Patriots Post Bye Week Predictions

New England is headed into the bye week coming off an ugly loss to the Tennessee Titans. The Patriots record has now dropped to 7-3 on the season and they now risk falling into a less than desirable playoff seed. Right now, the Patriots are the fourth seed in the AFC behind the Chiefs (9-1), Chargers (7-2), and Steelers (6-2-1). If the playoffs started today, New England would not have a bye week nor home field advantage. The Patriots have six games left after the bye week and they are in a position where they will most likely need to win all of them in order to jump up into a one or two seed.

Week 12, at New York Jets: The Jets are a very underwhelming 3-7 at the moment, and promising young quarterback Sam Darnold is dealing with an injury. In past seasons, Belichick coached teams have the reputation for destroying young quarterbacks. However, New England has a 2-3 record on the road this season and has looked like a completely different team on the road than at home. In addition to a poor road record, The patriots gave up 31 points to second year quarterback Mitch Trubisky and barely squeaked out a 38-31 road win with the game ending on a Chicago Bears hail mary that fell just one yard short of the endzone.

Prediction: Win, but look for this to be a tough game.

Week 13, Vikings: The Vikings are a respectable 5-3-1 and are a unique opponent for New England. The Vikings have been hot and cold this season, at times looking unbeatable and other times looking very vulnerable. The Vikings’ game this week against Chicago will be very telling of who their team really is as they are getting some players returning healthy.

Prediction: Win, but only because this is a home game. If fields were reversed this would be a Patriots loss.

Week 14, at Dolphins: The Dolphins are 5-5 with new Head Coach Adam Gase and have looked far better this season than last. Despite the Patriots dismembering the Dolphins earlier this season 38-7, Gase will certainly get his players motivated for this divisional home game.

Prediction: Loss, Miami is a much tougher team at home for New England to beat and always plays the Patriots tough in late season games. This fact coupled with the Patriots’ road struggles looks to be shaping up for a loss for New England.

Week 15, at Steelers: The Steelers look to finally have found their identity after all pro running back Le’Veon Bell decided not to play this season. Despite the emergence of young running back James Conner, we have seen the Steelers look high powered before only to lose badly to New England. The Patriots coaching staff has out coached Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin and his staff time after time in the past. This fuels my belief that the Patriots simply have the blueprint to beat Pittsburg.

Prediction: Win, this will be a must win for New England.

Week 16, Bills: The Bills are in the competition of being the worst team in the NFL and the Patriots rocked Buffalo earlier in the year 25-6. Expect a larger Buffalo defeat as this time they have to come to Gillette Stadium.

Prediction: Win, Buffalo is awful.

Week 17, New York Jets: This week 12 rematch will occur on New England turf and should be a much easier game for the Patriots. The Jets will likely have nothing to play for at this stage in the season.

Prediction: Win, New York will not put up much of a fight in New England.

The Patriots will finish the season 12-4 and likely finish with the second seed in the AFC behind the dominant Kansas City Chiefs who likely will not lose again this season.

2019 Draft Prospects The Patriots Should Watch

The Patriots have not hit on any of their first round draft picks since 2012 when they drafted both linebacker Dont’a Hightower and defensive end Chandler Jones. Excluding the 2018 first round, as it is too early to evaluate those picks, the closest New England has come to hitting on one of their high draft picks was defensive tackle Malcolm Brown. Brown was drafted to be the next Vince Wilfork and someone who would be the rock on Belichick’s defensive line for years to come. This season is now the final year of Malcolm Brown’s contract and he will likely be a free agent after failing to live up to his potential here in New England. The lack of early draft talent on the current Patriots roster has been evident for the past couple of seasons. The Patriot’s defense has looked slow and old and is in desperate need of talented young players. However, the good news for New England is they have 6 picks in the first 3 rounds of the draft. With a first round pick, 2 second round picks and 3 third round picks, Bill Belichick is primed to hit on a few of these selections. The Patriots will most likely look to draft defense in the early rounds of this upcoming draft and have the draft capital to potentially move up in the first round to pick a generational talent.  

