This was supposed to be the time when the AFC East teams could start off with an advantage on the ever-steady champion of this division, the Patriots. With losses from the Jets, Bills and Dolphins, the Patriots find themselves in a familiar spot…atop their division.
The win for the Patriots just shows how great of a coach Bill Belichick truly is. Without Tom Brady and their biggest weapon in Rob Gronkowski, they went out and beat an NFC playoff team in their home stadium on opening weekend.
Part of this win had to do with Jimmy Garoppolo’s play. It was unpredictable on how he would do, being plugged in and playing against a defense that was as vicious as the Cardinals. Garoppolo didn’t seem rattled whatsoever, completing 24 of 33 passes for 264 yards and did not throw an interception. “Jimmy G” said that his teammates had a big part of his success in the week one victory.
“When you have confidence in your teammates and they have confidence in you, it’s easy to stay poised,” said Garoppolo.
Along with the surprising poise of the quarterback, it was also the Patriots’ play calling that led them to a victory. They fed the ball to LeGarrette Blount 22 times (even after he fumbled it early in the game) and got the ball to Julian Edelman seven times through the air and three times on the ground. Coach had nothing but praise to say about his team after Sunday night.
“I am really proud of our team tonight. I thought we got great effort from all three phases. We played a good complimentary game,” said Belichick.
So, now the speculation begins. Can the Pats run the table until #12 comes back from suspension? Surprisingly, it depends on their defense. Their run defense was just okay against the Cards and Larry Fitzgerald torched them for two touchdowns.
They begin with Miami, a team that really competed with the Seahawks in Seattle, losing in the last minute. Still, first game at Gillette for the Pats, don’t expect them to lose. Then, on a short week, they have the Houston Texans on Thursday night. This will be their hardest match-up having to face the likes of Lamar Miller and DeAndre Hopkins. Then, after a bye week, they will face Rex Ryan and the Bills.
Sure, it’s just speculation at this point. However, a team coached this well could potentially hold down the fort until their stud QB comes back. Other than potentially a loss against Houston, New England should be able to cruise to at worst, a 3-1 start. Not too bad with your best player suspended.