Friday, September 19, 2014

Patriots return to Foxboro for home opener vs. Raiders

The New England Patriots (1-1) open their home schedule this Sunday against the Oakland Raiders (0-2). The Patriots are coming off a 30-7 win over the Vikings dominated by special teams and defense. Meanwhile the Raiders are coming off a 30-14 loss to the Houston Texans.

The Patriots have struggled on offense despite scoring 27 and 30 points respectively in both of their games this season. The offensive line play has been inconsistent resulting in Brady and the rest of the offense lacking any kind of flow or rhythm. Brady has relied heavily on Julian Edelman as other receivers have struggled to get open. Someone else will need to step up with Edelman likely drawing double coverage from opposing defenses.

Newcomer Brandon LaFell has yet to record a catch as a Patriot and could have a break out performance this week. LaFell has been in on a lot of running plays for the Patriots as a blocker and could be a primary target on play-action plays this week. The Raiders rank dead last in the NFL against the run giving up 400 yards and  5.0 yards/carry through two games so expect the Patriots to pound the ball with Steven Ridley and Shane Vereen to open up things for the rest of the offense.

Rookie quarterbacks have struggled historically against Bill Belichick and that trend should continue Sunday. Derek Carr has looked all the mold of a game manager for Oakland. He has completed 63% of his passes but for a measly 5.6 yards/completion average. Carr does have some athletic ability and can make plays with his legs by keeping plays alive or rushing. Expect the Patriots to contain him and collapse the pocket forcing the rookie quarterback to make throws under pressure into an upgraded Patriots secondary that already has 5 interceptions this year.

Players to Watch: As already stated, Brandon LaFell should finally get on the board for the Patriots this week because of the attention given to Edelman and the running game. Another player to watch is James White. White has been inactive for the first two games, but could see action Sunday as the Patriots will want a variety of backs to exploit the Raiders defense. It should be noted that in 2011 it was against the Raiders that Stevan Ridley got his quality touches as a rookie, tallying 97 yards on 10 attempts including a 33 yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Don't be surprised if White gets a similar opportunity later in this game to showcase his talents as both a runner and pass catcher.

Prediction: The Patriots are nearly unbeatable in Foxboro. They have gone 37-3 at home over the past 5 seasons. The Raiders meanwhile have not won a game on the east coast since beating Pittsburgh 27-24 on December 6, 2009. The Patriots will run all over the Raiders en rout to a convincing win.

Final: Patriots 33 - Raiders 13

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Jermichael Finley now in mix for TE spot

Jermichael Finley visited with the Patriots this past Friday (5/30) and the team is rumored to be a front runner to land the former Packers tight end. 

Finley suffered a bruised spinal cord last season and would join a long list of current Patriots attempting to return to action after serious injury. Notably fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski who is recovering from an ACL/MCL injury. Both suffered their season ending injuries against the Browns, oddly enough.

If healthy, a Gronk-Finley pairing would be explosive. However there is still no word on a timetable for either of their returns.

The Patriots are also interested in former Jets tight end, Dustin Keller. Keller as well is coming of a knee injury in which he missed the entire 2013 season.

These are the options left now for the Patriots after passing on drafting an impact tight end in the draft. Opting instead to sign rookie free agents and pick off the waiver pile. 

By no means is the Patriots roster set and it will continue to evolve and change even through September. I do expect the team to pick up either Keller or Finley but don't be surprised if they also end up landing another player at the end of camp. The Patriots are notorious for snagging guys off the waiver wire who get cut as cap casualties during the final round of cuts before the start of the season.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Reche "Wide-Eyes" Caldwell arrested for selling Ectsasy

Reche Caldwell is famous in New England for two things.

These hellacious drops in the AFC Chamionship game

And...This look

Now Caldwell is making this face...

That is the Mugshot taken of Reche after he was busted last night for selling Ecstasy. It is the second run-in with the law this year for the former Patriot. Maybe now we know why his eyes were always so wide!

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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Su'a-Filo fit to be a Patriot

I have stated before that the Patriots will target an offensive lineman high in this years draft. Specifically they would target a Guard both to provide depth and security with age becoming a factor at the position. I believe that if he is available the Patriots should and will draft UCLA Guard Xavier Su'a-Filo.

Xavier Su'a-Filo will enter the 2014 NFL Draft tonight as one of it's biggest wild-cards. He is a player that could crack the top 10, or fall  into the middle of the second round. Everyone has scouted him differently. 

Su'a-Filo played both Guard and Tackle at UCLA. He expressed that he prefers playing Guard but is easily capable of playing both positions at the NFL level.

Su'a-Filo is exactly the kind of player the Patriots are looking for. The Patriots value versatility and have always drafted players along the offensive line with the ability to play multiple positions. Every current starter for the Patriots along the O-line has started games at multiple positions during their tenure in New England.

If you watch any of his pre-draft interviews he even sounds the part of a Patriot already in the way he carries and conducts himself. He even has spoke at length how his favorite player is none other than Logan Mankins.

Drafting at 29 overall in the first round is tricky. Most of the high-end blue chip talent is long gone and often we have seen the team trade back to pick up more picks in the middle of the draft.

Su'a-Filo however is a player that should be available right when the Patriots pick in the late first but would not be available when the Patriots pick again in the second round.

The Patriots do not care about making flashy picks. They make smart picks both in terms of value and need. In 2005 no one expected the team to take Logan Mankins. The pick left most people scratching their heads. Similarly to when they drafted Nate Solder in 2011 but both have turned into tremendous players for this team.

With Mankins aging and Connelly's contract ballooning drafting another Guard seems like a no-brainer. Protecting Tom Brady is always the highest priority for this team and picking up a player like Su'a-Filo at 29 overall would be a smart move for the Patriots.

The Draft begins tonight at 8PM.

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