Monthly Archives: November, 2015

Patriots-Broncos Preview

The game that we’ve been waiting for since the schedules were released is finally here.  The Patriots play at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver today, a city that has not been kind to the Patriots.

The Pats had that amazing comeback in November 2013, they crushed the Broncos in the 2014 regular season, and were so far in the Broncos’ heads last January that the Broncos shut down partly because they didn’t want to face the Patriots in Foxboro, according to Demaryius Thomas.  But those 3 instance all involved Gillette Field, and Mile High has not been so kind to the Pats.

New England did beat Tim Tebow in December 2011, but the Broncos have won important games against the Pats multiple times since the turn of the century.  They ended The Brady Bunch’s season in 2005 and 2013, and they won the showdown between Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick in 2009 when the Broncos improved to 5-0.  Mile High is no easy pace to play, and even the mighty Patriots have struggled there.

I am in Denver for the game today, and yes, I’m pissed that I don’t get to see the last Brady-Manning matchup ever.  But if the Pats win, then this will still go down as the game that Brady ended the title window of the Peyton Manning Broncos, barring another matchup between the two teams in the playoffs.

The Patriots are the favorites in this game, and it’s clear that they should be without DeMarcus Ware.  Ware’s absence is a huge loss for the Broncos.  Over the years, there has been one type of team that consistently gives Tom Brady trouble:  Teams with multiple pass rushers.  The Giants won those Super Bowls because they had 3 guys who could get after Brady.  The Jets of 2010 and the Broncos of 2013 are also prime examples.  And in even more recent memory, the 2014 Seattle Seahawks are a perfect instance to demonstrate the difference in how the Patriots fare vs. 1 pass rusher with how they fare against 2 or 3.  Through the first 3 quarters, Michael Bennett was the MVP of the game, but he was only able to wreak so much havoc because the Pats also had to worry about Cliff Avril on the other side.  When Avril went down on Brady’s interception in the 3rd quarter, the Patriots owned the 4th.  Another reason they shut down Bennett for the final 2 drives was because the Seahawks defense tired out because the Patriots fan so many plays with all their quick passes and rushing to the line, so it’ll be interesting to see if the Pats can control the clock as well today in order to wear the Broncos defense down by the 4th.

Brock Osweiler will likely do better today than Peyton Manning would have considering it’s under 20 degrees here and that Manning had worn down significantly in his past few games.  That being said, I’ll still take Belichick over Osweiler in a the matchup.  I don’t think the Pats will shut down Osweiler, but I’d be really surprised if the Broncos managed anything more than 21 point on offense.  Probably more like 16 or 17.

The key to today’s game will be Rob Gronkowski.  Aqib Talib and Chris Harris can shut down Brandon LaFell and Whichever Receiver the Patriots Give the Second Most Snaps, and that will likely be their assignments because Wade Phillips isn’t a fan of putting a corner like Talib on a tight end like Gronk.  That being said, it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if he used Talib’s size on Gronk.  That’s what I would do if I was Phillips, but who knows.

For a final prediction, I’ll say 24-17 Pats.  But the best prediction, given the magnitude of this game, is that one important aspect of this game will be completely unpredictable.  Let’s go Pats.

Boston Sports Dodges a Horrible Night, Instead It’s a Great Night

Ok, so tomorrow is Thanksgiving, so I’m gonna spare you the column that’s all but written in my head where I express concern about how the Celtics are playing.  Not only were they losing to the pathetic Philadelphia 76ers until 38 seconds left in the game, but the Celtics’ body language and energy was just… off.  Dammit, I said I wouldn’t focus on that.

Instead, let’s be happy that they took care of business behind a strong 4th quarter and got a much needed win in the standings.  After a nice Thanksgiving meal at home, they’ll come back to the TD Garden on Friday and face the Wizards, and maybe the comeback win and the holiday will clear the air and propel them back to when they could actually play basketball.

The Bruins also earned a comeback win after being outplayed massively throughout the game.  Jonas Gustavsson had to save the B’s with a 32 of 34 performance, and Frank Vatrano and Colin Miller played like players who are much better than Frank Vatrano and Colin Miller.  Miller’s snipe of a slapshot with under 2 minutes to play tied the game, and Vatrano’s tip in off of Miller’s shot (as well as Vatrano’s goal in the 1st) was barely enough to squeak by the Red Wings in Detroit.

