Category Archives: Patriots

Predictions: AFC East

New England Patriots: 11-5
Reason: The Patriots always seem to find a way to be on top the AFC East. I see no reason to bet against the Brady/Belichick duo now. This is especially because the defense projects to be better in 2014.

New York Jets: 10-6
Reason: The Jets had an incredible offseason. Erick Decker and Jace Amaro should significantly help the quarterback, whether it be Geno Smith or Mike Vick. The defense, especially the front 7 should be very good. The Jets went 8-8 last year with awful quarterback play. If they can get average play from under center they can have a 10 win season.

Buffalo Bills: 8-8
Reason: I think the Bills made real strides this offseason at least offensively. I am still not sure I buy into EJ Manuel stock and they have several defensive issues. Kiko Alonso is going to miss the season due to injury. That is a huge blow.

Miami Dolphins: 7-9
Reason: I think everyone in the East but the Dolphins got better this offseason. Miami talked a big game last year-the sexy pick to win the division. I think they still struggle on the offensive line and the defense is not dominant.

AFC East Season Preview

Like the fall turning into winter and winter turning into spring season, it seems like a Patriots division title is a yearly occurrence. Tom Brady and Bill Bellichick rule over the AFC East with no mercy. The team so many love to hate is consistent as the change of seasons. This year we may have the same result but it will be a lot more interesting.

The Patriots will win the division. They had a strong group of free agent signings that will make them stronger defensively. Darelle Revis and Brandon Browner will help the secondary. Will Smith is a very underrated signing that will help the defensive line. Last season New England managed to have a competent defense despite injury after injury. The 2014 Patriots have bigger goals than just competent performance from their defense. Last season Tom Brady showed how remarkable he really is. He led the Pats to an AFC Championship appearance with a pedestrian set of offensive weapons. Much with the Patriots offense is up to Rob Gronkowski staying healthy. When healthy, New England can have a special offense. When he is on the sideline its just good.

The Patriots may have more competition than they’ve had in recent years. The New York Jets hit a home run in free agency and had a remarkable draft. Michael Vick is not a great quarterback, but he gives the offense a sense of legitimacy that Geno Smith couldn’t provide. He also has small flashes of brilliance. Erik Decker is a very good and reliable receiver. The Jets also got a big matchup nightmare tight end of their own, when they drafted Jace Amaro. Amaro and Jeff Cumberland make one of the best tight end duos in the league; expect to see a lot of 12 personnel sets from the Jets. The Jets also signed veteran running back Chris Johnson. They focused heavily on offense this offseason. They went 9-7 last season with abysmal quarterback play. With the major improvements they have made they can possibly be a 10 win team if they just get serviceable play from Michael Vick.

The Dolphins are going to be competitive, but I predict they finish third in the AFC East. Once again the Dolphins were players in free agency. They signed two decent cornerbacks in Cortland Finnegan and Brent Grimes as well as Louis Delmas at free safety. Their biggest splash was getting Brandon Albert to be their left tackle. The Dolphins draft was mainly a head scratcher, but Jarvis Landry will be a productive receiver. They drafted two tackles in Ja’Waun James and Billy Turner and they are expected to start one of them at guard. Miami was an 8-8 team last year and I don’t think much has changed. They will be better on defense but the offense still has some question marks. I still am hesitant to say they’ve addressed their offensive line problems correctly. The Dolphins are in my eyes behind the Patriots and the Jets. With a tough schedule it will be hard for them to make the playoffs.

The Bills got better offensively drafting a superstar in Sammy Watkins. They also added former Buccaneer, Mike Williams. This should help bring along the young EJ Manuel under center. The Bills lost Jairus Byrd in free agency which was a blow to the defense. The moral of the story (long story short) is that Buffalo will be an exciting team to watch but they are not quite there yet.

While we will likely get the same result of a Patriots division title it will be more interesting than usual. The Jets will make a strong push and be in the mix for a wild card spot. It would not be a stretch to see Miami in the hunt as well. It should be a fun 2014 season in the AFC East.

Draft Grades AFC East

New England Patriots: D+

The New England Patriots did not have their typical solid draft. While the Patriots are not afraid to be unconventional, they were actually ineffective. They had a reach in round 1, taking Dominique Easly. Easly was far from the best defensive lineman available. I had a 3rd round grade on Easly in a deep defensive line crop. Then the Patriots drafted Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garappolo. While Brady is getting up there in age, this was a head scratcher. Garappolo impressed at the Senior Bowl, but there are concerns with his ability to make all the throws. New England took Bryon Stork in the fourth round. Stork has short arms, a red flag for centers. The Patriots reached & reached. They can say it was a “future” oriented draft, but it was not good.

