Week 15 – 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 was listening to the radio yesterday as I was driving back down to ‘Gansett before the Pats game, one of the more rational anchors of the show made a very good point.  He explained that even after one game of “spot duty,” we as fans knew relatively little about Matt Flynn.  The only people that truly knew what Matt Flynn was made of were the coaches of the Green Bay Packers.  For all we know, Matt Flynn could very well be the next Tom Brady, or he could be the next Max Hall…your guess would have been as good as mine.  Although the sample size is very small, Matt Flynn took a great leap in gaining my respect on Sunday night.  Against a pass defense that looked to be improving by the snap, Flynn completed 24 of his 37 pass attempts for 251 yards, 3 touchdowns and only one interception.  I would have been willing to bet nearly all of the money in my bank account that Tom Brady would have outplayed Matt Flynn on Sunday night, but thankfully I didn’t because I would be a very broke dude.

-Speaking of the pass defense, even with Flynn’s numbers being pretty good I did not think that the Patriots pass defense played poorly.  In my opinion, it looked like the game plan coming into Sunday night was to play primarily defensive-back-heavy packages, let the Packers catch the ball underneath, and tackle them before they broke plays for big yardage.  In that sense, the defense was quite effective.  The Patriots dressed nine defensive backs for the game (four corners and five safeties), so you knew that they would be in nickel and dime coverage for most of the contest.  Only one pass play for the Packers went for over 20 yards, and that was the deep ball thrown to James Jones where Brandon Meriweather decided to light up Devin McCourty rather than Jones.  The Pats’ pass defense contained the Packers top two wideouts in Greg Jennings and Donald Driver, limiting them to a combined 7 receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown.  The Patriots knew that the Pack’ were going to line up and sling the ball all around the field, and in my opinion they did a good job of containing it.

-Defensively for the Patriots, three players deserve mention above the rest.  Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork, and Devin McCourty all played spectacular games and were integral in the Patriots ability to pull out a win on Sunday.  Mayo continued on his campaign to lead the NFL in tackles, and possibly get some consideration for defensive player of the year, amassing 16 total tackles (10 solo).  Mayo again was all over the field, filling run lanes whenever possible and making plays on underneath passes.  I’m amazed with how much progress he has made in only three years in the NFL.  Mayo and Spikes will be one of the more formidable inside linebacker tandems for years to come in the NFL.  Devin McCourty improves every single game.  Aside from being burned on the deep James Jones pass mentioned earlier, McCourty had tight coverage on every other ball thrown his way.  You can’t ask much more from a corner when he finished a game with 10 tackles (7 solo), one sack, two tackles for loss, and one pass defended.  This kid is making a serious run at defensive rookie of the year.  What more can you say about Vince Wilfork?  Wilfork made a name for himself as one of, if not the premier nose tackle in the NFL, and now has essentially made a semi-transition to defensive end, and continues to be a game changer along the defensive line.  Wilfork’s impact on a game rarely shows up in the stat line, but if you study him for a consecutive string of plays, it is amazing how often he diverts run plays, stuffs the running lanes, push the pocket, and just cause complete havoc.  The Patriots are lucky to have a guy like Wilfork up front, and him being a leader of this young defense is just icing on top of the cake.

-Offensively, the Patriots weren’t great, but they did what needed to be done.  The Patriots how now scored 30+ points in six consecutive games, but this was the toughest thirty of that entire stretch.  Dom Capers (former Patriots secondary coach and special assistant and current Green Bay defensive quarterback) had the best defensive game plan against the Pats that I have seen since the Cleveland game.  Capers used various stunts and blitzes along the defensive line, allowing his players to sack Brady three times.  Their pressure disrupted the Patriots offensive rhythm, limiting their effectiveness in the passing game (leading receiver: Wes Welker, 3 receptions, 42 yards).  The run game never really got a chance to get started as the Patriots fell behind early in the second quarter and were not able to regain the lead until mid-way through the fourth.  That all being said, the offensive did enough to pick up a victory, and in the end that is all that matters.  Oh and by the way, welcome back Aaron Hernandez.

NEXT WEEK’S PREDICTION – Patriots 35 – Buffalo 21

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