The Rebirth of a Dynasty

Can a rebirth take place without a death?  The New England Patriots never hit rock bottom; unless you call their 1st round exit in the Playoffs last year hitting rock bottom.  They didn’t have to fire their head coach, or draft and develop a new franchise Quarterback.  It has seemed like a decade since Brady and Co. have hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.  The Patriots last Super Bowl victory came against the Eagles in the 2004 season, but for the last 5+ season the Pats have managed to stay amongst the NFL’s elite minus the rings.

Gone are the folk heroes of Ty Law, Willie McGinist, Tedy Bruschi, Troy Brown and Rodney Harrison ( I could list them all, but I digress).  In step the young and eager new comers of, Jerod Mayo, Devin McCourty, Pat Chung and Rob Gronkowski.  All itching to know what it feels like to be the last team standing.  With all this young talent, and oh yeah… A couple of guys who know what it takes to win in February i.e. Brady, Wilfork and Branch; this team looks primed to be playing in Dallas by seasons end.

Can we just stop for a minute and look at some of the out of this world statistics that the Patriots put up this year?  If you’re not a fan of stats, just scroll down for a bit, this may take a while.

Bill Belichick became the 1st NFL coach to win 14 or more games in 4 seasons.

Tom Brady dropped back to throw the ball 492 times, he was only intercepted 4 times while leading the league with 36 touchdown passes.  Just to compare that to Tom’s Colt’s counterpart Peyton Manning- he threw 33 TD’s accompanied by 17 INTs, while dropping back to throw 679 times!

BenJarvus Green Ellis became the 1st Patriot since Corey Dillion (2004) to rush for over 1,000 yards with 1,008 yards.  Ellis also scored 13 rushing touchdowns, 3 behind league leader Arian Foster.

The rookie Tight ends were flat-out of the charts!  Let me explain.  The rookies Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez who were drafted in the 2nd and 4th rounds respectively combined for 87 receptions, 16 touchdowns, and 1,109 receiving yards.  BTW… Gronk tied for the league lead with 10 TD grabs by a tight end with  Antonio Gates and Marcedes Lewis.

Jerod Mayo led the NFL with 175 total tackles, the next closest was Titans Linebacker, Stephen Tulloch, with 159 take downs.

First round pick CB- Devin McCourty made the Pro Bowl with stats that put him in the same sentence as Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu and Asante Samuel.  McCourty proved all the nay-sayers wrong with 7 interceptions, 24 passes defended, 82 total tackles, 2 forced fumbles and 1 sack.  Defensive rookie of the year?  Should be, but will most likely finish second to Lion’s Defensive tackle, Ndamukong Suh.

Sixteen.  That’s right, Sixteen different Patriots players have scored a touchdown this season in one form or another.  Shall I list them all?  Screw it I’ll list them all.  Brady, Hoyer, Green-Ellis, Woodhead, Welker, Moss*, Branch, Gronkowski, Hernandez, Tate, Crumpler, Edelman, Chung, Sanders, Arrington and Guyton.

8. Since their week 9 loss to the Cleveland Browns.  The Patriots have scored 30 plus points in 8 straight weeks.  During that span the Pats have outscored their opponents 299-125.

+28.  Probably the greatest stat of all.  The Patriots were plus 28 in the turnover department this season.  The next closest team was the Pittsburgh Steelers with plus 17.  When you take the ball away more than you give it away, you’re gonna win a lot of games.

See, I told you those stats would knock you on your ass.  Don’t you feel good?  Aren’t you just a little more confident going into the playoffs knowing this?  Well you should.  The Patriots are running like a well oiled machine right now; and the “parity bug” has bitten the rest of the NFL.

Who can beat the Patriots?  Manning’s receivers are dropping like flies.  The Jets have taken a step back since last year.  Kansas City is inconsistent.  Pittsburgh and Baltimore would put up good fights, but the Pats have Big Ben’s number, and Tom Brady flat-out hates Terrell Suggs and the rest of the Raven’s Defense.

As for the NFC teams… I’m not gonna get into that right now.  But if the Patriots were to make the Super Bowl, which I think they will.  I’d love to see a rematch of the 2004 Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles.  Just to see how Belichick would draw up a game plan to attack Michael Vick would be worth the price of admission.

Whether this season ends in a Super Bowl victory or not, this Patriots team might be the best regular season team of the decade.  Yes. Even better than the 2007, 16-0, record-breaking Patriots.  With a new and youthful cast of characters the Patriots look like they will be at the top of the NFL for at least another 5 seasons.  And with 3 of first 33 picks in the upcoming NFL draft  the end seems to be nowhere in sight.

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Empire State of Mind

The Big 3 and the rest of the Boston Celtics will take their talents to Madison Square Garden in New York City, to take on Amare Stoudemire and the Knicks.  The Celtics carry with them a ten game winning streak, while the Knicks put their eight game win streak on the line.

The buzz around the NBA, and ESPN today has been all Celts-Knicks.  Asking the question if the Boston vs. New York rivalry has carried over on to the hard court.  Celtics captain Paul Peirce was quick to dismiss the rivalry talk, stating that the media has tried to play up every other team in  the NBA as the Celtics’ rivals.  Peirce said, one week they’re saying Miami is the rival, next week they bring up Cleveland, now it’s the Knicks.  Peirce believes a rivalry has to be back and forth; and that the only “true” rival the Celtics have is the LA Lakers.