Miami Dolphins: D-

The Dolphins wanted to rebuild their offensive line; and they forced it. They drafted two offensive tackles in the first three rounds after signing left tackle Brandon Albert in free agency. The 19th overall pick, Ju’Waun James, was the worst reach of the entire draft, I had him as a 5th round talent. Billy Turner was good value but it was odd to draft another tackle. The Dolphins forced drafting for need, and ended up with very little value. Their one good pick was LSU receiver Jarvis Landry.

Buffalo Bills: C-

The Bills traded next years first and fourth round picks and swapped spots with Cleveland at 4. The trade was too much. They did draft a great player in Sammy Watkins. They then traded veteran Stevie Johnson to San Francisco for a low value of a fourth round pick next year. Taking Cyrus Kuandjio in the second round was unforgivable, especially with Morgan Moses & Billy Turner still on the board. Kuandjio is huge but already has knee problems and has surprisingly little upper body strength for his size. They had a few questionable picks. They grabbed a couple of good picks in Ross Cockrell and Cyril Richardson. They had 3 good selections out of 7.

New York Jets A

While it was surprising they took Calvin Pryor over Clinton-Dix; the Jets got a good safety and the one they preferred.
Jace Amaro in round 2 was a great value and a great pick. Maryland cornerback, Dexter McDoogle was an awesome pick; if it were not for McDoogle’s injury he’d be a first rounder. Jalen Saunders was the only reach with the 104th overall selection. Dakota Dozier was great value in round 4.

Team Needs AFC North, AFC East

Chris Schisler

AFC North
1.) Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens have two major needs. They need a free safety to pair with last years first pick Matt Elam. Baltimore also needs a right tackle. Right tackle is not typically a position drafted. Don’t be surprised if the Ravens try to find the long term solution at wide receiver. With the uncertainty around Ray Rice Baltimore will probably use one of their third round picks on a running back.

2.) Cleveland Browns: The Browns have a good team, they really do. To show the world this they will need a franchise quarterback. They also need a receiver to pair with Josh Gordon. Running back is also a need.

3.) Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers have a handful of needs. They need a free safety and should also look for the aging number 43 as well. The Steelers need a receiver and a cornerback.

4.) Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals biggest need is defensive end. A guy like Kony Ealy would make a lot of sense.

AFC East

1.) New England Patriots: The Patriots need weapons for Tom Brady. I expect them to draft a wide receiver. They could also use help on the defensive line.

2.) Miami Dolphins: I don’t think the dolphins are satisfied at wide receiver. Their biggest need however is help on the offensive line.

3.) New York Jets: With Eric Decker signed in free agency the Jets are less receiver needy. I could still see them drafting one though. I think their biggest need however is cornerback.

4.) Buffalo Bills: The Bills need more explosion offensively. This would be a common sense landing spot for tight end Eric Ebron. The Bills will also look for help at right tackle and in the secondary.

The Endless Debate: Who’s Better Manning or Brady

-Chris Schisler
There is possibly no debate more fun than picking between Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. In many respects it is a pointless argument. Choosing one does not discredit the other; both are top 5 quarterbacks of all time. People are also very decided on this issue. You’re either a Brady guy or a Manning guy, and that’s how you will always see it. This debate is however amongst the most entertaining conversations in football.

Peyton Manning was born to play quarterback. He is the son of beloved Saints quarterback Archie Manning & it did not take Peyton long to steal the spotlight. The Manning name is royalty in the game of football.Manning went to Tennessee to play his college football for the Volunteers. It was clear from the beginning that Manning was a special talent. In 1998 the Indianapolis Colts drafted him number 1 overall. Manning was supposed to be great and he managed to be even greater than expected.

Tom Brady was a 6th round draft pick. At Michigan he was part of a two quarterback system. No one knew he would be an all-time great. Anyone who says they did is a liar. But when Drew Bledsoe went down with an injury in the 2001 season, the Patriots had no choice but start Tom Brady. Behind a great New England team he won his first Super Bowl that season.

At this point, America was in love with Tom Brady. He was the tough underdog that everyone could root for. Out of practically nowhere he became one of the league’s biggest superstars.Brady would continue to have a tremendous amount of success. He won another 2 Super Bowls and his first 10 playoff games. Brady has made the Patriots a contender every season (except for 2008 when he was injured). On top of it all he married supermodel, Gisele Bundchen.The same person who was thought of as a tough hard working diamond in the rough now fights a troubling public image. Many people can’t relate to Brady and most of these people cone off as jealous.

There is a perception that Brady is a whiner and he is often called a pretty-boy diva. Some of Brady’s critics have a point but what man would not trade lives with Tom Brady for a day?

