Be Afraid Of “Team X,” Be Very Afraid

While the Patriots are now in the driver’s seat for the top seed in the AFC, a new threat has emerged to their Super Bowl hopes.

Team X

We’re not sure who Team X is, but believe me, you need to be terrified of Team X.

Team X is yet another creation of Michael Felger. Team X could be any one of the following: The Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers, Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets, or Oakland Raiders.

Felger says he wouldn’t pick any of those team individually in a game against the Patriots, especially at Gillette, but he would pick Team X.

Team X plays a slow game, keeping Tom Brady off the field. They don’t turn the ball over. Team X will beat the Patriots.

So be afraid of Team X. Be very afraid.

Also you should be very concerned about the contracts of Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski.

OK. Got it. I will now walk about in fear of Team X and worry about those contracts incessantly.

Now let’s get to some grades for the Patriots/Broncos game:

Making The Grades – Patriots at Broncos – Its a split decision on PD. The first quarter Patriots? An F. The rest-of-the-game Patriots? A solid B.

Patriots Report Card – Ron Borges is in the holiday spirit with some of his grades. Is this the same guy on that video yesterday? It’s a little different when things are in print and a little more permanent, I guess.

Patriots Report Card: Brady, Hernandez head the class – Kirk Minihane says we still have no answers about this team.

Hector Longo’s Two-Minute Drill – Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork once again lead the list of “no shows.” (Hector, I’m sorry you felt “mocked” last week. Not my intention.)

Patriots Report Card: Aaron Hernandez Breaks Out, Special Teams Deliver Against Broncos – Jeff Howe gives his grades, and gives you a chance to give yours.

Patriots Center – ESPN Boston has “B’s” across the board, except for that rush defense.

Patriots report card Game 14 – Give out your grades on Boston.com.

Grogan’s Grade: Week 14 – New England at Denver – Steve Grogan is pleased with the effort.

An old look pays off big – Ian Rapoport says a switch back to the 3-4 made a huge difference for the Patriots.

Holiday roll – Kevin Paul Dupont has the Bruins winning their 5th straight game.

A new look for Celtics rotation. – Paul Flannery looks at the Celtics bench.

  • Classless

    Felger is a Packers fan. Explains everything. Y'know, the same Packers that are ranked 31st in total Defense and is piling up injuries each week?

  • latetodinner

    Bruce, you are a mind reader. I was going to bring up two points today. The first was the whole team X stupidity Felger was pontificating about yesterday. The flaw in his theory is that none of the teams in the AFC playoff picture can do what Team X can do…why….because they are all flawed. 4 potential playoff teams lost this past weekend. Baltimore got demolished in SD. They are a lousy road team with an over rated defense and an at best average offense. This is not the Baltimore team that beat the Pats two years ago. With all the Pats issues on defense I can't see Baltimore scoring 20 points on them. The Jets got spanked by Philly. The same Philly team that could not hang with the Pats two weeks ago. The jets defense is not what it was last year. If Lionheart stays injured Hernandez and Gronk will own the middle of the field. Sanchez is proving to be Flaccoesque in his ability to make plays. Rothlisburger on a bum ankle = 3 ints because he can't follow through. He is a different guy. SF made Pitt 1 dimensional last night and abused Rothlisburger. Houston does not have a QB right now. If they do not get Shaub back they are toast. The only team playing well is Cincy, Andy Daulton seems to be a competent QB, but they are the Bengals, they have coaching issues, offense issues and defense issues. Felger can rant and rave about a mythical team X all he wants but until NE plays either SF or GB I don't see team X as being real. It is a straw man argument that might be good for radio but was exposed as dumb 5 minutes into it.

