NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – Week 16 – Sunday, December 22nd – M&T Bank Stadium
At this point, it seems the Ravens and Patriots play at least once per year. This game marks yet another rematch of the AFC Championship game. This game pits the last two AFC Champions against each other for possible playoff positioning.
Tom Brady is a year older and is dealing with some different weapons this year. Their biggest concern at this point has to be Rob Gronkowski. He has had multiple surgeries on the same arm and it was reported on Wednesday that he will not be headed in for back surgery. A similar injury to the one he sustained in college. At Arizona, the training staff continued to say that the injury was not serious and he could return any week, but he never did. All signs point to Gronk starting on the PUP list, which could hinder the Pats out of the starting gate.
Biggest Addition: Danny Amendola has gone from darling of Hard Knocks with the Cowboys, to unemployed to someone who could be a dominant slot receiver in the league. The Patriots are hoping that he can replace Wes Welker, but staying healthy is a huge issue for Amendola. He has missed 20 games in the last two season. He will certainly put up numbers in Tom Brady’s system if he is able to stay on the field.
Biggest Loss: Wes Welker has been the Patriots go to receiver since Randy Moss left a few years ago. He has had over 100 catches in every season since 2007 except for 2010 when he was injured for 5 games. Tom Brady was able to turn Welker from a punt return into a dominate slot receiver. Welker now moves on to Peyton Manning. There are a lot of rumors as to what happened on the day that Welker signed with the Broncos, but the Patriots ended up choosing the cheaper option in Amendola.
Rookie To Watch For: In the first round of the NFL Draft the Patriots selected…wait, they traded down? No way! The Patriots pulled the staple Bill Belichick move and traded out of the first round, like they do almost every year. In the second round they picked up Jamie Collins, an OLB from Southern Miss. He could be a huge asset to a defense that has made an effort to get younger. He will be playing opposite last year’s selection, Chandler Jones.
CINCINATTI BENGALS – Week 17 – Sunday, December 29th – Paul Brown Stadium