Peirce has a point.  The Celtics have won 21 of the last 26 games against New York, and have beaten the Knicks by an average of 12.3 points per game.

One rivalry that I’m excited to watch tonight is Kevin Garnett against Amare Stoudemire.  The two big men clearly don’t like each other (actually I don’t think KG likes anyone in the NBA not wearing Celtics’ green).  Everytime the two face off there seems be a lot of trash talk back and forth, and most likely a double technical.

I’m not into putting stamps on post season games.  If players and fans want to define this game as a rivalry game, than let them.  One thing is for sure, tonight is must see T.V. for basketball fans.  Which team will keep their win streak alive under the bright lights of MSG?  My money is on the Boston Celtics.

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And you thought this Winter couldn’t get any Sweeter?

The Philadelphia Phillies crept in like a thief in the night and stole free agent pitcher, Cliff Lee, from the Bronx Bombers.  Red Sox fans rejoiced today when they learned the news that the Yankees would not have the one-two punch of Lee and Sabathia.  Where oh where will the Yanks go from here?

Video: Bobby Valentine’s reaction to the signing of Cliff Lee in Philly

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Winter Wonderland

“Tommy Terrific” was masterful yet again Sunday leading the Patriots to a 36-7 win over the Chicago Bears in the “snow globe” that was Soldiers Field.  The Win, coupled with the New York Jets loss to Miami, allowed the Patriots to become the first team this year to clinch a playoff berth.  Right now the Patriots control their own destiny, and if they can hold serve, it looks like the road to Dallas will most likely go through New England.

There are so many positive things the Patriots and their fans can take away from this game:  The fact that Brady threw for 369 yards and two touchdowns in a snow storm, the defense continued to improve and were able to stop the run without Brandon Spikes, and the combination of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead (both undrafted)  could not be denied, racking up a combined 108 rushing yards against the strong Chicago D.

I don’t know about you, but this morning when I woke up and watched the Patriots-Bears highlights, I couldn’t help but think that the Patriots are a lock for the Super Bowl.  I also thought, that New Englanders are so damn lucky that we get to watch #12 play quarterback every Sunday.  I know we say this every year; but Tom Brady just might be having his best season of his career.

Not only is Tommy Boy leading the Patriots back to the Playoffs this year with the best record in the NFL (11-2); he has put up some incredible statistics along the way.  This season Brady boasts the highest QB rating in the NFL at 109.9, while throwing a lead leading 29 touchdown passes to only 4 interceptions.  With 3 games left in the season, Brady is projected to finish the 2010 regular season with 36 TDs, 5 INTs, and 4182 yards passing.  Oh, and by the way… That other Quarterback that Brady is always compared to, Peyton Manning.  Well, he is projected to finish the season with a QB rating of 91.2, with 32 passing TDs, and a whopping 18 interceptions.  How do you like them apples?

With all this said, the point I’m trying to make is this- The MVP of the NFL this year resides in New England, and wears #12.  There is no one even close in my opinion.  Sure Michael Vick has had a great season with Philly, and Arian Foster has had a breakout season down in Houston.  But what Tom Brady has done this year has been nothing short of masterful.  Sure, he isn’t going to throw 50 touchdowns like he did in 2007, when he had Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Donte Stallworth all in the primes of their careers.  Instead Brady is doing it this year with two rookie tight ends, 2nd year wide out Brandon Tate, Welker and Woodhead, and old friend Deion Branch.

Two weeks ago Jet’s coach, and reining hot dog eating champion, Rex Ryan said he knows the Patriots have the best Quarterback and Coach in the NFL in Brady and Bill Belichick.  But Ryan believed that the Jet’s were the best “team.”  Brian Urlacher said something similar prior to their game against the Pat’s.  Both Ryan and Urlacher were forced to eat crow in their post game interviews.  After the game Urlacher said, “[The Patriots] are the best team in the NFL.  I don’t know what I was talking about [before], but they came in here on our field, our weather and just pounded us. We couldn’t stop them.”

As for the rest of the league, I don’t think anyone will underestimate the Patriots “team” again for the rest of the season.

-Photos from Sunday’s win in Chicago

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Patriot’s Poll

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Spikes Suspended

According to Pro Football Talk, Patriots rookie inside line backer, Brandon Spikes, has been suspended for the final four regular season games of the season after testing positive for a banned substance by the NFL.

Spikes released the following statement: “I’ve been contacted by the NFL and informed that I will be suspended 4 games for the detection of an illegal substance in a drug test. The substance was a medication that I should have gotten clarification on before taking. It was not a performance enhancer or an illegal drug. The integrity of the game is very important to me. I understand the league’s ruling and apologize to my teammates, the fans and the Patriots organization for this mistake.”

Brandon Spikes had been coming into his own in his rookie season with the Patriots playing alongside defensive captain Jerod Mayo.  Spikes played in all of the Patriots first twelve games; recording 61 total tackles, 38 solo tackles, and 1 interception.  You may recall his first NFL interception came last Monday night during the Patriot’s 45-3 manhandling of the New York Jets.

This is not the first character issue we’ve seen out of Spikes.  Last year while playing at the University if Florida Spikes was suspended for 1 half of play after a he was seen gouging the eye of Georgia running back Washaun Ealey.

Then before the NFL regular season even began Brandon Spikes admitted that he was the man in a sex tape floating around the internet.

Brandon Spikes has the talents to be a stud in the NFL, he just needs to clean up his act.  Let’s hope the 4 game layoff teaches him a lesson.

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Friday Poll

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