Good afternoon from Gillette Stadium.
It's been a bit quieter today from a media perspective. We heard from Vince Wilfork, Patrick Chung and Wes Welker at the interview podium. I sense a business-like feel from the Patriots. They seem ready to play.
The plan will be to chat until about 12:50 today. Here we go....
Do the Patriots need to jump out to a 14 point lead to stop the Jets from running the ball and taking advantage of the weakened Patriot defensive line?
Not necessarily, AE, but one statistic that stands out to me is that the Patriots have outscored opponents 103-39 in the first quarter this season. That means they are playing games on their terms most of the time. While the Patriots have some injury concerns on the d-line, I think they have enough to get the job done. It wasn't like Ron Brace, who played in the 3-4 on Dec. 6, was lighting things up.
Hey Mike, it's good to have Pryor and Deaderick back because it adds some beef and depth to the defensive line. It also gives the Patriots the ability to play the 4-3 and show the Jets some different looks. How much if any do you see the Patriots playing the 4-3 in this game?
David, I think the base personnel, against standard offensive personnel, will remain the 3-4. That's where they have their best run fits and what they've been playing all year. I don't see them going away from it.
Mike, assuming the Pats can start off fast- how much of a lead do you think would be insurmountable for Sanchez and the Jets? It seems to me that the Pats are equipped to stage a comeback if necessary, while the Jets offense would in no way be able.
I'd agree with that Kyle, assuming there are no "bonus points" on special teams. I think the Jets' special teams units are dangerous.
When a player is "limitied in practice" what exactly constitutes being limited? Can a team hold a player out for one snap of a drill in practice and then label him limited? Just curious as to how much stock you put into the difference between full participation and limited.
Eric, limited means the player didn't have the full complement of snaps in team drills that he normally would have. I put stock into that on a player-by-player basis. For example, Deion Branch was limited Wednesday. I have little doubt that he will be full go on Sunday. Jermaine Cunningham, on the other hand, I think the limited in a big more significant.
The Patriots are favorites this weekend but what will the Jets strategy be to shut down Tom Brady and the offense?
Cameron, I think it starts with controlling the ball with the running game, playing the field-position game on special teams, and mixing things up on defense with some all-out blitzes combined with some heavy coverage.
Hi Mike Do you think Tom Brady will try and expose Antonie Cromartie and try and make him look bad this weekend for the comments this fool made in the media this week? I know when Antonio Smith of the Steelers ran his mouth Brady made an effort to embrass him the next time New England played Pittsburgh.http://harjournalist.wordpress.com/ NFL Playoff Predicions
Har, only if the game is in hand and there is an opportunity late. Otherwise, I anticipate every decision that Brady makes will be based on the matchup in front of him.
Whay do you think that the New England Patriots needs in the 2011 NFL Draft?
Chris, I'd put a 5-technique defensive end atop the list. Edge rusher/outside linebacker would also be on the radar.
I can't wait for your chats Mike, wish you had them daily. :) How does Teddy feel about this one. I know how much he relishes this rivalry. Is he saying anything behind the scenes? What does he really think is going to happen in this game?
Thanks Norm. We'll have Bruschi's Breakdown posted later today on the site and Tedy shares his thoughts. We both like the Patriots but anticipate a closer game.
Bottom line in all this nonsense is Cromartie has a real hard time covering the speed of our receivers. His technique is pretty poor, and he was "turned" on a number of plays against the Colts. If he can hit you at the line, then his size and weight can be a factor. But overall, Brady should be able to torch him again.
I thought Cromartie struggled against Deion Branch on Dec. 6, Jim. From a Patriots perspective, I think you want to make him tackle.
Hey Mike I have had butterflies in my stomach all week when I think about this game. I want the Patriots to win this game sooooo bad it makes me crazy. Behind closed doors the Pats have got to be taking this one really personal, right? So, despite the score of the last meeting do you think the Pats are going to be FOAMING AT THE MOUTH to make an ever bigger statement this time around with all the ammo they have been given?
