Friday, November 20, 2009
The 2006 AFC Championship loss to the Colts hurt. The Super Bowl loss to the Giants killed. Last week's defeat in Indy didn't hurt nearly as much, and this Sunday's meeting with the Jets is why.
The Jets and Pats met in Week 2. New England was 0/3 in the red zone. Gostkowski kicked three field goals, two of those were under 30 yards. Brady couldn't find Moss, there was no Wes Welker, and Mark Sanchez threw a 2nd half TD to propel the Jets to a 16-9 lead.
It's safe to say that a lot has changed since Week 2. Brady's found himself in the pocket, and is once again synced with Moss. Wes Welker has returned with a vengeance.
When confronted with these realities, Cryingasaurus Rex harped on the addition of Braylon Edwards to the Jets lineup. Well la dee dah. The Jets are 2-5 since their Week 2 victory, with wins over the mighty Titans and the indomitable Raiders.
Sanchez is piling up the interceptions, 11 since Week 2. But Rex Ryan has reigned in his play-calling to compensate. And the Jets do one thing very well on offense: run.
Thomas Jones and Leon Washington each average 4.6 yards per carry. The Jets already have 1,500 yards on the ground. That's the most in the NFL. Their 4.7 yards per carry is 5th best.
The best way to stop the run, at least for the Patriots, is to score points. The red zone shenanigans have to stop and Brady has to put the ball in the end zone. Get a 10 or 14 point lead on the Jets, and Rex Ryan will be forced to pass the ball, which will lead to interceptions.
This is nearly a must-win for both teams. A loss and the Pats are only 1 game up on Miami, only 1 game up on the Jets (with the Jets possessing the tie-breaker), and a Monday night date with the undefeated Saints. And if the Jets lose, they're pretty much out of the playoff races.
I think the Patriots do enough to slow down the Jets' running attack, or at least keep them from putting the ball into the end zone. Welker and Moss will run circles around the Jets' secondary, and the Pats will come out of the gate strong. It'll get close later on in the 3rd quarter, but Sanchez will blow it and the Pats will pull away.
Patriots 31, Jets 20
Thrashers are a group of small bird species, not unlike mockingbirds. There are 15 species of thrashers. They're called thrashers because they quite literally thrash their beaks through dirt, leaves, and grass on the ground, searching for food (insects and berries). Perhaps the least intimidating and lamest nickname for a sports team EVER.
And I'd like to meet the brain surgeon who decided to put a hockey team in Atlanta. Not only is it warm down there, but Atlanta fans are some of the worst in sports. The Falcons depend on day-of-game walk-ups to sell out, and we've all seen how empty Turner Field is for PLAYOFF games.
Anyway, to the game. Normally, a 4-3 shootout win in Atlanta is hardly anything to rave over. But Atlanta won 4 straight coming into this game. They've got some very talented players like Kovalchuk, Antropov, and Peverley. And we all know how much the Bruins have been struggling.
This was so close to yet another blood-curdling loss. The B's were up 2-0 in the 1st, but the Thrashers tied it at 2-2. Michael Ryder, who had one of his best games of the season with 2 goals, scored his second shortly thereafter to make it 3-2. The B's killed 5 penalties in the 3rd, but an unfortunate bounce from a shot blocked by Derek Morris set-up Afinogenov for the tying goal.
Then Tuukka Rask shined in the shootout. Thomas has an undisclosed injury (broken brain from all the wins he's been robbed of), and being able to put a guy like Rask between the pipes is a nice insurance policy. Rask stonewalled all 3 Thrashers in the shootout, no easy task.
It's up to Buffalo Friday night in an important divisional game. Savard might be available. Lucic played in this one buy was hardly the player we're accustomed to seeing.
AP Photo/John Amis