New England Patriots @ Minnesota Vikings – Up & Down

A look at the top performers and underachievers in the New England Patriots’ 30 – 7 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

UP

Chandler Jones – After having a bad game in the season opener in Miami, Jones played well against the Vikings and generated constant pressure from the edge. Besides his two sacks, Jones blocked a field goal and returned the ball for a touchdown before the end of the second quarter.

Julian Edelman – The wide receiver recorded 6 catches for 81 yards including a touchdown. The Vikings defensive backs had their problems with Edelman who also drew a couple penalty flags. The Kent State alum showed up in special teams as well with couple long punt returns.

Logan Ryan – The second year cornerback records his first interception in the season after jumping in front of Cordarrelle Patterson. Ryan also broke up a pass intended for Patterson and stopped running back Matt Asiata for no gain on a third down.

DOWN

Deontae Skinner – The linebacker, who was added to the 53-man roster this week, allowed a couple catches in the first quarter and didn’t really show up in coverage for the rest of the game.

Penalties – The Patriots were called for 13 penalties, including three on Nate Solder during the span of two plays. A handful of penalties even resulted in Vikings first downs. This will almost definitely be addressed by the coaching staff in the upcoming week.

New England Patriots @ Minnesota Vikings – Second Half Patriots Notes

Here are a couple Patriots thoughts from the second half of the New England Patriots’ 30 – 7 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

Brady locked in on Edelman – Quarterback Tom Brady’s connection with wide receiver Julian Edelman seems to keep working well. Edelman caught 6 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown and drew a couple penalty flags as well. Brady targeted Edelman on a couple more attempts as well, which did not find the receiver. Although, it was enough this week; the Patriots might want to put an emphasis on distributing the ball better among the receivers. Wide receivers Brandon LaFell, Aaron Dobson and Danny Amendola need to step up in the following week and improve their connection with Brady.

Ridley gets bigger role – After getting 8 carries compared to Shane Vereen’s 7 in Miami, running back Stevan Ridley gets a heavy workload with 25 carries, while Vereen had only 6 rushes. The distribution of snaps and carries between the two running backs will be something worth monitoring over the upcoming weeks.

Crisis averted in New England – The Patriots prevent falling to 0-2 for the first time since 2001. After struggling in the opener in Miami, both lines played well as the defense put pressure on quarterback Matt Cassel and stuffed a couple runs, while the offensive line protected Brady well.

New England Patriots @ Minnesota Vikings – First Half Patriots Notes

Here are my observations after the first half of the Patriots’ game against the Vikings.

No significant returns by Patterson – Cordarrelle Patterson’s big play ability is well-known around the NFL. People questioned how the Patriots would eliminate this aspect from Sunday’s game. In terms of special teams the Patriots did well in limiting Patterson as kicker Stephen Gostkowski kicked three kickoffs through the end zone, while the Vikings started their drive from their own 18 after the fourth.

Patriots helping out the Vikings – The Patriots were penalized six times in the first half. Three of those, an offside by Dont’a Hightower, an illegal hands to the face by Sealver Siliga and a defensive holding by Darrelle Revis, resulted in new set of downs for the Vikings.

McCourty’s range – Devin McCourty showed off his range in the first quarter when he intercepted Matt Cassel’s long pass intended for Jarius Wright. McCourty didn’t help out Kyle Arrington, the defender in coverage, before the pass as he stood on the other side of the field before hustling over to pick off the pass as he read Cassel’s eyes.

Logan Ryan plays physical – Although, cornerback Logan Ryan was beaten on a third down pass to Cordarrelle Patterson in the second quarter. He quickly made up for it in the following plays: first he broke up a pass intended for Patterson before stopping running back Matt Asiata with a hard tackle for no gain on third down.

Chandler Jones shows up – After one of the worst games in his pro career against the Dolphins, Jones shines bright against the Vikings. In the first quarter Jones stopped Jarius Wright’s jet sweep for a loss before recording his first sack of the season. The Syracuse alum topped of his performance with blocking a field goal and returned the ball for touchdown in the last seconds of the second quarter.

