Here is this week’s New England Patriots stock watch:
Everybody is going to bring up that 45-yard touchdown pass that changed the game at the end of the first half. And yes, that wasn’t a great play by Revis. However that should have been a simple 15-yard completion, but Devin McCourty took a horrible angle at Jordy Nelson, and that was the primary reason he went in for the score. Aside from that, Revis was brilliant, giving up only one other completion by my count. Revis truly is the best corner in the game.
LaFell has quickly emerged as Tom Brady’s top wideout, specifically in the red zone, where his pristine route-running, and big frame help gain separation in tight space. LaFell snagged five balls for 38 yards and two touchdowns yesterday, including a picture perfect back-shoulder grab for his second score. His ability to win 1-on-1 matchups on the outside will be huge for New England in the postseason, and he proved that once again yesterday in a game that definitely had a playoff-like atmosphere.
Hightower is having himself one hell of a season. He has done a wonderful job replacing the injured Jerod Mayo, and that continued against the Packers. He is as great as ever against the run, he has improved in pass coverage, and his blitzing is just off the charts. He had 10 total tackles on Sunday, three for a loss, and one sack. He is one of the best inside linebackers in the league, and deserves a shot at the Pro Bowl.
I hate bagging on McCourty, but he made one huge error in this one, and it really was the difference in the game. As I mentioned earlier, McCourty took an awful angle at Jordy Nelson after he beat Revis to the inside, and the end result was a killer 45-yard touchdown at the end of the first half. Not McCourty’s best moment.
Tom Brady and the offense never got in a rhythm, and the offensive line is the main culprit. Brady was under pressure all game long, and while he was only sacked once, there was constant duress around him, and it really hurt New England. This team has a lot of weapons for Brady to work with, but it doesn’t matter if the offensive line can’t protect him. Hopefully they can fix this issue going forward.
This pass rush is not the same without Chandler Jones, and this was the first time New England really missed their best edge rusher. Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia made it a priority to keep Rodgers in the pocket, but they sacrificed pass rushers by doing that. Rodgers had five, six, seven, sometimes up to 12 seconds in the pocket, and it made it impossible to keep that offense on lock. We miss you, Chandler.