I get that sense, Greg. Listening to Brady, in particular, made me feel that way. I got the feeling that Brady was like "They're still talking? What have they won?"
Based on some of the comments from Cromartie and Terrell Suggs (the offensive t-shirt), isn't there a player code of conduct established by the NFL to punish such activities?With NFL trying to project an idealistic image, isn't it hypocritical for Goodell to tolerate this attitude?
Fair point, DFW. I'll check into it. But my sense is that the league probably privately likes it because it only increases interest.
Hi Mike! I can't wait for the weekend to come - these will be four terrific games! My question is about the Pats defensive line. Specifically, Myron Pryor. I noticed he didn't practice yesterday. Do you think he'll be ready to play on Sunday and how important is it to have him on the field for the Pats to remain stout up front? If Pryor doesn't go, does Deaderick start?
Rob, I'm not expecting to see Pryor at this point. That is a blow from a depth perspective. Rookie free agent Kyle Love looks like a guy who will have a bigger role as a starter in the 3-4. But I expect a rotation and a lot of mixing and matching.
Mike,I'm wondering whether you find this whole "rivalry/trash talk dominating the media" thing as tiresome as me (and some of the other pats fans on this side of the pond)? - This week should be about the build-up to some pretty good football games and I for one would rather be reading about schemes and injury/practice reports rather than 20 different articles about what ryan or cromartie said next.Anyway - to contribute How significant do you think Damien Woody's injury will prove to be this weekend in terms of both performance and also the Jets game-planning?
Chris, I feel the same way. I understand it's part of it, but I generally don't have a lot of personal interest in this stuff. I'm more interested in the matchups and going back and studying that Dec. 6 game and some of the things that could be different. I like the football, not the theater around the football.
For example, I just posted some Terrell Suggs stuff on our Patriots blog. Part of me was like "Do I even post this?" I don't like it, but I deemed it newsworthy to pass along. Hopefully we'll surround it with more Xs and Os stuff.
Mike, this question comes from wifi in the sky over Albuquerque, do you like the over or the under on Sunday
Happy flying Tim. Thanks for joining in. I'm not sure the number, but I'll give you my prediction. Patriots 24, Jets 17.
Mike, do you expect Aaron Hernandez to be 100% by gametime? He is someone that I think the Jets need to worry about if he's ready to go.
Mark, Hernandez has nine catches for 152 yards in two games against the Jets this year, so I agree, that's a big matchup. Yes, I do think he'll be ready to go.
Will Spikes make a smooth transition back into the starting line up, or will Guyton start cause Spikes is still rusty?
I'm anticipating Spikes to start when they are in the 3-4 on early downs. At the least, I'd think there would be a rotation.
Who do you project as the Patriots 5th Defensive Back in Nickel coverage? A third safety like Chung or a third corner like Butler?
Jeff, they used Butler on Dec. 6 and the plan seemed to work. I'd think it will be him again.
Mike, is Brad Smith's injury going to keep him from returning KO's this week ? If so, while I realize Cromartie is effective (see his return on the last drive against Colts) I think this is both a huge problem for the Jets and also an opportunity for the Pats to "thank" Cromartie for his kind words this week - your thoughts ??
Read something yesterday on ESPNNewYork that Smith should be ready to go. I'd expect to see him.
I would be ok with some of the talk if the Jets had won a Super Bowl recently. Terrell Suggs comments don't bother me as he has won. The Jets comments are insulting more than trash.
I think that's the way the Patriots feel, to a degree. They've had the Ravens' number, too.
I know Coach B. has a strategy to defer when winning the coin toss, but this seems to be the game to accept the opening kickoff and score first. If the Patriots can jump out to a lead early, it may force the Jets from their ground and pound attack. Thoughts?
Gabe, I don't envision Belichick changing his philosophy on deferring if he has the option. While getting ahead early is important, I don't think he's going to put all his eggs in that first-drive basket. He's big on that "situational football".
