KNOW THY ENEMY: The New England Patriots

Brady & Wake

Last week, Nathan Kearns of Ramblin Fan took a stab at answering five questions about the St. Louis Rams before the Vikings came to town.  We appreciated him taking the time to do it, and I think his attempts to predict the future contained lots of great information, but I’d bet he’d like to have his prediction back after the Vikings gave the Rams the horns.

Next up are the storied New England Patriots, but this week’s guest isn’t underestimating the Vikings, especially after the Patriots were upstaged by the Dolphins in Week One.

Morgan Smith of Patriots Gab took time out of her week to answer some questions for us and I think you’ll be plenty interested to get her take on the upcoming game.  Be sure to follow Morgan on Twitter, if only for a little fun trash talking during the rest of this week, by clicking here.

The Dolphins seemed to draw a map for future teams when it comes to overwhelming the offensive line and flustering Tom Brady.  Do you think this will become a pattern with the Vikings up next or was this a one-time fluke?

There is a blueprint against every team, and last week was the blueprint against the Pats. Last year, Cincinnati beat the Pats by doing what Miami did, and the Patriots were just as bad on offense. The blueprint is there, but not every team can execute it and not every team uses it. To beat New England you have to get pressure on Tom Brady, and it has to be constant throughout the game.

The offensive line isn’t the same as it was before when Brady barely got hit, they are allowing more hits on Brady than he’s ever had, so New England has to make some personnel changes on the line before this Sunday, because the Vikings will get to Brady. Maybe add Josh Kline to the line and take out Jordan Devy, and allow Wendell to play more over Marcus Cannon, or Bryan Stork gets to play. They have to figure something out by Sunday because the Vikings had 5 sacks against the Rams, so they can generate pressure.

We will see if Minnesota can execute the blueprint and if New England can adjust.

Our readers recently voted Cordarrelle Patterson as our Week One MVP.  His 67 yard touchdown run was incredible, but he also produces in the passing game and on special teams.  Which phase of the game does Patterson have the best chance of exploiting against this Patriots team?

I’d say on special teams, because New England has given up big plays against great returners in the past. The Pats didn’t face a great returner last week, so they will be challenged this week. Patterson in space is dangerous and I feel he will give New England problems there. He’s like Percy Harvin, dangerous everywhere, but more durable.

Both Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller were able to average well over five yards per carry against New England last week.  How big of a concern is that run defense with Adrian Peterson on deck?

Huge concern.  Knowshon Moreno is a good running back, but Adrian Peterson the best in the NFL.

The entire starting defensive line looked bad against Miami, so someway they have to figure out how to stop “All Day” or they won’t fare any better than last Sunday.  Joe Vellano was the worst of the bunch, so I doubt he will see him starting on Sunday.  Sealver Siliga and Vince Wilfork missed a lot of tackles and they work on that could help the line.  But, they may just come in with a different scheme this weekend to defend the run.

Either way, it’s the biggest concern heading into this Sunday.

The Vikings historically struggle against pass-catching tight ends and Jared Cook found some space against us last week.  Can you tell us how Gronk is progressing from a health standpoint and what you expect to see from him against Minnesota?

Gronk is getting better and healthier and I expect him to see more snaps this weekend than he did against Miami. The offense is a different team with Big Gronk healthy and playing. If he plays the majority of the snaps, I expect to see over half of the passes going in his direction.

I watched the New England game recently, and if I were a Pats fan I would be hard-pressed to find any positive takeaways.  Can you give me three individual performances from last week that you found encouraging that give you hope of future success?

It’s almost impossible to find three positive things from the Miami game, but I’d go with Gronk as the number one positive guy going forward. He got into the red zone and got out of the “welcome back game” healthy. He’s still Brady’s favorite target and, if he plays for the entire game, the Pats are instantly better.

The second guy would be Julian Edelman. He may have been taken away in the 2nd half, due to zero receiver help from anyone else, but with Gronk playing the entire game he should keep performing at a high level. He was also used in different ways that might help add wrinkles to New England’s offense.

The third would be Darrelle Revis and the secondary. They were not horrible against Miami, that was mainly the defensive line. Revis had an overall good game. On the touchdown he gave up to Wallace, he had deflected it and luckily enough for Wallace, it deflected right back to him. The secondary looks good against the pass and I have high hopes for Revis and the entire unit moving forward.

PREDICTION:  20 – 17 win for New England. I think this game will be close, because the Vikings are not a pushover team. I like Matt Cassel, he’s a pretty good quarterback, and with weapons like A.P. And Patterson, the Vikings will be a tough opponent. If they get pressure on Brady they can easily win this game, but I think New England can adjust enough to squeeze out a victory.

Morgan asked me to return the favor by answering some questions about the Vikings and make a prediction of my own.  For that, please head on over to Patriots Gab to check it out.