Sunday, January 20, 2008

Pats/Colts Breakdown

Chargers at Pats

QUARTERBACK: Tom Brady vs. Phil Rivers/Billy Volek
Currently, Phil Rivers is listed as doubtful on the Chargers injury report. He insists that he will play, however. Perhaps Rivers just likes to hear the sound of his own voice. If Rivers will be doing his yapping on the sidelines instead of the field, the keys to the San Diego Super Charger car will be handed to career back-up quarterback Billy Volek. Volek is one of the better back-up quarterbacks in the league, but he's in over his head when compared to the Dreamy One. Tom Brady had a season for the ages this year and he is absolutely clicking at the right time (26-28 against the Jags).

RUNNING BACK: Laurence Maroney/Kevin Faulk vs. LaDanian Tomlinson/Michael Turner/Darren Sproles
As a Pats fan, I got frustrated with the pundits that argued that the Pats could not run the ball. Maroney, despite being an injury risk in his two seasons, has shown that he is a dynamic back who is capable of making a big play. His counterpart, however, is arguably the best running back we've seen since Emmitt Smith. LDT is gimpy, but he will play. A 70% LDT still scares me. If Tomlinson is ineffective, the Chargers have a very capable back-up in Turner. Since the game is not against the Colts, Sproles will not be a factor.

WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT END: Randy Moss/Wes Welker/Donte' Stallworth/Jabar Gaffney/Ben Watson vs. Chris Chambers/Vincent Jackson/Antonio Gates
Not to take away from Chambers, who gave the Chargers a huge boost, or Gates, who is the best Tight End in football, but this group of receivers for the Pats is a special one. Moss caught a record amount of TDs. Welker had more than 100 catches. Stallworth and Gaffney are quick receivers who are capable of a big play. And Tom has loved Ben Watson ever since he joined the team.

Both teams have been aided by stellar offensive lines. The San Diego offensive line stepped up huge against a good Colts defense, allowing their backs to run wild and giving Volek plenty of time in the pocket. The Pats line has also been a force to be reckoned with, giving Brady all day back in the pocket.

Both defenses have their good points and weak points. The Chargers D is responsible for Adrian Peterson's record rushing day. However, they shut down the mighty Colt offense in the fourth quarter last week. They are led by Luis Castillo (who apparantly plays football in the baseball offseason), Shawne Merriman, and Antonio Cromartie. The Pats D has followed the bend, not break strategy all year. I came across an interesting stat the other day. In close games, the Pats have the worst defense in the league in the third quarter. However, they have the best defense in the league in the fourth quarter. The Pats D is led by Richard Seymour, Asante Samuel, the difficult to root for Rodney Harrison, and a veteran linebacker corps. Although Vrabel, Bruschi, Seau, and Thomas are not exactly spring chickens or as quick as the Chargers runners, they are veterans who know how to make plays when it matters.

Sproles is a game changer in the return game. But once again, he seems to have his best games against the Colts. Do you really trust Nate Kaeding to make a big kick in the clutch? Neither do I. Steve Gostowski doesn't kick all that much, but he's usually pretty accurate.

Gotta go with the d-bag. Congrats are due for Norv Turner shutting up his pundits (I'm really gay for the word pundits today) by making it to the AFC Championship game. But Belichick is a great motivator and the best coach of our generation. That's not to say I like the guy, though.

FINAL SCORE: 31-17 Patriots.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I actually found myself chuckling at the Luis Castillo joke.