Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski celebrate after Gronk went uncovered and untouched to score the go ahead touchdown. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Of all the AFC East opponents the Jets have been the one to consistently play the Patriots close. With a revamped defense and new head coach Todd Bowles, there were people who thought this was the year they overtake the Patriots in the East. Once again they played competitive football throughout the game and kept it interesting for four quarters. Then right at the very end they decided to show everyone why the Jets are still the Jets.

– Tom Brady led the Patriots to yet another fourth quarter comeback in his incredible career. In the fourth quarter alone he went 14-17 for 150 yards and two touchdowns. Going against the number one ranked defense in the league, and the best secondary in the league, he shredded them for 355 yards. What’s even more impressive is that the Patriots didn’t even try to pretend like they wanted to run the ball. The whole world knew they were passing on the best secondary in the league and they still couldn’t stop him. That’s why he’s the greatest quarterback of all time. Even when the other team knows exactly what Brady is going to do he still does it and makes it look easy. Continue reading Notes and Observations, Week 7: Brady Nearly Perfect in 4th Quarter; Patriots Beat Jets 30-23 »

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On Sunday, the New York Jets and the New England Patriots will face off for the first time this season. The game features several intriguing storylines, but the most interesting one is how a good Jets defense can slow down one of the best offenses in the NFL.

As the Cowboys showed in the first half of Week 5, the only real way to slow down the Patriots is to get pressure on Tom Brady with four players and cover Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman effectively on every snap. But even the Cowboys ended up giving up 30 points to New England. Of all the teams on the Patriots’ schedule, two stand out that can slow them down: the Broncos and the Jets.

The Patriots will face one of those teams this Sunday when they host the Jets. Just by looking at the numbers, the Jets defense is eye-opening. They are first in yards allowed per game, second in passing yards allowed per game, first in points allowed, and tied for third in interceptions. It isn’t just the numbers, however, that make New York’s defense so impressive, it is the personnel.

For the Jets, it starts up front with one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. New York invested first-round picks in Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson and both have proven to be excellent investments. The two of them command double teams and are excellent off the snap. Both players are strong and fast, generally overpowering whoever is across from them.

Rookie Leonard Williams has lived up to his billing as a Top 10 pick last spring. Adding him to a line that includes Richardson and Wilkerson has made the Jets front unstoppable at times. The Patriots have had injuries all along the offensive line and this is where the Jets could have a major advantage. One of the best ways to defeat a Tom Brady-led offense is to get pressure in Brady’s face, something the Jets should be able to do.

New York also brings a lot of pressure from other areas. They blitz as a team more than any other defense in the league and are not afraid to send rushers in any situation. Because the Jets have two elite defensive linemen, offensive lines have greater difficulty handling the blitz. In many cases, the only option for an offense is to max protect, leaving seven to eight players in to block and having only two to three players run pass routes.

There is one major reason the Jets can send pressure whenever they want and not be concerned: their secondary. The signing of Darrelle Revis was a homecoming to New York that brought one of the game’s best corners back to the Big Apple. Revis can cover anyone and wins matchups nearly every snap. The Jets may decide to put him on Rob Gronkowski, but it is likelier that they match him up with Julian Edelman. Edelman’s short area quickness has led to many big and drive starting plays for New England, and Revis is the Jets best chance of taking that away.

Buster Skrine is also a possibility here. Skrine is smaller than Revis at 5’9” and might be able to handle Edelman’s quickness well, but he can be a streaky player so the Jets probably won’t put him on Edelman for the entire game. Skrine is currently going through the league’s concussion protocol so his status for Sunday is not yet confirmed.

The biggest question facing defenses that play the Patriots is what to do about Gronkowski. Since 2010, it has been rare for a single player or even one defense to take Gronkowski out of a game completely. Putting Antonio Cromartie on him is an option, but Cromartie will not always be physical at the line of scrimmage and that is necessary against the All-Pro Patriots tight end. New York should have a linebacker jamming Gronkowski at the line and then have Cromartie follow him in coverage.

Cromartie is the biggest of the Jets defensive backs but also quick enough to stay with Gronkowski. The Colts made it a focus to limit Gronkowski last week and shut him out in the first half. But as Gronkowski showed, it only takes a handful of plays for him to make a major impact. The Jets personnel is better than the Colts on defense, but it will take a strong effort to contain both Edelman and Gronkowski.

Sunday’s match-up between the Patriots and Jets will tell a lot about both teams. The matchup between the Patriots offense and Jets defense will be a chess match that could come down to the end of the game. Not only will the winner had a lead in the division, they’ll have an important building block toward AFC supremacy.

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Marius writes

NFL Week 7 is beginning, and only 10 teams hold winning records – five of them are still unbeaten. The Green Bay Packers, Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos are the three 6-0 teams, but all of them will take a bye week while New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers will battle against tough opponents to try and keep the winning streak.

