My Night to Shine

I am honored to be a recipient of the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation Shining Star Award which I received at the 2018 Night to Shine gala on Saturday, May 5th.

 

I was selected after emceeing the Flutie 5K in 2017.  For the last five years, The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism has awarded a select group of people and companies who have truly made a difference in the autism community.

My family and I arrived at the TripAdvisor headquarters right when Doug Flutie and his wife Laurie did.  Doug was carrying a huge cymbal but he and Laurie stopped to say hello and congratulations.  This was a great start to the night that would only get better.  We checked in at the desk in the lobby and I was handed a special honoree magnetic name tag to wear.

We headed down the hall and saw Milo, a robot boy built to help learners with autism learn social and behavioral skills (https://robots4autism.com/milo/).

 

We spent the first hour networking, catching up with people I knew, and meeting new people.  We talked to Nicole Gugleimucci from the Foundation who had helped me prepare for the Flutie 5K event last October and notified me about this exciting honor.  We also met the new Executive Director of the Foundation, Nick Savarese.

After meeting several more people, we looked at the many awesome sports-related silent auction items to bid on.  At our table, we met Paul Alexander, the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for Eastern Bank.  Shortly after, we decided to wait on bidding and get seats near the stage.

We sat in stadium-style seats in a 4-story atrium area at the center of the TripAdvisor Headquarters, which had an amazing view of all the floors.  I also noticed walls made out of live plants which looked really cool.  The ceiling had a sky with clouds which made it feel like the outside was inside.  They had a huge movie-sized video screen counting down the time to start the ceremony.

Susan Wornick, a longtime reporter and former anchor from WCVB-TV in Boston was the emcee for the event.  After Wornick introduced herself and Doug and Laurie, she passed the stage and microphone over to MUSE.

MUSE stands for Music, Unity, and Social Expansion.  They are a school that teaches independence and more skills to people with autism through music (http://www.muse-foundation.org/).  A MUSE band got on stage to play two songs and they were very impressive.  Everyone clapped to the beat for their second song as the crowd got really into the music.

After a standing ovation, Wornick returned to the stage to thank the sponsors and invite Nick Savarese to talk about his first year with the organization.  Nick asked me and a few other guests to stand up and everyone cheered which was pretty cool and I really appreciated.

Lisa Borges was called to the stage.  Lisa had worked in Nick’s position nearly as along as the Flutie Foundation had been around.  They handed her a large flower arrangement and thanked her for all she had done.  Laurie and Doug came up to the stage and thanked her as well.

A video was shown about the history of the foundation, which dates back 20 years.  The video gave an update on Doug Flutie’s son Doug Jr. and showed how the Flutie Foundation started Autism Awareness and wants to continue to build on that.  They have helped so many with autism, including me.  Thanks to the Foundation, I learned to ski with my brother in one weekend and now skiing is one of my favorite activities.  This year I was able to join my school’s ski club which has been a great social opportunity for me.

FullSizeRender(11).jpg

After the video, Nick talked about how the organization has evolved and will continue to do so.  I was happy to learn that they will also add focus on the many children with autism that will be entering adulthood soon, like me, or already are adults like Doug Jr.

Wornick returned to the stage to begin announcing the Shining Stars.  I was ecstatic when my name was announced and rushed to the stage as she read my bio discussing some of my achievements including my sports blog that I started when I was 10 (https://andrewr1008.wordpress.com/).  She handed me the award, a glass star-shaped trophy with my name on it.  They took photos of me with Doug Flutie, Nick, and Susan as people continued to applaud.

Get Air Sports (a trampoline park that supports the foundation http://getairsports.com/ ), Luca and Danni jewelry (https://lucadanni.com/), John Breen, Alan Seymour (Doug Flutie’s good friend from Junior High School), Wegmans (https://www.wegmans.com/), NCGIT (https://ncgit.com/), and Amy Weinstock (http://autismhighereducationfoundation.org/amy-weinstock/) were the other Shining Stars and Get Air gave the foundation a big life-sized check for over $200,000 on the stage.

Susan then began a live auction for four very significant donated prizes.  The bidding for some of the items went over $10,000 and it was really exciting to see some of the bidders go back and forth trying to win with the final bid amount.

After the auction was over, many of the hundreds of guests came up to me to congratulate me and we exchanged contact info.  I said hello to Lisa Borges and I told her I would be back for the 2018 Flutie 5K and hoped to see her too.  I met Tyler Lagasse who Nick had asked to stand up with me.  He has autism too and plays golf competitively and wrote a book with his mom (https://www.amazon.com/What-Do-You-Say-Character/dp/1503556840).  We even caught up with Susan Wornick who wants to put me in touch with legendary sportscaster Bob Lobel to see a Red Sox game!

I did not end up winning any silent auction prizes but Jayme Parker, a longtime NESN reporter, took a picture with me and said she would keep in touch with me.  The experience of meeting her was like an auction prize that I had bid on and I went home with just as much excitement as I had at the start of the night.  The event was so much more than I could have ever imagined and I am so grateful for the experience!