Mike - Great work on the blog updates and chat. What, if any, changes do you see Bill making to the gameplan he had in place the last time the Pats played the Jets?
That was a very effective offensive game-plan Brody. I think we'll see some tweaks to set those plays up differently, so it looks different, but the matchup is the matchup. I think it's more about players winning their individual battles. On defense, the changes are more personnel based. You have some new projected parts there (DL Kyle Love, possibly OLB Tully Banta-Cain if Cunningham can't go), so it's playing to their strengths and masking their weaknesses as much as possible.
All this pregame banter the Jets are spewing out... do you think its going to make Gillette that much more louder, and therefore more difficult for the Jets offense?
Yes, imagine the reaction when Cromartie is shown on the videoboard.
Mike,We are still looking for videotape evidence that Mr. Brady had, in fact, pointed at the Jets sideline as the Jet's coach Ryan and others have been stating. Any chance you have some copies we do not have? Or are the Jets simply making things up.....again?
He didn't point. He turned and looked at the bench. Big difference, but why let facts get in the way of a juicy story?
I just wanna say that I love the podcast with you and Bruschi. I feel like I learn something every time I listen. From the time Bruschi explained the difference between "Mike" and "Will" linebackers to Bruschi's description of how a game plan is set into place. Will there be occasional podcasts during the offseason?
Thanks Benjamin. I learn something new every time as well. Yes, I do think we'll have some offseason podcasts. Thanks for the interest.
Mike, do you think that the Pats were disappointed with the final location of the Raiders pick? On the other hand, they had to be excited about the Panthers' 2nd rounder.
Yes, John, I think they were hoping Top 5 with a rookie cap in place. But they'll take the 17 and move on.
I was listening to Mike and Mike this morning and they had a ESPN NY guy that use to play for the Jets on and he said that the Jets should put Revis on a different guy on almost every snap. Also they should not let one of the tightends get off the line with out a JAM. Didn't they do this the last game with Revis and how will the Pats combat these things? Thanks and love the chats.
Revis mostly covered Welker in man-to-man situations, which is what Welker explained today. I think they will play more man than they did Dec. 6 and expect that to be the big matchup.
Given the youth on the Patriots roster and the fact that any of the Patriots six picks in the first three rounds is virtually guaranteed a roster spot for 2-3 years regardless of their development how many of those six picks do the Patriots make and how many do they trade into future drafts?
Good one, Steve. I don't think they'll make all 6. I'll say 4.
Hey Mike, in the national media it seems like a lot of the talk was about how injured the Colts were and the Packers are. I feel like one thing they've over looked is how resilient this Pats team has been over coming injuries. Do you know how the Pats compare to the Colts and Packers in terms of games missed due to injury?
Not sure the exact numbers, Pat, but it's significant. This Patriots team has had its fair share of injuries. Big ones. Any fair analyst would acknowledge that.
Who do you think the x-factor will be for both the Pats and Jets on both sides of the ball?
Al, if I had to boil it down to one thing I'll pick Patriots' run defense against ground-and-pound.
Mike I see the Jets best chance to win this game being if they can run the ball and control the clock. With that in mind I am very concerned in the health of the Patriots defensive line especially with Brace and Wright on IR and Pryor still not at practice. Your thoughts?
That builds off the last thought, Don. It's a fair concern. The one point I'd make is that the Patriots pounded the Jets with a pretty similar situation on the line. Pryor didn't play that day. Brace was in there, but he didn't look that great. So you basically are subbing in Love for Brace. Everything else is the same. I agree it's a concern, but when you look at it in that context, it shouldn't necessarily be a back-breaker.
Mike any chance of collating you 3 UP, 3 DOWN blog entries for the season into some sort of table, which player had the most downs or ups?
Oh man, Lee, I'd like to permanently delete those! Not my favorite. Maybe at the end of the year, we could compile them.
