Of course, Bill Belichick and his well versed players will talk about only about the Ravens.
We'll hear all week about how strong the Ravens are and especially how good that defense is. Belichick will rave about Ed Reed and tell us that Joe Flacco is quickly becoming one of the best QBs in the NFL. We'll be reminded by the Patriots and the media that if not for a Mark Clayton drop, the Ravens would have been knocking very loudly at the door of a week four win in Foxboro. And we'll hear that Edelman, Aiken and Stanback are capable of stepping up or else they would not be on the roster. Some of the bigger yahoos in the media will reference the Patriots' buzzards luck with injuries post-SpyGate and leave the supposed karmic conclusion unstated. Others will connect the dots without shame, if they haven't begun to do so already.
Looking ahead to the actual game, I like the fact that that Pats were undefeated at home this season. I like the fact that they'll be getting Warren, Faulk, Bodden and hopefully Wilfork back. And I like the fact that Brady will be pissed off all week about not having gotten the ball for that last drive against the Texans, and will be a man possessed in preparation for that game. I'm not suggesting that Tom is ever lax in his preparation for any game, much less any playoff game. Still, I like that he's going to be extremely focused.
I don't like the fact that I don't have a lot of confidence in Bill O'Brien's play calling or have even the hint of a rational explanation for the Patriots' inability to score much in the second half of games. I don't like that a passing, WR centric offense is now down to one quality and experienced WR. That they never adequately replaced Jabar Gaffney was a problem before yesterday. It's now obviously a bigger problem. And I don't like that the Pats seemingly give good QBs a ridiculous amount of time in the pocket to pick them apart, as Matt Schaub did yesterday.
I'll wonder if Maroney's absence yesterday means that BB has given up on the player, Maroney is hurt, Maroney had a bad week of practice or it was some kind of Belichick message to him. More to the point, I'll wonder if Maroney will play against the Ravens.
The good news, for me, is that I expect the Pats to start their playoff march with a win. In the end, I think that the combination of playing at home and their overall talent and coaching advantage will be enough to gut this one out. I'm less sanguine that they can keep it going against San Diego but that's for the next game thread, if we get there.
But the four game march begins with a victory.
Edited by TheoShmeo, 04 January 2010 - 04:58 AM.