    The other point I was going to raise is that if I were WEEI I would team Lou Merloni with Kerry Byrns and Chris Mannix. Byrns and Mannix were on this am with Minihan subbing for D&C and it was great (well great when Meterperil was quiet). Minihan did not get in the way too much but Byrnes and Mannix came prepared. Whether it was Byrns on football or Mannix on basketball they clearly knew more than me the fan but it was presented in a non condescending way. When they talked hockey they were intelligent and not out of their elements. When Byrnes talked Hoops and Mannix talked football they held their own. I think having a three man midday team capable of sustained indepth non hysterical discussion would be great. Lou doesn't suck…he can talk baseball with the best…give him a solid hoop and football guy, that show would be awesome. Lou could kind of guide the daily discussion and run the board. I was pleasantly surprised this am.

    • latetodinner

      George,

      I fail to see how my comment above about teaming Merloni with Byrnes and Mannix became a referendum on 98.5. To address your one germane point, Lou is an analyst but I think he has enough show experience to lead and moderate a show about basketball, football and hockey while participating more fully if it was a baseball centered show. In any event WEEI would have 3 thoughtful "experts" on air who could explore sports topics rather than bloviate.

    • 02062

      but its a cleaner Opie and Anthony with sports guests.

      I like to think of it as a "backwater morning zoo".

    • bbopes

      I'm assuming by "Lionheart" you mean Jim Leonhard…and he was put on IR two weeks ago. But more importantly, he was on IR last year during the playoff game, didn't work out so well for us…the Jets still scare me coming into Foxborough, this season is shaping up almost exactly like last season, both from analyzing the Pats in a vacuum and the AFC as a whole. We wanted to see the Pats prove they could win without relying so heavily on Brady, and not only have they not done that, you could argue they have regressed defensively and with the running game. As for the AFC, the Jets are most likely going to land the 6 seed and play a TJ Yates-led Houston Texans or Tebow-Broncos and absolutely will beat those teams, possibly setting them up for another trip to Foxborough and a nauseating week of sound from NY. Jets have proven they can come in here and beat us, and history has shown it is extremely difficult to beat the same team 3 times in one season.

      • Winning_

        Damn, I guess we can mark the AFC championship game between Pittsburgh and NYJ again. I keep forgetting…

      • Scott Benson

        "history has shown it is extremely difficult to beat the same team 3 times in one season."

        Actually, wrong. Way wrong. There have been 20 instances of this (teams that have played twice in the regular season also meeting a third time in the playoffs) since the merger, and 13 times the team that swept the season series also won the playoff game. That means 65% of the time this happens, there is a 3 game sweep. The "extremely difficult" thing is in no way supported by fact.

        Also, through 14 games last year – 1575 rushing yards. Through 14 games this year – 1507 rushing yards. They have "regressed" by exactly 68 yards.

        Lastly, when did we agree "we" wanted to see the Pats prove they could win without "relying so heavily" on the unanimous league MVP? Because that was just stupid. I'm not sure the world champs are particularly worried about providing they aren't relying too heavily on Aaron Rodgers.

        I'm not even going to get into this weird fascination some of you guys have with a mediocre 8-5 team.

        • Scott Benson

          That's what I get for hurrying (first paragraph). Restating: There have been 20 instances when Team A, with 2 regular season wins over Team B, has gone on to face Team B a third time, in the playoffs, and 13 times Team A has won the game.

        • Winning

          But Scott, if you follow an outright lie with "Fact, not Opinion" doesn't that make it true? In FLEGER'S world it does, or should I say FELDER.

        • bbopes

          So I'm clueless because I believe the Jets are more than capable of beating the Broncos or Texans and just because they lost to them this year they can't beat thgem again? Call it whatever you want, I'd have more confidence in a battle-tested Jets team on the road in the playoffs than either of those teams and their rookie QB's considering they have won 4 road playoff games in the last 2 years.

          I don't care what the stats say for the running game, I haven't seen enough in 2011 to prove we can run the ball in crunch time when the opponent knows it. BenJarvs hasn't been the same since the home Jets game when we actually salted a game away by running the ball, and Woodhead is a change-of-pace back only. I still don't have confidence we can line up against a stout defensive team who knows we're going to run the ball and win those one-on-one battles, something I think you need to show you can do in the playoffs like we did back in the day with Antowain Smith and Dillon.

