Written by: Ronnie Vaughan – Staff Writing Intern (@AyePaisano)
The Patriots are coming off of an ugly win over the Houston Texans, 34-16. You might look at the box score and think “that doesn’t look ugly”. Then you look to see if the Patriots covered the massive 16 point spread, which they did. So the question remains, why was this game ugly?
As a lifelong Patriots fan, I will admit, I am spoiled with the best football week in and week out therefore I can feel it in my bones when things just don’t feel right coming off of a victory. During this game, I was not hooting and hollering about each play. Moreso, I was pissed off at the amount of turnovers and mistakes that occurred throughout the game.
It is un-Brady-like for him to toss two interceptions. Sure one was on Michael Floyd having stone hands and it proceeded to bounce into the hands of cornerback A.J Bouye. The other one was 100% on Brady when he missed Edelman on a deep pass, picked off by Hal. Both interceptions, thankfully, only lead to field goals.
Another note on turnovers, would you believe that the Patriots have fumbled kickoff/punts more than any team in the NFL this season? Well when I notice rookie Cyrus Jones was inactive, I wrongfully assumed that would not be a problem. Dion Lewis proceeds to run back a kick return, something the Pats haven’t done in years.
I’m thinking to myself, why the hell haven’t we been using Dion in this role since he regained full health. Then, of course, he fumbled the goddamn ball which lead to an easy TD from Osweiler to Fiedorowicz. Dion almost lost another fumble on offense, thankfully it was recovered.
Now if my math is correct, the Patriots pissed away 13, could have been 21, points to the Texans. This happened earlier this season when we pissed away points off turnovers against the Ravens. If the Patriots turn the ball over, they are beatable. Now let’s imagine if Big Ben, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown are on the opposing team when you turn the ball over 3 to 4 times? Yeah, they will probably score 2 touchdowns and maybe even convert the 2pt attempt.
Defensively and on special teams, I cannot really complain about much. The Patriots were excellent; they forced three sacks, seven tackles for losses, six QB hits, three interceptions, the KR for TD I mentioned earlier, 2/2 on FGs and 4/6 punts pinned in the 20. That’s a job well done especially saying that the Patriots only allowed the Texans to score 1 TD on 3 of our forced turnovers. The one TD being a pick in the red-zone.
Looking to Sunday at 6:40 PM ET, the Patriots will have their hands full with the Killer B’s of The Steel City. In the last meeting of the two team, Big Ben was inactive and Landry Jones was behind center. I’m sure we all know how bad Jones is as a backup, the Steelers are not the same offensively. As I called it in my prior Patriots piece, Big Ben will be hobbling into Foxborough. Does that mean anything? No, Big Ben is permanently hobbled and come game time he will be ready to rock.
Now you may ask where my concern meter is on this game, I’ll give it a 3.5/10 and here’s why. Malcolm Butler will handle Antonio Brown with a safety over the top in the cover-2 scheme the Pats run. Butler has held Brown under his season averages in the few times they have met up. The Patriots front seven, especially the LB core led by Dont’a Hightower, are one of the best in the NFL and as long as they remain patient, Bell will not have over 100 yards rushing. The Patriots have not been burned by the deep ball much at all this season, I expect that to remain the same as the safeties/cornerbacks Devin McCourty, Logan Ryan, Patrick Chung, and Butler are very good at what they do.
Early week prediction: Patriots are currently -5.5 favorites and the total is set at 50. I think the Patriots will be up 10 late in the 4th and will keep the Steelers from making it interesting. 31-21.