Philadelphia Eagles Wrap-up: Patriots Throttle Reid’s Reeling Squad

In a “Must Win” situation, the Philadelphia Eagles (4-7) came-up very small in a humiliating 38-20 home loss — have now lost 8 of their last 9 at the Linc — to the surging New England Patriots (8-3).  In the rather easy win, Tom Brady and company could do no wrong, while the Birds after an early lead couldn’t do anything right for the next 50 minutes of the game.  There were penalties, Patriots receivers running free, in-fighting, not enough touches for LeSean Mccoy, and most importantly several dropped passes — including two in the endzone by WR DeSean Jackson (benched).

Unfortunately for him, Taking It to the House Lead Writer Matt Lombardo was there to take in the ugly scene — Chants of “Reid Must Go” in the air — and he filed the following wrap-up report.

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2010 NFL Week 13 – Remix

RB Danny Woodhead and the Patriots turned MNF’s “Game of the Year” between New England and the NY Jets into a real laugher

Thu, Dec 02 
Eagles (8-4) over Texans (5-7), 34-24.. Not much defense as these teams produced over 800 combined yds..Fueled by Vick, the Eagles jump out to an early lead…Texans featuring RB Arian Foster take a 24-20 lead in 3rd..Vick leads Eagles to 14 unanswered 4th points to win the game….No Asante Samuel again for the Birds, but other DB’s (Patterson) stepped up…A. Johnson comes back from a bad ankle injury to post 149 rec. yards…D-Jax not mad at Birds

Sun, Dec 05 
Bears (9-3) over Lions (2-10), 24-20..Back-and-Forth game, where the underdog Lions hung tough behind backup QB Drew Stanton… Cutler continues to protect the ball (only 3 INTs in last 5 gms)..Chicago WR Earl Bennett has his first 100-yd receiving game..Late 4th qtr TD gives Bears win… Bears hold Stanton to less than 200 passing yds

Browns (5-7) over Dolphins (6-6), 13-10…What a boring game!!…Dolphins K Carpenter nails a 60-yd FG…Dolphins ramp up Wildcat due to Henne’s ineffective play…Delhomme and defense carry the Browns as Hillis is bottled-up

Chiefs (8-4) over Broncos (3-9), 10-6…Low scoring physical game in the cold…Charles over 100 yds for 3rd time in 2010…safety Eric Berry was a tackling machine.. Haley not only shakes McDaniels hand, he hugs him too.. McDaniels is shown the door on Monday by owner Bowlen

Cowboys (4-8) over Colts (6-6), 38-35..(OT)…J.Garrett has a 3-1 record… Cowboys rush for 217 yds.. Colts 3rd straight loss..Peyton Manning 4 INTs including 2 Pick-6’s…Manning has 11 INTs in last 3 games (4 Pick-6’s last two games)…Cowboys kicker David Buehler drills a 38-yd game-winner in overtime. 

Falcons (10-2) over Buccaneers (7-5), 28-24…Comeback win for Falcons.. Game sealed when Bucs QB Freeman throws a bad pick at the end…Mental mistakes doom the young Bucs..L. Blount has over 100 rushing yds.. Bucs sported their 1970;s Creamsicle Uni’s

Giants (8-4) over Redskins (5-7), 31-7…G-Men dominate Redskins in Meadowlands…Could be Eagles-Giants for NFC East Crown in WK 15..Giants run all over Redskins (over 150 yds)..WAS had 6 turnovers…McNabb suffers 2 more INTs…Redskins dropped way too many passes on Big 5..Haynesworth sits

Jaguars (7-5) over Titans (5-7), 17-6..MJD runs for a career-high 186 yards. Jags controlled the time of possession..JAX defense continues to smother bad teams..Tennessee has lost its last five games..Titans QB Collins not much better than Rusty Smith…Garrard looking like his 2007 form (running and throwing)

Packers (8-4) over 49ers (4-8), 34-16.. A very cold game where eventually the hometown Packers, in 1920’s Throwbacks, outlasted the Niners…Rodgers continues playing at a Pro Bowl level..Packers may have finally found a RB in rookie James Starks (18 rushes for 73 yds)..For Niners Smith was ok, but V. Davis was a beast (4 REC, 126 yds, 1 TD)
 