______________________________

I would like to thank the Flutie Foundation for sharing this post on their own blog: http://www.flutiefoundation.org/blog/my-night-shine.

I would also like to give photo credit to Jenny Nourse Photography and thank them for the amazing pictures.

 

Advertisements

Honored to be One of Flutie’s Shining Stars

This is a picture of my brother Ryan and I meeting Doug Flutie at an event through the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation at Skyzone in Westboro, Massachusetts.

I’m very excited to see Doug Flutie again to be honored as a shining star at the Flutie Foundation Night to Shine.  I’d like to thank Doug and the Flutie Foundation for this honor.  The Flutie Foundation has done a lot to support me and this blog, including inviting me to emcee the 2017 Flutie 5K, and I would like to thank them for that as well.  Below are two articles I have written in the past about Flutie:

Football Stars: Doug Flutie 

Waterville Valley Skiing Trip: How I Learned To Ski In One Weekend 

 

 

 

 

Super Bowl LII: The Final Pick and Projected Stats

Welcome to my fifth article in my series of previews for Super Bowl LII.  Today I will be making my final prediction including the winner, score, MVP and stat projections.

Here is my schedule for the series.  Articles that already up include links to the article.

Super Bowl LII – Patriots vs. Eagles: Boston Sports Mania Preview

Monday, Jan. 29Championship Weekend Recap and Super Bowl LII First Look

Tuesday, Jan. 30The Case for the Patriots: How They Can Win, Keys to the Game

Wednesday, Jan. 31The Case for the Eagles: How They Can Win, Keys to the Game

Friday, Feb. 2: Super Bowl Fast Facts and Their Significance 

Friday, Feb. 2: Super Bowl LII: The Final Pick and Projected Stats

Saturday, Feb. 3: Super Bowl LII Video Preview and iMovie Trailer

Sunday, Feb. 4: Watch the big game and stay tuned for my Recap!

The Final Pick

Typically, I just predict the score. But it’s the Super Bowl, so I went a little deeper.  I simulated the entire game based on my basic score prediction.  Below are the final score, scoring summary and stat predictions I came up with.

33a6a300-f3e3-42ee-bc14-3b167e7fded0

Although I have the Patriots winning in the end, it will be a close one here.  The Eagles are not to be taken lightly.  Whether QB Nick Foles comes through or not, the Eagles have a great offense that will keep the game close.  Their defense could also get on QB Tom Brady’s nerves.

I expect the Eagles to depend on their RB duo of LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi against the struggling Pats run defense.  I also think Nick Foles will keep up the good work despite a few mistakes against a strong Pats secondary.  But, even though Tom Brady will be under a lot of pressure against the strong Eagles front seven, I think he will thrive and lead the Pats to another comeback style Super Bowl victory in Minneapolis.

 

Projected Stats/Scoring and Turnover Summary

Team    1   2   3   4   TOT

NE        10  10  3  14   37                                                                                                                          PHI       7    10  14  3   34

1st Quarter:

Tom Brady to Chris Hogan for 6 yard TD.  Stephen Gostkowski PAT made (7-0 NE)

Jay Ajayi for 3-yard rush TD.  Jake Elliott PAT made (7-7 TIE)

Stephen Gostkowski 49 yard FG made (10-7 NE)

 

2nd Quarter:

Nick Foles intercepted by Stephon Gillmore (10-7 NE)

Nick Foles to Torrey Smith for 2 yard TD.  Jake Elliott PAT made (14-10 PHI)

Stephen Gostkowski 36 yard FG made (14-13 PHI)

Jake Elliott 42 yard FG made (17-13 PHI)

Tom Brady to Danny Amendola for 6 yard TD.  Stephen Gostkowski PAT made (20-17 NE)

 

3rd Quarter:

Stephen Gostkowski 45 yard FG made (23-17 NE)

Nick Foles to Zach Ertz for 4 yard TD.  Jake Elliott PAT made (24-23 PHI)

LeGarrette Blount for 2-yard rush TD.  Jake Elliott PAT made (31-23 PHI)

 

4th Quarter:

James White 2 yard rush TD.  Stephen Gostkowski PAT made (31-30 PHI)

Jake Elliott 54 yard FG made (34-30 PHI)

Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski for 10 yard TD.  Stephen Gostkowski PAT made (37-34 NE)

Nick Foles intercepted by Malcolm Butler* [37-34 NE (Final)]

 

*Yes, I think Malcolm Butler will get the game-winning INT again

 

I’m predicting another close, exciting Super Bowl.  Here my offensive stat projections.