Both teams got outplayed handily, and both came away with unlikely wins.  Can you imagine how we’d be feeling right now if they had both lost, which looked to be about 80% likely when the Celtics game had 2 minutes left and the Bruins game had something like 7 minutes left at the same time?  The Celtics would have handed Philly their 1st win of the season, and the B’s would have lost 2 crucial points to a team that’s on their heels in the division.  While it’s still late November and the regular season in either sport is not nearly as important as in football, we have to recognize that the Celtics and Bruins dodged major bullets tonight.  I’m pretty thankful for that one as we head into Turkey Day.

Should the Refs Own a Bad Call or Hedge and Make Up For It?

In the 3rd quarter of the Pats’ Monday Night win over the Bills, the refs inadvertently blew the whistle because they were trying to come up with more ways to screw up their already horrendous performance during the game.  (The video can be found in ESPN’s column about the game here.)

What’s clear to anyone with a pair of working ears (or a single working ear for that matter) is that the refs blew the whistle well before Amendola caught the ball.  In fact, they blew it before Brady released the pass.  Yet, after huddling up and pretending they knew what they were talking about, the refs claimed that Amendola had already caught the ball so that the pass wouldn’t be nullified.  They even tacked on a 15 yard penalty to REx Ryan to appease the masses.  Had the refs called the play “correctly” once the whistle was inadvertently blown, the play would have been a do-over.

Whether or not the refs should have called the play true or tried to correc their mistake is an interesting debate, and it probably sheds light on how you think about makeup calls in general.  Do the refs try to make up for some of the damage that their horrible whistle did and throw the Pats a cookie with the 12 yard completion and 15 yard penalty, or do they follow the rule book that they’re supposedly married to?

I’ll side with making up for the call simply because of how stupid and how rare that inadvertent whistle was.  Umpires shouldn’t practice makeup calls on balls and strikes by any means, because they’re gonna routinely miss calls on that kinda stuff, and over time they’re gonna even out.  Trying to self-regulate that in some fake way will only create more problems.

But this one?  Well, something like an inadvertent whistle won’t even itself out to hurt both teams even close to equally, because they happen once every… I don’t know, 10 games?  15? 20?  That whistle was so ridiculous and so clearly cost the Pats a long gain that I’m ok with the refs trying to make up for it.  I wouldn’t call myself an “Ends Justify the Means” kinda guy because I’ve always felt that such a phrase eliminates any care that someone should have for the collateral damage they caused.  But in this case, making sure that the Patriots get some of the yards they deserved is worth not following the rule book for one subset of a specific instance that may never pop up again in these refs’ careers.

Granted, I’m allowing for a ton of grey area and for a ton of calls to falls through the cracks.  At what point does the type of call go from “no makeup calls necessary here” to “yeah, maybe a makeup call for this one”?  I honestly don’t know for sure, but I know that it involves how often the type of call happens.  And I’d argue that, when a play is as dumb and as infrequent as the inadvertent whistle that happened tonight, why not make sure that the refs’ screwup makes the least amount of difference in the game as possible?

Pats Improve to 10-0, Lose Basically Everyone in the Process

Above is a live shot of me reading the updated Patriots injury list.  The paparazzi are everywhere, man. 

Wanna know something funny?  I placed a wager before the season that the Pats would win more than 10.5 games this season.  I bet it before the 2014 season, and that worked out quite well, so I had to try it again.  It’s nice to know that they have to win 1 of the final 6 for that bet to work out.  Gonna go out on a limb and say I’ll make money on that one.

Having said that, these wins are starting to come at too steep a cost.  While the defense is getting healthy with the expected return of Jamie Collins next week, the offense is a mess.  Luckily Brady and Gronk have all their limbs in tact, and they’re the two most irreplaceable members of the offense by far, but literally every other starter from before the 2015 season has dealt with an injury.  Dion Lewis, Bryan Stork, Shaq Mason, Tre Mason, Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Danny Amendola, Brandon LaFell, Julian Edelman, Aaron Dobson… and those are only the guys I can remember off the top of my head.

Amendola and Dobson’s injuries occurred tonight,  and they could both play a big role in the Denver game next week.  When the Broncos have a great pass rush and 2 amazing cornerbacks, you’re gonna need all the depth at the playmaking positions you can get.

