos (13-3) — Barring injury to Peyton Manning, the Broncos have the AFC West wrapped up. The addition of Welker will make Denver’s offense even more unstoppable. Is there a better receiving tandem in the league than Demaryius Thomas and Welker? (28)
3. Seahawks (11-5) — After the year Seattle had followed by the offseason improvement, I’d expect nothing less than an NFC championship bid. Like many of the top teams in the NFL, Seattle is strong at defense. The D got even stronger with the addition of Cliff Avril. The Seahawks also strengthened one of their biggest weaknesses by adding Percy Harvin at receiver.
4. Patriots (12-4) — Danny Amendola replacing Welker is not an upgrade. The former Rams receiver may be younger and faster, but Welker offered consistency. He stayed on the field and worked well with Brady and the offense. There will be an adjustment period. The Patriots will go into the season with three talented receiving weapons (Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Amendola), but all three are injury-prone. (29)
5. Packers (11-5) — Injuries plagued the offensive line last season. More depth on the line is important, especially with the Packers in a division where they have to playing against pass-rushers like Ndamukong Suh, Jared Allen and Julius Peppers. (26)
|WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 16: Niners, Broncos pull ahead of Patriots||12.18.12 at 10:42 am ET|
For the second straight week, the No. 1 team has been dethroned in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. After falling to the Niners at home, the Patriots drop to No. 3 while San Francisco leaps to the top of the class. Nine straight wins has propelled the Broncos all the way to the No. 2 spot, and the red-hot Seahawks fly jump to No. 7.
The Giants (8), Ravens (9) and Steelers (15) all plummet as those three teams are a combined 2-7 in the month of December. With just two games to go, many teams are fighting for their playoff lives. The NFC race will be fascinating as six teams — Giants, Redskins (10), Bears (11) Cowboys (12), Seahawks and Vikings (16) — fight for three remaining spots.
As usual, the Jaguars (32), Chiefs (31), Raiders (30) and Eagles (29) remain the bottom feeders of the NFL.
1. (2) 49ers (10-3-1) — Yes, the Niners blew a 28-point lead, but they also went into Gillette Stadium and beat the red-hot Patriots in December. It was very impressive that they were able to keep their composure after losing the lead. In the end, the best defense in the league beat the best offense.
2. (3) Broncos (11-3) — With games against two of the worst teams in the league remaining, the Broncos should wrap up the regular season and go into the playoffs with a first-round bye and 11 consecutive wins.
3. (1) Patriots (10-4) — The road to the Super Bowl got a little tougher, but the Patriots have Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. No team in the AFC will want to play New England once the playoffs begin. Putting up 31 points in a half against the best defense in the league without Rob Gronkowski is pretty impressive.
4. (4) Texans (12-2) — The number of big plays the Houston defense has allowed over the past few weeks has to be concerning to defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. The Texans have given up a 30-plus, an 80-plus, and three 60-plus-yard touchdown passes in their last five games.
5. (5) Falcons (12-2) — As the playoffs draw near, the Falcons made their best case on Sunday for why teams should be afraid to play them this postseason. This is a mentally tough, resilient and well-rounded football team.
6. (6) Packers (10-4) — Packers fans are optimistic their team will make another deep postseason run. Green Bay has won eight of its last nine, has wrapped up the NFC North, and is getting healthy at the right time.
7. (9) Seahawks (9-5) — Since November, the Seahawks have scored 210 points and are averaging 35 points per game. Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch have developed into one of the best quarterback-running back tandems in the league.
8. (7) Giants (8-6) — The inconsistent play at the end of the regular season has to catch up to them eventually, right? It’s hard to count the Giants out after what they did in ’07 and ’11, but they have put themselves in a very dangerous position with just two games to go.
9. (8) Ravens (9-5) — The Ravens need to find a way to stop the negative momentum that has built up in December. The best way to do that is for Joe Flacco to focus on protecting the football. Flacco has turned the ball over six times this month with three interceptions and three fumbles.
10. (13) Redskins (8-6) — It’s amazing how this team has gone from out of playoff contention to first place in the NFC East. The Redskins control their destiny — two more wins and they can call themselves division champs for the first time since 1999.
11. (10) Bears (8-6) — What good is Jay Cutler if he can’t beat the Packers? The Bears QB is 1-6 against Green Bay since joining the NFC North. It’s hard to imagine that a team that started the season 7-1 could miss the playoffs. Chicago controlled the division for most of the season but lost both of its games to Green Bay this year.
|WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 14: Patriots continue to climb||12.04.12 at 11:30 am ET|
Divisions are beginning to be won and playoff berths are beginning to be clinched as we approach Week 14 and the final stretch of the 2012 NFL regular season. The Texans (1), Falcons (2), Patriots (3) and Broncos (5) have guaranteed themselves a shot at the Vince Lombardi trophy, while others still have something to play for down the stretch.
Ten teams in last week’s top 15 played each other in Week 13, causing a shakeup in this week’s rankings. The Ravens were bounced out of the top five after losing to the Steelers, and the Saints drop to No. 16 after losing their second straight game. New Orleans most likely will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Many teams with high expectations before the season have sunk to the gutter of the Power Rankings. The Chargers (25), Panthers (28) and Eagles (29) haven’t lived up to the talent and potential they have on their rosters.
1. (1) Texans (11-1) — The balance on both sides of the ball is the main reason the Texans have been so successful. No defense is better on third down, while the offensive rushing attack is one of the most lethal in the game. That combination has put the Texans at the very top of league in average time of possession.
2. (2) Falcons (11-1) — The victory over the Saints not only gave the Falcons their 11th win, but it also gave Matt Ryan and company tremendous confidence going forward. The quarterback went into Thursday night’s game with a career 2-6 record against New Orleans. The victory all but knocked the Saints out of playoff contention while bolstering belief that this is Atlanta’s year.
3. (4) Patriots (9-3) — The next two weeks will tell us a lot about how good this Patriots team really is. The Pats have rattled off wins against inferior opponents, now Tom Brady and the high-octane offense will face two of the best teams in the NFL. The defense has shown improvement while continuing to force turnovers. That’s a great sign for New England fans.
4. (3) 49ers (8-3-1) — By relegating Alex Smith to holding a clipboard, Jim Harbaugh opened himself up to criticism. Much of the blame for Sunday’s loss to the Rams has to go to Harbaugh. Quarterback controversy of any kind is harmful to a team, and Harbaugh is solely responsible. Deciding to go with Colin Kaepernick is one thing, but failing to clearly name a starter is a whole different problem. Announcing that the team is going with the “hot hand” only creates instability and insecurity in the locker room. The coach needs to pick Kaepernick or Smith and stick with his decision the rest of the way. December is not the time to start messing around.
5. (6) Broncos (9-3) — The Broncos haven’t loss since October and mostly likely will extend their winning streak to eight games Thursday after playing the Raiders. Denver leads the league in second-half scoring with an average of 19.3 points per game.
- The New England Patriots now control their destiny in the AFC playoff...
- 2013 Week 14 Patriots Power Rankings
- New England Patriots Links 12/12/13 - Jamie Collins Growing into...
- Coping With Loss: the Rob Gronkowski Edition
- New England Patriots Links 12/11/13 - Can Mental Toughness Overcome...
- No Lead, No Problem
- Patriots vs. Browns: By the Numbers