Matt Patricia

Even though the Patriots are in the throes of the NFL Playoffs, that doesn’t mean their attractive assistant coaches can’t seek head coach openings across the league.

Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia, who has been with the team for 12 years, interviewed with the Cleveland Browns on Saturday.  Continue reading Browns Interview Patriots Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia »

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Saturday afternoon the Patriots, with a #2 seed bye, had the opportunity to watch their next opponent, the red hot Kansas City Chiefs, who annihilated the Houston Texas during the first game of Wild Card Weekend with a final score of 30-0. The Chiefs were dominant on defense and forced a shaky Houston offense into a borderline embarrassing performance. Kansas City was able to get after Houston quarterback Brian Hoyer forcing a fumble and four interceptions. Despite the pressure put on by the Chiefs defensive line Hoyer was also his own worst enemy making terrible decisions, particularly in the red zone. Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith and the KC offense was efficient against a tough Houston defensive that held them to just six points in the first half however they led 13-0 at the break thanks to a 106-yard kickoff returned for a touchdown by Knile Davis to start the game. In the second half the Chiefs were able to open up the lead as Hoyer and the Texans continued to shoot themselves in the foot. Kansas City, playing on the road, was not phased by the 71,000 screaming  fans or defensive stud J.J. Watt who they avoided with quick hitting pass plays, screens, sweeps and extra manpower. Alex Smith finished the day 17 of 22 for 190 yards with a touchdown and a rare interception, coach Andy Reid’s experience and game plan worked perfectly. Kansas City is now riding an 11-game win streak coming into Foxborough for next week’s divisional round playoff match up and should be as confident as ever.

One key problem for the Chiefs is the status of star receiver Jeremy Macklin who has been a go to guy for Alex Smith all season. Macklin suffered and injury to his ACL late in the second half of the win in Houston and did not return. He is due to have an MRI today to assess the extent of the damage, KC fans will be crossing their fingers in hopes that Macklin does not have a tear in that right knee. Maclin caught 87 passes for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns during the regular season. Also banged up coming into the game against the Patriots will be Tamba Hali with a thumb and knee injury who had limited action against the Texans but is a key figure in the pass rush for KC that will be essential to getting pressure on Tom Brady, the formula for disrupting the flow of the Patriots offense. Linebacker Justin Houston also seemed to tweak his knee which has been a lingering injury for him this season causing him to miss five games. Continue reading Pats Draw Streaking Chiefs For Divisional Round Playoff »

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Thanks to the Steelers win over the Bengals last night, the Patriots will host the Chiefs on Saturday at 4:30 pm in their Divisional playoff game. The chiefs defeated the Texans 30-0 earlier yesterday. The meeting will be the first time the two teams have faced each other since Kansas City blew out New England in week four of 2014. Since that game, the Patriots have lost a total of six games and won Super Bowl XLIX.

The Chiefs come into the game as the hottest team in the NFL, winners of 11 straight games. They are led by pass rush extraordinaires Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. Their defense also features Eric Berry at safety, Derrick Johnson at linebacker and a star rookie at corner in Marcus Peters.

Alex Smith has led the Chiefs offense that has come into its own this season, using a stable of running backs to move the ball. Travis Kelce is a solid tight end who gave the Patriots problems last season and if healthy Jeremy Maclin is a big playmaker for Kansas City. Andy Reid is no stranger to facing Bill Belichick, the two have squared off five times including  Super Bowl XXXIX.

The Chiefs are a physical team that will come into Foxboro not fearing the Patriots. The quality of opponent they faced in the Wild Card round was low, but they are team that can force turnovers and slow the Patriots offense down. The key for New England will be staying out of any second or third and long situations in order to avoid having to deal with Hali and Houston in an obvious passing situation. The Patriots should win this game, but the Chiefs present a solid test and will take advantage of any Patriots mistakes.