Mike, like many folks I don't believe the Jets can beat the Patriots without some help from the home team. Can the Patriots survive this game it they give up a big play on Special Teams and have a turnover that leads to the Jets scoring 10 pts?I know you like Baltimore but I see the Steelers holding serve at home. The Ravens have been too inconsistent on offense and I don't think the Ravens secondary will have an answer for Wallace, Miller, Ward and Sanders.
Yes, I think the Patriots can score enough to overcome that, if that's the way it unfolds.
Mike: Two quick questions/comments: First, am concerned that in this trash-talking, hyper environment, that a Jet or two is going to make a very serious attempt to hurt Brady. Thoughts? Second, Pats have three draft picks in the top 33. What are the odds that they actually use more than 1 of those picks this year?
Bama, we touched on the picks (guessing they'll make 4 of the first 6). I understand the thought about the trash talk and Brady, but I'd be surprised if it comes to that. The Jets might be a dirty team when it comes to things that happen on their sideline on punt returns, but their players have shown few signs of anything out of line on the field. A guy like Jason Taylor, for example, is pure class in my book.
Given Sanchez' poor play down the stretch, his injured shoulder, and his lack of success in the cold weather, isn't it a stretch to believe that he can come into Foxboro in January and put up enough points to beat New England?
I think if a few things fall into place -- ball control, special teams score, 1 turnover -- Sanchez and the Jets can win it.
What schemes do you see the Pats putting into on place on defense to try to stop the run? Or will they stick with their base 3-4 and play it plain vanilla?
It will all depend on what personnel the Jets put out there. Two backs/two tight ends, it will be the 3-4. Three receivers, I envision a nickel.
Mike, while not much has been made of this, Brady's recent performance in playoff games has not been good at all. Any comment ?
The recent numbers aren't that great. I'd still rather have him than any other QB in the playoffs now. You?
Mike, Green-Ellis is a free agent after this season, but he's restricted right? So does that mean he's almost guaranteed to be back?
Do the Pats win if they win the turnover battle? It seems that the only path the Jets have to victory is getting a few int/fum to stop a few drives and get some easy points.
Yes, I'd say. If I remember the numbers off the top of my head, they are 82-3 since 2001 when winning the turnover battle and 12-0 this year.
Who are the most important guys to watch in this very important game? If you could name them and elaborate. Thank You
I'd start with Vince Wilfork up front, and if he is on the nose, how he fares against Nick Mangold. That will be a good reflection on which team is winning the battle at the line of scrimmage.
The Jets aren't in the playoffs by accident, they are a good team. What is the key to winning this game for the Pats?
A few thoughts: Stop the run and take away Sanchez' short passing game (slants, in-cuts) on defense. On offense, stay balanced and protect Brady. Avoid giving up the big play on special teams.
Do you think the Jets will raise the advertising cost for the press conference back drop? With Rex the Windbag and his non-stop blabbering, that backdrop is like the Green Monster for advertisers.
My old sports marketing professor would be impressed, John.
Hi Mike! I'd like to get your take on all the trash talking from the Jets this week. Will it mean much?
I'm tired of it Ryan. I don't think it will mean much when all is said and done. I do think the Patriots are annoyed by it, because their approach is that you earn the right to talk by winning.
Many seem to think that the game plan the Jets used on Indy will produce similiar results against the Pats. I disagree because if the Jets blitz Brady less he will find his TE and WR more. The Pats have more offensive weapons that the depleted Colts. Your take?
Agree, Dave. A completely different matchup and I think it favors the Patriots.
What do you think the impact will be w/out Damien Woody playing?
Wayne Hunter filled in late in the season and seemed to do fine. I don't see it having a major impact.
Mike, the Patriots were playing at such a high level at the end of the year, do you see any risk of their coming out flat or missing a beat due to the bye week ?
I think they'll be ready, Tony. You still have to go out and do it over 60 minutes, but I'd be surprised if they don't come ready to play.
Hi Mike - what role do you see Brandon Deadrick as playing this week ?
I think they need him as a backup, rotating into the mix. Very thin up there.
Even though athletes won?t admit it, don?t you think they raise their game with extra motivation from various things such as playing their old team, opponent trash talk, revenge, or if they feel disrespected?
