John Madden
John Madden
Versatility makes Pats tough
By John Madden

New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs
What makes the New England Patriots especially difficult to defend is they have never become one-dimensional. Charlie Weis, the offensive coordinator, doesn't go into a film room see that you can run against the Kansas City Chiefs and come out with a game plan to just run the ball. His whole thing is when you think we're going to do one thing, we'll do something else. You find the balance between run and pass, complete a bunch of passes to a bunch of different guys, have short passes in place of runs and that's kind of what the Patriots do.

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 question with a young quarterback is always "when should you start him?" Whenever you start them, they are going to have a rough time. But even though they are having a rough time, they still can win. Eli Manning is going to see some things that he has never seen before. Atlanta has a pretty good defense and they are going to show him one thing and do another, and if the Giants had Kurt Warner in there they probably wouldn't do some of the things that we will see on Sunday. It is going to be a bumpy road some time, no matter when he has to go through it.

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
Joe Gibbs has decided it is time for a quarterback change. Patrick Ramsey will get the start and I felt like that was just a matter of time. The quarterback position has not been the only position that has been a disappointment this season and as a result of that they find themselves at 3-6. I didn't feel like this was going to be a dominant team this season but I thought they would be a lot more competitive than they have been. This weekend will not be an easy one for them.

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
This Baltimore Ravens team has been a defensive team for quite some time and now the last couple of weeks the offense is starting to step up and make some plays to win some ball games. This is one of those things that if you give something a little time it is going to get better and that has happened to Kyle Boller and the Ravens offense. Boller is starting to take a few steps towards being better and if that continues, they could be a dangerous team when playoff time comes rolling around. You know they are going to have a tough defense, you know they can run the ball and if they can get a little more out of their quarterback position, then they could be pretty close to being a complete team.

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
The Cincinnati Bengals are a different team than they were earlier in the year. I think it all turned around during our Monday night game against the Denver Broncos. I think that gave them a lot of confidence. That game can also serve as a reminder to the Pittsburgh Steelers to remember that even though it appears as if a position is weak, it doesn't necessarily mean that they will play as a weakness. They will be reminded not to get snuck up on by a team like the 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."

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