Raiders (6-6) over Chargers (6-6), 28-13… Surprise, Surprise as the host Raiders jump in the AFC West Race…Chargers lose their first December game since 2005 (had been 18 straight)…Campbell continues his up-and-down play by putting up some good numbers this week
 
Rams (6-6) over Cardinals (3-9), 19-6…A young team getting better and a team that has no identity w/o Warner…S-Jax runs all over the Cards beleaguered D…Bradford is efficient..Rams D puts-up a shutout in last 3 quarters..Spagnuolo’s group leads NFC West..Anderson concussed

Saints (9-3) over Bengals (2-10), 34-30…Big goalline stand by Champs helps get rid of the reeling Bengals..Brees throws for over 300 yds and 2 TDs…Brees to Colston is the game-winner.. Saints RB Chris Ivory goes for over 100-yds and has long TD run..DC G. Williams shows the Cincy sideline what they can do

Seahawks (6-6) over Panthers (1-11), 31-14…After a slow start, the Seahawks storm back behind RB Marshawn Lynch (3 TDs)..Seahawks shutout Panthers in 2nd half

Vikings (5-7) over Bills (2-10), 38-14…Favre gets knocked out early (0 completions and 1 INTs) w/ a shoulder (295 consec. start)…T-Jack overcomes a pick-6 in first series to lead team to win…Vikings now 2-0 under Leslie Frazier..Adrian Peterson shakes off ankle injury to post 3 TDs          

Steelers (9-3) over Ravens (8-4), 13-10.. Tough physical playoff preview type of game…PIT lose Heath Miller (concussion) on a potentially flagable hit…Polamulu makes a huge sack strip in 4th qtr to setup game-winner..Big Ben shakes off a broken nose to lead PIT to win.. Steelers in first in AFC North.. Flacco and O-line miss Heap (hamstring injury early)

Mon, Dec 06 
Patriots (10-2) over NY Jets (9-3), 45-3… The Game of the Week turns into a real laugher… Brady wins 26th straight reg season home game…Ryan’s boys pushed around and looked slow on defense…Sanchez looks bad and throws 3 picks…Patriots are NFL’s best

Breaking Down the Standings

2 teams — (10-2) Patriots, Falcons

4 teams — (9-3) Saints, Bears,Steelers, NY Jets
4 teams — (8-4) Eagles, Ravens, Packers, Chiefs
3 teams – (7-5) Bucs, NY Giants, Jags
6 teams — (6-6) Colts, Dolphins, Chargers, Seahawks, Raiders, Rams
5 teams — (5-7) Titans, Redskins, Browns, Texans, Vikings
2 teams — (4-8) Cowboys, Niners
2 teams —  (3-9) Cardinals, Broncos
3 teams — (2-10) Lions, Bengals, Bills
1 team —  (1-11) Panthers

Division Leaders

NFC : Eagles/Giants (NFC East —  3 game lead over WAS), Falcons (NFC South — 1 game lead over NO), Bears (NFC North — 1 game lead over GB), Seahawks/Rams (NFC West — 2 game lead over SF)

AFC: Jags (AFC South — 1 game lead over IND), Steelers (AFC North — 1 game lead over BAL), Patriots (AFC East — 1 game lead over NYJ),Chiefs (AFC West — 2 game over SD)

Current Streaks

Winning: Falcons (6); Saints (5); Bears (5); Patriots (4)
Losing: Bengals (9); Cardinals (6); Panthers (6); Lions (5); Titans (5)

How 2009 Playoff teams are doing 

NFC: Saints (9-3), Eagles (7-4), Packers (7-5),  Vikings (5-7), Cowboys (4-8), Cardinals (3-9)

AFC: Patriots (10-2), NY Jets (9-3), Ravens (8-4), Colts (6-6), Chargers (6-6), Bengals (2-10)