Green Bay Packers @ Seattle Seahawks – 3 Up 3 Down

A look at the top performers and underachievers in the Seattle Seahawks’ 36 – 16 win over the Green Bay Packers.

UP

Percy Harvin – The oft-injured wide receiver shows how valuable and dangerous he can be when he is on the field. The former Florida Gator finishes the game with 59 yards on 7 reception and 41 yards on the ground, while he shows up in the return game as well.

Bobby Wagner – The Seattle linebacker shows up all around the field – covering wide receivers downfield and stopping runners in the backfield. Wagner finishes the game with 14 tackles.

Clay Matthews – Matthews’ first step was often too quick for the Seattle tackles. Matthews contributed to stopping the run as well as pressuring Russell Wilson. Matthews seemed to be a lone star for an uninspiring Packers team.

DOWN

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – The rookie safety made a couple rookie mistakes in the first half. His missed tackle on Ricardo Lockette led to a touchdown, while he also missed an opportunity to make a tackle for loss on Marshawn Lynch. Few minutes later he dropped an interception on an underthrown pass despite being in the perfect spot to make a play.

Derek Sherrod – Swing tackle comes in to replace injured right tackle Bryan Bulaga and makes costly mistakes. First, he was beaten by Cliff Avril to end a Packers drive, while on the next series Michael Bennett beat him and stripped the ball from Aaron Rodgers, which led to a safety.

Brad Jones – The inside linebacker is unable to come off blocks all night long and was flagged twice while being in coverage. The position must be a concern for the Packers going forward.

Green Bay Packers @ Seattle Seahawks – Second Half Notes

Here are a couple thoughts from the second half of the first game of the 2014 NFL season.

Packers quick off the edge – The first step of Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers can and will cause problems for a lot of offensive tackle tandems this season. The edge rusher tandem had their ways with Seattle Seahawks tackles Russell Okung and Justin Britt as they showed up against the running game and they were able to put pressure on Russell Wilson as well, forcing him to step up in the pocket a couple times.

Brad Jones struggles – Inside linebacker Jones was a non-factor against the champions tonight. His most notable play came when Peppers and Matthews sacked Wilson, but the play was called back because of an illegal contact penalty on Jones. He was later flagged one more time for illegal holding on a play that, if not for the penalty, would have stopped a Seahawks drive. Besides struggling in coverage, Jones had problems getting off blocks and consequently could not contribute in the running game.

Can’t get away from Wagner – Unlike Jones on the other side, Wagner was making plays all over the fields. At one point in the third quarter he made a tackle for loss on Eddie Lacy and tackled wide receiver Randall Cobb 15 yards down the field just two plays later. Wagner finished the night with six solo tackles and eight assists.

Sherman Island – Sherman’s resume and play kept Aaron Rodgers from looking his way all night long. The cornerback shut down wide receiver Jarrett Boykin who finished the night without a reception, while Sherman didn’t show up on the stat sheet either. Rodgers didn’t even test Sherman and the Packers seemed content to sacrifice Boykin on Sherman Island.

Derek Sherrod can’t step up – When Bryan Bulaga went down with a knee injury, backup swing tackle Sherrod was asked to replace him and left tackle and it had an impact. Sherrod was unable to stop edge rushers Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett on back-to-back offensive plays. The first play led to the Packers turning the ball over on downs, while the second resulted in a strip sack and a safety for the Seahawks. Later he was pushed back by O’Brien Schofield on a 2-point conversion, which eventually forced Rodgers to get rid of the ball.

Beast Mode turns it on – Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch was back to where he left off in February, running with a purpose. Lynch took advantage of the Packers’ poor run defense and didn’t hesitate to run through gaps before finishing every run strong. On the way to reaching 110 yards Lynch scored two touchdown from within the ten-yard line.

