Ranking Patriots Super Bowl Teams


Charles Curtis for USA Today:

7.  2003 (against Carolina Panthers)
“they just barely eked out a Super Bowl win over Jake Delhomme (he had a pretty great game, to be fair) and the Carolina Panthers.”

6.  2001 (against St. Louis)
“The first team of the dynasty obviously sits toward the bottom because Brady was a rookie pushed into action when Drew Bledsoe went down.

5.  2011 (Giants)
“Another team that caught fire at the end of the season, only to run into the New York Giantsfor a second time in the Super Bowl. But the defense was just average, finishing 15th in points allowed that year.”

4.  2016 (Falcons)
“Are they really that good or is the competition weak? That explains why they’re smack dab in the middle of this list.”

3.  2014 (Seahawks)
“…Yes, they were one play away from losing the Super Bowl. But it’s hard to argue with a defense that could do it all”

2.  2004 (Eagles)
“When I think of the Patriots dynasty, this is the team I’ll think of.”

1.  2007 (Giants)
“If the 16-0 Pats hadn’t run into the Giants’ pass rush and the Helmet Catch, this squad would be in the conversation for greatest team in NFL history.”

Going back over these Super Bowls you realize that the Patriots have never won an “easy” Super Bowl.  All of these Super Bowls were games late into the 4th quarter, being decided by 4 points or less.  The endings of the last 3 Super Bowls were some of the best Super Bowl finishes, in terms of excitement.  All three had unbelievable catches in do or die situations against the Patriots.  Luckily for the Patriots, Pete Carroll refused to use Marshawn Lynch and Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson.  This has been an amazing run for Belichick and Brady and they have given us great games, lets hope that Sunday is no different.

Carolina Panthers: Where it went wrong

Projections

After posting a 15-1 win season in 2015, the Carolina Panthers were predicted to go 13-3 or 12-4 in preseason predictions.  They didn’t.  They fell short of preseason predictions and was analysts biggest miss. Where did it all go wrong?

David Newton for ESPN wrote:

The foundation that helped Carolina to an NFL-best 17-2 record (including playoffs) and a trip to the Super Bowl in 2015 for the most part remains intact. Blame an inexperienced secondary with three new starters, catastrophic injuries on the offensive line and inconsistent play by reigning NFL MVP Cam Newton for the huge step backward this past season. Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly’s absence in the final six games after suffering a concussion didn’t help either.

Offense

Their offense was all over the place.  One week they scored 46 points then the next week they scored 10.  They scored 25 points or more 7x and 16 points or fewer 6x’s.  Last year those numbers were completely different.  They scored 25 points or more 13x’s and under 16 points only once, which was the Super Bowl.  Without drastic changes to personnel, I would still say their transformation was more substantial than Bruce to Caitlyn Jenner’s.  Cam Newton, the offensive line, and losing Greg Norman headlined their decline.

Cam Newton

If Cam Newton was Superman last year, then consider him Robin’s sidekick after this year, his stats were pedestrian and his inconsistency showed up in the win column.

He had career lows in completion %, average yards per completion, QBR, and rating. He ranked last in the league in completion %, below Brock Osweiler and Fitzpatrick.  His touchdowns dropped from 35 to 19, and he threw more interceptions than any other year since his rookie season.  Besides a poor offensive line, what’s the problem?

Personally, I think what happened to Newton this year is the same thing that happened to Rocky III.  Rocky was pounded by Clubber Lang because he lost his eye of the tiger.  Cam was too well fed and lost his hunger.  He spent more time complaining about refs not calling hits on him and less time preparing and focusing on how to make plays.

Cam also complained that football wasn’t fun anymore.  Football isn’t fun?  That to me, explains his mental makeup.  He loves game day and being a superstar.  When the going gets tough Cam complains.  He needs to learn to enjoy the grind and be consistent.  Which is sad because has the Lebron James body of the NFL and this year he played like Dellavedova.

Offensive Line

Michael Oher, the only offensive lineman your wife might know, Ryan Kalil and Gino Gradkowski all were injured in the year.  These losses were too much and they weren’t able to protect Cam which helped result in Cam’s poor year.