Remaining Games For Playoff Hopefuls

Atl: @Car,  @Sea, NO, Car
Bal: @Hou, NO, @Cle, Cin
Chi: NE, @Min, NYJ, @GB
GB: @Det, @NE, NYG, Chi
Hou: Bal, @Ten, @Den, Jac
Ind: @Ten, Jac, @Oak, Ten
Jac: Oak, @Ind, Was, @Hou
KC: @SD, @StL, Ten, Oak
Mia: @NYJ, Buf, Det, @NE
Min: NYG, Chi, @Phi, @Det
NE: @Chi, GB, @Buf, Mia
NO: StL, @Bal, @Atl, TB
NYG: @Min, Phi, @GB, @Was
NYJ: Mia, @Pit, @Chi, Buf
Oak: @Jac, Den, Ind, @KC
PHI: @Dal, @NYG, Min, Dal
Pit: Cin, NYJ, Car, @Cle
SD: KC, SF, @Cin, @Den
Sea: @SF, Atl, @TB, StL
SF: Sea,  @SD, @StL, Ari
StL: @NO, KC, SF, @Sea
TB: @Was, Det, Sea ,@NO

Jets OL Woody talks Brady’s Hair

Former Patriots and current NY Jets O-lineman Damien Woody took a shot at former teammate QB Tom Brady’s hair.

In a TMZ exclusive video Woody didn’t just take a shot at Tom’s ‘do … he also told them that his new QB, Mark Sanchez, has SUPERIOR locks!!!

It should be real fun when the NY Jets (9-2) and the New England Patriots (9-2) square-off on Monday Night Football in an AFC  Grudge Match.

http://www.tmz.com/videos?autoplay=true&mediaKey=995140de-a874-456e-93a0-aede4c6d6c2f

Patriots Smartly Move On Without Moss

Receiver Randy Moss will now take his talents back to Minnesota after the Patriots traded him to the Vikings

The National Football League definitely is a “What Have You Done for Me Lately” entity and that fact was shown once again earlier this week.  In a surprising trade, the New England Patriots decided that indeed they could continue on in the 2010 NFL Season without former 7-time Pro Bowl receiver Randy Moss (2010 numbers of 9 receptions for 139 yards and 2 TDs on 22 targets). 

The Patriots shipped their malcontent receiver and a 7th rounder to the receiver-desperate Minnesota Vikings for a 3rd round pick in 2011.  One of the bigger surprises was that Moss (33) was even traded in the first place because we all know that typically NFL teams would rather keep a player around for roster protection (i.e. injuries), even if they are a pain in the butt. 

The NFL’s trading deadline is next week on October 19th, but usually the league’s greatest trading activity is around their yearly draft that occurs each April.  However right now picks are more important than free agent veteran-type players to the Pats as they try to reshape their team– drafted 12 players in 2010.  Moss had sulked his way through the first four weeks of the season and clearly was more concerned with his current contract situation – being paid $6.4M in 2010 which is the last year of a 2007 deal – than playing hard on the field. 

After a brief hiatus, “Bad Randy” was back from Oakland and had now reemerged in Foxboro, Mass.  There were several instances where Moss seemed uninterested and loafed it on patterns preferring to only show his Hall of Fame ability only when he wanted to.  Not even the presence of quarterback Tom “Captain America” Brady – currently ranked 2nd in the NFL in quarterback rating (109.0) — could get Moss back in line this time.

Though some thought Patriots head coach Belichick’s benching of Moss, Derrick Burgess, and Adalius Thomas — both are also no longer in New England —  in late 2009 for missing meetings due to “bad weather” was long over. Week 1 of the 2010 season should have been everything Patriots’ fans needed to see that it was going to be a long season if Moss was around.  The Patriots won a hard fought 38-24 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, but after the game Moss only wanted to talk about himself.

In a rambling new conference, he said, “I think around here in the New England area, a lot of people don’t want to see me do good. And the reason why, I don’t know … Sometimes you want your boss to tell you you’re doing a good job. If you’re doing a good job and think you’re doing a good job, you want to be appreciated. I really don’t think that, me personally, that I’m appreciated … I’m not here to start any trouble. I am here to play out the last year of my contract.”  The final straw had to have been a much-publicized halftime shouting match with Patriots QB’s coach Bill O’Brien in Week 4.

