Five Patriots bubble battles to watch vs. Giants

To be honest I’d really rather not watch any of this last preseason game against the Giants. It’s just too soon. At least the uniforms will be switched around so it won’t give me any immediate flashbacks to that game in February.

It’s just frustrating to have to see the Giants again, but not get a legitimate shot at them. Instead they’ll just stand there on the sidelines, probably all wearing their Super Bowl rings, with satisfied smirks plastered on their faces.

Anyway, enough about that. The regular season is upon us and we really need to be looking ahead.

Despite the fact that we probably won’t see very many of the Pats starters, if any at all, there’s still some final slots still there for the taking (as far as we know). Here are positions that I think could still be up for grab, and guys who need a big game.

1. Offensive Line - Of course Brian Waters could be back in the mix by the weekend, but if he’s not it will have an effect on who the Pats keep from their o-line group. As Greg Bedard pointed out, the fact that Koppen didn’t get released this week probably means he’s going to make the team. I can’t complain about keeping Koppen, he might be a one-trick pony but he’ll bring some veteran stability that I think could be needed this year.

The question as I see it is do they feel comfortable with just Vollmer, Solder and Cannon as their tackles? Could Weems sneak on? What about Nick McDonald, he’s played every position on the line. Should be some tough choices to make.

2. Secondary - Will Allen going to IR throws a wrench in my most recent projections. I liked his veteran presence and versatility. So now you’ve got Sterling Moore and probably Marquice Cole as locks, leaving maybe one more spot for Alfonzo Dennard, James Ihedigbo and possibly Sergio Brown. None of them have shown much this summer, so perhaps all three could be on the way out, but I consider Ihedigbo to have the inside track, though a strong showing from Dennard could really help his cause.

3. Running Back - The backfield has only gotten more convoluted lately with the addition of Jeff Demps. Stevan Ridley looks like he’s the starter, then after that is a collection of three backs who are all somewhat similar, albeit each with some unique traits, and Brandon Bolden as the only real short yardage bull and that has to be a big plus for him.

So how does Vereen/Woodhead/Demps play out? Could Eric Kettani even sneak on? We should get a good dose of Bolden and Demps against the Giants, and if we’re seeing a lot of Woodhead too it could be a sign his job hasn’t been locked up yet. This should be one of the most interesting positions to watch during cuts.

4. Defensive Line - It’s pretty clear who the defensive tackles will be barring a surprise (Wilfork, Love, Brace, Deaderick) but can one of the less heralded guys make the cut? Justin Francis might be a little more of a defensive end, but he’s flashed some burst when used inside. Marcus Forston has been up and down, but has some potential as well.  Or maybe even Marcus Harrison could be a dark horse.

Between Trevor Scott, Jermaine Cunningham and Jake Bequette there’s a little bit of a log jam for back up defensive end and all three are somewhat similar players. Could that open the door for one of the young d-tackles who bring a little something different to the party? It’s possible.

5.Jeremy Ebert - With the release of both Donte Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney it’s possible a window of opportunity has opened for rookie Jeremy Ebert. He hasn’t done anything to stand out in camp or in the games but has looked generally solid. He still might be a long shot, but he’ll play a lot against the Giants and could make a statement with a strong performance.

Super Bowl win for Pats in 2012 would cement Brady/Belichick legacy

A couple of days ago I finally for the first time willingly watched some of Super Bowl XVI. It was the Sound EFX episode, and though I turned it off as soon as Welker didn’t make that catch and watched a lot of it on mute, I once and for all put the 2011 Pats to rest.

Going into the Super Bowl I really saw no way the Pats would lose. Up to that point every game seemed to have its own poetic justice (except that first Giants loss). Brady beat the Jets in New York for the first time since the Spygate, and ended the seasons of both the other teams that had ended his in 2005 and 2009.

Peyton as a Colt vs. Brady was over. And hey, we even let the Steelers finally win one! I knew you had it in you guys! 

Add all that with Myra Kraft’s magical presence over the team and I just didn’t see how we would possibly lose that game. It was just too perfectly all lined up. The Pats would cap off the season by beating who else but the Giants, and avenge the biggest and worst defeat of the Belichick era.

Forget about the Perfect Season, that’s the Perfect Decade.