At the top of the most power rankings you can find the reigning champions – the Patriots. Will they hold their ground against the impressive New York Jets defense? The Panthers are set for an interesting game, as they will host unpredictable Philadelphia Eagles. Continue reading NFL Week 7 Preview: Will the Best Offense Beat the Best Defense? »

LeGarrette Blount didn't go off like he did in the AFC championship but he did contribute two big touchdowns in Sunday's victory. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

We weren’t treated to the incredible blow out we were all pining for but the way this one went was actually more satisfying. For two and a half quarters the Colts kept it interesting with the help of Mike Adams’ pick-6 off the tipped pass from Julian Edelman. Gronk was virtually non-existent with the exception of his 25-yard touchdown catch-and-run. Andrew Luck was actually making plays when he had to. It seemed like for once the Colts were playing their best football against their most hated/feared rival (I emphasize their because lets face it no one in New England thinks this is a rivalry). Then it happened. The single dumbest play in the history of the NFL. “The fake punt.” After that play the Colts team and their fans were demoralized.

– The absolute best part about that play is that there was not one person in that whole organization that spoke up when they were practicing that play. Apparently they’ve been working on it for a while which makes it even better. In all that time not one of them had the brains to say “hey ya know guys…I don’t think this one’s going to work.” They all that that this was really going to get them. Right now they’re all saying it was a communication breakdown, the ball wasn’t supposed to be snapped, but that’s all a mask. In their heart of hearts they truly thought they had something special and instead it usurped the “Buttfumble” from its thrown of hilariously awful football plays.  Continue reading Notes and Observations, Week 6: Colts Run the Dumbest Play in NFL History; Patriots Beat Them Again 34-27 »

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GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 1: during Super Bowl XLIX at the University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Tringali) *** Local Caption ***

The Patriots have suffered through their share of injuries so far this season. From Center Bryan Stork to Tackle Nate Solder and Linebacker Dont’a Hightower, New England has seen several key players miss time. This week, however, they will likely be getting a key player back, as Brandon LaFell could start practicing again.

LaFell, who was signed during the 2014 offseason from Carolina, was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list prior to the start of the season. Placement on the PUP list meant that LaFell was forced to miss the first six weeks of the season.

Last season, LaFell had 74 catches for 953 yards and seven touchdowns. He was also a major factor in the playoffs, scoring the winning touchdown in the Divisional Round against Baltimore and adding another touchdown in the Super Bowl.

LaFell will instantly become a large part of the Patriots offense when he returns, taking some of the pressure of Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots offense has played well without him, but having LaFell back will be a boost.

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The Patriots placed starting left tackle Nate Solder on injured reserve Wednesday, ending his season. Solder sustained a bicep injury against the Cowboys that will require surgery. The news thrusts backup tackle Marcus Cannon into the spotlight. He will likely be taking over full time left tackle duties, and important task in the Patriots offense.

Solder is the second starting offensive lineman the Patriots will be without for significant time; starting center Bryan Stork was placed on IR/ return to start the season. Stork won’t be able to return to the lineup until week nine.

Cannon will not be coming in completely cold, as the Patriots have had significant offensive line rotations in every game this season. Cannon also played left tackle in the second half against Dallas after Solder was unable to return to the game. Cannon has had struggles during his time with the Patriots prior to this season, but in 2015 he has improved his play and has an opportunity to cement himself as a key part of the offensive line.

The news was first reported by the Boston Globe.

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Tom Brady has been fired up all season and it was on display after his one yard touchdown run. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

Just about every other team in the league would have taken yesterday’s game for what it was at face value. A 30-6 victory on the road after a bye week. In New England, the team and the fans could only see the things that they could improve on next week. The defense played exactly how it should and didn’t even surrender a touchdown on the road. All Belichick sees is how can the team lower the penalties called against them? Tom Brady continued his dominance with three total touchdowns, completing 20 out of 27 passes, and throwing for 275 yards with zero interceptions. All Belichick sees is how can he get the offensive line to protect Brady better and how can the team finally run a pick play they don’t get penalized for? That’s how spoiled we’ve become in New England that even with a dominant win on the road there is still so much work that can be done.

– Obviously this wasn’t Dallas’ best team. With no Tony Romo and Dez Bryant they were already starting at a huge disadvantage. This game definitely plays differently if Romo and Bryant are healthy, but I still believe the Patriots defense could have matched up against them well. The game plan was perfect as they carried five defensive tackles on the active roster for the first time all season. There were times where they loaded up the box with nine men begging Brandon Weeden to pass on him. He didn’t and they contained the run all game. You can say what you want about the Cowboys sending out the JV offense but the bottom line the defense did exactly what it was supposed to do to that team. If it wasn’t for penalties on their two field goal drives, this game very well could have been a shutout. Continue reading Notes and Observations Week 5: Patriots Defense Solid After the Bye Week; Beat Dallas 30-6 »

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