Let me recount how we are this season heading into the playoffs. For the past couple years, we as pats fans have witnessed disgusting play by our team in the playoffs (one with reasons being that welker was out and brady had to rely on a rookie QB turned WR in edelman), and it was clear that execution was a huge problem.
Last year hurt the most. We faced the jets after blowing them out 45-3, and after Brady's first IT it seems the team as a whole just fell apart. Against Sanchez, and against our division rival. After a promising 14-2 season, our two star rookie TEs and dynamic offense, our young promising defense, this hurt the most imo.
Heading into this playoff game against denver, I still sort of have that lingering feeling. "Will the Pats execute the way I hope they will?" "Will they play 4 quarters of football, just 3, or not at all?" "How will our OL play?" And several more questions. Its safe to say I am very nervous of how this turns out, and who could blame me? I'm probably not alone when I say that this playoff game will be greatly judged far more by our failure than our victory, and if we lose I can expect many Belichick bashing, Brady trading, blaming defense, blaming the bad defensive draft picks and not looking at the good ones, and most of all, the deep threat argument that I think is completely asinine.
But come game day I'm not going to think about such things, and I hope Brady and BB and Co. won't too. I want them to be ready and fired up. I want them to stomp on the all the doubt, and crush their own expectations and make their way to the big superbowl title. But let's take this one game at a time shall we? Skip over the jump and read my keys to the game.
- Brady and Co. must be on target: I don't want Brady throwing into double and triple coverage. I don't want him zoning in on one guy (unless he is constantly getting open). I want Brady manipulating coverages, calling audibles, and pass it to the open guy. This happens mostly for 3 quarters, and I'm hoping he won't fold for 3 quarters like the cowboys, pitt, and giants. Incompetent 3 quarter play led us to 2/3 of our losses. Brady and Co. must give it their A game, and I am looking at you too O'Brien.
Balance is key: Why? Well it's simple. The Broncos do have a pretty good passing defense, and if we are passing it virtually all game, I can expect a couple of INTs. Denver will be MUCH more ready to face Brady and his weapons this time. They got first hand on how Herndo can beat them, and they will adjust their scheme to incorporate him. BJGE and Ridley and Woody should be ready, because getting a running game going will not only give their DC fits on what players to zone in on, but it will open up the passing, and if we are passing it very well we should run the ball once or twice to keep the defense honest and guessing.
Defense must be at their A game: Okay I'm going to be honest: Tebow can throw the ball. STILL Raw, but he is a lot better than when we faced him earlier. They have the #1 running game, and Tebow will be able to pass the ball to guys that are open. I am confident enough that we can contain their run they way we did for 3 quarters the last game, and we'll be getting spikes and chung back this game which will greatly help. Now for our pass defense? It will be better. McCourty is starting to show up, and chung will add to our passing defense as well (who the hell wants Ihedigbo or nate jones for safety? lol). Maybe even Sterling Moore could start at FS, but I think we'll see him at slot CB and in sub packages. Now..... What scares me is not the deep pass, but the middle of the field. Mayo and our linebackers need to help in the middle and our CBs should play closer coverage with some safety help. Tebow passing is now, to tell the truth, scaring me a bit. I don't want him to pass the ball well, especially in the middle of the field. The defense, overall, will have their hands full, and the broncos have momentum coming into this game which is dangerous.
Win the turnover battle: The pats have a scary record when they win the turnover battle. Its no surprise that any team will lose momentum when the ball is turned over, and the opposition gets points. Brady, I expect, will throw one INT. It's just a feeling seeing as how this game is huge for the Broncos. But I fully expect Brady to play lights out for at least 3 quarters, and I expect our defense to play like the top 3 takeaway team they are, as well as get some 3 and outs here and there (wouldn't hurt).
- Play smart: Tebow as I said is coming into this game, and his team, with a lot of momentum. We need to come out strong, and start playing like a superbowl team. Slow starts are not something I would like. If we are down by 17, I don't want the pats team to panic, and flash of last year's game go through their heads. The whole team needs to play with synergy, and confidence. Confidence and momentum are dangerous combinations. We need to come out with a solid gameplan, we need to execute not with perfection, but at least more than the other guy. We need to run the ball, pass the ball, contain tebow and the option offense, and do whatever is working. We can't go overboard, and call a 30 yard pass play on a 2nd and 5. Control the clock, get points, keep the defense rested, and we'll win this game with flying red, white, and blue patriot colors. :)
That's all I have for now. I predict the pats will win 28-20. The game will be close. Tebow and Co. will come out firing on all cylinders, but our second half play will be overwhelming enough to get the win out, and have the media follow with stories like "The pats hardly beat the broncos team. They can't win the superbowl!"
I can't wait to see this game. Although I am nervous, this is what we've been waiting for since the 2011 offseason. Lets not screw this up again.