If I had to guess, Dobson’s injury is gonna keep him out for some time, while Amendola’s won’t.  Dobson looked to sustain a serious foot injury, which he’s already battled before in his career and won’t be thrilled to undergo again.  Amendola looked to grab the back or side of his left knee, and my gut says that he pulled the part of the hamstring that runs through the back outside part of the knee.  That could be a few weeks on the sideline, but Amendola also might very well play with it next week.

As far as the actual game goes, Brady struggled without Edelman, Amendola, and a reliable offensive line.  Sebastian Vollmer needs to knock off the rust in time to deal with either DeMarcus Ware or Von Miller next week, because he was horrible tonight.  Marcus Cannon wasn’t much better.  The Pats defense played well, but part of that came from going against Tyrod Taylor and a Rex Ryan offense.

It’s time for some arrogant Pats fans (you know who you are) to stop pretending that this team doesn’t have flaws and can do anything.  Of course it’s a flawed team, just like any team in sports.  The 2015 Pats, especially without Dion Lewis and Nate Solder for the season, can’t find different ways to move the ball when the other team’s front 7 and secondary are clicking at the right time as well as the 2014 Pats could.  Some of that is the absence of a pass catching running back like Vereen or Lewis, and some of that is the offensive line being weaker.

Why do I point out the flaws?  To prove that health is the most important thing for the Pats.  Yeah, being undefeated or shoving it in the faces of the NFL every single week is fun, but health in the playoffs is more important.  A big reason why the Pats won last year is that Jerod Mayo was the only significant injury for the season, and the Pats have already topped that with Lewis and Solder out.  They might also not get Edelman back and will likely lose someone else for the year.  Health is the most important thing right now, so make sure you take some of that time tomorrow that you were going to spend on Twitter bashing Patriots haters and instead spend some of that time checking for updates of the Edelman, Amendola,  and Collins.

Dallas Mavericks Are 7-4… How Good Are They?

On November 4th, when the Dallas Mavericks had played 4 games this season and gone 2-2, I wrote about how they would fare during the 2015-2016 campaign and where they would finish in the standings.  The Celtics own the Mavs’ Top 7 protected pick, and it was (and still is) important enough that the Mavs start out the first few months of the season well enough that they won’t even consider tanking late in the season to finish in the bottom 7.  The first step of that quest was for the Mavericks to win at least 3 and preferably 4 of their next 7 games before they faced the Celtics on the 18th, which of course is tonight.

Well, they won 5.  The Mavs sit at 3rd in the Western Conference standings behind an impressive showing early in the season.  As Celtics fans, we are rooting for Dallas to fare just well enough that they’re not horrible yet just bad enough to not make the playoffs or miss out by a few games; essentially, we want to avoid extremes.  So am I worried that the Mavs might be too good to meet that criteria?

Nope.  So far this year, the Mavericks have beaten the Suns, Lakers, Pelicans, Clippers, Lakers, the imploding Rockets, and the 76ers.  With the exception of the Clippers, those are EXACTLY the kinds of teams that I want the Mavs to beat early in the season.  Given that the Pelicans, Rockets, and even the Clips themselves have looked worse this year than I would have expected 2 weeks ago, it doesn’t worry me in the slightest that the Mavs have beaten these teams.  If they were going into OKC and Houston on back to back nights and beating both teams handily, then I’d be worried.  (Wait, did the Celtics just do that??? I had no idea!)

That the Mavs are 7-4 through 11 games puts them on pace for a 52 win season.  Of course, I don’t want that to be their final outcome by any means, because that would give the Celtics something like the 24th pick.  But if they can hover at about 3 to 5 games above .500 through the new year, that puts the Mavericks in their most dreaded spot, which is the best spot for the Celtics.  They have a few injury prone players, and it’s reasonable to expect 37 year old Dirk to come down a little bit from how he’s playing now.  The Western Conference will likely require teams to get about 44 wins to make the playoffs, so if the Mavs drop back to about 38 or so, that puts them right in line for about the 11th pick, maybe 10th.  If they finish exactly .500, that should still net the 12th or 13th.  I’d like it to be a little higher, but I could live with that, and it’s better than not getting the pick until next year when the Mavs can retool and probably gift the Celtics a pick in the 20s.