DL Dre’Mont Jones, Ohio State: Jones is a talented interior defensive lineman for the Buckeyes and is the team’s best pass rusher behind defensive end Nick Bosa. At 6’3 295 pounds, Jones has very good first step quickness and good hands at the point of attack on opposing offensive linemen. In addition to his speed rush ability, Jones has good awareness which often leads to him being able to work his way through traffic on the interior of the line in order to sack the quarterback. While Jones is a talented pass rusher, he lacks some ability stopping the run and can get pushed around. Jones would change the Patriots defensive tackle identity which right now bolsters many 320 plus pounders with limited quickness and limited pass rush ability.

CB Trayvon Mullen, Clemson: The Patriots rarely draft secondary positions in the first round but this year could be different. Mullen is a talented corner with great size. At 6’2 190 pounds, Mullen plays his best in press and zone coverage, two qualities that Bill Belichick pines for in a cornerback. Mullen would bring a strong element to New England’s defense as he would play opposite Stephon Gilmore who also has length and prefers to play in press coverage. In addition to his coverage ability, Mullen is a strong tackler and has very good ball skills that allow him to make few mistakes. The downside to Mullen is his lack of short area quickness which could be exploited at the next level. However, Belichick will certainly recognize this fact and scheme around this weakness in the same way he did with former 6’2 corner Aqib Talib and 6’4 corner Brandon Browner.

S Deionte Thompson, Alabama: The Patriots need to fill a void at the safety position. They are getting old at this position quickly and current safety Devin Mccourty is in decline as he gets older. Thompson is a typical Alabama safety. Off the charts athletic ability pared with a hunger to play downhill and tackle ball carriers with emphasis. Thompson’s 6’2 200 pond athletic frame is also a huge upside that will allow him to cover bigger receivers and tight ends in the NFL. Thompson is tremendous in the run game as well as the pass game and has the athletic hips to play both zone and man coverage. Thompson allowed just one catch during his first career start in the College Football Playoffs against Clemson and followed this performance up by not allowing a single catch in the National Championship game against Georgia. There are not may criticisms of Thompson except for the fact that he can be a little slow on some reads but this will improve as he makes football his number one priority in the NFL.

The Bruins Must Address Their Offensive Depth

The Bruins are coming off a strong season a year ago and have started this year off with a 10-5-2 record. Boston has looked strong defensively and their starting forwards are among the best in the league. However, there is one major red flag that is plaguing the Bruins right now and that is the lack of depth behind the first line. While Boston has a terrifying first line that is capable of scoring at any point in time, they lack the same ability on any of their other lines. This issue was shown off during last years postseason as Tampa Bay was able to defend Boston’s first line leaving the rest of the Bruins unable to pick up the slack. As the 2018-19 season has started, we have seen this issue become more apparent as the Bruins young talent has not taken the next step yet. This offseason, Boston opted to give their young forwards, Ryan Donato, Andres Bjork, Jake Debrusk and Danton Heinen more playing time instead of resigning their veteran forwards, Riley Nash and Rick Nash. The young talent has not been able to fill the shoes of the veterans that were let go and has led to the lack of offensive depth being more evident.

The Bruins need to look at making a trade this season to address their lack of offensive depth if they hope to compete for a Stanley Cup. One player that Boston should consider is forward Ryan Nugent Hopkins, who currently plays for the Oilers. Hopkins is a talented player who is capable of playing all three forward positions and playing them well. However, good players come at a cost and the Bruins will likely need to give up a piece on their defense to get Hopkins. A trade package for Hopkins would likely consist of either defensemen Torey Krug or Brandon Carlo as well as either Heinen or Bjork plus a middle to low round draft pick. Defenseman Torey Krug is the biggest name in this trade package and Boston should be careful to deal him especially with the injury history of fellow defenseman Charlie McAvoy. McAvoy is one of the best young defensemen in the league and projects to be the Bruins next rock at the defensive end of the ice. Despite his talent, McAvoy has struggled with his health since coming into the league. Last year he suffered a knee injury that caused him to miss a month of play. In addition to the knee, McAvoy missed some time last year due to having a minor surgery to correct an abnormal heart rhythm. While McAvoy has recovered well from his injuries, the Bruins should be cautious with the young defenseman and keep a talented backup on hand such as Torey Krug. Boston badly needs to make a deal to correct their lack of offensive depth and Hopkins would be a dangerous weapon to be utilized but the Bruins need to be careful with how much they give up.

