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Marcus Cannon and Aqib Talib are Keys to Pats vs Broncos

By on November 28, 2015 at 11:26am
marcus-cannon-ot-new-england-patriots_pg_600 Photo Courtesy NFL.com.

Football fans will not be treated to another installment of Brady vs Manning on Sunday as the Broncos quarterback is still out with an injury. They will, however, be treated to one of the most captivating battles of the entire football season: the Patriots offense vs the Broncos defense. Each unit is the best at what it does. The Patriots offense has scored at least 20 points in every game despite several key injuries and the Broncos defense has been absolutely suffocating with just 284 yards per game allowed and 18.3 points per game given up.
When two units that do so many things well meet on the field, things generally come down to a handful of individual matchups and this game is no different. The two things that will most determine who wins this clash are how the Broncos will cover Rob Gronkowski and how the Patriots will block Von Miller.

Aqib Talib could be asked to cover Rob Gronkowski, similar to when he covered Jimmy Graham as a member of the Patriots. Talib held Graham to zero catches in that game and did a masterful job sticking with the tight end throughout. Still, Gronkowski is better than Graham and Talib will have his hands full if asked to stay with the mammoth Patriots tight end. The Buffalo Bills played a lot of zone on Monday night and blitzed Tom Brady often, both which resulted in Gronkowski having one of his lowest outputs of the year. The Broncos have another option in Danny Trevathan, who is a nimble linebacker that does well in coverage. Trevathan is 6’1” and 230 pounds, not tall enough to challenge Gronkowski for jump balls but physical enough the jam him at the line.

This is where the rash of injuries the Patriots have suffered come into play. Without Dion Lewis, Julian Edelman, or Danny Amendola the Patriots will have to rely heavily on Gronkowski and Brandon LaFell. If no other players step up and the Patriots fail to run the ball well, Denver will be able to divert extra resources, perhaps a mix of Talib and Trevathan, to stopping the Patriots All-Pro. Normally when articles are written about how a team can slow Gronkowski down, he answers them with monster performances. This week could be one of the few times were a team is expected to and actually does slow him down.

One thing that the Bills did an excellent job of against the Patriots was confusing the protection up front. They blitzed effectively but were also able to get pressure on Brady with less than five rushers because of how well they disguised what they were going to do. With a defensive coordinator who is as adept as Wade Phillips, the Broncos have a realistic chance of doing the same.

There is no doubt that Miller is licking his chops after watching the Patriots offensive line struggle on Monday night. Miller is one of the most dynamic pass rushers in the NFL and he has been a key piece of the dominant Denver defense. The Broncos can line him up in several different spots but it is likely they will target Patriots offensive tackle Marcus Cannon. Cannon is a backup who has been pressed into service due to Nate Solder’s injury and his performance has been spotty. He played well against the Colts before being injured and missing several weeks. His first game back was Monday night and he played poorly. He accounted for two penalties and was beaten off the ball consistently. Against a player like Miller, the odds are heavily stacked against Cannon. Earlier this season when the Patriots went against strong pass rushes, they made a point of having Brady get rid of the ball in less than two and a half seconds therefore negating the rush. With Edelman, Amendola and Lewis out they will have a tougher time of doing that and more pressure is put on the offensive line.

Going against a prodigious pass rusher like Miller is not the only concern of Cannon’s. As the Patriots left tackle, he will need to block Miller to the outside on many of the inside runs that the Patriots deploy. Much is made of Miller as a quarterback attacker, but he also needs to be accounted for in the run game. New England will surely give Cannon help from a running back or tight end, but he will have several plays in which he needs to defeat Miller on his own. If he cannot do that, it will be a long night for the Patriots offense. If he can, the Patriots will have a better chance at attacking Denver’s excellent secondary.

In both of these match-ups, the early advantage has to go to Denver. Gronkowski might be the best tight end ever to play football, but even he will need players around him to elevate their game in order to attack an opponent as qualified as Denver. Miller is a potential Hall of Famer in his own right and going against a backup tackle is almost not fair. This is not a death sentence on the Patriots undefeated season. They can go to Denver and win, but they will need to have success in both of these matchups more than 50% of the time. This shapes up to be a rock fight type of game that will be physical and punishing. It may not be Brady-Manning, but it will be must see TV.

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1. Patriots – Broncos Preview:

* Worst memories in Denver – Sure Handed Mosi Tatupu fumbles / Ben Watson runs down Champ Bailey but ref doesn’t give him credit / Patriots allow Peyton Manning to stand in pocket and pick them apart / Raymond Berry starts Tony Eason over Doug Flutie

* Orange Crush was a cool name

* Another reason to hate Denver – Tom Jackson

2. Around College Football:

* BC and Syracuse have combined for a 0-15 record since late September Continue reading Connelly’s Top Ten: Belichick’s Greatest Move »

David Price (Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Its no surprise to anyone that the Red Sox are planning to play at the top of the starting pitching market this offseason, both in trades and free agency. David Price has been seen as the top available arm, along with Zack Greinke and sometimes Johnny Cueto. Each would be a pretty significant upgrade over what the team currently has in its rotation, but there are legitimate risks associated as well. Those risks seem to make the trade market a more desirable upgrade route for the Red Sox, although Dave Dombrowski has strongly alluded to the free agent market as the most likely option to add a starter. This news came following the team’s acquisition of Craig Kimbrel from the Padres, though it wasn’t entirely surprising.