While it’s probably time to start rooting against the Mavs when they play good teams — starting tonight against the Celtics of course — it’s not a problem that the Mavs went 5-2 in their last 7.  While I wanted them to win “at least 3 and preferably 4,” a total of 5 wins is definitely better than 2 wins and probably even better than 3.  The Mavs are running pretty close to the exact course we need for the Celtics to get a pick in the 10-15 range this year, and that’s better than risking losing it at all.

Red Sox Offseason Preview

Earlier today, David Ortiz announced his retirement, which puts an interesting spin on the Red Sox offseason plans.  You can read my reaction here. 

Last week, the Red Sox traded for Craig Kimbrel of the San Diego Padres. They surrendered their #4 prospects and #6 prospects according to soxprospects.com, OF Manuel Margot and IF Javier Bardem, as well as lefty pitcher Logan Allen and IF Carlos Asuaje.  Margot and Bardem are no doubt significant losses, but they don’t change the validity of the trade.

Margot and Bardem are currently blocked at the big league level with Mookie, JBJ, Castillo, X, and Laser Show in the way.  Yoan Moncada is also gonna push for time at one of those positions in the near future, and the Red Sox could afford to trade these two guys away given the team control they have over the other as their positions.  Logan Allen may turn out to be a great pitcher, but it’s unlikely that he’ll be a stud, and Asuaje was a throw in and a lottery ticket for the Padres.  in return, the Sox got one of the best closers in the game at 27 years old and with 3 years remaining on his contract, including a team option that seems like a no-brainer 2 winters in advance.  The Sox paid a relatively steep price for a reliever, but here’s something you might care to know.  They scored the 4th most runs in the majors last year and had a 4.39 ERA from their starters.  The Royals, who you might recall won the Fall Classic, scored the 7th most runs in the league and had a 4.34 ERA from their starters.  What’s the difference between those teams, besides a pair of fat free agents who have displayed the same major league fielding ability in 2015 that I would have had at their positions?  Bullpen.  Given that the Sox needed bullpen arms like they needed oxygen and that they have one of the deepest farm systems in the league, the Kimbrel trade was not only defensible but absolutely the right move.

As far as the hitters go, the only potential moves involve Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, which is a mess that I honestly don’t feel like dealing with right now.  I’ll devote my time and patience to those fat bums some other time.  Or maybe I won’t.  Whatever.

That leaves starting pitching, and every Red Sox fan and their mother knows that the Red Sox need a starter in free agency.  Dave Dombrowski even admitted it.  Since the Red Sox season ended mercifully in early October, you’ve been hearing the same few names for potential targets.  David Price, Zack Greinke (not really), Johnny Cueto, Jordan Zimmerman.

David Price is the first free agent domino to fall throughout Major League Baseball, and he should be the primary target for the Red Sox as well, barring a price tag that is incomprehensible.  Assuming that Price gets somewhere between the Jon Lester and Max Scherzer contracts (6/$155M and 7/$210M), there’s no reason that the Sox shouldn’t get him.  To be fair, I’d like to keep the length of the contract at 6 years, and if necessary thrown in a vesting option for the 7th.  Price just turned 30 years old a few months ago, meaning that 7 years would take the Red Sox into his late 30s with a salary of over $25 million, which is generally a recipe for disaster.  But for the first several years of the deal, Price is more than worth roughly 25 big ones.

Every single season since 2010, he’s had at least 4.2 WAR by Fangraphs’ metrics.  His Baseball Reference WAR calculations have been a bit lower because of the way they measure ERA vs. FIP in their WAR metrics, but let’s say that Price is an average of 4 or 4.5 WAR per year, which is feasible given that Fangraphs has pegged his last 2 seasons at a total of 12.5 WAR.  The average number of dollars given to free agents now is about $7 or $7.5 million per WAR, and it’ll be higher than that by the time that Price’s contract is up.  If you give a 5ish WAR pitcher $30 million a year, you’re actually winning the free agency game.  And when you’re the Red Sox, you don’t even need to win the free agency game.  You just need to win real game.