The trading of Moss showed that New England no longer is going to try the “All-Star” route -– came close to winning it all in 2007 after starting the season 18-0 with a free agent laden team before losing the Super Bowl to the New York Giants -– in building their team.  The last two seasons have ended with identical 11-5 records in regular season.  But both seasons also had disappointing endings – No playoffs in 2008 and an embarrassing lopsided home playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens in 2009. You can see that now New England have modeled themselves as a “team” oriented group which goes back to their 2001 “team first” Super Bowl winning version. 

Belichick in re-tooling his team is leaning heavily on character veterans (i.e. Brady and WR Wes Welker) and building through the draft.  Already this season has shown draft pick dividends with players like WR Brandon Tate, DB Patrick Chung, TE Aaron Hernandez, and others making solid contributions.

Currently, the Patriots are 3-1 and are tied for the top of the AFC East with the New York Jets.  And their latest effort on Monday Night produced a solid 41-14 drubbing of the Dolphins, showed New England can get contributions from a variety of players — 3 Special Teams touchdowns.  Did I mention that Moss went catchless in his last game in Patriots’ Red, White, and Blue.  Even though the former three-time Patriots’ captain had put up some huge numbers — catching 259 passes for 4,904 yards and 50 touchdowns in 51 games — and returned to his Pro Bowl form in New England, it was the right decision to move-on from a selfish player who clearly did not want to be there any longer. 

Now the torch has been passed to players like Welker, Tate, Julian Edelman, and Danny Woodhead to fill-in for the sometimes motivated Moss.  There have even been whispers that the Patriots may go back to the future in recreating their “No Name” receiving corps from their former three Super Bowl winning teams.  There have been murmurs that New England is trying to trade for former big game hero Deion Branch, who has become a high-priced spare part in Seattle, before the October 19th deadline.

The other side to the trade is that Moss will now take his immense talent to the Minnesota Vikings (1-2) who greatly need a game-breaker.  Last season’s breakout receiver for the Vikings, Sidney Rice, is still battling a hip injury that could possibly keep him out until late November and there hasn’t been many other options for Vikings quarterback Brett Favre — 2 touchdowns and 6 interceptions in 3 games.  Moss had been a player that Favre had coveted going back to when the two opposed each other in the NFC North. 

Favre even unsuccessfilly lobbied for the Green Bay Packers to rescue Moss from Oakland.  And now who blame No. 4 for wanting more weapons in Minnesota besides All-World running back Adrian Peterson –- currently 3rd in the NFL in rushing yards (392).  A receiving corps led by the likes of Percy Harvin (migraines), Bernard Berrian, Greg Lewis, Hank Baskett, and Greg Camirilo has produced only 27 receptions for 266 yards and 1 TD in three games so far including two loses.

But make no bones about it…. this is a gamble as Moss brings a Hall of Fame resume — 935 receptions for 14604 yards, 15.6 ypr average, and 151 TDS —  and some much-needed pedigree to pedestrian receiving corps, but you have to wonder exactly how hard will he play at the tail end of his career.  Rumored to want a deal on par with Dolphins WR Brandon Marshall — five years, $50 million dollars, $24M Guaranteed — 29 M in first 3 years.

For now Moss -– had caught 574 passes for 9,142 yards and 90 touchdowns his past Minnesota career — will get his familiar No. 84 Vikings jersey back and Favre will get the double-coverage worthy weapon that he has greatly desired for his 1-season unretirement.  “He can still go downtown and get the football, which is a stand-alone factor,” Vikings head coach Brad Childress said. “He could sprain his toe here sometime coming up, and you could say that he’s 33, it’s old age. But there’s always risk-reward. I don’t necessarily see this as boom or bust. I think he’s got some more football in him.”

“Moss in  the Twin Cities 2” will all begin this Monday when the Vikings take on the host New York Jets on ESPN and you know that Rex Ryan’s defense led by All-Pro corner Darrelle Revis will be waiting.

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Giants-Patriots preseason game will be a 3D experience

Pretty soon I guess all NFL games will be broadcast in 3D like Madden Football

Just the other day I took my sons to see Toy Story 3 and I was astounded by not only the price of the tickets, but also the amount of 3-D features playing at the theater.  I guess we are living in a 3-D crazy world and now the NFL is trying to prove once again that it too is cutting edge entertainment. 