 

 

Stat Projections

NE

Passing:

Tom Brady: 37/55, 346 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, 1 sack (My Projected Super Bowl MVP)

 

Rushing:

James White: 17 rush, 68 yards, 1 TD

Rex Burkhead: 11 rush, 31 yards

Dion Lewis: 7 rush, 21 yards

 

Receiving:

Rob Gronkowski: 10 REC, 104 yards, 1 TD

Brandin Cooks: 5 REC, 73 yards

Danny Amendola: 7 REC, 66 yards, 1 TD

Chris Hogan: 7 REC, 58 yards, 1 TD

Rex Burkhead: 4 REC, 20 yards

Dwayne Allen: 2 REC, 15 yards

Dion Lewis: 2 REC, 10 yards

 

PHI

Passing:

Nick Foles: 35/53, 311 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT, 2 sacks

 

Rushing:

Jay Ajayi: 21 rush, 95 yards, 1 TD

LeGarrette Blount: 18 rush, 44 yards, 1 TD

Wendell Smallwood: 4 rush, 12 yards

Corey Clement: 3 rush, 9 yards

 

Receiving:

Zach Ertz: 11 REC, 80 yards, 1 TD

Alshon Jeffery: 8 REC, 77 yards

Torrey Smith: 6 REC, 70 yards, 1 TD

Nelson Agholor: 6 REC, 62 yards

Corey Clement: 2 REC, 10 yards

Jay Ajayi: 1 REC, 6 yards

Brent Celek: 1 REC, 6 yards

 

 

 

That’s all for my Super Bowl LII prediction.  Stay tuned for a video preview and an iMovie trailer tomorrow that sums it all up.  Enjoy the game, and go Pats!

 

 

 

Championship Weekend Recap and Super Bowl LII First Look

The match-up is set.  The Patriots and Eagles will face off in Super Bowl LII.  Today I will address how they got there, and give you your first look at the match-up.

But first here is the official schedule for my Super Bowl LII Preview. This will be part of each Preview article and will include links to the articles that are finished.

Super Bowl LII – Patriots vs. Eagles: Boston Sports Mania Preview

Monday, Jan. 29: Championship Weekend Recap and Super Bowl LII First Look

Tuesday, Jan. 30: The Case for the Patriots: How They Can Win, Keys to the Game

Wednesday, Jan. 31: The Case for the Eagles: How They Can Win, Keys to the Game

Thursday, Feb. 1: Super Bowl Fast Facts and Their Significance

Friday, Feb. 2: Super Bowl LII: The Final Pick and Projected Stats

Saturday, Feb. 3: Super Bowl LII Video Preview and iMovie Trailer

Sunday, Feb. 4: Watch the big game and stay tuned for my Recap!

How They Got There

Patriots

 

The Pats won in comeback fashion again, this time against the Jacksonville Jaguars, 24-20.  Early on, Blake Bortles, Leonard Fournette, Corey Grant, and the rest of the Jaguars offense dominated, taking a 14-3 lead and challenging the Pats for their chance at making it to their 10th Super Bowl, and their 8th with Tom Brady.  The Pats were unable to stop this powerful Jags offense for most of the 1st half, although they did narrow Jacksonville’s lead with a TD before the half, making it 14-10.  The Jaguars’ powerful pass rush also got on Tom Brady’s nerves in this half.

By halftime, Pats fans were getting worried, and some (but not me) gave up hope.  But the 2nd half brought a turn-around for the Patriots.  In the 3rd quarter, we began to see a better defensive performance by New England, as they held Jacksonville to just a measly 3 points in that quarter.  Lawrence Guy was able to sack Bortles as he led the Pats defense to begin to get pressure on him.  The Jags scored another field goal to begin the 4th and led 20-10.

But better defense set the Pats offense up to come back in the 4th quarter.  Despite TE Rob Gronkowski being ruled out with a concussion, the Pats came back, led by Brady, Danny Amendola (who scored both 4th quarter TDs) and Brandin Cooks.  The Pats came out of nowhere after being down by 10, scoring 14 unanswered points to win the game and advance to the Super Bowl.  But how will they fare against the Eagles, who obliterated the Vikings?

Eagles

 

The Vikings got off to a fast start as Case Keenum connected with TE Kyle Rudolph for a touchdown.  But after that, Nick Foles broke out, leading the Eagles offense to blow away an otherwise unstoppable Vikings defense.  He somehow tossed 3 TDs and 352 yards against the typically dominant Vikings D.  I also don’t know how this defense gave up 38 points.

Not only did Foles do well, but his top four receivers (Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor) all had over 50 yards receiving, combining for 306 of Philly’s receiving yards and all 3 receiving TDs.  The combination of end zone back LeGarrette Blount and lead running back Jay Ajayi also had a big game compared to recent performances.

After that win, the Eagles truly do deserve to fight for that Lombardi Trophy in Minneapolis, although it would have been cool to see Minnesota win it at home, or be stopped by the Patriots dynasty.  But will the Eagles put up the same numbers against New England, who has far more experience in the Super Bowl?  Many of New England’s players don’t even know what it is like not making the AFC Championship game.

A First Look at the Big Game

With TE Rob Gronkowski on the practice field as of Saturday the 27th, it’s a good sign that Gronk will be able to clear the concussion protocol and play by Sunday’s big game. Gronk’s status will help determine New England’s offensive schemes against an Eagles defense that can be tricky at times.

