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News » Patriots need help to make playoffs


Patriots need help to make playoffs


Patriots need help to make playoffs
Shoot, the AFC East is still very, very hard for me to figure out.


Right now, the Patriots look great to me. Their game against the Cardinals was one of those old-fashioned whippings they put on teams last year. But now they have Matt Cassel doing it instead of Tom Brady. I know the Cardinals definitely weren't comfortable in that weather, but they still have a winning record and they are a playoff team. But the Patriots whipped them.

To me, the Jets look like a team that has crashed and burned. They just don't seem to be doing enough on offense anymore. Who would have thought that? Buffalo upset the Broncos, so they might give the Patriots a tough game at home next Sunday.

I know the weather could be miserable next Sunday, but I think the Dolphins will come to the Meadowlands and beat the Jets. As much as I like New England, they may miss the playoffs even if they win next week. The Patriots need a lot of help even though they look to be the best team in the AFC East.

The Patriots need the Jaguars to beat Baltimore to get in as a wild-card team. Or they need the Jets to beat Miami. If that happens, the Pats win the East. My only problem with that is I really think the Dolphins are going to beat the Jets. The Dolphins are playing with so much confidence right now. Like Atlanta, the Dolphins are a feel-good story — a great comeback story — after winning only one game last season.

The Miami story is interesting because they brought in Chad Pennington, a quarterback everybody thought was finished. Basically, the Dolphins were a 1-15 team in desperate need for a quarterback. And Pennington was the only quarterback out there to replace a quarterback named Lemon, which isn't a good name if you are a quarterback or a car.

NFL Week 16

Week 16 action

    Colts 31, Jaguars 24 -- Recap | Box
    Ravens 33, Cowboys 24 -- Recap | Box
    Patriots 47, Cardinals 7 -- Recap | Box
    Saints 42, Lions 7 -- Recap | Box
    Titans 31, Steelers 14 -- Recap | Box
    49ers 17, Rams 16 -- Recap | Box
    Chargers 41, Bucs 24 -- Recap | Box
    Dolphins 38, Chiefs 31 -- Recap | Box
    Bengals 14, Browns 0 -- Recap | Box
    Bills 30, Broncos 23 -- Recap | Box
    Seahawks 13, Jets 3 -- Recap | Box
    Raiders 27, Texans 16 -- Recap | Box
    Falcons 24, Vikings 17 -- Recap | Box
    Redskins 10, Eagles 3 -- Recap | Box
    Giants 34, Panthers 28 -- Recap | Box
    Packers-Bears -- Preview | Notes

Analysis

  • Marvez: Being AFC 'favorite' means little
  • Strahan: Pats peaking, but need help

Video

  • Buck, Aikman on Eagles-'Skins
  • Online OT: Complete NFL coverage

Photos

  • Ranking the games
  • Week 16 snapshots

They also brought in a new head coach in Tony Sparano and hired Bill Parcells as head of football operations, and now this group could be going to the playoffs. It just shows how far you can go when you bring in the right people who have the right temperament, the right attitude who make the players accountable.

Chad was a huge addition because not only do you get a quarterback but a player with a lot of character. And guys follow a quarterback with character even if he doesn't have the best won-loss record. That is one thing that you can't teach. He is just a natural leader. I remember the first time I saw him back in September, walking the sidelines and talking to his teammates — that just showed me a lot about Chad. No matter what team he went to he was going to give it his best and I knew that players were going to follow.

The fact that Chad can return to play his old team, the one that replaced him with Brett Favre, and win and go the playoffs ... well, that must mean the world to him. I can't imagine the feeling.

I still find how well Cassel has done this season bizarre because he hasn't played for such a long time. He hadn't started a game since high school. But his success also tells me how much talent there is out there. And like Howie Long said, Cassel is printing money right now. He's going to be a free agent and a lot of teams are going to want him.But Cassel doesn't strike me, though, as a guy who's just playing for a fat contract. He strikes me as a guy who is trying to learn and is enjoying what he's doing. He seems to have picked up the game pretty easily. I had heard a lot of good things about him before he got this opportunity.

He had to learn a lot at an accelerated rate because nobody is slowing down to help him out. I mean, his teammates and the opposition. The game goes so fast for players who haven't played. There is a lot to learn and games on Sunday are a lot different than any practice. You can tell that the game is slowing down for him. He's adjusted the speed and pace of the game.

'Boys amazingly still have life

The Cowboys losing on Saturday night really surprised me because I thought they had turned the corner after beating the Giants. I really thought they would be tough on a rookie quarterback like Joe Flacco. Offensively, I don't think they have hit a rhythm like they did last year, but I thought defensively that the Cowboys had.

And, then all of a sudden in the fourth quarter, they gave up two big runs and it killed them. They didn't tackle very well and that's the sad thing about it; they didn't allow themselves to get back into that game.

But, unbelievably, the Cowboys still have a chance for the playoffs if they beat the Eagles next Sunday. Their entire season has been about all our predictions about them going to the Super Bowl and with that came all the pressure. We expected a lot out of the Cowboys and they still have a chance. A week ago, they looked like world beaters. Then Saturday night, Baltimore and its running game tore them apart. I thought with all the emotion of it being the last game in Texas Stadium, with all their older stars coming back, that they would have played a lot better. Dallas is a hard team to figure.

Hot-lanta

The Atlanta Falcons continue to surprise me. I mean, they are going to the playoffs and I kept thinking these past couple of weeks that Matt Ryan, the rookie quarterback, would come back to earth because he doesn't have that experience. And they continue to get it done. Michael Turner has been biggest addition to that team and a big reason they are on top.

The Falcons play well as a team and cover and protect each other. I mean, I can't name many of their starters on the offensive and defensive lines outside of John Abraham. But they are making sure they don't disappoint one another. The other defensive player I know is Lawyer Milloy, but he's in the latter stages of his career. He's not one of the top safeties anymore. But they have a coach in Mike Smith who must be a great motivator. They have a quarterback and running back that they believe in and the combination has paid big dividends.

It amazes me that no one even talks about Michael Vick. There are probably fans that have forgotten Michael Vick played for the Atlanta Falcons. I thought it was going to take years to get over that and also Bobby Petrino walking out on them, and here it's taken less than a season. Petrino got out of town so quickly that some people may not even remember that he was even there. You know what? It just shows that if you put the right people and coaches in the right situation, you will do good things.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 22, 2008

Jason Avant Name: Jason Avant
#81
Position: WR
Age: 25
Experience: 3 years
College: Michigan
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