At the beginning of the football season I made an outlandish prediction that was based on a little research and some well earned football common sense. It was not a popular prediction, and it certainly didn’t make me any new friends. What was this dire prediction, you ask?  “The Magnificent Patriots will go 10-6.”

Of course, everyone scoffed at me. I had to endure a good but of ridicule and I don’t even want to describe the looks I got from Patriots fans (Yes, I am talking about you Adam P. Mason). So, I finally decided to elaborate on my thought process and share my research that this prediction was based off of.

I looked at what teams were successful against the Pats last year. I went to the most recent and most popular team at trumping (pun intended, just wait for it) the Patriots: the New York Giants (Get it? New York, Donald Trump…nevermind). What do the Giants have that works to their advantage? A great defensive front line, athletic play making wide receivers, a solid run game, and an elite quarterback…or at least a quarterback that can make plays. With those four elements in mind, I figured I had The Blueprint (I will leave Jay-Z out of it). All that I had to do next was compare these aspects to others teams the Pats lost to last year.

The Bills beat the Pats early in the season, and the Bills do have an athletic wide receiver (S. Johnson) and a solid run game (F. Jackson). If you’ll recall, at the time when the Bills played the Pats Fitzpatrick was making plays. So, the Bills had three out of four pieces of The Blueprint.

The Cowboys were very close to beating the Pats, and they have important aspects of The Blueprint as well: Ware and Ratcliff on the line, Bryant and Austin as wide receivers, and Tony Romo. Say what you want about Romo, the man makes plays. The Cowboys had three out of four elements of The Blueprint.

The Steelers beat the Pats, and once again they fit The Blueprint. Even though I feel the Steelers are a passing team now, they still have the ability to run effectively with Mendenhall, Redman, and Moore.  Add M. Wallace and A. Brown at WR, a menacing defensive front, and you have Big Ben enough said.

There were close games against both the Ravens and the Dolphins. I know you can get the Ravens, so I won’t bother going into detail there.  But why would I mention the Dolphins? Well at the end of the season, Reggie Bush was running great and they had an athletic wide receiver in Brandon Marshal. Also important is that the Dolphins had thirteen sacks in the month of December alone (more than any other month of that season). Four of those sacks were in their game against the Pats. The only thing the Dolphins were missing was the quarterback.

Once I scrutinized over those stats, I looked at this year’s schedule. These are the games I highlighted as loses: Ravens, Seahawks (at the time I thought Flynn was starting), Texans, 49ers, Broncos (Pats beat Broncos), and one upset. As to which team was going to be the upset, I was torn. I thought would be either Dolphins, Cardinals (they pulled this one out so I need another upset), or Jets (Jets dropped the ball…I’m looking at you Stephen Hill).

Now why do these elements of The Blueprint work? What about it gives teams a better chance to win against the Patriots? Well first, the Pats don’t have a dynamic outside wide receiver to beat man to man consistently so play man coverage on the outsides.  The Pats don’t have good corners, so athletes can beat them in man to man situations (and even in some double team situations). This is what makes the athletic wide receiver an important element.

Second, a solid run game keeps the Pats defense honest and takes away their strong point: the Patriots’ Offense. Not to mention the run game exposes their average linebackers for play action.

Third, and almost (but not quite) the most important element is an elite or play making quarterback. Look at both Super Bowls: the Tyree catch and the Manningham throw and catch. Average quarterbacks are not making those throws or plays, but Eli would and did.

The fourth, last, and most important component is the defensive front line. If you have four good defensive front linemen, you can put pressure on Brady without blitzing. Brady and Welker will eat blitzes for late evening snacks. However, the pressure of a solid defensive front line will wear Brady down. This will allow teams to zone up the inside, neutralizing Welker, Gronk, and Hernandez.

Now I’m not saying that its fool proof, but look at the numbers. Look at the games. You can see a trend. Belichick has been trying to improve that defense for how long? Four years? Unless Ryan Mallet is the next Steve Young, enjoy the ride Patriot fans. Five Super Bowl appearances and three wins isn’t too bad, but its time to come to terms with it.

 

Jason

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