          Not going out on a limb either in saying that the general expectation from fans and those covering the team going into the season was that in order to reverse the recent playoff drought, the Pats needed to become a more balanced team on both sides of the ball and not rely exclusively on Brady's arm.

        • bbopes

          Tom Curran posted an article this morning with some stats highlighting this year's run game vs. last year, so while the overall numbers may be close, I'm not alone in saying this year's running attack has regressed. If you want to disagree with my overall point about the run game and say that the emergence of Gronk and return of a healthy Welker are more important come playoff time, then that's fine, but the run game isn't as effective this year.
          http://www.csnne.com/blog/patriots-talk/post/Gree

        • Major

          Ridley's emergence provides no comfort from your fright?

        • Gamere

          That article does not substantiate your point at all really. The article really focuses on the individual output of BJGE and Woodhead, and not the running game as a whole. They are distributing carries differently this year with Ridley and Faulk (and Vereen a tiny bit), versus last year having just BJGE and Woodhead get the bulk of the carries. BJGE has been hampered by a toe injury, and Woodhead was hampered early/mid season by an ankle injury. Curran is indicating both BJGE and Woodhead have regressed a bit, not the running game as a whole (combine Ridley and BJGE

        • Tmurph13

          Back in the day with Antowain? He of the 600 yards in 03 leading the 27th ranked rushing attack managing a 30th ranked 3.4 yards per attempt? Please….. That team went 14-2 and won the super bowl thanks to a great D and a fantastic passing attack. I'd take today's rushing game over that one anyway.

        • EvilStaceyJames

          You're stupid for a lot of reasons but as to the specific arguments above, clueless will do I suppose. Briefly: What the Jets did two years ago or even last year, when they won nothing, is irrelevant to this year's team. If you watched the games and understood what was going on, you'd see that the Patriots run their offense. period. So the whole running the ball in crunch time meme is not only trite but disconnected from reality. It's a different game than it was 15 or even 7 years ago. Teams pass to win, they pass to stay ahead, and they pass to keep the ball away from the opponent unless they can't pass. Other than that I think you hit on all of your points. And 3 games over 4 years does not constitute a drought. What are you 12 years old?

        • bbopes

          Pffffff….wow…so sensitive. How dare I even suggest this team is no fundamentally different than last year's (elite offense even without aforementioned running attack, crappy defense reliant on turnovers), that the Jets pose a threat, or want to see us run the ball more effectively…that must mean I'm 12 and don't understand anything. Back to recess…

        • EvilStaceyJames

          Sorry, I was wrong about the simple cluelesseness thing. Most of what ails you can be cured through Zoloft or suicide. So there's hope.

        • Scott Benson

          I think it speaks to Belichick's general malfeasance that this year's 11-3 team isn't fundamentally different than last year's 14-2 team. How do they let him get away with this stuff?

        • Gamere

          Did it ever occur to you that the playoff loss to the Jets was somewhat flukish in nature, with much of the early Patriot momentum sucked away by the awul pick from Brady and the Crumpler drop in the end zone? Even the Jets second touchdown was set up by the bizarre fake punt call failing. Perhaps not everyone here sees that as some kind of signal for how all future home playoff games in which they are favored (and they will be favored if they are home no matter who the opposing team) will go. The Ravens loss was a different story, but that Patriot team (no Welker that day, neither of the TE's on the roster yet) bares little resemblance to this one in terms of structure, so it is foolish to compare what happened in that game to anything that could happen in January.

        • HighWireNickEsasky

          Facts are not your strong suit. You have the whole wild conjecture thing covered, though.

        • Scott Benson

          Nothing on what "history has shown"? Just going to go right past that then? Good luck with your confidence.