Either way, especially with T Marcus Cannon injured, DT Fletcher Cox and the Eagles’ defensive line could pressure QB Tom Brady and hit him a few times. But I do think Brady should be able to find his receivers against the younger, but still powerful Eagles secondary. With or without him, Gronk will have to get past Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins among others as they will likely keep the star tight end double covered.

Brady will have to mix it up a little, not only passing to Gronk, and dependable passing backs James White and Rex Burkhead, but also to his wide receivers who helped him win with Gronk and Burkhead out late into last week’s game. Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola, and/or Chris Hogan could have a big game here. But will we see the Eagles look like their inconsistent selves again, or will we see QB Nick Foles and the Eagles offense pick up where they left off?

If they can, they will significantly challenge the Patriots, whose pass rush has struggled to pressure the QB at times this season.  However, it has gotten better since LB James Harrison joined the Patriots.  Not only has he himself made an impact, but he’s also made an impact on other players’ performances, serving as a veteran influence.  The Pats sacked Jags QB Blake Bortles twice last week.  One was by Harrison, and the other by DT Lawrence Guy.  However, the Eagles give Foles better protection than Bortles gets with their strong offensive line.

This also helps running backs, who the Pats have struggled even more against.  In their Week 7 win against Atlanta, their big flaw was giving up big plays to Devonta Freeman.  It cost them in Week 1 against Kareem Hunt.  Can RB Jay Ajayi be next?  Will end zone threat Blount Force Trauma get revenge on his former team?  Or will it be younger RBs like Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood who thrive?

The good news is, despite their front seven woes, they have maintained a strong secondary all season long, and don’t be surprised if they annoy Foles’ receivers and pick Foles off a couple times. I do think Foles will continue to thrive though, finding his receivers for most of the game, but making brutal mistakes against this strong secondary that cause the Eagles offense to trail a little behind the “Brady Bunch.”

Who will win Super Bowl LII?  What is the game plan for each team?  What Super Bowl and season-long stats will burden, encourage and/or influence each team?  Find out this week as I release more articles each day.

Pats Stun Pittsburgh and Steal Win

With 8 minutes left in the game, the Pats were down by eight points, and I was losing hope.  I don’t know how they won.  They had a nice drive going, but Pats QB Tom Brady was sacked, and they were held to a field goal.  Then they took a 27-24 lead in a 2-minute drill by scoring a TD and a 2-point conversion.  But they left 1-minute for the Steelers.  They almost blew it.  On the first play with 52 seconds left, the Pats couldn’t get their hands on Steelers WR Juju Smith-Schuster on a short pass over the middle as he escaped tacklers and scurried down the field for 69 yards.  On the next play, TE Jesse James scored a TD on a pass up the middle diving into the end zone.  But video replay reversed the call.  2 plays later with no timeouts left and about 15 seconds left, Big Ben faked the spike and then tried to force a pass up the middle.  Eric Rowe deflected it right into the hands of Harmon, stunning the Steelers, and stealing the win

The Patriots won in comeback fashion in what was arguably the game of the year, as the Pats beat Pittsburgh 27-24.  You could argue that there was no tangible evidence to overturn the Steelers last-minute touchdown but the resilience the Pats showed leading up to the play, they deserved a call in their favor.  It all started on New England’s first drive.

QB Tom Brady and WR Brandin Cooks tried to set the tone early as Brady threw Cooks a 43-yard pass that brought the Patriots into the red zone within the first five minutes of the game.  RB Rex Burkhead ran in for the TD and the Pats took the early 7-0 lead.

Image result for brandin cooks 43 yard catch vs steelers

But the Steelers weren’t about to let New England win easy.  Using the Patriots’ defensive weaknesses to their advantage, they marched down the field and responded with an 18 yard TD of their own, tying the game at 7.

The Steelers didn’t stop there.  In the next drive, their defense thrived, sacking Tom Brady and forcing them to punt.  Led by a 39-yard Martavis Bryant reception, they had another big drive following that.  But after Bryant’s nice catch, the Pats were at least able to hold Pittsburgh to a field goal.  It was now 10-7 Steelers as Chris Boswell made a 51-yard field goal.  But Steelers superstar WR Antonio Brown had hurt his calf, and he was taken to the hospital.

Image result for antonio brown injury

The Pats countered with another big play drive, this time a 31-yard catch by Pats TE Rob Gronkowski and the Pats were able to tie it up again at 10.   This was just one of two catches Gronk made in the 1st half, but he made a huge impact in the 2nd half.  But before the half, the Steelers were able to score 1 more TD, while also preventing a Patriots double score opportunity as their drive burned most of the 2nd quarter clock.  The Steelers clock-eating drives were led by star RB Le’Veon Bell, who dominated against the depleted Pats front seven.  They did not slow down even with Brown out of the game.  The Pats would get the ball in the 2nd half but would have to do so without RB Rex Burkhead who was knocked out of the game with a knee injury.