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1. Around the NFL:

* Amazing all four road teams are favored (I go with Houston, Washington, Seattle and Pittsburgh)

* Revis not going to the White House this year

* Welker in 8 games in St. Louis – 13 receptions / He would have had 50 receptions in New England – ugh

* 7 of the top 10 teams in hitting the quarterback did not make the playoffs

* Brady went 598 passes without getting hurt before the punk Suh jumped on his leg two weeks before playoffs

* So the press are hands off with Peyton because he didn’t do anything – it was his wife / neither did Brady – they claimed it was McNally

* Someone called talk radio and said apply same measurement to Peyton as Brady – Reasonable doubt

2. Isaiah Thomas 2015 vs. Antoine Walker 2002:

* Thomas season pace shooting threes: 159-486 (.327) / Turnovers 234 Continue reading Connelly’s Top Ten: Go Steelers! »

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tom brady

An MRI on Tom Brady Monday showed that the quarterback suffered a sprained ankle as well as bruised ribs. The ankle injury occurred in the first half when Brady was rolled up on by Ndamukong Suh. Brady came off the field gingerly and had his ankle re-taped prior to the next offensive series. He did not miss any snaps following the injury (besides running the clock out late in the fourth quarter) but his ankle did seem to bother him at times, especially while throwing.

Brady has taken a beating in recent weeks. The Patriots have had to shuffle offensive linemen due to injury and Julian Edelman, a security blanket who can get open quickly, has been out injured. Both of these factors have combined to cause Brady plenty of pain since Thanksgiving and the Patriots 2-4 record since starting 10-0 is due in part to offensive struggles.

The first round playoff bye could not come at a better time for New England. Not only will it give Brady time to heal but the Patriots have a contingent of injured players that are important to the team’s success on both sides of the ball. Dont’a Hightower, Sebastian Vollmer, Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Danny Amendola are all dealing with injuries, as are several other players.

Brady should be fully ready to go for the Patriots Divisional Playoff matchup and likely would have played if the team had to play a Wild Card game, but the extra time off will only help. The more critical are for New England is keeping Brady protected once the postseason begins.

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1. Patriots vs. Dolphins:

MISC

* Handing Miami the first quarter by just running the ball into the defensive line reminded me of Marvin Hagler “handing” Sugar Ray Leonard the first three rounds

* No player in the NFL is cheap shot more than Tom Brady. Insane that no one on the field has the back of the greatest player in the history of the game

* One of the most frustrating games to watch in a long time

BIGGEST PLAYS OF THE GAME

* Play of the game – Brandon Bolden’s roughing the punter took the ball from the 42 yard line to the five yard line – game over

* BS call on Keyshawn on the offensive interference Continue reading Connelly’s Top Ten: Bolden Punts Patriots Chances »

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Travis Shaw (Kathy Willens/Associated Press)

By now just about everyone knows that the Red Sox are going to throw Hanley Ramirez out at first base in 2016 and hope for the best. The good part about that plan is that Ramirez can’t possibly be worse at first than he was in Left Field in 2015, so there is nowhere to go but up. One aspect of this move that seems to have gone unnoticed is the status of incumbent First baseman Travis Shaw.

Shaw played well in his limited sample of plate appearances in 2015, but it appears that there is not much room for him to take an expanded role on the 2016 Red Sox. This may actually be a positive for now, as Shaw’s success last season surprised just about everyone, given his lack of flashy tools and mediocre minor league numbers (.249/.318/.356 in Triple-A in 2015). In fact, Shaw finished the season hitting fifth in the Red Sox order and was relied upon as one of their better run producers in the month of September, yet is still going into the 2016 season without a major role. Is this because the Red Sox basically had nowhere else to put Ramirez defensively, or because they do not believe Shaw can sustain his breakout going forward? Let’s answer the latter question by doing a quick comparison of two players in their rookie seasons with the Red Sox:

Continue reading What to Expect from Travis Shaw »

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