December 4, 2016

Worry Wart – Wildcard vs. Ravens

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

We at Worry Wart blame ourselves. With a meaningless Game 16 in our sights, we failed to target the one thing that could derail New England’s momentum heading into the playoffs.

Instead of dwelling on the infamous injury, let’s look toward the Patriots’ concerns (but mostly ours) as they face a fired-up, never-lost-without-getting-screwed Baltimore squad.

So, without any further hullabaloo regarding the Wes Welker thing, let’s proceed…

The Wes Welker Thing: Oh, come ON! What did I just say?

Let’s try that again…

Too Much Leigh Way: Maybe the return of corner Leigh Bodden will help stabilize the defensive backfield. We know Houston’s Matt Schaub is a top passer, but last week New England couldn’t have prevented a lunch lady from passing out American chop suey. It was one thing to watch rookie Darius Butler have an erratic game, but when Jonathan Wilhite and Brandon Meriweather got torched, our worry meter hit the red zone. (And, against this defense, it ended up scoring.)

Take Maroney And Run: We wonder about (and are preoccupied with) why Bill Belichick sat Laurence Maroney last week. Is the running back hurt? Is he making amends for past errors? Old reliables Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris failed to deliver, as Morris averaged about one stride per carry (1.3 yards) while Taylor fumbled in his own end zone. In order for the Pats to win, they’ve got to run the ball. Can Maroney be a factor?

Fuzzy Reception: So, with you-know-who out of the lineup, Julian Edelman becomes the clear number two receiver. Then what? More tight ends? More Kevin Faulk out of the backfield? While we love Sam Aiken’s effort and Isaiah Stanback’s rise from the practice squad, these guys are kind of like fullback/receivers: we like their blocking and their catching a pass once in a while, but we can’t see them as part of the regular offense.

Warren Piece: Though they’ve both been seen in practice, the health of defensive linemen Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork remains in question. No matter who takes the other end spot (Jarvis Green or Mike Wright), if the Ravens gain a lot of yards on first down, this Sunday will about as much fun to watch as an Andy Warhol film.

Truth Or Derrick: This past week Coach Belichick praised the play of linebacker/end Derrick Burgess. While we feel we have yet to see what drove the coach to trade two draft picks for Burgess, now would be a great time to showcase his full talents. Can New England get to Ravens QB Joe Flacco? That’s the question they need to answer.

Negative Charges: Not sure if we’ve ever seen such a sense of doom surrounding a playoff team. Just like every team that goes on a playoff run these days, this New England squad requires some luck – probably more than others.

Let’s hope that becomes our worry for next week, too.

Email Chris Warner at [email protected]

Comments

  1. Boy, Chris, this is going to be a tough matchup. Just when we started to get the running game going we wind up facing these guys. Not going to happen. The only way to attack is through the spread offense but what do we spread with? 2 WR’s only. Forget Aiken. He stinks. The last time we played these guys he was the focal point of the offense. And against one on one coverage against their worst cover guy he could never get open. That only leaves Baker, Watson and Faulk as the go to guys.
    On defense the one good thing is that the Ravens are a running team. But can we stop Rice? If A. Thomas plays we’re sunk because he sucks. We need a LB on the edge who will set the edge and get Rice to go inside not get sucked inside like Thomas usually does. In that first game with Baltimore Thomas did absolutely nothing and even in doing nothing he still got called for a key penalty. If I were Bill he’d be a healthy scratch. And scratch Maroney too. He’ll be useless in this game. Let’s hope their FG kicker misses a couple. That’s the only way we can win.

  2. Chris Warner says:

    Oh, bobd, there you go again with your hopeless optimism.
    Dude, the column is “Worry Wart,” not “Suicide Watch.” It’s entirely possible the Pats could get a minor running game going, enough to set up some passing (Balt’s pass rush isn’t the best). We’ll see lots of Kevin Faulk and the various Big 3 (including Maroney, I’ll wager) getting a few yards per carry. Maroney may not even fumble this time!
    Defensively, they’ll have more guys to do the job in a game that actually means something. Plus, Baltimore will do something dumb and/or have the refs take the game from them… ’twas ever thus.
    It’ll be close, but it’s possible. What else can we ask for?

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