Scott Cordischi On Sports: Pats Road To New Orleans Filled With Potholes
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
What a difference a week makes.
One week ago at this time, the New England Patriots were being hailed as THE team to beat in the upcoming NFL Playoffs. Following their thrashing of the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football, their spot in Super Bowl XLVII was almost guaranteed by all of the so-called prognosticators who cover the sport.
Now, after losing at home to the San Francisco 49ers Sunday night, the Pats have their share of doubters. Instead of having a first round bye in the upcoming AFC Playoffs, the Pats seem destined to play on Wild Card Weekend and will likely have to play at Denver, at Houston or in both cities just to get to the Super Bowl.
So what should we be thinking about this Patriots team? Are the the world-beaters we thought they were last week or are they toast after losing at home to San Francisco Sunday night? As my old friend Kenneth James Aloysius Ford (aka “Jersey Red”) used to say, somewhere in the middle lies the truth.
Are the Patriots the best team in football? Maybe. Maybe not. They clearly still have defensive issues that need to be addressed.
It is also true that winning three games in a row including two on the road makes for a much more difficult path to New Orleans than had they secured a first round bye and had to play a maximum of one road game to get to the Super Bowl.
None-the-less, this is the hand they were dealt and they will have to play it.
And take heart Patriot fans, because 5 of the last 7 Super Bowl Champions have come out of Wild Card Weekend.
-Kudos to Jim Harbaugh who did what very few head coaches seem to do when playing the high-powered Patriots. Instead of going into the game trying to run the ball and keep Tom Brady and the Pats offense off the field, they were aggressive offensively attacking the Patriots vulnerable defense.
-Is there any doubt that the already extremely potent Patriots offense will be virtually unstoppable once Rob Gronkowski is back in the line-up?
-Not that it effected the outcome of the game, but Ed “Muscles” Hochuli and his crew didn’t exactly have a great game Sunday night.
-A week ago, my NFL MVP rankings looked like this: 1.) Tom Brady 2.) Peyton Manning 3.) Adrian Peterson. This week my MVP rankings are as follows: 1.) Adrian Peterson 2.) Peyton Manning 3.) Tom Brady
-There’s some thought to the idea that Bill Belichick may consider resting some of his players over the next two weeks given the fact that it is unlikely that Houston will lose two in a row or that Denver will lose one of their two final games to effect the seeding. That could mean that players like Rob Gronkowski, Logan Mankins, Sebastian Vollmer, Dan Connolly and Brandon Spikes who are nursing injuries could see limited action. It will be interesting to see Belichick’s approach at Jacksonville Sunday and home against Miami in the regular season finale.
-How frustrated does Celtics coach Doc Rivers seem with this year’s team? He seems unable to get this team to buy into playing good, hard defense for 48 minutes. It also seems as if some of the newcomers to this club are having difficulty adapting to their new roles. The hope is that this veteran team will be able to figure it out enough where they can put it all together come playoff time. That is, provided they play well enough to make it into the postseason.
-There may be good news on the way for Rivers as Avery Bradley is very close to getting bask on the floor. Bradley is arguably the Celtics best on-the-ball defender and may be just what the doctor ordered………pun intended.
-Two years and $26.5 million for Ryan Dempster when they could have acquired National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey from the Mets and given him a 2-year, $25 million contract extension? The more and more I see, the less I like Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington.
-Ditto for the 3-year, $39 million contracts given to both Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino. I would have much preferred giving Josh Hamilton 5 years and $125 million like the Angels did. Why, you ask? Because the last time the Red Sox signed an “A+” free agent and invested big bucks into that player, it was Manny Ramirez and it worked. Since that time they have signed “B+” talent like JD Drew, Carl Crawford and others and it just hasn’t worked out. What’s worse is that they have spent “A+” money on those “B+” free agents. The point is, if money isn’t the issue, then try to get the very best players available, not the middle of the road free agents who are still costing you an arm and a leg.
-Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez has committed 50 turnovers over the past two seasons. 50! It’s surprising that he hasn’t been benched before now?
-Speaking of the Jets, how do you think that supposed second string quarterback Tim Tebow feels today now that third string quarterback Greg McElroy has been announced as this week’s starter?
-A nice touch by the Providence College men’s basketball team which ditched the black and white uniforms Tuesday night in favor of green uniforms with the words “Sandy Hook” on the back of their jerseys. Green is the school color for the Sandy Hook Elementary School where last weeks horrific tragedy occurred in Newtown, Connecticut. Friars coach Ed Cooley coached at Fairfield a couple of years ago not too far from Newtown. He informed Nike of his desire to pay tribute to the school and the families of those lost in the massacre. Providence will donate those uniforms to those effected by shooting.
-On a much lighter note, PC freshman Kris Dunn dished out 13 assists (he also had 7 points and 6 rebounds) in his Friars debut against Colgate last night. Arizona transfer Sidiki Johnson had 4 points and 8 rebounds in 16 minutes of work in his first game as a Friar.
-As Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen have learned, putting the ball on the ground is no way to get more carries for a Bill Belichick-coached team. Can you say Brandon Bolden?
-Kevin Youkilis told WAAF that he signed with the Yankees because he felt it was his best chance at competing for another World Series title of all the team that showed interest in him. I can’t say that I blame him.
-The last two weeks of the NFL season should be real interesting for fans of the Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants who are all tied atop the NFC East. I don’t know about you, but I would love to see RG3 and the Skins get into the playoffs and I’m sure the television networks would agree.
-Speaking of the Redskins, all of the “draft experts” who criticized Washington for drafting two quarterbacks in the 2012 NFL Draft can now apologize to the organization. Kirk Cousins has won two games for Washington this season filling in for the injured Robert Griffin III.
-My guess is that Rex Ryan comes back to coach the Jets next season but that GM Mike Tannenbaum does not return.
-Since this is the last column of its kind before the Christmas holiday, a very merry Christmas to all of you! And thank you for reading this column and GoLocalProv.com.