Pre game meditations… Patriots vs Rams (04.12.16) Week 13

The AFC East?s top team meets one of the weakest from the NFC West. Should be a safe bet, the Patriots chalk up another win and pull away 10-2 in the directions of the playoffs.
….But…  Is it going to be that simple? In the NFL, it never really is.

It is true, that the Rams are currently sitting on the second last spot in their division and in overall NFC (San Fransisco 49ers are eliminated) but the odds for winning this particular game stand not too bad for LA?s ?re-adopted? football family.

Lets start with the obvious.
No Gronk. There is a frenzy currently on all possible media outlets about Gronk?s surgery and we now know: he will not return this season. Of course, the team tries to shift focus away from the gaping wound and as Tom Brady so diplomatically mentioned during his press conference today: ?Rob?s replacement might not be a tight end? and ?it will be adjusted from play to play assessing the situation?. Of course it would.. of course. Is there any other solution? Even Bill Belichick slipped and (surely subconsciously) mentioned: ?Nobody works harder than Rob?. Which clearly means: he was the best option and now they have to opt for the 2nd, 3rd or 4th best skill player – by ?from play to play assessing the situation?. It surely will be a challenge, but knowing Belichick?s coaching abilities, this will be more than possible to execute.

But here is another issue that should worry Patriots fans more these days.
If You look at Bradys last 3 games, his performance as a QB had an enormous dip. His passer rating plummeted whereas the number of incomplete passes rocketed, compared to his ?post suspension form?. This harrowing fact could partially be a result from Gronk?s absence, but a larger part of it can surely be attributed to his injury. This too, is played down by the coaching staff and management and the extent of the damage remains unknown. First it was quad, now the knee too? We know Brady will play thru the pain, but for a team with a ?bend but don?t break? defense, where they count on him to put points on the board, drive after drive and land throw after throw without fail.
– can he do that in his current form?

Well then, it all boils down to the Defense,
The Patriots defense looks great on paper and it hoovers near the top spot of the league, allowing 18 points in avg per game, however if you take it under the magnifying glass, the result get less pleasing to the eye. Because it is actually 22 in average for the last 3 games. Even worse, the 17 on the last game was against a Ryan Fitzpatrick led Jets. The ones before? 16 Against the Steelers (without Big Ben!) 17 against the Bengals who are having a crappy season, 17 against the 49ers who are dead last in the NFC. Let that sink in for a while. Now compare it to the 31 allowed against the Seehawks (a generally low scoring team) it is clear to see that the defense suffers against top tier QB?s where they cant allow soft plays and short gains waiting for the opponent to screw it up on the 3rd down.

Finally, can Jared Goff get his groove on and grow up to the task? How many successful runs will Todd Gurley have and how many times can get Aaron Donald Brady to the ground? – because if these components do not come together on the field perfectly, You can be sure that the Patriots will use every little mistake and every shortcoming, ruthlessly to their advantage.
…. remember it is said, wounded animals are the most dangerous.



Author: Zoltan Gucsa
Copyright: Zoltan Gucsa for SwissPatriots

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