How The Jimmy Butler Trade Benefits Boston

Over the weekend, the Philadelphia 76ers completed a trade for all star small foreword, Jimmy Butler. Butler has long been one of the best players in the NBA with a 16.5 points per game average since 2011. With the addition of Butler, the 76ers now have a true big three in their lineup. Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid have the potential to run rough shot through the Eastern Conference during a strong playoff run at the end of this season.

Throughout the past 13 games, the Boston Celtics are 7-6 and are third in their division. Simply put, the Celtics look sloppy this year. Players are playing selfish basketball that has led to a dysfunctional and inconsistent level of play this season. Boston’s young players look to be cockier as well as overlooking their competition this season. One game that highlights this fact was the game against the Phoenix Suns. While Boston won the game, they had to overcome a 22 point deficit in order to get the victory. The Celtics should not have been anywhere near a 22 point deficit they faced as Phoenix is one of the worst teams in the league. Boston has been overlooking opponents all season and have been buying into the media narrative that they will advance to the finals this June. However, Boston’s attitude could swing after seeing the Jimmy Butler trade. The 76ers are now a legitimate threat to Boston and could give the Celtics a competitive seven game series during the playoffs. Boston needs to realize that a finals appearance is no longer a guarantee and they can not skate by on individual talent, they need to develop chemistry and start playing team Basketball.

Should the Celtics Consider Trading Young Talent?

Through the past 10 games the Boston Celtics are 6-4 and have been streaky to say the least. While some nights they look to perform up to their true potential, other nights they simply look lost and seem to have no chemistry together. This is demonstrated through a 117-113 win over the previously undefeated Milwaukee Bucks but then a loss to the 4-7 Orlando Magic. It’s no question that this season has seen more egos collide between the Celtic’s star players, up and coming young players and quality depth pieces from the bench. This year it seems that everyone wants their points and are unwilling to sacrifice their personal stats in order to play better team basketball. Part of the issue for this season is the team is incorporating all star Gordon Hayward, who got injured not more than 10 minutes into last years season opener. In addition to incorporating Hayward, backup point guard Terry Rozier is in the final year of his contract and wants to pad his stats in order to get as much money as possible in free agency. Right now, the Celtics are dealing with a situation where they have too much talent, a good problem to have, but still a problem. Reports surfaced in the past few days that Rozier wants a trade out of Boston so he can start on another team and build his brand. Despite Rozier’s reported desire to leave Boston, there’s s different trade that the Celtics should consider making.

 

Jaylen Brown should be on the trade block and Boston should seriously consider moving him. Brown is in his third year, after being drafted with the third overall pick in 2016. The Celtics could get a good return for him as he has popped up in trade talks before and his valued throughout the league. While Brown has had a down year so far, he has huge offensive potential if he develops his outside shot. Brown has drawn comparisons to a young Kawhi Leonard with his stout defense and ability to score in the paint. Brown is a great asset but there are reasons why Boston should consider moving the talented small forward and they all have to do with winning now. The Celtics simply have too many wing players and it looks like it has been difficult for Head Coach Brad Stevens to get them all of their minutes. It is no coincidence that Hayward had by far his best night last week when Brown was out with a foot injury. Brown will also likely command a hefty contract when he hits the market after next season and the Celtics will not have enough money to retain all their veteran stars as well as their young talent. Boston is also unlikely to trade Rozier this year as all star point guard Kyrie Irving is at the end of his deal and will need to be resigned this offseason. This means that Boston will want to keep Rozier just in case Kyrie, although unlikely but still possible, decides to leave in free agency for another team. If the Celtics do not learn to play as a team, General Manager Danny Ainge will most likely trade a young player before the deadline as the Celtics are built to compete for a title now.

