Friday, December 11, 2009

Not The Fall of A Dynasty + Week 14 Picks

I'm not happy about the Patriots' recent skid but it's not the fall of an empire. Plus my picks for the week.

     Since my last post the Patriots have lost twice in a row. Virtually nothing has been looking up for them. Not only have their struggles been present on game days but it has also extended to off the field. Players' motivation and toughness are being called into question. I'll admit that these struggles have lead to my lack of posts. I've been treating the Patriots like an ex-girlfriend. I avoided anything to do with sports after the loss to the Saints. I would hear a song on the radio that said "New Orleans" and immediately change the channel. I'd hear stories of fighting on the sidelines and cringe; pretend it never happened. The Patriots are in a rut. For the first time this season the absence of veterans like Bruschi, Vrabel and Harrison has become extremely noticeable. With all of these problems mounting, the end of a dynasty seems imminent. I'm as depressed as anyone about the recent turn of events in Foxborough, however, I think believing this is the end of an era is reading too much into things.
    A good comparison to draw is to the Steelers. Pittsburgh is currently in a five game losing streak, three of those losses coming to awful teams (the Chiefs, Raiders, and Browns). The Patriots on the other hand have five losses total. All of their losses have come to teams that are legitimate playoff contenders, if not already a lock. By no means does this make the Patriots' skid excusable but it does help put things into perspective. The Pats season is far from over and if they can hold onto the division they could make a legitimate run for a fourth Super Bowl.
    I know this seems hard to swallow right now. Especially given this week's problems of tardiness and players speaking out against Belichick. However, there is nothing reliable in the NFL and things can turn around in a second. The Browns victory over the Steelers last night serves as proof of that. With only a one game lead in the division, the Patriot's are now playing with their backs against the wall. On his weekly breakdown on, Tedy Bruschi had the following to say about the young defense, "When you look at this from the big picture for the Patriots' defense, this is another step in the growth process. Losing three out of four, I don't care how young you are, you're going to learn from it and get experience from it. Breaking this losing streak would accelerate the maturing process for them." I think there is hope for the Patriots to break out of this rut. We've seen the talent of this defense throughout the season. Their major problem has been their inability to make a big stop when it counts. As Bruschi points out, this losing streak could serve as an inspiration to mature and get better. We have yet to see whether the Patriot's current predicament will make or break them. There is still hope that this team can persevere and move on. Another major problem for the Patriots has been the running game. There is hope for this to get better as well. For the first time since week 3, Fred Taylor was not listed on the injury report. With both Sammy Morris and Taylor back on the field the Patriots could be equally dangerous on the ground as in the air. 
    Everyone always says that the most important things to have in January are a good defense and a good running game. Though both of these things are currently ailments for the Patriots there is reason to believe that things can turn around and New England can perform better on the field. Once their problems on the field are cured, the problems off the field should take care of themselves. I'll admit that things look grim right now and I'm as upset as anyone, but it is not yet the end of the world. There is still hope for a turnaround and hope a Championship. 

Week 14 Picks:
New Orleans over Atlanta- 24-17
Houston over Seattle- 21-13
Denver over Indianapolis- 27-14
New England over Carolina- 28-20
Buffalo over Kansas City- 14-6
Baltimore over Detroit- 19-10
Cincinnati over Minnesota- 32-21
Jacksonville over Miami- 17-14
Tampa Bay over New York Jets- 14-9
Green Bay over Chicago- 30-21
Oakland over Washington- 24-14
Tennessee over St. Louis- 21-13
Philadelphia over New York Giants- 20-16
Arizona over San Francisco- 32-20

Upset of the Week- 
Dallas over San Diego- 28-21 
     Vegas has San Diego picked as the underdog here but this is a little misleading. Given Dallas's history of December skids and San Diego's tendency for late season runs, the Chargers should be the favorite here. San Diego is definitely the better, more consistent, and more reliable team in this match up. Dallas really needs this win, however. They are holding a slim lead in the division and the Wild Card could be anyone's game. Next week they take on the likely-to-be 13-0 Saints so a loss here could really hurt their chances at a playoff berth. Without the distractions of a T.O. I think the Cowboys can shake off their usual December slumps and make it into the playoffs. In order to do this, they must win on Sunday. 


  1. Good to see you back. I agree that the season is nor over for the Pats but even if they make it to the post season I dont see them going more than 1 game. Mu opinion but I feel the defense is too young and won't hold up under post season pressures.
    I think most teams have moved from the end of year run|defense to more in the air and finese game.

  2. hmmm .. maybe too many sports scandals to concentrate