Admittedly, I don’t like David Price because David Ortiz doesn’t like him.  But moves can’t be made based off of who likes who, and I know that Ortiz and Price can learn to get along for a single season before Ortiz retires.  Remember, Jonny Gomes was no fun to root for when he was on the Rays, especially when he was throwing cheap shots at Coco Crisp in 2008, but somehow everyone got over that.  In free agency in any sport, you want to pay for the premium guys, the cream of the crop.  It’s not often that a guy like Price can be bought without draft pick compensation, but that’s the opportunity the Red Sox have.  Let me conclude my argument for Price by saying this:  If Pablo Sandoval is worth $18 million per year and Hanley Ramirez is worth $22 million per year, why isn’t a perennial Cy Young candidate worth $28 to a team whose only dire need is an ace?

After price, there’s Zack Greinke.  Actually, for the Red Sox, there’s not.  He shouldn’t play in Boston due to his past anxiety issues, and I thik I recall him or his agent admitting awhile back that a place like New York or Boston would be risky for him.  Let him stay in Los Angeles where the “diehards” don’t pay attention to their team until Game 5 of the NLDS when Donny Baseball is blowing it yet again.

If the Sox don’t get Price (or even if they do), they should try to get a 2nd quality starter on the market instead of just a single hurler.  Johnny Cueto would be fine by me, but Jordan Zimmerman would be more preferable.  They’re both 29, but Cueto was a different guy in the American League than the National, and his 5-11 frame (with what seems like a generous measurement) worries me a little bit for a pitcher heading into his 30s.  I’d love to have Cueto, but I’d prefer Zimmerman if the price is lower, which it likely will be.  Zimmerman has had at least 3 WAR each of the past 5 seasons and has thrown at least 195 innings each of the past 4.  That’s a great #2 starter for the Sox to have, and they could squeak by with him as their ace if they either get great 2nd and 3rd starters or they trade for a real ace at the deadline.  Having said that, Cueto won’t cost the team the 12th overall pick like Zimmerman would, so Cueto has to be the primary target.

But there are 2 more guys who fly under the radar way too much, and I don’t know why I haven’t heard their names in discussion of Red Sox free agency targets: Yovani Gallardo and Cliff Lee.  Gallardo has has at least 2 WAR since 2009 and he’s just 29.  Even if he’s only average at exactly 2 WAR for 5 years, then a 5 year, $80 million contract would be fair for him.  I expect him to be a little better than that, although I have a feeling he’ll sign for a lot more.  Call it a gut feeling, which are usually stupid, but Gallardo seems like the kind of guy who won’t get as much as he wants and will have to settle for less money on the market.  James Shields was that guy last year, and he signed for 4/$75M with a more impressive resume.  Hopefully Gallardo is this year’s version of Shields.

Finally, there’s Cliff Lee, who obviously is not close to an ace anymore.  Having said that, Lee was hurling at a more than 5 WAR pace right up until he got injured in 2014, and he didn’t pitch in 2015.  That’s risky, of course, but isn’t it worth it for a big market team who needs pitching?  If you can sign lee to a contract with 1 year fully guaranteed at $10 million and bonuses that can go up to $15M, and then maybe throw a vesting option year at $15-18M, how much risk is there in that contract?  At worst, you get 50 innings of a subpar performance from a guy who, at the very least, won’t corrode the clubhouse.  For the Sox, that’s not a huge risk.  The hopeful but realistic outcome is that you get a solid 2 or a great 3 starter at a fraction of the market price.  And Lee is absolutely filthy in the postseason, which should matter to any team with October aspirations.

My hopeful offseason outcomes:

Option 1: David Price and either Gallardo once his market hopefully crashes or Cliff Lee.  Roll with Sandoval at 3rd and Hanley at 1st (or other way around) and hope that one of them has a bounce back year, and then send the other to Siberia.

Option 2: Jordan Zimmerman and Johnny Cueto.  Probably a pipe dream, I know.  Then do the same thing with Sandoval and Ramirez.

Option 3: Johnny Cueto and Cliff Lee, do the same thing with Sandoval and Ramirez, and be ready to pounce with the deepest farm system in baseball on whichever top end starter becomes available for trade.

David Ortiz to Retire After 2016 Season

Ever since 2003, David Ortiz has been one of my favorite athletes.  Since April 20, 2013, he and Tom Brady have been my favorite athlete of all time.  I’m starting the post with this video rather than anything about baseball because Ortiz showed in that moment that he meant so much more to Boston than just being a player for the Red Sox.