Defensive Backs

David Newton for ESPN wrote:

2016 grade: D-plus. I debated going with a C-minus here because rookie corners James Bradberry and Daryl Worley showed marked improvement in the second half of the season. But it’s hard to ignore that starter Bene’ Benwikere was released after a Week 4 loss to Atlanta in which Julio Jones had 300 yards receiving. It’s hard to ignore that the corners played a major role in a 1-5 start from which the Panthers never fully recovered. It’s also hard to ignore the Panthers still ranked 28th in pass defense a year after ranking 11th in 2015 with Norman.

This says it all.

The Panthers were unable to build upon the success of 2015.  If Cam can humble himself, get back to work, and revive his career like the Italian Stallion, they can return to prominence.  Cam has all the tools, lets just see if he has the discipline.

Preseason Predictions: Who saw it and who didn’t?

Every year after surviving months between the NFL draft and the first NFL game, websites everywhere make their preseason predictions.  Some people enjoy picking teams that have no business being there, for shock value, ie the Jaguars.  They back it up with stats, offseason acquisitions, coaches, and draft picks.  I like to review some of these predictions the week of down time before the Super Bowl.

Researching these preseason predictions, my biggest takeaway is that 75% were pretty spot on this year.  Everyone seemed to miss the same things.  The biggest misses were the Panthers and Cardinals taking a nose dive this year.  Most had those teams competing for a Super Bowl.  Many had the Colts followed by the Texans in the AFC South.  The biggest omission was the Falcons and Matt Ryan.  Matt Ryan wasn’t on anyone’s MVP list and the Falcons were pegged to be awful this year.

Plenty predicted the Cowboys good fortune  and  were accurate about the Raiders playoff birth.  Read on to see those who picked the Jets to make the playoffs.

CBS Sports

5 out of 7 CBS predictors predicted the Falcons to take last in the NFC South.
Only 1 of 7 predicted the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
All 7 of them had the Panthers as NFC South division winners
5 of the 7 had the Broncos as third in the AFC West.
1 had the Jets in the Playoffs.

ESPN

First Take

Max Kellerman and Stephen A. Smith did not Pick Falcons for playoffs
Stephen A. Smith picked the New York Jets to make the playoffs.

Commentators

0/43 Predicted Matt Ryan to win MVP
3 out of 43 picked Tom Brady for the MVP
0/43 picked Falcons as NFC Champ
17/43 picked the Patriots to play in the Super Bowl
6/43 picked Patriots as Super Bowl Champion

FS1

Colin Cowherd
Had Texans last in AFC south
*Guaranteed Andrew Luck will be an MVP Candidate
Had Falcons last in NFC South
Had Jets in playoffs
Predicted demise of Bengals
*Link

Skip Bayless

*Watch out for the Bears
*Did Pick Cowboys to win NFC East, 10-6 conservative
**Picked Chargers to win AFC West

*1st Video **2nd Video

 

 

 

Brees 5:4 Blessed are they that Mourn

At Brees 2014-206 Grave
Mourn with those that mourn

Brees Chapter 5 verse 4  says,

“Blessed is he that puts up 5,000 yards in vain, he shall get nothing.”

Can we all take a moment for Drew Brees?  He continues to be a top quarterback in this league, but his team is awful.  It would be like if Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was stuck on The Power Rangers.  He has been so consistently good, we see his 5,000 yards and we collectively sigh, “meh”, it’s Brees.  Like he is some how given 5000 yards every season by the football gods and it should go without note.  I say we take the time to look at his season compared to the odds on favorite for MVP.

Drew Brees vs. Matt Ryan

Take a look at Drew Bree’s numbers and compare them to MVP favorite Matt Ryan’s and you won’t see a stark difference.  People are heralding Matt Ryan’s season epic.  So, let’s compare the two.  Touchdowns?  Matt Ryan threw for 38 and Drew Brees threw for 37.  Yards?  Drew Brees threw for 5,208 averaging 314 yards per game.  Matt Ryan threw for 4,944 averaging 7.7 yards.  Sacks?  Matt Ryan was sacked 37 times and Drew Brees only 27.  Interceptions?  Matt Ryan threw for 7 interceptions with a int% 1.3, while Brees threw for 15 with a int% of 2.2.  Their ratings were 117.1 to 101.7 for Matt Ryan.  It should be noted, Drew Brees was the whole team.