Image result for leveon bell vs pats

The Pats began the 2nd half with a strong drive as Brandin Cooks scored a touchdown after Gronk began to make a bigger impact.  But they missed the extra point which put them down by one 17-16.  After they shut the Steelers down, the Pats were ready to score again.  But Tom Brady was intercepted early in the drive.  Le’Veon Bell led the Steelers into the end zone quickly, and the Pats were now down by eight, 24-16.

As the 4th quarter began, the Steelers had the ball, and they began to eat up a lot of time as they tried to hold off the Patriots.  They held onto the ball for the first 7 minutes of the 4th quarter, leaving the Pats down by eight with just 8 minutes to come back.  In their first drive of the 4th quarter, they started off strong.  Gronk almost caught a 23-yard pass and the Steelers were penalized for clear pass interference.  However, Brady got sacked on third down after a pair of incompletions, and they were held to a field goal.

It wasn’t over though.  The Pats shut down the Steelers on the next drive with the only 3 and out for either team and got the ball back with a little over two minutes to go.  If they could successfully complete this 2-minute drill for a TD, they could secure a victory.  They marched down the field, as Gronk caught three straight passes for a total of 69 yards.  You could argue that his final catch was almost as good as WR Julian Edelman’s catch in Super Bowl LI.  Gronk just barely saved the ball before it hit the ground.

Image result for rob gronkowski vs steelers 2017

RB Dion Lewis ran it in for the touchdown, but New England scored too fast going 77 yards in 1:10.  They needed to go for the 2-point conversion to take a 3-point lead and at the very least hold Pittsburgh to a field goal and head into overtime.  Brady tossed it to Gronk for the conversion.  Gronk finished the 2nd half with 7 receptions for 135 yards, making a huge impact.  The Steelers had a little under a minute to respond.

The Steelers were confident that they could still win it, and Big Ben completed one 69-yard pass to WR JuJu Smith-Schuster.  As the Pats couldn’t get their hands on Smith-Schuster, the Steelers were able to do what the Pats did in three passes in just one big play.  The Steelers then scored with what was ruled a touchdown by TE Jesse James.  But the call was reversed, giving hope to all the Patriots fans out there, including me.  Two plays later, Big Ben tried to throw a TD again, but this time, he was picked off by Duron Harmon!  The Pats had done it again!

Image result for juju smith schuster vs pats

A couple minutes earlier, I had thought the Pats were done, and I was hoping they could hold on to the 3rd seed.  But now they lead the AFC after a stunning comeback victory.

There were two huge plays that secured the Pats their current #1 seed edge showing #1 seed confidence under tough road pressure in Pittsburgh.  Without the 2-point conversion, Pittsburgh would’ve likely won on a field goal after Smith-Schuster’s catch and run play.  The Pats held on with a great goal-line interception by Harmon.  The Pats lead the league in goal-line stops and today’s play was arguably the most clutch of the year.

This game reminded me of Super Bowl XLIX.  The Pats won in a comeback, a lot of points were scored late in the game, and the Pats secured victory with an interception after the opposing team almost scored.  The one major difference was the time left on the clock.  Super Bowl XLIX ended with a bad coaching decision, but in this game, Big Ben made the mistake forcing a pass instead of throwing it away to give his team a shot in overtime with a short field goal.

With this win, the Pats clinch the division and take the AFC lead.  They control their own destiny and will secure the #1 seed with 2 division wins at home.  Can they do it?

 

 

New England Patriots Game-By-Game Predictions 2017

 

Welcome to my first NFL prediction article of 2017.  Today I’ll be taking a look at the Pats schedule and predict how each game will turn out.  The Pats may have gotten lucky with their early season schedule, but a three-game road trip to Buffalo, Miami and Pittsburgh could end their typical December dominance.  However, I still think the Pats will end up with the best record in the AFC.  Here’s how they’ll get there.

Week 1: Thursday 9/7 @8:25 PM, CBS vs. kansas-city-chiefs-logo

The NFL season opens with this tight AFC rivalry.  The Chiefs have been a challenge for the Pats in recent years.  They’re never easy to beat.  But this year, the Pats look to have the best roster in football.  Tom Brady has so many weapons this year, and this will overwhelm Kansas City.  Their 2014 team did lose to the Chiefs, but that was in Kansas City.  At Gillette, against this roster, there’s no way Alex Smith will lead his team to victory, although Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce will be tough to cover.

Prediction: W, 1-0

 

Week 2: Sunday 9/17 @1:00 PM, CBS @ nosaints

The Saints offense is just getting better.  Michael Thomas emerged last season, Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson will make for a dynamic RB duo, and Drew Brees is still an elite quarterback.  However, the Pats gave up their first round pick for Saints receiver Brandin Cooks, and Cooks will be hungry for revenge against his former team.  Add that to a healthy Gronk, and the Pats are looking like they can kick some serious butt against New Orleans.