Green Bay Packers @ Seattle Seahawks – First half notes

Here are a couple observations from the first half of the Packers-Seahawks “NFL Kickoff” game.

Football is back – It is good to finally watch a meaningful game. After the prolonged draft talks, the training camp reports and the struggle of watching backups play backups, we arrived to the day that everyone waited for. Furthermore, it is a game that although is being played on 4 September; it can have major playoff implications come January. We are in for a treat.

Mental errors by both teams – The Packers made a few mistakes on the first Seahawks drive. Brad Jones was slow to haul in an interception and saw Zach Miller punch the ball out for an incomplete pass. In the following play, the Seahawks were ready to punt; however, their drive got extended due to Packers DE Mike Daniels running into punter Jon Ryan. When the Packers finally stopped the Seahawks again on third down they had to burn a timeout as they had 13 players on the field to block a field goal.

On the following drive Seahawks safety Earl Thomas muffed a punt that should have been fair caught. The Packers recovered the ball and eventually scored on a run by fullback John Kuhn. Feels like a case when players maybe got too pumped up for the season opener.

Rookie center belongs – The Packers’ fifth-round pick Corey Linsley is playing his first NFL game, replacing injured starter J. C. Tretter at center. Despite talks all week long whether he could protect Aaron Rodgers, the rookie has stood his ground so far in both the run game and the pass game. He didn’t really give up any pressure in pass protection except for one occasion on third-and-goal when Rodgers had to scramble out of the pocket before throwing an incomplete pass. His most notable mistake came when it seemed he was slow to snap the ball with 2:17 left in the second quarter and Rodgers had to use the Packers’ last timeout. Linsley’s play will definitely be worth monitoring in the second half as well.

Miller does all the right things – Tight end Zach Miller did a wide variety of things in the first half to help his team succeed. After preventing a Brad Jones interception on the first down, his number was called in the blocking game as well. Miller was lined up against Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews on a few occasions and was able to provide enough time for Russell Wilson to complete a 33-yard pass to Percy Harvin.

The NFL needs a healthy Percy Harvin – Harvin showed the entire world what he’s capable of in February’s Super Bowl, when the Broncos were not sure what to expect from him. Despite the fact that the Packers knew what to prepare for, Harvin had quite a few successful plays ranging from receptions to a run from the backfield and a jet sweep as well. Harvin finished the half with five catches for 48 yards and 22 yards on the ground. He showed off his elusiveness in the return game as well as he had a 31-yard kickoff return after breaking several tackles in the second quarter.

 

10 Bold Predictions – 2014 NFL Season

Ronald Martinez / Getty Images North America
Ronald Martinez / Getty Images North America

As a preview for the 2014 NFL season, here are my bold predictions for the year. As part of this list, I looked at the ten teams that I will personally see in November and December. For each team I chose one performance that – if happens indeed – will raise some eyebrows during the year.

New England Patriots – WR Danny Amendola will stay healthy and finish the year with at least 100 receptions.

Detroit Lions – QB Matthew Stafford will throw for at least 45 touchdowns.

New Orleans Saints – WR Brandin Cooks will have the most receiving yards and touchdowns among the New Orleans Saints wide receivers.

Baltimore Ravens – RB Ray Rice will run for more than 1,000 yards despite missing the first two games.

San Francisco 49ers – The San Francisco 49ers defense will finish in the bottom five in number of sacks.

Seattle Seahawks – WR Percy Harvin will reach 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his career.

Jared Allen will have at least 15 sacks in 2014 (Photo: Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images)

Jared Allen will have 15 sacks in 2014 (Photo: Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images)

Green Bay Packers – RB Eddie Lacy will be the first Green Bay running back to run for more than 1,500 yards since 2003.

Chicago Bears – DE Jared Allen will record 15 sacks or more.

Dallas Cowboys – QB Tony Romo will throw for more than 5,100 yards.

Carolina Panthers – LB Luke Kuechly will record at least 175 tackles, the most by any player since 2010.