Their numbers aren’t that different, but their seasons were the difference between The Godfather and Mickey Blue Eyes.  Brees went 7-9 while Matt Ryan finished 11-5 on his way to his first Super Bowl.  The Saints have good coaching, a top quarterback, consistency in the organization, and still can’t put together a winning season. They are 31st in the league in points allowed per game.  Not even Brady could drag his team in the post season with that defense.  (He really would though, but then again he is the g.o.a.t for a reason)

Something needs to change, or Brees needs to get out of town and go  to a team in contention that lacks a quarterback.  This leads us to the Texans, the Broncos, or even the Chiefs.  Those teams need a quarterback and Brees would make them contenders immediately.  I am sure contractually it isn’t an option, but the NFL would be better off if that happened.  Seeing, Brock Osweiler, Alex Smith’s 16 points and Matt Moore in the playoffs isn’t good for anyone.

Brees last 3 years have been wasted on a terrible team.  I feel for the aging statistician.  He deserves more than a defense built like the French.  So take a moment and mourn Brees last 3 seasons today before we completely lock onto the Super Bowl.

Prediction: Belichick and Patriots will lock up Bell

Comic: Patriots' Bill Belichick lock up Le'Veon Bell

The Patriots will invite the Steelers into Foxboro on Sunday and send them home packing up and they can Facebook live their way home on a cold long flight back to where they come from.  That is what happens to teams in the playoffs at Foxboro and this year will be no different.  Here’s why.

Lock Bell Up

Lock him up!  Belichick has had the Patriots do this for years.  He takes your best asset and locks them up and makes them effectively useless.  That is what happened when the Patriots played the Steelers earlier in the year.  Le’veon Bell had 21 carries for only 81 yards.  If Bell has a similar performance the Patriots will win this game and be headed to their 7th Super Bowl.

Dion Lewis

Dion Lewis is another reason that the Patriots will win Sunday.   He is 15-0 in games that he has played in.  He has always been a duel threat and after returning a kickoff for a touchdown last Sunday, he is now a triple threat.  Lewis’s explosiveness will help them recover from what they lost when Gronkowski was hurt.  The Patriots haven’t used him a ton and I feel like they have been waiting for the right time and not show their hand too early.  Last week was his coming out party and this week watch Pittsburgh try and contain him.

The Flu

Pittsburgh’s first match this week was the flu, which won’t help them on Sunday. Add this ontop of having to go on the road, Antonio Brown’s Facebook live distraction, going up against Bill Belichick, who has had more time to prepare than you, and facing the greatest Quarterback of all time.  This is too much for an undisciplined Steelers team.  They had a good run and a good season after a mediocre start.

NFL Playoff Weekend Recap, and what I learned

I missed big on this playoff prediction

Rodgers torches Cowboys in Playoffs

This weekend we finally had some exciting playoff football games.  They didn’t come until Sunday, but both games came down to the end.  The above comics were my playoff predictions heading into the weekend, along, with Brady’s beat down of the Texans, which was far from Nostradamic.  So I  picked 2 out of the 3 games correctly.

Seattle

It is time to admit that Earl Thomas was key to Seattle’s defense.   The Seattle defense showed signs of decay after his injury and showed up against good offenses.  They gave up too many points against elite offenses and 20 points wasn’t going to beat the Falcons.

I have been stubborn to relegate the Seahawks from a great team to a good team, but not being able to flip the switch in the post season, consider them relegated.  Their offense can’t score enough and their defense now doesn’t keep them in games when the offense struggles.

Packers

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers look unbeatable.  The last throw to put them in field goal range was incredible.  The story goes that he drew that play up on the spot and just told each receiver what to do, grade school style.  All-time quarterbacks need all time stories.  Rodgers recent success with Hail Mary’s and making up a game saving plays on the spot are all time stories.  If he finishes this year off with a Super Bowl ring, he wil be added to the top tier of all-time quarterbacks.

Kansas City

Kansas City tastes playoff disappointment again.  A different season and we have the same story.  Holding the Steelers to just 18 points going against Roethlisberger, Brown, and Bell, is quite an accomplishment, only to have your offense  muster 16 points.  The Chiefs are consistently good, but never great as they exit the playoffs again.  Alex Smith is good, but not quite good enough.