If you make it a popularity contest, Manning would likely win. Manning comes off as a cerebral student of the game. He comes off as funny and human. In short people can relate to Manning in a way they can’t with Brady. In actuality both quarterbacks are very cerebral and are great students of the game. Both quarterbacks are revered by their teammates and are hard workers. Manning and Brady are both extremely competitive.

These players are two of the last “Old School” pocket passers in the game of football. Mechanically however they are very different. Manning is more athletic. He will never look to run but he can roll out and keep plays alive with extraordinary footwork. He used to kill with the play-action pass game built off the stretch run play. Brady is more of a stationary passer.

Blitzing either quarterback is often a mistake. They both have one of the quickest releases I have ever seen. As masters of their craft Brady and Manning beat you before the snap of the football.Tom Brady has the better arm strength. I think there is nobody that steps into their throws quite like Tom Brady.

In a perfect world we would appreciate them as equals. Just about every strength that Manning has Brady has too. How do we break down who is better? Results have got to go into the equation.

Tom Brady has 3 Super Bowl rings and has played in 5 Super Bowls. His playoff record is 18-7. No quarterback has won more games in the postseason. The translation of these numbers is that Brady has given the Patriots a chance to win the Super Bowl almost every season. Peyton Manning has been in 2 Super Bowls and has only won 1 of them. His playoff record is 10-11. Manning has struggled in many seasons to get out of the divisional round. Throughout his career he has been miraculous in the regular season and his teams often enter the divisional round off a bye while having home-field advantage. The results show Tom Brady as the better playoff quarterback.

Football is a team sport and it takes a team to win. There is no position that has a greater impact on the game then that of quarterback. Great quarterbacks give their team a better chance to win the game. Playoff results are as valid as any measure when comparing all time great quarterbacks.

A common argument is that Tom Brady has had better teams, and that is why he has more Super Bowls. While it is true he had better defenses on his side; one could argue he has had less talent around him offensively. Think about it. Peyton had Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, and Dallas Clark in Indianapolis. Brady had Troy Brown and Deion Branch and David Patten.

When Brady finally had a true dominant receiver in Randy Moss, he broke the single season touchdown record. Manning broke that record with the league’s most talented receiving core. Demaryous Thomas, Wes Welker and Erik Decker all are great in their roles. Julius Thomas is a matchup nightmare at tight end.

Brady has had championship defense but usually did not have as much talent to work with offensively. Plus it’s been a few years since the Bellicheck defense lived up to its reputation. Has Brady always had better teams? Either way he has won more than Manning.

The debate could go on forever and believe me it will. In the interest of full disclosure I will tell you that I’m a Brady guy. I always have been a Brady guy and always will be. No matter who you choose, these are two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

Brady vs. Manning: AFC Championship Edition

Brady vs. Manning: AFC Championship Edition

Chris Schisler

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have been this era’s greatest quarterbacks. For nearly two decades they have been the best players of the most important position in football. One of the NFL’s best rivalries developed between the two future hall of famers and when their teams clash the stakes are high and so are the television ratings. Next Sunday Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos will host Tom Brady’s New England Patriots for the right to represent the AFC in Super Bowl XVIII.

This will be the third straight AFC Championship the Patriots have played in. This however will be the first of the three championship games the Patriots will play on the road. The Patriots are coming off a dominant performance against the Indianapolis Colts; the Denver Broncos are coming off a 24-17 victory against their AFC rival the San Diego Chargers. This battle of the top two quarterbacks is also a battle of the AFC’s top two seeds.

The New England Patriots will come into the championship fight with confidence as it was just a couple of months ago when they beat the Broncos in overtime 34-31. The Denver Broncos looked to be on their way to a blowout. The Broncos built a commanding 24-0 lead with the help of three Patriots turnovers in the first quarter. Tom Brady led one of the best comebacks of the season with 344 passing yards and 3 touchdowns. The Patriots scored 21 consecutive points in the third quarter. It was a costly blunder by the Broncos punt return unit that set up the Patriots game winning field goal in overtime.

Much has changed for the Patriots since their dramatic home victory against the Broncos. In that game they relied heavily on Rob Gronkowski who had 7 receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown. Gronkowski has since been sidelined with an injury. The Patriots lost their one superstar on offense not named Brady. Brady has relied heavily on a powerful run game. Julian Eddleman has emerged as Brady’s go to option in the passing attack. With an injured Aaron Dobson the Patriots have needed production from Danny Amendola and rookie Kenbrell Thompkins. Brady arguably has less talent around him this season than he ever has in his career. The Patriots defense has also suffered a bevy of injuries including the loss of Vince Wilfork’s dominating presence on the defensive line. In a season with a “Next man up” mentality, Tom Brady has been the one constant for New England. It can be argued that this is Brady’s finest season. The statistics will not awe you but Tom Brady continues to find ways to win, with one of the least loaded rosters the Patriots have had since Brady’s arrival as the starter.

