Friday, October 29, 2010

Patriots Pass Rush Key Against Vikings

AP Photo/Bill Kostroun

In the New England Patriots’ Week 8 showdown against the Minnesota Vikings, all eyes will be on Randy Moss, who makes his return to Gillette Stadium after being traded in Week 5.

Will he want to make his old team regret not giving him a contract extension and trading him? Will he outperform his replacement, Deion Branch? How will the young secondary, which has struggled this season, cover him?

While the Patriots will have to focus on their defense this week, specifically their pass defense, the man they will be most focused on is quarterback Brett Favre.

Yes, Favre has been in a boot all week and everyone has questioned whether he will play. Do you really buy it though? Favre loves the attention, loves having people talking about him and what he’s going to do, so he stirs up the controversy.

Much like his “retirement”, don’t believe Favre won’t be on the field until the whistle has blown and he isn’t in uniform. There is a reason he has a 291 consecutive games played streak (315 including playoffs).

Bill Belichick said the team would plan for Favre playing.

However, while the talk of him playing or not is questionable, what isn’t up for debate is that Favre is severely banged up.

Shoulder, elbow, and ankle injuries have plagued Favre this year. He is also 41-years-old. His body is suffering from the wear-and-tear of the league and he isn’t as mobile as he used to be.

What the Patriots need to do is pour on the pass rush. They need to let him know they will be coming after him, they need to hit him and make him uncomfortable, and they need to force him to throw those awful interceptions that he was called out for by head coach Brad Childress.

The Pats rank 30th in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game, giving up an average of 282 yards. Part of that is because of a young and inexperienced secondary. But part of the blame also goes to the pass rush.

New England is in the bottom half of the league in sacks, tied for 19th overall with 12. Defensive lineman Mike Wright leads the team with a disappointing three sacks. Thirty-five different players have more sacks than New England’s top guy.

The Vikings are in the middle of the pack in the NFL, allowing 14 sacks. Even worse, however, is that they are tied for fourth in the league with 10 interceptions.

The Patriots really need to have a strong pass rush in this game. Not only would it continue to have a negative effect on Favre’s play, it will also make life easier on the secondary, which will have its hands full with Moss, Percy Harvin, and Visanthe Shiancoe.

If the Pats can beat up Favre and force him into mistakes, it will be a long day for Minnesota.

If not, then Moss may have the field day he’s been hoping for.

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