Verizon announced this week that they will produce the New England Patriots-New York Giants preseason game on Sept. 2 in 3-D.  The game will be the NFL’s first total foray into the new and widely distributed film format.  Technically this is not the NFL’s first game in 3-D as the league produced a 2008 Oakland Raiders-San Diego Chargers game in the format for select audiences only.

The Patriots-Giants preseason game will be aired in the two teams’ entire markets via Verizon FiOS 1 in New York, New England and New Jersey. And of course customers will need to be equipped for the 3-D game experience.  The laundry list of items needed for the broadcast includes: 3-D Televisions, 3-D glasses (glad I saved mine from the movies) and a high-definition box.

Verizon executive Terry Denson said of the upcoming broadcast, “This is the next major step in our development of 3-D experiences for our FiOS TV customers. Broadcasting the first 3D NFL game delivers on our promise to FiOS customers to provide a superior TV offering, including 3D, HD and VOD programming, as well as interactivity that cable can’t match.”

In this Madden Football driven age, where video gamers are used to high graphic game action, this move makes some sense.  But I still believe that the 3-D phenomenon will take some time to catch-on with NFL fans as most would rather wear “beer goggles” than 3-D glasses when watching gridiron action.

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2010 NFL Draft Compensatory Picks Announced

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has to definitely be happy about the two compensatory picks for the 2010 NFL Draft that his team received including 3rd and 4th rounders

At this week’s 2010 NFL Annual Meeting, 19 teams were awarded compensatory picks in the upcoming 2010 NFL Draft. The Big Winner for losing players via free agency in 2009 is the New England Patriots who were awarded four picks. 

The Tennessee Titans, Cincinnati Bengals, and Atlanta Falcons received the highest level of picks with 3rd rounders coming their way. For you Eagles fans out there, they got two 7th Rd Picks (243 and 244).

Since the NFL began awarding compensatory picks in 1994, the Baltimore Ravens have received the most compensatory picks, with 29.

Here is a complete list of the 2010 NFL Draft compensatory picks

Round 3

96. Cincinnati
97. Tennessee
98. Atlanta

Round 4

131. Cincinnati

Round 5

164. Pittsburgh
165. Atlanta
166. Pittsburgh
167. Minnesota
168. San Diego
169. Green Bay

Round 6

202. Carolina
203. Jacksonville
204. Carolina
205. New England
206. San Francisco
207. Tennessee

Round 7

240. Indianapolis
241. Tennessee
242. Pittsburgh
243. Philadelphia
244. Philadelphia
245. Seattle
246. Indianapolis
247. New England
248. New England
249. Carolina
250. New England
251. Oakland
252. Miami
253. Tampa Bay
254. St. Louis
255. Detroit

Patriots – Saints: The Battle of the Bayou Preview

WR Julian Edleman and the New Patriots travel to New Orleans to face-off against the undefeated Saints on Monday Night Football

Patriots – Saints: The Battle of the Bayou Preview

ESPN Monday Night Football, 8:30 EST

Broadcasting team: Ron Jaworski, Mike Tirico, John Gruden, and Suzy Kolber (sideline reporter)

Week 12 of the 2009 NFL Season has been one of the best for the league that always seems leave their fans wanting more, but without a doubt the Monday Night Football Match-up between the undefeated New Orleans Saints (10-0, the best start in franchise history) and the New England Patriots (7-3) is the cherry on top.  The Super Dome will be rocking as the “New Kids on the Block” (Saints) will take on the “Old Heads” (Patriots) to see who will be “King of the Hill” on the NFL’s playground. 

After many had thought they had seen the precursor to the NFL playoffs in “Super Bowl XLIII ½” where the undefeated Indianapolis Colts led by MVP-candidate Peyton Manning came back to post an amazing 35-34 win over the Patriots, no one thought there could be a better game.  Well, I am not sure if the game that people are calling, “The Battle of the Bayou” or Super Bowl XLIII ¾ will live-up to the inordinate amount of hype generated, but you have to admit this is a fascinating match-up that will have the nation’s attention. Sure a match-up of the undefeated Saints versus the undefeated Colts probably would have created more buzz, but this pairing is just as good, in my opinion.

