Patriots

Gronk cheers on Gronkowski the horse at Belmont Stakes

Gronk cheers on Gronkowski the horse at Belmont Stakes

Saturday was a special day for Rob Gronkowski.

Not only because he wasn't traded by the Patriots, but also because he got to watch Gronkowski the horse put on a show at the Belmont Stakes.

Justify earned the victory to become the 13th Triple Crown winner, but Gronkowski the horse made a run at the end that got Gronkowski the football player excited.

Gronkowski finished second in the race.

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Game within the game: Patriots' slow start has got to go

Game within the game: Patriots' slow start has got to go

GAME WITHIN THE GAME 
Who gets the drop on the other guy? The Lions had a pick-6 to open their season and immediately burped up that lead against the Jets, fought back, then got their doors blown off. There was a strong scent of give-up from Detroit in the first game and if the Patriots – in front of a national television audience – begin to de-pants Patricia, expect the Lions crowd to jump ugly. Meanwhile, the Patriots have been staggering around offensively and defensively in the early portions of games going back to last season. Can’t have it. Can’t.

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LIONS GOTTA STOP


James White. Sticking with him since I’m thinking the Lions will tilt the field to Gronk and just hammer the message to not lose White in space.
 
PATRIOTS GOTTA STOP


Golden Tate. Even though Kenny Golladay’s put up the bigger numbers (13 catches, 203 yards), Tate (14 catches, 188) is so useful, smart and threatening at every level. He’s a third-down pain in the posterior.
 
THAT SUMS IT UP PATRIOTS STYLE


“I’ve seen a lot of defenses - we have, just as an offense - and you just never know what you’re going to get. You never know the game plan. You’ve got to be prepared for all and just got to go out there and execute. It doesn’t matter what you see, if you know what’s coming -- it doesn’t matter unless you go out there and execute.” – Rob Gronkowski on trying to anticipate what will be thrown at him
 
THAT SUMS IT UP LIONS STYLE
“He’s hands-down the best, in my opinion, that ever played the game. He knows everything. He knows what defense you’re in. So, we just have to do a good job of doing our job of getting the rush in his face, trying to throw different stuff at him. But at the end of the day, it’s about us. They’re coming in our house trying to eat off our plate. We’ve just got to do what we’ve got to do to get a win.” – Eli Harold, Lions linebacker, on Tom Brady.
 
THE WINNER IS...

Patriots 34, Lions 23

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When the Lions have the ball: Patriots D has to play faster

When the Lions have the ball: Patriots D has to play faster

WHEN THE LIONS HAVE THE BALL


There are two things worth watching here. First, the plague of “my bad”-type mistakes against the Jaguars last week was arresting. It’s a bad angle here, a loss of contain there, loss of leverage, great play by the offense, mental stuff, physical stuff. 

The Patriots need to tighten it up and to do so, I think they need to play faster, which is something Jerod Mayo also said on Quick Slants the Podcast. The other aspect, though, is that this is a more competent contingent of players than the Jaguars brought to the field. Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay are a good complement of wideouts and – if Matt Stafford heats up – he can be as dangerous as any quarterback in the NFL. 

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Jones is the downfield threat, Tate is the underneath, possession, move-the-chains guy, Golladay is the guy who profits when defenses worry too much about the other two. Stafford has thrown the ball 99 times in two games and their leading rusher in each game has had just eight carries. With Patrick Chung likely down, the safety spot alongside Devin McCourty is going to be manned by either Nate Ebner or Jason McCourty for the most part. My suspicion is, Detroit will make some plays.
 

THE KICKING GAME
The Lions kick returner is Jamal Agnew and he had a day last week against the Niners on kickoffs. Their punter is Sam Martin and he’s averaging 45.4 yards per punt but has a horrific net average of 26.5 because the Lions allowed a punt return touchdown in Week 1 against the Jets. Their kicker is veteran Matt Prater. He’s missed once this season. Other than Stephen Gostkowski’s shank last week, the Pats have been solid in the kicking game. Punt returner remains unfinished business, though, as the team will be without Chung (likely) and signed Cyrus Jones back to the active roster.

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