        • Dan

          "I haven't seen enough" – what does this mean? You're predisposed to doubt until finally proven wrong, so what's the point in talking to you?

          I highly doubt you had "seen enough" after week 14 in '01, '03 and '04, respectively, to be confident in the Pats' chances. After all, each of those years, there was always some bigger bogeyman out there ready to douse the Pats' hopes.

          Until they finally beat the Rams, nobody had seen enough of the '01 Patriots to feel confident. But the ride was fun, wasn't it? I'm betting for you, probably not, what with the nagging doubt and all.

          '03 and '04 had the big bad Colts and their unbeatable arsenal, that is, until they were beaten and you had "seen enough" to feel confident.

          Then there was the 15-1 Steelers in '04. Certainly after they lost so embarrassingly to them during the season, you could say you "hadn't seen enough to prove" they could overcome them. Until they did, of course.

          Cracks me up that you cite Antowain Smith. I bet the date when you had "seen enough" to first feel confident in Antowain Smith was February 4th, 2002.

          You're probably one of those guys who checks the last chapter of mystery novel first, or who fast-forwards to the end of a movie to see how it turns out, then watches the rest in the comfort of knowing it will end well. Perhaps you should do the same with Patriots games: DVR all of them, but don't watch any 'til after the Super Bowl, so with the knowledge of how it turns out, you'll have "seen enough" to safely watch the rest of the season.

          You think you're saying something profound, but it's just buzz. "Need to become more balanced" is conventional wisdom nobody would argue, but it adds no insight when applying it to the current Pats offense. Denver is one of the better defenses the Pats will face, and when they needed rushing TDs, they got rushing TDs. When they needed to move the chains at the end to wind down the clock, they got big chunks from BJGE and Ridley.

          I don't know what games you're watching.

        • Winning_

          Classic, you say "I don't care what stats say…" yet previously you were spouting off incorrect stats regarding teams playing 3 teams. So you first try to use incorrect stats to support your argument, then after you're called out on it, you go forward by crapping on what stats say. Way to shape an argument! You are a master deflector of truth. FACT NOT OPINION!

    • bostonsportsmediafan

      I was thinking of commenting on the Byrns/Mannix/Kirk as well.

      Like my post about Dale Arnold, they did an excellent job. Meter was more active than usual (even for his normally active role as a flash guy on D+C). You hit the nail on the "stop talking when you don't know something" and this is where you saw the others ask Mannix about the NBA. Kerry led the NFL talk and others interacted with him on the knowledge.

      Agree on the Lou point. He does yield to someone who knows more than him (drives me nuts when people like GearBear don't and try to one-up whoever clearly knows more than he does, winding up in them not sparring due to time/tenor on the shows).

      This was my second day in a row keeping the dial almost always on WEEI D+C, thanks to no D+C. Get the right group of three together and they can run a great show.

      Hello, WEEI?

      • latetodinner

        bostonsportsmediafan, they aren't listening. They don't understand that it is okay to have a bunch of bomb throwers and poop stirrers as long as they balance it with some quality talk. When they got rid of Dale they lost any quality they had. So now it is all unbalanced angst, anger and acrimony. Gone is the exploration of ideas, in is screaching, yelling, and "takes". Blah.

        • bostonsportsmediafan

          I’ve only mentioned it because others have commented (see Ryan’s post with his leaving for WEEI that I hope only brings them more success) that the board is very pro-SportsHub and anti-WEEI. Maybe the comments trend this way because WEEI was the only game in town before SH?

          I don’t wish ill on any station because the competition keeps things real, as we all know. It’s the only way to get something better on the air.

          However, even looking at the November ratings here:
          http://boards.radio-info.com/smf/index.php?topic=

          Tied for 4th. I guess this has been the trend since SH took over.

          I guess we can only articulate our opinions here and hope for the best.