Alex, from my experience being around the team, it can help sharpen their focus in preparation. But at the end of the day, it comes down to execution on the field.
Mike, Am I the only one nervous about this game. The whole trash talk aside, I am very worried about he D-Line and the jets running game running all over us. I am sure the Pats will score, but if the Pats are held to a couple field goals and they score TD's while running, I could see the pats going down. Mike, can we win if we let up 180 yds rushing and get 2 or more field goals??
Pete, it's the playoffs, so any matchup should bring some sense of "What happens if..." This is going to be a tough game, but I think it's the best matchup for the Patriots. I believe if the Patriots play their best game, they should win. I see them as the better team. Now it's going out and proving it over those 60 minutes.
Mike, not to jump too far ahead. If the Patriots were to win the Super Bow. Come draft day, if the patriots had the 32nd and 33rd overall picks. Could they end the first day of the draft by not selecting anyone, since they have the first pick the following round nobody could jump ahead right and they'd have almost a full day to talk trades or decide who they want right?
I see no reason why they couldn't do that.
All week, Tedy Bruschi has reminded fans that Mark Sanchez will be looking to get the ball to the Jets Tight End Dustin Keller. How do you think the Pats will counter this attack? And how were they able to do it last time during the 45-3 blowout in December?
Play physical at the line. That was the approach Dec. 6. I'd imagine it would be similar this time around.
Let's go for another 5 here...
Hi Mike, is Cunningham better against the run than Tully or why do you feel he earned his starting spot?
Frank, I see Cunningham as the better player against the run. I do think that's why we see him there over Banta-Cain on early downs.
Rodak points out that most of the Pats young roster hasn't had much playoff experience. Any chance that causes problems with some of the players? I can't help but think of Gronk against the Browns, although on a bigger stage, he's been awesome.
I think it's a fair concern, G. You never know how young players will respond in the big moment. One thing that I do think will help them is that the Patriots have played in a lot of big games this season. That Dec. 6 game against the Jets was like a playoff game. So they've had a taste of it.
Shayne Graham hasn't been asked to kick anything long since his arrival. Do we have a good sense of his range out there?
Depending on the conditions, I think 41-45 is a long option.
I'm with Tony (Miami) - ever since we lost the 2007 SB to the Giants, I have a fear of the team coming out flat. The Pats looked like they were just going through the motions during that game...what's different this year?
I'd say this team learned a great lesson Nov. 7 against the Browns. The lesson is that if they don't prepare the right away, and play with urgency, anyone can beat them. That has stayed with them to this day. I'd be surprised if they came out flat.
How do you think the "bye" week has helped/hurt the Pats?
Helped to heal up some bumps and bruises. Don't see how it can hurt them at all, other than from a momentum type perspective. Have to get it all rolling again.
In you media experience, Mike, has there ever been this much verbal hatred and disrespect put towards an opposing team?
Doug, I'd say this is about as much as I've seen.
Mike, I see Kyle Love being a big part of the base 3-4 this week. He seems to have the perfect body type to plug in at the nose, allowing big Vince to move around to either end spot. How much do you think Love will be at the nose rather than the ends?
I think we'll see a mix, Mark. Love on Nick Mangold would be a tough matchup. I could see it at times, but not throughout the whole game.
If there were a, "I hate Tom Brady" club, who would be the president, me or Antonio Cromartie?
Probably you, Terrell, because you bring it up when you're not even playing Brady.
Mike, unlike Pete, I'm not nervous one bit...should that make me nervous? I see this being like he Dec. 6th game. Pats have hit their stride at the right time and with all the talk, they must be itching to "unleash hell" as Trent Dilfer said today.
Mike,Prediction for the AFC title game? Who wins?
Thanks for adding the perspective, Dave.
Let's end on a prediction. I like the Patriots and Ravens this weekend. I'll pick the Packers and Bears in the NFC.
Thanks to everyone for chatting today. We'll do it again next week. Should be an entertaining game.