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I know we lost the first two to the Giants, but reality check, they still only have one more SB than us. If BB/TFB can get ONE more it will tie the franchises for Lombardis and cement BB/TFB’s respective places in history.
You need a little bit of luck to get to the big one, but it’s not like our defense can get much worse against the pass. With the off-season additions it’s hard not to be excited.
Six Super Bowls. Four Lombardis. BB/ TFB FTW.

I know we lost the first two to the Giants, but reality check, they still only have one more SB than us. If BB/TFB can get ONE more it will tie the franchises for Lombardis and cement BB/TFB’s respective places in history.

You need a little bit of luck to get to the big one, but it’s not like our defense can get much worse against the pass. With the off-season additions it’s hard not to be excited.

Six Super Bowls. Four Lombardis. BB/ TFB FTW.

I really have mixed emotions about this picture now…

I really have mixed emotions about this picture now…

Wait, did I miss the game? I thought it was tomorrow…

Wait, did I miss the game? I thought it was tomorrow…

This isn’t what any of us want to hear but I don’t think anyone breaks down film better than Greg Cosell so I feel obligated to post.

When you evaluate tape, there are so many factors and variables that can be analyzed, too many to discuss at length. After careful consideration, I believe the Giants more explosive passing game will be the difference in a close, tense game that will be competitive through the fourth quarter. I picked the Giants to upset New England in Super Bowl 42, and I see the same result this Sunday. Only this time, it would not be an upset.

Great 2011 Patriots Pump Up Video with audio from Any Given Sunday. We’ve seen Pats videos with this audio before but it still gets us every single time. It’s a little misty here in the Ministry of PatsPropaganda.

Game of Inches (by brdmaverick)

As always Jerry nails it. I have nothing to add.

Facts, as they say, are stubborn things. And for this game coming up, the facts are these:

The Giants have been the hottest team in football over the last month. They’ve won five straight games. The Patriots have only won 10 straight.

The Patriots were lucky to get here. Lee Evans dropped that pass that Sterling Moore ferociously ripped out of his hands, which was pure luck. Kyle Williams letting a punt he had no intention of returning graze off his knee? Typical great clutch play by the G-Men.

Eli Manning is more than just Brady’s equal. You can’t spell “elite” without him. He’s the winningest winner that’s ever won. He LOVES taking sacks. Can’t be intimidated. He never forces a bad throw and laughs in the face of a pass rush. His legend grows like William Wallace’s. He’s 7 feet tall. Kills men by the hundreds. He’ll consume New England with fireballs from his eyes and bolts of lightning from his arse.

Brady? You can pressure him. Put him on the ground. He doesn’t like to get hit. He gets rattled. Don’t let the fact that that’s been everyone’s game plan for the last 11 years, three Super Bowl wins, two MVP seasons and last two weeks of playoff wins make you think it doesn’t work.

Brady’s played gawdawful in the playoffs, if you take away that unworldly, record-breaking job against Denver. And you must take it away. It doesn’t count.

The Patriots looked terrible in some of their games, including that one they barely won in Washington. Sure, the Redskins beat the Giants by two touchdowns twice, but that’s erroneous.

The Giants defensive front four are an irresistible force, as unblockable as a tsunami. There is no hope of stopping them with the Pats’ measly three Pro Bowlers and best blocking tight end in the league.

The Giants can pound the ball with Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. Don’t get sidetracked by that whole “last in the NFL in rushing” thing.

Rob Gronkowski is missing practices and that’s going to cost New England in a big way. Hakeem Nicks (336 yards, 4 TDs in the playoffs) is missing practices, but he’ll be fine.

The Giants completely shut down the Patriots offense in Week 9. Besides those 17 points the Pats scored in the fourth quarter once they quit worrying about max-protecting Brady, spread New York out and played their own game.

Devin McCourty might have had a great rookie year but this year he’s been a disaster so they had to move him to safety. Antrel Rolle was great as a rookie then was a disaster and had to be moved to safety. But that doesn’t count, either.

Eli will shred New England’s secondary, which was 31st in the league. Brady has no chance against New York’s secondary, which was a whopping 29th.

Coughlin’s superhuman brain operates on a plane of existence the human mind cannot comprehend. Don’t let all those annual demands he be fired that fill the New York tabloids distract you from the truth that he’s the greatest football intellect since the first coach ever crawled out of the primordial ooze and learned to walk on land. Besides, what does Bill Belichick know about winning big games?