The Denver Broncos are loaded with talent and boast the highest scoring offense in the league’s history. Peyton Manning had one of the greatest seasons a quarterback has ever had and he shattered records. Tom Brady’s touchdown record is one of these records Manning has bested. Peyton Manning has been red hot from the beginning. In the opener against the defending champion Ravens he threw for 7 touchdowns; he scored 55 touchdown passes in the regular season. Manning is the conductor of one of the most talented offenses anyone has ever seen. With Demaryous Thomas, Erick Decker and Wes Welker the Broncos have the best receiving core in the NFL. Julius Thomas has emerged as one of the league’s most dangerous tight ends and the running game has been productive. There is literally nothing this offense does not do well.

With his rival coming to town there has never been more pressure on Peyton Manning, who has a playoff record of 10-11. Manning always has success in the regular season but that success has rarely translated to the postseason. His only Super Bowl ring came in 2006; a year the Colts came from way behind to beat Brady’s Patriots in the AFC championship game. The legacy of Peyton Manning too many is a great regular season quarterback who comes up short in the playoffs.

There is also plenty of pressure on Tom Brady. With a less talented arsenal of playmakers he has to win a shootout with “The Sheriff”. Brady won 3 Super Bowls early in his career but he has not won a Super Bowl since 2004. He has lost in two appearances in the big game since then. Brady’s legacy is still being determined and losing a second AFC title game to Manning would not help it.

This is a heavy weight title match that figures to be everything America expects it to be. It will be a high scoring affair where Tom Brady and Peyton Manning go punch for punch. Neither defense is dominant while both quarterbacks are living legends. It is simple math. This championship game will be awfully entertaining, no matter who wins.

Playoff Preview: Colts vs Patriots

By Chris Schisler

The Indianapolis Colts head to Gillette Stadium to face the New England Patriots in maybe the most intriguing game of the divisional round. Andrew Luck, fresh off the second largest comeback in NFL history, must be flawless to win this road playoff game. Luck’s counterpart is New England Quarterback Tom Brady who has played in 5 Super Bowls and won 3 of them.

The quarterbacks are what make this game so compelling. In an age of mobile quarterbacks who like to run the football, Luck and Brady are traditional pocket passers. Brady is a living legend, Luck may be one by the time his career is over.

The two quarterbacks are strikingly similar despite the significant age difference. They are both highly cerebral field generals. They both have great arms and great mechanics. Both the Patriots and the Colts believe their quarterback will come through at the end of a tough game with heroics.

This is a match up of two good teams but let’s be honest this is a match up is highlighted by the quarterbacks. The game will be decided by the play of Tom Brady and Andrew Luck.

The Patriots have young unproven weapons at Tom Brady’s disposal. The defense is not bad but is far from special. Without Tom Brady the Patriots would not be much of a team.

The Indianapolis Colts offense is growing up with Andrew Luck. Without the talents of the veteran receiver Reggie Wayne the offense is incredibly young. Second year players T.Y. Hilton and Coby Fleener have been Luck’s most dependable targets. Hilton is the unquestioned star of the receiving core.

The Colts rely on the undrafted free agent DaRick Rogers and the inconsistent Darrius Heyward Bay to produce for the offense. In the backfield Luck has a solid back behind him in Donald Brown. Brown’s back up is the disappointment that is Trent Richardson. The offensive line is at times shaky. The Colts are led by their stellar second year quarterback.

The Colts are probably the better team, but it is hard to pick against the Patriots. The Colts have a tendency to lay an egg. They were blown out by teams such as the Rams and Cardinals. They were down 28 points to the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Colts are also the team that beat the Seahawks and the Broncos ( The #1 seeds in the AFC). You never really know which Colts team will show up.

The Patriots defense will likely key in on stopping T.Y. Hilton. The run game is a real problem for the Patriots defense, however rushing is not the Colts M.O.

The question is can the Patriots put pressure on Andrew Luck; and can Luck avoid costly turnovers? The Patriots defense is far from it’s day of glory in the early 2000’s but it is opportunistic. When the bad Colts show up interceptions have been a huge problem.

The Patriots offense is heavily reliant on production from their running backs. The Colts defense is usually strong against the run. If the Colts can stop the run it could be a long day for Tom Brady.

The pass rush of the Colts, led by their leader Robert Mathis, is really impressive. When the Colts pass rush does not get there however it will give up big plays in the secondary.

This is an intriguing match up. The Colts are well suited to win but they will have to play their absolute best. The Patriots are tough to beat at home. At the end of the day it comes down to the quarterbacks. It may come down to who has the last possession. I know one thing for certain; this will be a highly entertaining game.

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