Week 10 – The Mattyoshow Review

In this segment I will provide a weekly review for the previous weekend’s Patriots game, as well as my prediction for next weekend’s game.

-As I mentioned in the “What to Look For…” segment, this game was going to serve as a barometer to measure how realistic each team’s Super Bowl aspirations are.  The Patriots proved to the masses what most of us around New England already knew, they are one of the best teams in the NFL.  Even while atop the league in terms of the best record just two weeks ago (at 6-1) there were doubts surrounding the Pats.  Whether it was their anemic offense (which I’m still not convinced by) or the youth of their defense, people were doubting the supremacy of the New England Patriots.  But, after a marquee win on Sunday in Pittsburgh against one of the league’s best teams, the Patriots are not being recognized amongst the best in the NFL, and rightfully so.

-Against a Steelers defense that was allowing a stingy 58.2 yards per game on the ground, the Patriots’ rushing attack racked up a total of 103 yards on the ground, with BenJarvus Green-Ellis leading the way.  BJGE amassed 87 yards on 18 carries, which accounted for an impressive 4.8 yards per carry.  I was sure that the Steelers would stifle the Pats rushing attack, forcing Tom Brady into throwing the ball 50+ times.  Brady attempted 43 passes, which essentially accounted for the majority of the Patriots points, but Green-Ellis was the workhorse that brought the game home.  I continue to question the running back rotation deployed by coach Belichick, where BJGE gets 20 carries one game and 9 the next, but if its purpose is to keep all of the running back fresh down the stretch, then it looks like it is working.

-I would like to be one of the first people to officially welcome Wes Welker back to the New England Patriots.  After a 5 game hiatus, Welker has returned to his old self, reeling in 8 passes for 89 yards.  Granted, the Steelers’ secondary isn’t one of the better units in the league, but Welker had been an exceptionally minimal part of the offense ever since the departure of Randy Moss, so it was good to see him inserted back into a starring role.  Now, if we could only get Hernandez, Welker, Branch, and Tate rolling all on the same day this offense would be unbelievable.

-That being said, I’m still concerned over the same one thing.  Yes, Brandon Tate caught a 45 yard pass.  Yes, Tom Brady threw for 350 yards and 3 touchdowns.  Yes, the Patriots scored the most points against the Steelers in Heinz Field history.  Call me a pessimist, but Brandon Tate needs to involve into a better receiver than he is.  He missed all of 2009 with a knee injury, so he is essentially a rookie.  But this is our deep threat.  Brandon Tate is our Mike Wallace.  Not expected to be the number one guy (see Hines Ward in Pittsburgh and Welker in New England), but expected to be a sparkplug for the offense.  I understand that the Patriots have a ton of weapons and have the ability to use them all.  I don’t care if I come off like a crazy Pats fan that will accept nothing but perfection.  I’m not convinced that this offense can succeed week in and week out without Tate consistently making an impact on the game, especially with downfield threats.

– A week after Peyton Hillis had the best game of his career against the Patriots defense, that same unit held the Pittsburgh Steelers to 76 yards rushing.  What is even more impressive than the yardage itself is that Roethlisberger got 12 of those 76 yards on a late game scramble, and Mendenhall grabbed 34 of those yards on a long scamper in the first half.  So aside from those two plays, the Patriots allowed only 30 yards rushing.  Mendenhall is one of the better backs in the league, and he was held to 50 yards on 11 carries.  He didn’t play much in the second half, leading me to believe that he sustained some sort of injury.  But, the defense stepped up and rebounded after a disastrous week and notched one of their best performances of the year.

NEXT WEEK’S PREDICTION – Patriots 37 – Colts 35

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