By Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
In this post-Thanskgiving week, Patriots fans can feel grateful for one thing: they don’t have to root for the Eagles. (Take it from the “I Hate You Tom Brady” kid – it’s not easy.)
After spotting Philadelphia a 10-0 lead, New England shook off their turkey-and-stuffing doldrums and raced to a 38-20 victory that left thousands of Eagles fans looking as green as their jerseys: green with envy and, we assume, some nausea.
The Pats return home to take on the Colts, who are having what can only be called a nightmarish season. Put another way, thus far in 2011 my wife and I have just as many NFL wins as Indianapolis.
A few things to consider going into Sunday’s rare (yet cherished) 1 p.m. start.
Branching Out, Going Welker: For some reason, Philly decided to stick with a zone defense, allowing the much-hated Brady to pick and choose his receivers in open areas. Deion Branch and Wes Welker benefited, combining for 14 catches and 240 yards.
We have to figure Indy will try something different, with more man-to-man coverage and double teams. Right?
If so, the Patriots could use a third wide receiver. Hmmm…
Third-y Something: For whatever reason, a number three receiver has been tougher to keep than a Spinal Tap drummer. Chad Ochocinco? Zilcho. Taylor Price? The Price is wrong.
Then we had this guy –
Tiquan Underwhelmed: Too bad for speedster Tiquan Underwood that most of his talent lies in his feet and not his hands. The former (and, we assume, future) free agent broke free for an apparent touchdown, only to flail at Brady’s pass like a lobster trying to play handball.
When opponents double-team Welker and tight end Rob Gronkowski, then single-cover guys like Branch and TE Aaron Hernandez, a third wide receiver who knows the offense (and can catch) could become integral to the team’s late-season success.
Remember feeling okay with the Pats not re-signing Jabar Gaffney in favor of Joey Galloway? Wow: the opposite ends of the JG scale! Some get the Patriots offense (Gaffney), some never do (Galloway). Looks like we can add Ochocinco and Price to the latter list.
That’s Using Your Edelman: Punt returner, special teamer, receiver, now defensive back. The man’s on the field as often as the number 50. You go, Julian Edelman.
Of course, we’d feel a little more confident in the defense if they didn’t need him.
Defense Con-Vince-ing? So, solid defensive effort, or miserable quarterbacking by Vince Young? Had Young hit more open receivers, had receiver DeSean Jackson not dropped more bombs than a B-52, maybe we would’ve had a different game. Still, after some opening snafus, New England’s defense settled in for the long haul. Antuan Molden even managed an interception.
This bodes well vs. a Colts team that has struggled to establish their passing game, the first and only time we’ve ever stated that about a Colts team (at least since Peyton Manning joined the squad in 1947 or so).
LeSean LeStopped: Also of note was the effort to stop dynamic Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, held to a mere 31 yards on 10 carries. Solid play from the Patriots’ defensive line kept him in check. Kudos, people!
A similar performance from New England’s D will put the ball in QB Dan Orlovsky’s hands. Kind of where the Pats want it to be, we’d imagine.
Walk The Line: Walking is about the only thing the banged-up O-line can do these days. Tackle Sebastian Vollmer left early, while Matt Light has been battling leg issues for the past few weeks. (Our favorite types of magazines, those leg issues. Ba-da-boom!)
With rookies Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon stepping in, there’s some depth, but the offensive line’s health will be something to track moving forward.
On to Sunday afternoon for a contest with much less hype than the typical Colts game. The Patriots should win, which, of course, makes us wicked nervous.
Email Chris Warner at email@example.com