Friday, November 19
Updated: November 22, 2:49 PM ET
Versatility makes Pats tough
By John Madden
New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs
Someone asked me the other day who I thought was the best quarterback in the league. That is a tough thing to say but I think it has to be Tom Brady. He has won two out of the last three Super Bowls and Super Bowl MVP's. If you just watch the guy play and every time I watch him, I am more and more impressed with him. This guy has the tools, he is something special. He is a tough guy, a smooth guy, makes any play he has to, hangs in there as well as anyone and all he does is win games!
This Chiefs' chances start with their offensive line, it is the best in the league. They can pass protect and run block. If they can get to that second level of the defense to run block, if they are able to get that going, then they can get the play action pass going. They do have a chance, they can score and put up a lot of points. Trent Green's favorite target is Tony Gonzalez, his tight end. I don't think that you will see the Patriots defend him the way they would any other tight end they will face. Bill Belichick is going to have something like five different ways to play him and it's not going to be just a strong-side linebacker or a bracket between the strong side backer and the middle backer, he is going to have a defensive back on him.
Belichick also has a knack for using guys at different positions like Troy Brown at cornerback or Mike Vrabel at tight end or Richard Seymour at full back. The thing with is if you go to a Patriot practice they practice those things. Sometimes you watch a game and say, "Geez look there's Troy Brown a wide receiver playing cornerback," and you think well it's just a good player and they just put him out there. Everything they do is rehearsed, everything is practiced, he plays his second guys with his firsts, he plays different combinations. I have never seen anyone else do this, I know when I coached I never did it and I go to a lot of practices and I've never seen any team do the things in practice that I have seen him do.
Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants
The Atlanta Falcons defense is exactly why they are 7-2. They have kind of been one of those teams under the radar and I'm sure they are talking about not getting a lot of respect. They are a team kind of like the Carolina Panthers a year ago, maybe you didn't anticipate them being one of the top teams going into the 11th week of the season, so it takes a little while to catch onto them. Then you think Atlanta Falcons and the first name that comes to mind is Michael Vick but they are a lot more than that.
The Giants defense is going to have its hands full with the running game of the Falcons, because as soon as you try to defend the run and contain Vick, then without their two defensive ends the Giants probably won't have much of a pass rush. You know you are going to have trouble containing Vick. Even when you have your guys in position to make a play on him and he is just quicker and faster than your guys and he gets away and makes a play.
Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles had their one slip up a couple of weeks ago against the Pittsburgh Steelers and then bounced back with a manhandling of the Dallas Cowboys. Now they know they have to be ready every week and they aren't going to let anyone sneak up on them.
Dallas Cowboys at Baltimore Ravens
The Dallas Cowboys defense is one that is struggling and, in particular, against the run. One of the problems for the Cowboys is they are undersized and if you can get your runner to the second level, the linebackers, then there is going to be a lot of room to run. The other thing I would do is if I wanted to complete a pass, I would take whoever I wanted to complete the pass to out on the left side and just get him the ball. The Cowboys are playing with a corner, Lance Frazier who was on the Ravens practice squad at the beginning of the year. That is a problem for the Cowboys.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
If the Steelers can get the run going and run right at the Bengals, they are bigger and then when the Bengals bring that eighth man down to the line of scrimmage then that will open things up for Ben Roethlisberger to have to make some plays. That is the thing that has impressed me about the Steelers and Roethlisberger is you can say he just manages the game but he doesn't he makes plays. You can attribute that to the running game and the offensive line but you still have Hines Ward and Plaxico Burress out there. That makes this a tough offense to defend, you have to kind of pick your poison, if you want to stop that run then that leaves the guys on the outside, if you want to stop the guys on the outside then they can just shred you with the running game.
You can hear me with Adam Schein on Sirius NFL Radio on Friday and Monday afternoons on "Afternoon Blitz" and Sunday mornings on the "Sirius NFL Tailgate Show."