Prediction: W, 2-0

 

Week 3: Sunday 9/24 @1:00 PM, CBS vs. hou-texans

I’m calling it right now that the Texans will fall in 2017.  Unless Deshaun Watson or Tom Savage emerges as a quality starter, the Texans don’t have a good QB, and I see their offense taking a downfall.  They have some weapons, but they just don’t look like a playoff team without a good QB.  The defense could be tough for the Pats, but Brady will outscore the Houston offense by a mile.  We could see Brady have the kind of lights out performance we saw Jacoby Brissett put up against this team last year.  If Brissett can do it, Brady definitely can.

Prediction: W, 3-0

 

Week 4: Sunday 10/1 @1:00 PM EST, FOX vs. carolina-panthers-logo

The Pats begin October against a team that surprisingly struggled in 2016, the Carolina Panthers.  In 2017, I see the Panthers bouncing back.  The Patriots are lucky that they face Carolina and Atlanta at home.  The Bucs have also improved though, and the Pats visit them.  Carolina will use Christian McCaffrey to bring back the running game.  The defense is better and with the rushing game intact, Carolina looks like a playoff team.  However, they have not improved enough to beat the Pats at Gillette.  The Panthers will become overwhelmed by this stacked Patriots team and will look like the 2016 Panthers for a week.

Prediction: W, 4-0

 

Week 5: Thursday 10/5 @8:25 PM EST, CBS @ tampabaybuccaneers

The Buccaneers have gotten better.  Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson will make a great receiver duo, Jackson acting as a mentor for Mike Evans, and a moderate contributor himself.  This offense has been good for a couple years now.  The defense has also slowly improved.  But I don’t think this intriguing team will put up enough points to beat the Pats.  The Buccaneers have some young defense that will be under serious pressure against Tom Brady.  TB12 will come out on top here.

Prediction: W, 5-0

 

Week 6: Sunday 10/15 @1:00 PM, CBS @ Jets-Logo

The Jets may very well be the worst team in football this year.  The offense is old and is crumbling, and the defense isn’t anything special yet but has budding young talent.  There is no way that the Jets will get a W on the Pats this season, even the Pats backups in Week 17 if it even comes to that.  The Patriots are just the far more talented team.

Prediction: W, 6-0

 

Week 7: Sunday 10/22 @8:30 PM, NBC vs. atlfalcons

This Super Bowl rematch could be close.  The Falcons still have a powerful offense, led by the trio of Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman, and Julio Jones.  But the Falcons still have issues despite a good offensive core and strong front seven.  The depleted secondary is a concern for them, and our receivers will be all over them.  They also don’t have enough sophisticated weapons on offense.  The Patriots have at least 8 good receiving targets for TB12.  Despite more superstars on Atlanta’s offense, New England’s balanced superteam will come out victorious at home.

Prediction: W, 7-0

 

Week 8: Sunday 10/29 @1:00 PM, CBS vs. IMG_0727

The Chargers have really polished their offense.  If healthy, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Travis Benjamin will make a great WR trio, but that’s a big if.  However, if all fails, they also have Melvin Gordon, Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates to target.  However, this offense does not match up to the Pats’, and the defense is not up to par yet in LA.  The Patriots should be all over the Chargers defense and overwhelm them big time.

Prediction: W, 8-0

 

Week 9: BYE

 

Week 10: Sunday 11/12 @8:30 PM EST, NBC @ denver-broncos-logo

Denver does not have the kind of team they had with Peyton Manning.  They got their butts kicked the last time the Pats flew into Denver.  The Broncos are now a mediocre team with a struggling offense, despite a strong defensive core.  The Pats defense will target Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch (whoever starts) and the Broncos will struggle to score.

Prediction: W, 9-0

 

Week 11: Sunday 11/19 @4:25 PM EST, CBS vs. oakland-raiders in Mexico

Technically, this isn’t a home game for Oakland but the Raiders are considered Mexico’s home team right now, and I think they will have a home field advantage.  Marshawn Lynch will be difficult for the Pats to cover, and the Raiders have an evolving QB and a strong receiving game.  They have one of the best offenses in football, and the Pats defense will have trouble with them.  The Raiders also have a decent defense so this could be a very close game.

Prediction: L, 9-1

 

Week 12: Sunday 11/26 @1:00 PM EST, CBS vs. Dolphins-logo

Miami could be New England’s closest competitor in the AFC East, but they don’t have a chance at the division win, or a win at Gillette during Week 12.  The Pats’ have an all-around powerful team that will overpower the Dolphins, especially at Gillette.  Miami has a weak secondary like the Falcons, and that will cost them this game as Brandin Cooks has a 100+ yard game.  Pats beat their division rival at home.