Even though these two teams’ histories are vastly different — the Saints have never been to the Super Bowl while the Patriots have been to seven Super Bowls, producing three wins all this decade — there is a mutual amount of respect on both sides of the field as two of Bill Parcells’ former disciples will square-off.  Both teams have an embarrassment of offensive weapons and defensively they both can provide pressure that often leads to capitalizing on turnovers and taking them to the house.  Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who throws compliments to upcoming opponents like manhole covers, recently said of the Saints, “I don’t think there’s any better team in football than the New Orleans Saints.  They have no weaknesses that I can see.”  Of the upcoming Monday Night Football showdown, Saints QB Drew Brees (218-320, 2746 yards, 22 TDs and 9 INTs) said, “It’s going to take our best game to beat the Patriots. “We know the type of team they are.  We know the type of team they’ve been for the last decade.  They’re a dynasty.  Obviously, that’s one of the organizations we try to emulate.  We’re trying to be a contender year-in and year-out and we’ve got to take advantage of these opportunities.”

New Orleans head coach Sean Payton was just as complimentary when talking about the Patriots saying, “We know it’s a good team that we’re playing this week.  New England has been a successful franchise and is one of those organizations that has found the right formula.  When you play a team like this, you observe from afar the things that they are able to do and how that relates to winning games.”  Any talk of this Monday Night thriller has to start and end with the two quarterbacks leading their teams and as an old beer commercial used to say, “It doesn’t get any better than this”.  In the year of the quarterback around the NFL, probably the only passers playing better at this point in the season are Manning and Vikings QB Brett Favre, but that is saying something as both those veterans are shooting for their 4th NFL MVP award.  Payton in talking about Brady and Brees said, “Both of these quarterbacks are accurate”.  The currently undefeated head coach added, “They’re good decision-makers and can decide quickly where they want to go with the ball based on the looks they’re getting.  Those are certainly traits you see with both of them.” Brees is second in the NFL with a 105.8 passer rating while Patriots QB Tom Brady is not far behind with a rating of 100.4, which is good enough for fifth in the NFL.  In the touchdowns department, Brees also has a slight lead as he leads the league with 22 touchdown passes with Brady again not being far behind 20 (ranks 4th in the NFL in this category). 

Like any great heavyweight fight, now that the pleasantries have been dispensed by both sides, let’s break this game down.  First off fans should expect a ton of scoring as this is a match-up of the

 NFL’s No. 1 and 2 offenses — the Saints average a league leading 420.5 yards per game and the Patriots are next with an average of 416.1 ypg, which is first in the AFC — playing on the Super Dome’s fast track.  The Saints have redefined the term “high-octane” this season with an incredible 369 points scored through 10 games including producing over 40 points four times.  Many are comparing New Orleans to 500+ point plus scoring squads the 1999 St. Louis Rams (529 points scored and Super Bowl champs), 1998 Minnesota Vikings (556 points scored and a record of 15-1), and lastly the 2007 New Patriots (NFL record 589 points score and 16-0 AFC Champs) who will have several members from that offense still playing for them on Monday. 

For the Saints offensively, Brees spreads the ball around to former Pro Bowl receiver Marques Colston (44 receptions for 687 yards, 15.6 ypc, and 6 TDs), scatback Reggie Bush, breakout player of the year candidate WR Robert Meachem, RB Pierre Thomas, speedster WR Devrey Henderson and many others (hard to believe former NY Giants’ Pro Bowl TE Jeremy Shockey is an afterthought on the Saints roster) so at times it seems there is no stopping New Orleans.  They have outscored opponents 369-204 so far this season and an amazing 18 players have scored touchdowns this season.  Every week seems to be a track meet for the Saints whether home or away even though at times they have sputtered out of the gate a couple of times – average winning margin of 16.5 points.  The closest any team has come to beating them were the St. Louis Rams, who lost 28-23, but it wasn’t even as close as the score would indicate.

