Re: Bring on New England
Welcome to NE. The weather will be cold, wet and in the 20's when your team arrives. I hope they can adapt. Here are a few things you should know about the Pats when entering in any discussions with Pats fans.
1. We don't care about hearing about your injuries. Sorry you have them, but you aren't the only team in the league that has to deal with them. The Pats have had just one offensive lineman who has played every game this season. There is a good chance that 3 of the 5 starting offensive linemen will miss this game. (Volmer, Connolly, and Mankins) As well as the starting TE (Gronk), and 3rd WR/PR (Edelman) and that;s just the offense. We've already lost our starting CB (Dowling) 3rd LB (Fletcher) to the IR and our best DL (Jones) for the last 3 games. SO WHAT!
It would be great to have all your guys playing without any injuries, but that just doesn't happen. You have to be lucky with injuries and neither the Pats or the Texans have been. But the one thing you won't hear from most Pats fans are injury excuses. And its something we've had to learn over time. As fans we are just as prone to blame injuries for our disappointments as any team, but over the 12 years of the Bellichick era, he has never stooped to use injuries as an excuse....ever. And over the years of success he's had with the Pats, the fans have gradually learned to accept injuries as facts of life. So now we just curse them and expect the next man up to do the job. Last season the Pats had 4 different C's start games on the #1 offense in the league and made it to the superbowl
2. The Texans have had a great run and really should be considered the top team in the AFC. I'm a little surprised the Pats are favored, even if its only the by the home field advantage.
3. The Texans are hitting the Pats at a very good time. The Pats have only 2 healthy WRs (Welker and Lloyd) on the roster (plus a guy they just signed this week (Stallworth). Look for TE Aaron Hernandez to play a lot of snaps split out.
4. The Pats base formation which they run about 60-70% of the time is the 1-2-2. One RB, 2 TE's 2 WRs. It presents a lot of very tough matchups for defenses. With Gronk there there are 4 excellent Receiver options, and if the defense tries to go with nickel or dime defenses to counteract the pass threats, its a great formation to run the ball. Without Gronk, of course its less effective, but that's relative. Its still very effective.
5. For the first time in a long time the Pats are more balanced. Last week is a good example. The Pats had just 10 rushing yards in the first half against a very good rush defense, and wound up the game with 120 for the game. With the lack of WR's look for the Pats to rush the ball over 30 times
6. I know the Texans have one of the better pass rushes in the league. It will be a huge challenge for the Pats OL. But the Pats have faced other good pass rushes this season, and generally have held up well regardless who who is in there. It also helps to have Tom Brady as your QB. He gets rid of the ball very quickly. Kills blitzes, and has great pocket presence.
I think the Texans would be wise to rush just 4 most of the time. I think their front 4 is good enough to provide enough pressure without biltzing.
7. The key to defeating the Pats passing attack is pressure up the middle. Edge pressure is generally not as effective. If I were setting up the Texan defense this week, I'd be looking to get JJ Watts into the middle as much as possible either through alignment or stunts
8. Gillette Stadium has been a great home field advantage, but its not a particularly noisy crowd, like Seattle or a dome team. The stadium design is more open than a lot of fields, and I'm sad to say the prolonged success of the Pats has softened the Pats crowd a bit. I think the weather will more of a disadvantage than the crowd.
9. patsfans.com is a popular Pats message board. Most of the time there will be 5-600 fans logged on, so you can get involved in a lot of good football talk. Feel free to talk up your team, and disagree with a Patriots point view. As long as you are respectful and want to talk football, you will be welcomed. If you just want to talk trash and be annoying, your stay will be a short one. So far most of the Texan fans who have shown up have been very classy.
10, Good luck to your team on Sunday. Regardless of who wins, I doubt it will be the last time we face each other. May we both leave this game as healthy as we started it. That's the most important thing over the long haul.
The next 2 weeks (Texans and Niners) will tell Pats fans a lot of about the state of their team But at this point the next 4 games for both our 2 teams are merely for playoff seeding and getting prepared for the 2nd season. Merely rehearsals for January.