Prediction: W, 10-1

 

Week 13: Sunday 12/3 @1:00 PM EST, CBS @ Buffalo_Bills

LeSean McCoy might be more of a challenge to cover than Marshawn Lynch, the Bills have no receiving game, especially if Jeremy Maclin signs somewhere else.  It might be different if Maclin is here, but Buffalo would still not match-up to the Pats with him on the team.  The Bills defense is no match for Brady and his receivers, and the Patriots should blow out this team, even on the road.

Prediction: W, 11-1

 

Week 14: Monday 12/11 @8:30 PM EST, ESPN @ Dolphins-logo

I know I have the Pats overwhelming the Dolphins at Gillette, but the dynamic will be different in Miami.  I think Tannehill will bounce back from a rough game in Foxboro, and the Dolphins offense will score at least 4 TDs on the Patriots.  The defense will struggle as Miami’s offense has a better game.  The Patriots will make it close and overwhelm the Dolphins D, but it may not be enough to beat the Dolphins.

Prediction: L, 11-2

 

Week 15: Sunday 12/17 @4:25 PM EST, CBS @ pittsburgh-steelers

This classic AFC rivalry should result in a close game.  The Steelers have the best Big 3 in football, with Big Ben, Bell, and Brown.  Martavis Bryant and JuJu Smith-Schuster should also boost the offense after the release of injury prone tight end Ladarius Green.  The Patriots offense will be tough to outscore, but this powerful Pittsburgh offense might find a way to do it.  This will be another offensive shootout that will come down to the final minutes.

Prediction: L, 11-3

 

Week 16: Sunday 12/24 @1:00 PM EST on CBS vs. Buffalo_Bills

At Gillette, it will be even easier for the Pats to beat the Bills.  Chris Hogan should break out for a 100-yard game, and the Bills receiving game will be outdone by the Pats’ strong secondary.  LeSean McCoy will have a big game but the Tyrod Taylor and his receivers will struggle.  The Pats will grab a big win in this division rivalry.

Prediction: W, 12-3

 

Week 17: Sunday 12/31 @1:00 PM EST, CBS vs. Jets-Logo

I bet the Pats backups could beat this Jets team!  It would be different if they played the Dolphins in Week 17, but they’re going to win their final game this year, starters or no starters.  Either way, they will humiliate the Jets once again.

Prediction: W, 13-3

 

 

Is this Patriots team a Super Bowl team?  They have some tough competition this year so it might be tough, but they won last year, and they’ve gotten even better.  By far, this is the best team in football, and I think they can win for the second straight year.

 

Best Super Bowl Ever: Pats Win 5th Ring in OT Miracle

Image result for tom brady super bowl li trophy

Best, Super Bowl, ever.  It’s a miracle.  I’m still in disbelief.  This was the greatest comeback ever.  The first Super Bowl overtime ever.  The Pats had comeback all the way.  They had scored on two flawless drives in a row, now it was 28-28.  The first Super Bowl overtime ever had begun.

The toss was about to happen.  The Pats called their usual heads, and won the toss.  They marched down the field, treated it like their regular, weekly business.  It was great pass after great pass.  The Pats had made it to the 15 yard line.  They threw to Bennett.  It looked like a touchdown.  It was incomplete, but a flag was down.  It was pass interference!  The Pats got the ball at the 2.The Pats tried to find Bennett again.  The Falcons almost intercepted it, and ended their game like the Pats did to Seattle.  But it was an incomplete pass.  The Pats didn’t make the same mistake twice though.  White ran it, and it was a touchdown!  James White just made it in!  The Pats had won their 5th Super Bowl!!!

The Pats had made a 25 point comeback to win the game.  I thought it was all over when Atlanta scored their fourth TD.  The Pats were down by 25, and they won!!  The next biggest comeback in the Super Bowl was a 10 point comeback.  The Patriots have shattered records, and made history.   Brady leads all QBs in Super Bowl wins, and will forever be regarded as the G.O.A.T.  Belichick will be regarded as the best coach ever.  The Patriots have the best sports dynasty ever.

To begin the game, the Pats didn’t win the opening toss, and the Falcons deferred.  The Patriots were hoping for a good drive, but instead went 3 and out.  The Falcons got the ball and on their first play, Devonta Freeman ran it for 37 yards.  The defense was fooled by the play!  They just couldn’t keep up.  However, the Pats were able to stuff Matt Ryan and end the drive.  Things went like that throughout the 1st quarter.  There was a lot of sloppy play by both teams early.  To start the 2nd quarter, The Pats even got to the opposing 40 to start one drive with an Edelman catch, but lost their drive on a fumble by Blount.  It was still 0-0.  But after the fumble recovery, the Falcons went wild.  Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman led an amazing drive, and Freeman went on to score the first Falcons TD.  The next drive was very similar, and they quickly scored another touchdown.

Image result for julio jones and devonta freeman

It was now 14-0 Falcons.  Many people were already starting to lose hope in the Pats, but I still believed they could win.  The Pats struggled to move down the field on their next drive, in attempt to respond.  They managed to get to the 23, but Robert Alford intercepted it, and went all the way to the end zone.