The Saints offense hasn’t been the team’s only story for 2009 as new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has returned some teeth to a defense that allowed 393 points (24.6/g) in 2008.  Williams aggressive unit has generated seven touchdowns and produced a league-high 29 takeaways including 20 INTs.  The Saints defense starts upfront with pass rushers DE Will Smith (8.5 sacks) and DE Charles Grant providing pressure on quarterbacks that has helped MLB Jonathan Vilma, safety Darren Sharper (7 INTs, returning 3 for touchdowns), CB Tracy Porter, and others make the most of their turnover opportunities – Saints are 3rd in the NFL with a +10 turnover ratio.  However even though the Saints have been stellar at getting turnovers, some teams have been able to move the ball on them at times this season – allowed 204 points (20.4/g), which ranks them 15th in the NFL.  Also injuries could be a factor for the Saints’ defense as Porter is listed as “doubtful” with CB Randall Gay (hamstring), CB Jabari Greer (groin), DE Bobby McCray (knee/back), and Vilma (knee) listed as “questionable” for the game.

Not to be outdone the Patriots’ offense is also are one of the NFL’s best at passing the football this season.  The Pats’ offense is also dangerous and the scary part is that QB Tom Brady (261-393, 3049 yards, 20 TDs, and 6 INTs) seems to have finally put his devastating 2008 knee injury behind  — remember his NFL record 6 TD performance in the a 59-0 blowout of Tennessee Titans in Week 6.  Brady will also spread the ball around, but watch for his big play threat WR Randy Moss (63 receptions for 925 yards, 14.7 ypc, and  8 TDs with a long of 71 yards),  his multi-purpose chain mover RB Kevin Faulk (39 rushes for 192 yards and 29 catches for 252 yards w/ 1 TD) and his security blanket WR Wes Welker (79 catches for 854 yards, 10.8 ypc, and 4 TDs plus coming off a career-high 15 catch performance last week) to be much involved in the Patriots game plan.  Last week against the Jets, Welker and Moss combined for 20 catches in a 31-14 win which gave the pair 142 combined receptions through 10 games to surpass an NFL record that was set earlier in the day by Colts Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark.  If the Patriots are smart, they will try to establish their running game (Faulk, Laurence Maroney, and Sammy Morris) against the Saints fast defensive line to wear them down.  The Saints are getting DT Sedrick Ellis back from a knee sprain, but controlling the clock will be key for the Patriots to take the air out of the ball to keep Brees’ offensive weaponry on the sidelines.  The Patriots’ offensive line also will need to step up too in this game as, at times this season, the unit has struggled with speed rushers.

On defense, the Patriots – ranked 3rd in the AFC with 296.7 points allowed per game – are no slouches in the turnover department either as they lead the AFC with a +12 ratio.  But they will surely need to have big games from improving FS Brandon McGowan (good cover guy TEs), cover corner Leigh Bodden (5 INTs including three last week against the Jets), and pass rusher Tully Banta-Cain (5 sacks) to keep Brees foot off the gas.  There is no doubt the Patriots still do have some playmakers on the defensive side, but you have to wonder if the defections of DL Richard Seymour (traded to the Raiders), SS Rodney Harrison (retirement to NBC), LB Tedy Bruschi (retirement to ESPN) and others have caused their unit to be questioned.  We all know head coach Belichick had questions of the unit in their much-publicized Week 9’s loss in Indy.  Protecting a slim 6-point lead, the 3-time Super Bowl winning head coach chose to go for it on 4th down deep in his own territory rather than punt and let his defense have a chance at stopping Peyton Manning and Colts offense.  As the whole world knows, the Patriots did not convert the infamous play and now many people around NFL circles are wondering if their defense is championship caliber.

LV’s Pick:  These two teams have met 11 times with the Patriots holding a dominating 8-3 edge including winning their last 3 meetings.  The last time was in November of 2005 as the Patriots won 24-17 in Foxborough.  As many are predicting, I believe this game will be a high scoring affair.  But in the end, I believe the team that can establish the run and limit turnovers will be the winner.  Lately the Saints have been a little careless with the football and the Patriots have a strong veteran group that knows how to capitalize on mistakes and win close games.  Plus the Pats are 5-0 all-time at Superdome including a Super Bowl win.  Also with the Colts staying undefeated this week, the chances are pretty strong that the Saints will lose – there has never been two 11-0 teams in NFL history.  New England wins late as Brady hits Moss for a game-winning touchdown.   – Patriots win 31-28

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)