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Jerry Ballgame lays out the groundwork for a Patriots victory… and much more!

THE PATRIOTS RUNNING THE TABLE: THE 70’s PLAN:

I don't think emotion will be enough come Sunday. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
I don’t think emotion will be enough come Sunday. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Although losing tight end Rob Gronkowski is a significant blow to the Pats’ chances of returning to the “Happy Days” of post-game confetti and duck boat victory parades, I am at least 70% convinced they can do it. But, in order to successfully run what is left of the table, they’ll likely have to score the bigger half of a combined score of 70 points, in both games. In other words, I still believe that New England can defeat both the Ravens, and presumably the 49ers, but to do it, they’ll have to score somewhere in the 35 to 45 point range, and “hold” their opponent to something in the 25 to 35 point range. I’m still convinced they can do it, just not as much as I was pre-broken arm.

(Just a side note here: I was in attendance at both the Colts game (when Gronkowski originally broke the arm)  as well as last Sunday’s playoff game against Texas. I am obviously good luck for the Pats, not so much so for Gronk…)

I realize that New England is in for a different type of game then they were against the Texans. The Ravens are a veteran group who knows it can play the Patriots anywhere and beat them. Step one for the Pats in retaining their AFC crown will be to tighten back up their special teams coverage. I was surprised to read in The Boston Globe’s Shalise Manza Young’s column on Tuesday, January 15, that they are actually was one of the best in the league this season in covering kickoffs. According to Young, the Pats kicked off a league leading 112 times  (13 more times than second place Denver) resulting in 52 touchbacks, and 24- inside the 20 yard line starts. After the 49ers game where they gave up the 62 yard return to LaMichael James, and then well over 200 yards against Houston, I can only hope that the unit, captained by Matthew Slater (son of Hall of Famer, Jackie) can re-establish its disciplined approach.

I’m not overly concerned about the”emotional factor” of this being Ray Lewis’ last game. Last year the Pats gained some emotional strength from the passing of team owner Robert Kraft’s wife Myra, and this year it was the Colts and the “lift” they got from Chuck Pagano’s battle with cancer. In neither case were the teams carried to their ultimate goal because of any emotional factor. I realize that football is in no small part, an emotional game, but in the end, it will likely be the old and tiring legs of Lewis. Ed Reed, and Terrell Suggs that will have the greatest impact on the final outcome of this game. An outcome that should have the Patriots winning 37-31, or there abouts…..

ADDITIONAL RANDOMNESS:

Talib has been a key addition to the Patriot D this year. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Talib has been a key addition to the Patriot D this year. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

I had a great angle on the Shane Vereen touchdown catch, and it was even more impressive in person. I was surprised that it was made by a halfback rather than a wide receiver….. Aaron Hernandez finally looks 100% heathy. I expect that even without Gronkowski being there, Hernandez will be a major factor Sunday……The mid season pick up of Aqib Talib is up there with signing bad boy Corey Dillon…..I know the Pats were backed up fairly close to their goal line, but Belichick played the last 1:30 0f the first half very strangely…..Dan Shaughnessy might not want to admit it, but the game felt very much in doubt until Rob Ninkovich’s 3rd quarter interception…..Vince Wilfork (“THE BEAST OF THE EAST”) is the Pats Co-MVP.

EVEN MORE ADDITIONAL RANDOMNESS:

How much dirt will Tito's new book kick up? (AP Photo)
How much dirt will Tito’s new book kick up? (AP Photo)

The Red Sox may have regained the lead against the JETS in the race for the title of “MOST DYSFUNCTIONAL ORGANIZATION’, with the soon to be published Terry Francona book. (Of course it was co-written by Dan Shaughnessy, the Max Mercy of our time.) Although I don’t blame Tito for doing it, not after the now famous Boston Globe article exposing all his personal issues, it still comes across to me like a bunch of children pointing fingers. (“It’s not my fault; he made me do it!”) If nothing else, it proves I was right that the collapse of the Sox had more to do with their trying to compete with the ’04-’07 edition of the Sox, then with the “Evil Empire”…..I was prepared to write about how much better  the Celtics and their bench looked since the return of Avery Bradley, before they came up with a real stinker of an effort against the lowly New Orleans Hornets, and Doc River’s son Austin (8 points). Some in the Boston media were even speculating that Rivers played Bradley less, so he wouldn’t be guarding Austin. Talk about awkward….(Austin needs a nickname like “Muddy” or “Mystic”…..)

A FINAL PARTING SHOT:

At least we got one last Manning Face this season. (John Leyba/The Denver Post)
At least we got one last Manning Face this season. (John Leyba/The Denver Post)

Peyton Manning’ s latest performance has lead to a great deal of conversation about how successful he is in the regular season, only to fall apart in the post season, as compared to his brother Eli, who shines in the post season after often struggling in the regular season. If only there was a way to combine the two; what an outstanding quarterback you would have.  You know, sort of like…Tom Brady.

Jerry Ballgame

About Jerry Ballgame

The personification of "old school", Jerry Ballgame was born in the shadow of Dr. Naismith's peach basket, and baptized in that "Dirty Water." Designated by his "Uncle" Ted, to keep an eye on things, he's here to tell everyone what his view is like from the Hub of the Universe.

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