Image result for robert alford sbli pick six

By the time he was at the 50, he was long gone.  The odds were looking pretty slim for the Pats.  The Patriots went on a decent drive before the half, but were held to a field goal.  They needed a touchdown, and without that, things weren’t looking good when it was 21-3 Falcons at halftime.

After a strong defensive start to the 3rd quarter, I was starting to regain hope, but the great Falcons offense marched down the field for another touchdown on their next drive.  It was 28-3.  There was only a quarter and a half left.  Even I knew the game was probably over.  But shortly after, the comeback began. The Pats didn’t look great yet.  They almost lost the chance to score.  But the Pats managed to get to the end zone.  It was their first touchdown of the game, to James White.  But Stephen Gostkowski missed the PAT and there was only about two minutes left in the 3rd quarter.  It didn’t look good.

Image result for stephen gostkowski

The Pats quickly got the ball back, and managed to get a field goal.  They needed a touchdown, but couldn’t quite get it.  It was 28-12, and the odds were still heavily against the Patriots with only 9 1/2 minutes left.  But the Pats began to make miracles happen.  When Atlanta got the ball back, Dont’a Hightower strip sacked Matt Ryan and the Pats got the ball at the Falcons 25, with a little over half the quarter left!  They quickly got to the red zone, and Amendola caught the TD.  The Pats went for 2 with no doubt, and James White ran it in on a direct snap!  It was 28-20.  The Pats had a chance!

Image result for danny amendola super bowl li td

However, the Falcons were quickly marching down the field.  Devonta Freeman nearly took it to the 50, and Julio Jones caught a 27 yard pass at the sidelines that few players could catch, as he barely got both feet in.  However, Matt Ryan got stuffed and knocked out of field goal range on the next play!!  They should’ve just ran the ball and went for the field goal.  The Pats might have lost if that happened.  Instead, on the next play, with the Patriots pass rush pressuring Matt Ryan, they were called for holding and pushed out of field goal range.

The Pats had one more chance to tie it, but they would have to go 91 yards with just 3.5 minutes left.  But these situations are what makes Brady the G.O.A.T.  In the playoffs Brady had fourth quarter comeback drives 9 times before and he was going for his 10th.  The Pats quickly got into a rhythm, with quick passes to Hogan and Mitchell.  Then, a miracle happened.  It looked like Atlanta was going to intercept the pass and end the game.  But Edelman managed to catch the ball with 3 Falcons players fighting for the ball. After it bounced around several times, he saved the ball just before it hit the ground after bouncing off a Falcon leg!!  It was the best catch I have ever seen!!

Image result for julian edelman super bowl li catch

Amendola followed it up with another great catch!!  Pretty soon, the Patriots were in the red zone, and the Falcons red zone defense that actually looked good early in the game failed again.  White ran in the TD.

It looked like the Pats made the 2-point conversion to Danny Amendola. But there was a flag. For a moment, I was nearly heartbroken.  But it turned out it was on the Falcons and the 2-point conversion was good!!!  The Pats had miraculously tied it up!!  The Pats defense actually shut down the Falcons so quickly on Atlanta’s final drive that they got the ball back in the final seconds.  Lewis ran it on a fake in the hopes of catching Atlanta off guard but Lewis tweaked his knee as he headed toward the sidelines at the 48 with the Atlanta defense in pursuit.  This game was going to overtime. It was the first overtime in Super Bowl history.

 

The Pats won the toss, and did their thing, treating it like a regular drive.  White just made it in, and it was a game!!!  The Pats won 34-28.  Brady won his 5th ring!!  The last 12 minutes of this game was some of the best football ever seen.  DeflateGate will no longer be a topic of conversation. Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, the Patriots dynasty and this game will be the topic of conversation in the coming years.  They broke some other records too.  They broke the record for most passing yards in a Super Bowl, and running back James White broke the record for most receptions in Super Bowl history!!  Yes, a running back now holds that record and also the record for most receiving yards by a RB in a Super Bowl!!

Image result for tom brady super bowl li trophy

Bill Belichick also smiled, for real!!!  He has a reason to.  He and Brady each broke or tied a Super Bowl win record, Brady winning the most of any QB, and Belichick passed Chuck Noll for most Super Bowl wins as a head coach.

Tom Brady was the clear MVP, and receivers like Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman impacted the game big time, but Super Bowls are won as a team.  On the Patriots, there is one guy that isn’t getting the credit he deserves for this win.

Unsung Hero

James White

Image result for james white

James White led the Pats with 110 receiving yards and a receiving TD. He broke the record most points scored by any player in the Super Bowl, with 20. He also had 29 rushing yards and 2 rushing TDs.  That’s 3 TDs!!  He additionally ran in a 2 point conversion.  Although Brady had 466 yards (almost 2 times more than Matt Ryan), White was a Top 2 contributor in both rushing and receiving, and scored as more touchdowns than Tom Brady threw.

The dynasty lives on and Tom will likely start his preparations for the next Super Bowl after the parade as the team is already favored to repeat next year.