Sports Centralby Cian Fahey
- We've moved to The Sports Central
- Avery Bradley's stuttering start to Boston Celtics career is no more
- New England Patriots - a case for keeping Brandon Lloyd
- Tom Brady's contract extension puts pressure on New England Patriots to perform in short-term
- Jeff Green's approach epitomizes Boston Celtics Post-Rajon Rondo
In a lockout shortened 2011-12 NBA season, the Boston Celtics defied the expectations of most onlookers with an impressive run in the playoffs. After getting past the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers in two tough series, the Celtics' season was ended by Lebron James and the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. James' team would continue past the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals to be crowned the league's champions.
When the Patriots played the Buccaneers in 2009, they ran out easy 35-7 winners. After finding out that this time it was the Rams who they would play, fans could be forgiven for expecting a similar blowout.
In recent times there hasn't been a less efficient franchise in the NFL than the St. Louis Rams. Entering this season, the Rams had a record of 10-38 over the past three seasons. During those years, the Rams were led by then head coach Steve Spagnuolo. However, Spagnuolo's teams were so futile that the Rams replaced him in the off-season with Jeff Fisher.
Hernandez' ankle injury has limited him from cutting as he continues his rehabilitation despite playing in recent weeks. While the Patriots won't fear the Rams without Hernandez, he could prove to be an important loss.
The Rams are not yet power houses of the league, but their defense is substantially better at this point than it was last year. An off-season of investment in their secondary has resulted in the team having some of the better cover cornerbacks in the whole league. Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan have proven to be very physical and productive cornerbacks who can be trusted in single coverage with opposing receivers.
The Patriots outlasted the New York Jets this past Sunday evening to take a one game lead in the AFC East. Despite the victory, the Patriots are still only 4-3 after a season when some people predicted them to go 16-0.
Now while 16-0 was always a pipe dream, the team is definitely not reaching it's own lofty expectations coming into the season. Injuries during the season and so much turnover before the season even began certainly hasn't helped. Bill Belichick was hoping to keep a balance of veteran and youthful players on his offensive line, but the retirements of Robert Gallery and Brian Waters as well as the persistent injury problems for Logan Mankins have restricted Belichick to a less experienced unit upfront.
Even though the Jets are coming to Boston off the back of a big victory over the Indianapolis Colts, this team does not resemble the Jets' teams of the past who repeatedly went to the playoffs. Against the better teams on their schedule so far, the Jets have been convincingly beaten two out of three games. The Pittsburgh Steelers trashed the Jets in Week 2 by 27 to 10, before the San Francisco 49ers shut out the offense and dismantled the defense in a 34-0 win in New York. Even when the Jets played well, they still lost to the Houston Texans by six points.
A familiar adversary dealt the first blow for the Seattle Seahawks on their way to a comeback victory over the New England Patriots in Week 6. Braylon Edwards touchdown catch against Alfonzo Dennard brought the Seahawks within 23-17, before Sidney Rice split the Patriots safeties on a massive touchdown reception to seal a 24-23 victory.
In a game where the Patriots were facing their biggest test on offense of the short season so far, it was their defense that failed to hold onto a significant lead in the second half. The Seahawks defense held the Patriots offense in check during the second half, but that was after giving up 20+ points in the first half.
Not only are the Seahawks only giving up the equivalent of two touchdowns on every outing, they also lead the league giving up the least amount of yards and have already dismantled the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers' defenses at home this year. If the Patriots can go into CenturyLink Field and dominate this defense, then they will be the most feared offense in the NFL.
What makes that task even more difficult than what it appears to be on the surface, is that the Seahawks are an incredibly physical team who have the ability to take away the Patriots' mismatch advantages that they enjoy against most teams. Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman are two of the biggest cornerbacks in the NFL, but they could also be the two best. Sherman and Browner both have the agility to move with Wes Welker or the size to handle Rob Gronkowski.
And he's doing it perfectly.
Comparatively the Broncos are expected to be at full strength as only a handful of players are listed on the injury report as probable. The Patriots injury hit roster wasn't exposed last week, but this week's matchup is a much more tasking one when those losses could prove to be the difference in the outcome of the game.
Week 4 in the NFL couldn't have gone any better for Bill Belichick's New England Patriots even if he wrote the script. Outside of some early struggles against the Buffalo Bills, everything the Patriots would have wanted to happen this week in the division happened.
Despite being toppled with ease by the New York Jets in Week 1, the Bills entered the game with a 2-1 record and appeared to be the most likely contenders to the Patriots' crown this season. The Bills hadn't been convincing in their victories against the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns, but they had done enough to emerge victorious and were improving from week to week. That is, they were improving from week to week.
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