A Key Red Sox Offseason Move

The Red Sox will be faced with many financial issues this offseason. One key issue will be resigning first baseman and World Series MVP Steve Pearce. Pearce played a huge roll in the Red Sox championship run and now he will look to cash in during the offseason. The Red Sox will likely not have enough money to pay Pearce and will be left with a void at first base. While Boston still has their starting first baseman, Mitch Moreland, under contract for next season, they will need to find a backup. Right now, the cheapest options for Boston is to either call up one of their minor league prospects or convert their designated hitter, J.D. Martinez, into a backup first baseman. Calling up a prospect is something that the Red Sox will resist, as they do not have a true first base prospect and anyone who they call up would be a significant downgrade from Pearce. The most logical option is to have Martinez convert into a backup first baseman much like David Ortiz did during his years in Boston. Martinez is most comfortable in the outfield and played there during the World Series when teams were not eligible to have a designated hitter. However, the Red Sox have a generationally talented outfield between MVP finalist, Mookie Betts, gold glove center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi who is a 23 year old with all star potential.

There is a log jam of talent in the outfield right now and Martinez has the athleticism and height to easily convert to first base. If the Red Sox decide to convert their all star DH into a first baseman, they would be able to give Mitch Moreland more rest days during the regular season in hopes of preserving him for the postseason.The move would also solve the problem Boston has in National League ballparks where the DH can’t be used. Usually, in National League parks the Red Sox are forced to sit one of their talented outfielders in order for Martinez to hit. However, with converting Martinez to first, the Red Sox would not have to give up any outfield defense in favor of offense. They simply would sit Mitch Moreland and start Martinez at first base. Converting Martinez to first would solve multiple roster and financial issues for the Red Sox and the move seems inevitable this spring.

The Cordarrelle Patterson Experiment

During training camp and earlier this season, New England had arguably the best running back depth in the league. However, with injuries to Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel and James White that depth has very quickly deteriorated leaving the Patriots with just one fully healthy back. With Michel expected to return soon and White’s injury not being all that serious, New England just needed to find an additional running back to give them production over the last two games and possibly the next two. The Patriots seemingly had only two options to deal with their running back depth issue. The first option was to sign a free agent running back, in this case it would have likely been Mike Gillislee. Gillislee spent all of last season on New England’s roster and played well this past preseason, but the Patriots had to release the back as they had too many bodies at his position. New England’s second option was to not sign anyone or do anything at all to address the lack of depth. They could have turned to using their one fully healthy running back and simply hoped he was able to stay healthy. In addition to this, the Patriots could have opted to pass the ball a majority of the next few games and abandon the running game which we have seen them do in the past for a few games due to running back injuries. New England chose neither of these options. Head Coach Bill Belichick found a hidden third option in wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.

Patterson is more of a utility athlete instead of strictly a wide receiver. Patterson is regarded as one of the best kick returners in the NFL and is one of the best pure athletes in the league. At 6’2 230 pounds, Patterson has great size for his athleticism and has the ability to run with power as well as speed. Despite all of Patterson’s physical gifts, he has never spent a considerable amount of time in the backfield. Patterson spent some time at running back during his time with the Raiders but he never was used as a true back. Belichick however, has gotten creative with this talented player as he has with so many others in the past. This past week’s game against the Packers featured Patterson rushing for 61 yards on 11 attempts with one touchdown. Patterson clearly does not look like a polished running back but he is able to get by on pure athleticism while the Patriots wait out injuries to their starters. Belichick and his coaching staff has once again found answers where no one thought they would find them. The emergence of Patterson’s versatility is huge to the team and will give the Patriots more options down the stretch of the season without having to alter their roster.