 

 

The Inevitable

John Breech describes the Patriots inevitably of going to the AFC Championship:

You know you’re in trouble when the oddsmakers in Vegas have basically given up on you. That is kind of what has happened here with the Texans. Houston is a 16-point underdog in this game, which I’m only letting you know because it’s the largest playoff point spread in 18 years.

The Texans have played at New England four times in franchise history and they’ve been blown out every time (27-0 in 2016, 41-28 in the 2012 playoffs, 42-14 in 2012 regular season, 40-7 in 2006).

To give you an idea of how hopeless things are for the Texans, the odds say that Tom Brady has a better chance of being elected president in 2020 than the Texans do of winning this game.

Sean Tomlinson from Bleacher Report talks about the Texans only chance:

Now the Texans’ ability to pull off a colossal upset as 16-point underdogs (per OddsShark) doesn’t rest with the quarterback, as it so often does in the playoffs. Brock Osweiler is still a liability and free-agency bust despite his brief flashes of competence Sunday.

It rests with running back Lamar Miller to some degree… it rests with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins a bit, too, but he was wasted by Osweiler in 2016 and finished with just 954 receiving yards.

…That’s where Clowney comes in with his ability to be a constant menace…The hallmark of a dominant pass-rusher often lies in how much they can tear down the opposing offense and alter plays even when not recording sacks. That’s what Clowney did frequently against the Raiders, a game that ended with four pressures from the 23-year-old.

The Patriots are going to roll the Texans and roll them big. They have a superior offense, coaching, quarterback, experience and team. They are playing at home and I give the Texans no chance at all. In sports, we always know that upsets can and do happen. Any doubt that Patriot fans may have is how Osweiler beat them last November with a good defense and an out of character successful performance.

The key to any and all QB’s from Bart Starr to Tom Brady is to hit the quarterback. Any and all quarterbacks play significantly worse when they don’t have time and they are constantly getting hit. This isn’t good analysis, it is the key to beating any quarterback. The Texans finished with the Top Defense in the league and if they can hit Brady early and often it will be much more difficult for the Patriots. This is how Denver beat the Patriots last year.

They had an incredible defense that hit Brady over and over. It keeps the game low scoring and gives them a chance. Osweiler was the quarterback last year in that Denver game and he threw some great passes and beat the Patriots last year. If the impossible happens, that will be how.

Aaron Rodgers Inferiority Complex

The best game of Wild Card Weekend, will be the Giants and the Packers.

Cameron DaSilva, from Fox Sports writes:

The Packers’ pass rush will get to Eli Manning

Through Week 12, [Eli Manning] had a passer rating of just 67.7 versus blitzes and 96.2 when four or fewer rushers were sent at him. When pressured, he’s coaxed into mistakes.

Eli Manning isn’t playing well

Eli Manning is not playing good football. Since Week 13, he has a passer rating of just 77.0 with six touchdowns and six interceptions.

Green Bay’s offensive line is great

In their first meeting back in October, the Giants didn’t sack Rodgers once. The pressure rarely got to him in the pocket as he was able to remain comfortable, going through his progressions. If the Giants can’t put pressure on Rodgers, he’s going to either find an open receiver or he’ll escape the pocket and burn them with scramble drills, allowing his targets to shake free.

John Breech, from CBS Sports, is predicting the Giants to win:

I’m guessing the reason Odell and the other Giants receivers went down to South Beach on Sunday night is because they were celebrating the fact that everyone in the Packers secondary is injured. The Giants’ receivers might be playing against air in this game, and I’m only slightly exaggerating.

…The Giants are basically the worst possible matchup that the Packers could’ve asked for in the wild-card round. Green Bay is going to need a perfect game from Aaron Rodgers…It’s going to be tough for Rodgers to be perfect when he’s being pressured on nearly every play, which is likely to happen Sunday.

 …By the time this game is over, Rodgers and Tom Brady are going to have to start a support group for quarterbacks who inexplicably lose every big game they play against Eli Manning.

My pick is for the Packers to win the game.  Aaron Rodgers has risen and righted the sinking ship rebuilding a stronger engine in the process.  Packer fans are finally getting the team they have expected for two years now.  Jordy Nelson is back to form and I would be shocked for the Giants to go in Lambeau and win again.  But, then again this wouldn’t be the first time that Eli Manning would have shocked me.

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