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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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The Celtics Need a Center

January 7, 2016 at 10:11pm in Boston, Celtics, NBA
Brad Stevens

Last night at the Boston Garden the Celtics dropped a tough 99-94 loss to the Detroit Pistons. The C’s came out of the gate hot and held command of the lead for a majority of the game, but failed to execute and score over big stretches of the second half.  Although Isaiah Thomas did his best to will the team to victory despite a poor shooting night and some crucial misses at the free throw line, his late effort was not enough and the Celtics fell. The heart and grit of this group is displayed by their tenacious defensive intensity, but what the team lacks is a go-to scorer – someone they can give the ball to in the post and confidently say ‘go get me a bucket big man’. With an ace like that the Celtics could become elite team and a real contender in the Eastern Conference.

Trade speculation has been buzzing around big-time NBA centers including Dwight Howard, Brooke Lopez, and DeMarcus Cousins, and the Celts have been tied to almost all of the rumors. The question remains whether Danny Ainge is ready to make that kind of deal, which would undoubtedly require separating with some very valuable assets. Rumor has it that Ainge has expressed interest in such a deal, but has been unwilling to accept a trade that includes Marcus Smart or the Brooklyn Nets’ 2016 1st round draft pick that was acquired in the trade involving Pierce and Garnett. This is a fair assessment by Ainge as that selection has a chance of becoming a number one overall and Marcus Smart has shown tremendous promise. It is clear that Ainge does not consider Smart on the trade block, but that 2016 draft pick deserves some reconsideration.

The obvious top pick in this year’s draft class is LSU’s freshman phenom Ben Simmons. Anyone that watched he and the Tigers dismantle Kentucky on Tuesday got to see the superior talent level and athleticism that has NBA general managers salivating. After him on the in the top five of the mock draft board are Brandon Ingram (Duke), Kris Dunn (Providence), Jaylen Brown (California), and Ivan Rabb (California). Although all these players are certainly talented and may blossom into quality NBA starters, none of them seem to address the Celtics’ needs other than Simmons.

The chance of the Nets’ pick becoming #1 overall is 15.9% as of January 7th and the chance of it being in the top 3 is 46.9%. And keep in mind, every time the Celtics continue to lose to the Nets decreases that probability. Drafting Ben Simmons would be ideal for any team because the potential he offers, but acquiring him is far from a sure thing at this point for the Celtics and the lucky team that gets the number one overall will also need to demonstrate patience as the youngster develops.

It seems like given the circumstances and the current Celtics roster trading that Nets’ unprotected draft pick could be beneficial to the Celtics if it is dealt for the right guy. Of the three aforementioned centers on the market the easy name to cross of the list is the plague of the NBA – Dwight Howard. But both Brooke Lopez and DeMarcus Cousins are interesting and offer intriguing options that deserve some consideration. Here is a career comparison of the two.

Age Points per game Rebounds per game Assists per game Blocks per game Steals per game
Brook Lopez

27

18.0 7.4 1.3 0.6

1.8

DeMarcus Cousins 25 19.4 10.7 2.6 1.3

1.4

The two other important elements that need attention are health and character, which are both important when analyzing these two options at center. With DeMarcus Cousins the main concern is his attitude, as he has a history of clashing with coaches and quitting on his teammates. For Brook Lopez it is his injury history that includes foot and ankles problems that often become a chronic hinderance for many big men. Other than those two concerns both players statistical output have been fairly comparable over their careers, with DeMarcus having an advantage on the offensive end. 

The answer here is DeMarcus Cousins. He is younger than Lopez, has not had the scary injury history, and has shown flashes of defensive ability to go along with his offensive skill set. As previously mentioned the concern is about Cousins’ character, which is a valid source of anxiety and skepticism. But the leadership role on the Celtics that Isaiah Thomas has assumed, and his friendship with Cousins that was developed during their time playing together for the Sacramento Kings offers some optimism. This relationship could harness Cousins’ potential and influence him to buy into Coach Stevens’ system. Sure it is not an absolute certainty, but the presence of Thomas along with leaders like Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley could simmer Cousins’ attitude and allow him to blossom on in team-oriented environment.

With the addition of an elite center the Celtics would be a real contender in the Eastern Conference. Brooke Lopez’ health concerns are not worth giving the Nets back their first round draft pick despite his talents, but the promise of DeMarcus Cousins would be. In either case the deal would likely also include a second round draft pick or two, and a player like David Lee to balance each teams’ salary cap. DeMarcus Cousins offers a superstar offensive skill set with defensive potential if he is surrounded by a competitive team that he gels with. This acquisition could move the Celtics one step closer to their championship aspirations. Celtics fan are waiting patiently for this team to turn the corner and although a supreme college talent like Ben Simmons is promising, it will only serve to further delay the winning process. On the other hand DeMarcus Cousins is under contract through 2018 and could propel the club to the next level upon his first day in the green and white. If Ainge wants to win in the near future he will make this type of deal, if not Celtics fans will have to continue to wait patiently for the team to become a legitimate contender for the NBA championship.

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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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