To this day, David Ortiz doesn’t get enough credit for being a real part of the city, for being one of us.  Ortiz has made Boston his home, has shown genuine love for the fans, and has always understood the tone and the attitude of the city.  Hell, he even hates the majority of the Boston sports media, and what’s more Bostonian than that?!

I’ve heard a story from two different UPS/Fedex delivery guys who had to drop something off at Ortiz’s house.  they said that, when they dropped it off, Ortiz couldn’t have been more kind and gregarious.  He even offered them a little bit of the lunch he was having at the time — which of course consisted of rice and beans.  The dude loves being nice to the people of Boston.

On the field, I’d argue that the best praise we can give Ortiz is that his 2004 Postseason might not be the first on field accomplishment you think about when you think of Ortiz’s career.  His stats were 16 games, .353/.500/.706, an astronomical 1.206 OPS, 5 HR, 13 RBI, 23.5 BB%, multiple timely hits right when the Sox were down, and 1 Grand Slam that will be remembered forever.  Because 2013 was more recent and fewer other Red Sox were performing, we might think of that year before his October performance nine seasons earlier.

But we shouldn’t.  In October 2004, David Ortiz was consistently the best player on the field and put the Red Sox on his (humongous) back en route to ending the curse.   His stats were even better than 2013: 14 games, .400/.515.764, an even more astronomical 1.279 OPS, 5 HR, 19 RBI, 19.1 BB%, and 3 (THREE!!!) walk off hits.  Ain’t nobody on the Yankees could handle Ortiz, much less shut him down.

You should remember David Ortiz primarily through two videos.  The first is posted above, and you’re not human if you haven’t watched it yet.  The second is MLB.com’s collection of Ortiz’s greatest postseason hits, and this video was done before his increible streak of reaching base safely in nine straight plate appearances in the World Series and all 14 of his career World Series games:

Yeah, I’m biased towards the guy who takes up a quarter of the backdrop for this website.  But as my mother always says, just because I’m biased doesn’t mean I’m wrong.  And my bias towards Ortiz doesn’t change the fact that he’s the best clutch hitter of all time.  Find me any other player in the storied history of the game that you’d most want with your season on the line.  I’ll take Big Papi every time.

You may be focusing on the Patriots, Celtics, and Bruins, but take some time today to reflect on David Ortiz’s 13-going-on-14 years with the Red Sox.  You’ll remind yourself how amazing it’s been.  And now you have all the reason to maniacally and neurotically want the Red Sox to splurge in free agency, because what better way is there to end Ortiz’s career with another amazing World Series performance.  Let’s have the Red Sox get him there, and I’ll bet you anything that he’ll shine as bright as the sunset he is riding towards.

Celtics Beat Thunder Behind Their Best 2nd Half of the Year

brad stevens 3

At halftime, the Celtics were down 52-45 in the house of one of the Western Conference favorite this season.  Even without Kevin Durant, the Thunder represent a great test for the Celtics, and the Celtics passed that test tonight.  They outscored the Thunder 55-33 in the 2nd half.  Durant or No Durant, they held a team with Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka to a measly 33 in the latter.  That’s pretty damn impressive.

The game was exactly what you’d want to see from a long term perspective.  Marcus Smart was the best playof on the court with 26 points on 9-14 shooting, 8 rebounds, and awesome defense.  Every rebound that he got seemed to be highly contested, and his competitive drive was out in full force tonight.  Over the past few games, Isaiah Thomas has been trying to convince fans and media that he could be a starting point guard on an elite team.  Whenever the Celtics needed to stop a mini run by the Thunder in the 2nd half, Isaiah either hit a 3 or made a great driving pass.  Avery Bradley has finally looked like what we thought Fall 2015 Avery Bradley would resemble in the Spring of 2012.  Finally, Jared Sullinger made up for a 3-12 shooting night with 15 rebounds.  That’s an awesome sign for his potential going forward.

After stumbling out of the gate at 1-3, the Celtics have shown why we were predicting them for a win total in the high 40s before the season.  They’ll have their off nights because they’re so young and Stevens is still figuring out the best rotations, but when this team is on, they’re really, really good.  The 2nd half tonight in OKC proved it.

Julian Edelman Needs Foot Surgery, But Might Return Later in the Season

edelman

If we’re being real with ourselves, we knew it was a serious injury the moment Edelman slammed his helmet down after he got hurt.

