I always root for the Patriots to win. Typically, for selfish reasons, I hope for things I want to see for my agenda. You know what I’m talking about? I hope Tom Brady throws 4 touchdowns for my fantasy team. I hope Brandon LaFell has a big game to get himself going. I hope Duron Harmon gets more snaps, I like his work ethic and style of play. Stuff like that. Today, I have one hope. Don’t play anyone.
Yup, I said it. The Patriots do not currently have the top seed locked up throughout the playoffs. If they lose today, there’s a probable chance that this position in the playoff picture will not be theirs, because I don’t see Denver losing to San Diego (a Pats win clinches the #1, while a loss coupled with a Denver win gives it to the Broncos). What is important, in my eyes, is the bye. They need guys like Julian Edelman, Dont’a Hightower, Chandler Jones, Devin McCourty and Danny Amendola (just to name a few, in every sense of the word) to get as healthy as possible if they plan on making a deep playoff run that us fans are all accustomed to.
That being said, there’s no sense going out there and losing more important pieces to injury in a game against the Dolphins, whose fate is sealed. No, I’m not hoping that the Patriots lose. I’m hoping they decide to sit down Brady, sit down Gronk, and sit down almost any other meaningful player in this game. The only thing at stake is a potential trip to Denver. I’m A- not intimidated by the Broncos in the playoffs, and B- not fully convinced that the trip to the Centennial State is probable anyway. I’m not a gambling man, but if I was, I’d say there’s a real chance that this trip to Miami is the last road game before a trip to California. Just saying.
As far as on the field goes, I can’t really ask for big numbers from starters if I don’t want the starters in there in the first place. So here’s what I ask. I want to see Josh freaking McDaniels have a good week. Show me some direction in the way that he is calling the offense. If he wants to run it conservatively, then fine. If he wants to play aggressive, that’s okay too. But none of this flip-flop, ‘I don’t have a direction’, predictable play-calling that I believe has plagued the Pats’ offense for the last month and a half. At least practice the way you’ll call games, because whether people admit it or not, he’s as relevant to this offense’s success as the players on the field. If they can use the practice, then he can too.
Defensively, the pass rush has got to be better. Again, this whole ‘pull the starters’ thing that I’m asking for is contradictory to everything on the gridiron itself, but it gives defensive coordinator Matt Patricia to try some unique things in the defense in a low-risk situation. It could be useful in a couple of weeks when a talented team strolls into Foxborough.
To clarify, I’m absolutely not rooting against the Pats this week. I’m not passive about this game. I want them to win, especially since I have absolutely no soft spot for the Dolphins in my heart. I just don’t see it as worth it to put your best guys on the field when you’re already hurting so that thugs like Ndomokung Suh (that may or may not be spelled right. I hate his guts, so I’m not interested in caring to spell his name correctly) can go injure our guys like he loves to do.
Does this give you a visual of why I don’t want starters in there? I want a healthy team, not a 100% guarantee of home games when it’s already like a 95% chance.
*Apologies for not getting this out sooner than 4 hours before kickoff. I messed up the schedule, and yes, I gave myself a neck*
Cover photo courtesy of mypalmbeachpost.com
GIFs courtesy of totalprosports.com, theganggreen.com, NESN and sportsgeekery.com, in no particular order.