The story has gotten interesting over the past five days, as reports are now pouring in from reputable sources that the Red Sox are prepared to be the highest bidder for Price’s services. Ken Rosenthal made the first public connection on Monday, though that was allegedly more his own opinion than real speculation. But he then followed with a report of a handful of teams who should have the best shot at landing Price, with the Red Sox included as a favorite. Buster Olney followed by reporting his “high expectation” that the Red Sox would outbid the field on Price, and Tom Verducci concurred. There could be some pack mentality going on, based on the obvious fit between team and player, but that is a lot of agreeing from a lot of different sources.

But the biggest domino fell on Wednesday when Peter Gammons reported that his industry sources agree with the speculation. Not to say that Gammons has never been wrong, but he is one of the more plugged-in reporters in the country, so his opinion should carry a good deal of weight. Nothing appears close at the moment, but with so many people saying the same thing it appears that momentum could be building toward an agreement in the near future. Fans will want to stay tuned to the situation, especially as we get closer to the start of the Winter Meetings in December.

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James White crosses the goal line for his first NFL touchdown and gave the Patriots the 10-3 lead just before halftime. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Monday night was far from pretty but the Patriots stand at 10-0 and could officially clinch the AFC East next week. With the offense devastated by injuries, the defense played some of its best football of the season. The offense is clearly dealing with communication and trust issues with all the new pieces being plugged in along the way. For the first time in weeks the offensive line was healthy but ironically it was the worst they’ve looked all year. Tom Brady’s most reliable receiver with zero dropped passes, Danny Amendola, left with an apparent knee injury. After his exit they had three healthy receivers. One was Matthew Slater and another was Chris Harper who has never caught an NFL pass. With all that they still made the plays to win a divisional game in prime time.

– Aside from a few big plays the defense showed again how good they can be. The front seven was holding contain on Tyrod Taylor for the majority of the game. Pressure caused by the pass rush directly led to multiple poorly thrown passes. LeSean McCoy did break the 27-yard touchdown run but was held to just 55 rushing yards other than that. By his standards that’s a relatively calm day. Rob Ninkovich continued his solid campaign by adding another 1.5 sacks and pressuring Taylor throughout. Rotating defensive linemen throughout the game has paid off for the Patriots as each group knows exactly what their job is, and they’re doing it well. Continue reading Notes and Observations Week 11: Defense Leads Battered Patriots to Victory Over Bills 20-13 »

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Tom Brady (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)


* Starters on offense not available – Solder, Wendell, Devlin, Lewis, Edelman, Amendola

* Marcus Cannon should be charged for crimes against humanity – has to be the worst game by an offensive line man in the history of the game

* Why running left – wasn’t working

* Wow Scott Chandler taken down in the flat one on one by a cornerback (even depleted offense – and he can’t break in)

* Could be the worst offensive line in the history of the sport

* James White finally broke a tackle and scored

* Was Gronk sick or something – more commercials than catches

* Amendola injury looked bad / If Dobson was a horse they would have shot him already


* Could Malcom Butler be the best corner in the game right now? Continue reading Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Win Despite Cannon’s Assassination Attempt on Brady »

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Fox Sports

The Patriots take on the Bills at Gillette Stadium for a Monday Night Football match up that is sure to have plenty of fireworks. The Patriots have dominated the Bills for the entire Brady-Belichick era with the Pats going 26-3 since 2001. However Buffalo is reinvigorated with new head coach Rex Ryan, a rival to the establishment that is the Patriots in the AFC. The Bills have won their last two games against AFC East opponents and find themselves in the playoff hunt.

They come to New England on a chilly night with the forecast predicting temperatures dropping into the 20’s as the game gets underway. The cold weather is something the Bills have overcome in the past, being a cold weather team like New England, but one thing they have had trouble with is winning on Monday Night Football where they haven’t recorded a victory since 1999, Tom Brady’s senior year at Michigan. Continue reading Patriots and Bills Set To Do Battle on Monday Night Football »

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1. Patriots – Bills Preview:

* Brady is 40-13 in November / 13-6 on Monday Nights / 95-15 at home / 24-3 against the Bills

* For Rex – average women’s foot is a size 7.5

* Love ESPN coming to town – when does the Mortenson chant start?

* Don’t forget traffic

* Only two things that scare me against Patriots are running QB’s and tight ends – Tyrod Taylor has run for 20 yards plus – 5 times / Charles Clay has 40 receptions this year

* Active in the secondary – Darby and Gilmore have combined for 33 pass deflections

2. Around the NFL:

* Ravens tattle tale curse continues – Flacco out for the year Continue reading Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots vs. Rex »

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