Edelman has a broken bone in his foot and will have to undergo the knife, but if the procedure goes well, he could be back for the playoffs.  It seems like it’s the Dez Bryant/Kevin Durant injury, which is incredibly worrisome because Durant tried to rush back from the injury and had to be shut down for the season weeks later.  It ain’t easy coming back from a foot injury when you’re a running around and shifting all over the field.

My original thought when I saw the severity of the injury was “Once he misses the Broncos game, coming back for the playoffs is all that matters.”  But I soon realized that I was wrong, because Brady will miss his BFF greatly right up until he returns.  The Pats end the season against the Jets and Dolphins defenses, and the Week 16 Jets game especially worries me.  Gang Green might have a playoff spot to play for, the game will be in New Jersey, and the Jets defense could easily get to Brady without Edelman.  Given the combination of both a great pass rush and a great secondary that the Jets have, it’s important for Brady to get the ball out quickly to a guy like Edelman.  Brady needed Edelman in their Week 7 matchup, and he’ll long for Edelman’s presence in Week 16.   Hopefully, the Jets are either locked into the 5 seed of out of the playoffs by Week 16 and the Dolphins have been eliminated by Week 17.  I’m a little more confident of the latter.

Assuming the Pats get the 1st round bye now that the Broncos have 2 losses, (more on that in my Week 10 recap that will be up by tomorrow), they’ll skip to the Divisional Round which will basically be Week 19.  That’s 9 weeks for Jules to come back, and it took Dez Bryant 7.  But of course, it was a recurring injury for Durant and so many others who have an injury.  We have to hope that the Pats can bring him back slowly, maybe with a few snaps in Week 17 but most likely not til the playoffs.  Edelman’s absence makes it all the more important that the Pats luck out and play a relatively weak playoff opponent in the Divisional Round.  Hopefully they face a team like the 22011 Broncos or 2013 Colts and not the 2014 Ravens.

It’s obvious to say that the Pats season may come down to health, but more specifically, it might come down to the timing of their health.  If the team has a healthy Vollmer, Cannon, Sheard, Collins, and even a rusty Edelman in the playoffs, they’re the runaway favorites in that Divisional game.  If they don’t they’re vulnerable to an upset.

Let’s hope Julian Edelman’s surgeon is on point.

Patriots Win The Game of the Year vs. The Giants

brady-jump.nocrop.w529.h316

In what was a better game than any of the 4 instant classics that the Pats and Giants have given us since 2007, New England outlasted its kryptonite team on a game winning 54 yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski with 1 second to go.

It was clearly the game of the 2015 NFL season, and it meant way more to both sides than it should have.  It wasn’t just an AFC-NFC game in November.  The game felt personal to all the fans, the teams, and especially Malcolm Butler and Odell Beckham Jr.

How important this game meant to you isn’t even dependent on how much you care about the Patriots going undefeated.  I only care a little bit about 19-0, but this game meant everything to me.  It’s time for us Patriots fans to admit that superiority above all else, which isn’t the same as just winning the Super Bowl.  Because of that, beating the Giants and not having a team that is truly kryptonite for the Patriots is way more important than it should be.  Brady and co. avoided that today.

Any discussions over who played better are futile.  The Giants played closer to their A+ game than the Pats did, of course, because they’re a worse team and lost on a 54 yarder at the end of the game.  Eli Manning was probably the best player on the field, and it sucks to admit that he knows how to play and beat the Pats.  But dammit it’s true.

The Pats should feel lucky that they escaped that one, especially when Brady throws 2 easily catchable passes to the Giants defense in the latter half of the 4th quarter.  That can’t happen, and Brady doesn’t deserve a narrative of being clutch in this game.  That also hurts to admit because he led them down the field with a little over a minute to go, but the Pats shouldn’t have been in that position.

Even though the Pats should feel lucky, it should also give the team a ton of confidence.  They went into the house of the opponent who plays them the best and escaped with a win without playing their A game in clutch situations.  If they can win that type of game, then the only team that can beat the Patriots is themselves.

I don’t care how much of a cliched narrative it sounds like, but this type of win does wonders for a team’s confidence and swagger going forward.  These are the kinds of games you win if you’re on your way to Santa Clara.

On to Buffalo.