Where does the rivalry go from here? The Patriots, having lost their key offensive player and quarterback, must rely on installing a non-battle-tested backup and a turnaround in their offensive system to adjust this great change. The Jets, having upgraded their QB, defensive line, and linebacker positions, are poised to stand as a very favorite contender for the AFC East title.
The answer to the direction of this rivalry will come at the first kickoff today at Giants Stadium, packed with fans hungry to watch what could be the beginning of the demise of a great football dynasty.
Favre Vs. Cassell
The last time Brett Favre had played against the Patriots, the Packers team was in the midst of rebuilding its system, and were properly defeated by the surging Patriots, 35-0, in 2006. There were concerns of how healthy Favre had been playing that game, and may have been a contribution to his poor performance against Belichick's defense.
Last year, Favre had lead his Green Bay team into the NFC conference championship, and had lost a very close game with the Giants. Although a successful run for his team, Favre seems to have issues playing against teams with great defenses.
In 2007, Brett favre played four defenses in the top 10: The New York Giants, The Dallas Cowboys, The Redskins, and The Eagles. Against the Giants in their first game, the Packers offense poured 35 points onto the Giants defense, but had a very mediocre game with 2 TDs and 2 interceptions in the NFC championship game. Against the Cowboys, Redskins, and Eagles, the Packers record was 2-1, and the offense only averaged 16.5 points in both wins.
This isn't a direct sign of his inability to run an offense against a good defense, but last year's defensive lineup was essentially a cakewalk for the Packers' O, and Favre has demonstrated he has many problems going against a good defense ( not to mention his other two losses were against the Bears, whose defense was still strong, but softened last year due to many injuries.)
It is still a long-shot to say that Favre will have trouble against New England's secondary. Favre will have extra time to produce major plays as his offensive line has been bolstered with Alan Faneca and Damien Woody. The protection will provide him enough time to hook up on deep routes to Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery. The only concern for Favre is how much he can hold back and make the right play as much as possible. The Patriots will also be looking for these deep plays as well, and if their defense is zoned correctly, Favre can come up with more interceptions than end zone celebrations.
Matt Cassell shouldn't be looking for any invites to any of these touchdowns parties. He has shown that he is prone to all sorts of quarterbacking mistakes in all of the pre-season and regular season games he has played in thus far. The Patriots have had him placed in the shotgun multiple times, and the Patriots were running nearly 60% of the time during Cassell's presence on the field.
The huge question mark for Cassell and the offense is the small sample size the world has seen the Patriots' offense go about their business with Tom Brady. Although the passing game seemed very un-coordinated against the Chiefs, one has to wonder how much Cassell can do when he has the ball in his first game as a starter, and how much is the ball going to rotate around Laurence Maroney, Lamont Jordan, Kevin Faulk, & "Sam Sam" Morris.
DISCLAIMER: The Article Was Erased, and I have left the analysis "As Is", I will re-write the analysis at another time. The prediction: 28-17, Patriots. Brett Favre against better defenses can clearly be analyzed over time. Patriots' run game has always been very good, yet seldom utilized. One good play-action to Moss can thwart any blitzes, Welker beats up zone in the middle.
Give me your prediction as well.
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