After a week of insufferable fan on fan crime in which optimistic homers and pessimistic doubters debated the state of affairs of the 2011 New England Patriots, thankfully Sunday is finally here. It is long past the point where we should be looking forward to the next game rather than back to the last game as far too many in my opinion are still doing.
So for all those that think the Patriots are doomed, should cut ties with Bill Belichick, and believe they could make better decisions than the management in Foxboro does, let’s take a step off the ledge and take a look at why the Patriots might just possibly find some miraculous way to win today’s game.
1. The Giants are giving up over 130 rushing yards per game; only four teams allow more than that. Opponents are rushing for an average of 4.7 yards per carry, which is ranks 26th in the NFL. One major point the Pats are sure to take away from last week is the need to control the clock and increase the number of snaps the offense has, which will in turn put less pressure on the defense. The game plan is sure to include a greater emphasis on running the ball and the Pats should be able to be effective in doing just that. This will keep the defense off the field, and they’ll be fresher and more efficient when they are out there.
2. The Giants secondary is not nearly as good as stats (8 interceptions) might lead you to believe. Consider this: the Giants have lost to teams quarterbacked by Rex Grossman and Charlie Whitehurst. It’s not just the secondary, it’s their linebackers too that are subpar. Run the ball, set up some play action, and the Giants defense is prime to be carved up all afternoon long by the Patriots offense.
Tom Brady and the Patriots rarely lose back-to-back games. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
3. The Patriots very rarely lose back-to-back games since Tom Brady became the starting quarterback. Brady is one of the most competitive people you will find anywhere. Contrary to popular opinion Bill Belichick is still a very good head coach. Other than the 2002 team which lost four straight early and then back-to-back losses in December in Brady’s second year as a starter, the Patriots are 24-3 in games following a loss. I like the odds of the Pats bouncing back.
4. The Giants are indeed 5-2, but they’ve been far more erratic than the Pats. They have lost to the Redskins and Seahawks, and struggled mightily to beat the Cardinals and Dolphins. Their losses have been to teams with a combined record of 5-9, and their wins have been against teams with a combined record of 10-25; they have played against just one team with a winning record. I don’t think the Giants are as good as their record indicates.
5. New York comes into this game without two important starters, WR Hakeem Nicks and RB Ahmad Bradshaw. The Pats should be able to stop backup running backs Brandon Jacobs (3.0 yards per rush) and DJ Ware (3.2). Victor Cruz, Mario Manningham and TE Jake Ballard still give Eli Manning formidable weapons, but anytime a defense can make an opposing offense one dimensional they are going to be far less productive.
So sit back and enjoy the game. For those that found last night’s game between LSU and Alabama tough to watch due to the lack of scoring, this should be right up your alley. Don’t expect a lot of punts … but do expect the Pats to get their sixth win of the year.
Prediction: Patriots 31, Giants 27
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