Thursday, December 25, 2008

Big Game Brett? We Hope.



New England needs a Superhero.........ugh


So the New England Patriots' season comes down to this; win and hope for some help. While the Pats are taking on a Bills team they handled in Week 10 20-10, they need either the Jacksonville Jaguars to beat a very good Ravens team that has something to play for, OR the New York Jets to beat the surprising Dolphins. Neither prospect is very promising.

The Jags have won just 2 of their last 9 games (one against the hapless Lions), while the Ravens need to win to assure themselves a playoff spot, and with their second ranked defense the Ravens should have little trouble punching their ticket for the playoffs. That leaves the Pats needing Brett Favre and the New York Jets to beat the Fins--oh boy. The Fins have won 8 for their last 9 games--though just one win against a team with a winning record--while the Jets have looked as bad as those throwback jerseys they for whatever reason decide to pull out from time to time. The biggest reason for this tail spin? The man who was suppose to save the Jets--Brett Favre.

After winning 7 of 8 games from Week 4 through their stomping of the Titans in Week 12, the Jets have looked terrible in dropping 3 or their last 4. Over that stretch Favre has been one of the worst QBs in the league, completing fewer than 60% of his passes, averaging under 200 yards a game while throwing 6 picks to just 1 TD pass. The Jets are still in a position to win the AFC East only because of their Week 15 win over the Bills in which the defense scored 10 points in the fourth quarter while Favre and the offense mustered zero first downs. While Favre's play has been the primary cause for the Jets' recent struggles, the coaching staff also deserves to shoulder some of the blame.

That's because another trend that has coincided with the Jets recent and season struggles--Thomas Jones' carries. While most in New York have called for the ball to be in Favre's hands more often, the Jets need is to get the ball into Jones' hands--New York is 5-1 when he gets 20 or more rushing attempts, 4-5 when he is a pedestrian. Part of the reason for this correlation between the Jets' commitment to a running game and their winning football games is because of the problems the offense faces when it gets in 3rd and longs (6 yards plus). Favre's numbers in those situations are decent except that he often turns the ball over; 44/71, 478 yards, 6.73 YPA, 2/7 TD/INT. For whatever reason the coaching staff in New York decides at times to go away from the running game and Jones--as they did in Seattle where they rushed a total of 25 times during the game, with just 9 in the second half (3 more than they had on their first drive of the game, their longest of the game).

So, here is what we Pats fans need. First, show up and beat Buffalo. Though the Pats should win this game, the Bills will be looking to be the spoiler and keep the team that posted 56 on them the last time they met in Buffalo out of the playoffs. Next, we need Mr. Magini and company to commit to a running game that is third in the league in yards per carry at 4.8 and keep the offense (Favre) out of third and longs against the Fins. Otherwise we will probably see Favre hand the Fins the division, and the hatred for Favre will only increase in the northeast.

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