        • latetodinner

          I don't think the board is slanted one way or the other. I think the regulars here want quality. We are begging for quality. At least one thought provoking non shriekfest show a day, that is all I ask…and they can put it in the midday so it does not effect money making…but what it would do is give them overall credibility. This am WEEI had Bob Ryan and Dale Arnold on for D&C. It was sportstalk radio porn assuming you like quality, insightful, fast moving talk radio shows. It was even done with Ryan telling he was friendly with the Philly scribe who was exposed for child abuse this AM.

        • bostonsportsmediafan

          Agree. I posted below about this and I, again, listened to all 4 hours (or had it on in the background as I do throughout the day).

          I would not understand why having two or three hosts on who don't insult callers makes it "harder to listen to" or would "lose ratings". Is this proven or really just a fielders choice when it comes to programming?

  • whitey bulger

    Don't be too hard on Felger (that's what SHE said!). His head is still not right after the bitch-slapping Heidi Watney gave him on her way out of town.

  • Chris

    bbopes, History has NOT shown its hard to beat the same team 3 times in a season. Do some research before posting so you dont look a complete clueless idiot. Teams beating another team 3 times in a season are 13-7 for a 65% winning pct. Stop assuming everything you hear on the radio is fact and do some research on your own.

  • Chris

    bbopes, one more thing. The Jets have already LOST to a Tebow lead Broncos team in Denver so what makes you think that they will automatically beat them this time around? Again, clueless.

    • Gamere

      Because history has shown it's virtually impossible to beat a team twice in the same season, with the exception of the numerous times it happens ever freakin year.

  • Lou From Accounting

    Are you sure Felger didn't say Racer X? Sneaky and dastardly in his own right.

    • bostonsportsmediafan

      Go Speed Racer! Go Speed Racer!

  • Angry Old Bastard

    " Kirk Minihane says we still have no answers about this team."….

    I just love when a mediot takes this stance, JUST WHEN do we get 'answers" about a team?…did we have "answers" about the 2007 Pats when they were 14-0?….16-0?…18-0?…did the "answer" change when they lost to Giants and ended up 18-1?…..points is, " we still have no answers about this team.". is a bunch of sport media gobbledygook

  • JohnnyApps

    Felger said today on the radio (around 530pm) that he thinks the AFC field is weak this year and that he expects to see the Patriots in the superbowl. So… enough of this 'contrarian' crap. He's not a total negative or a stir the pot guy. Mazz maybe but not Felger. I agree with him. The field is weaker this year and and the Pats are due for a superbowl appearance. Pitt isn't as good. The Jets aren't as good. Who knows with Balt. I wouldn't be surprised at all if the Pats, despite their D, ends up in the superbowl. Going up against GB or NO would another matter… but they are due. Since 2003 only NE, Indy and PItt have won the AFC.

  • Steve

    Bruce, normally love your analysis. Don't know if you are simply tired of Felger, but seems like you are disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing with him lately. His point is perfectly valid in this case. The Patriots now SHOULD be the favorite to win the AFC, but Patriots fans SHOULDN'T enter any game against anyone in the playoffs with a great deal of confidence. To think otherwise is to be naive and a blind homer. The fact is that the media holds the Patriots to an obscenely high standard, and they should. If Belichick and Brady are as infallible as the average Pats fan seems to think, why haven't they won a playoff game in about 1400 days? Why is it not fair to question if their standing as AFC's top dog is legit? I couldn't agree more with Mike's take on the Pats and I fail to see any flaws in his logic.

  • Jackson

    “He’s not a total negative or a stir the pot guy” – You’re right, 99% of the time is technically not “total.” 99% of the time he’s a contrarian, just not a “total” one. You’ve gotta do better than that.

    • JohnnyApps

      Ya okay. You don't have to think Felger's a contrarian just because everyone else says he is. You should listen to the show and decide for yourself. He said yesterday that even though the Pats defense isn't great, he thinks the Pats will be in the superbowl. How is that being contrarian or a negative? People get things in their head and they can't get over it. Maybe he used to be that way but I don't think he's that way any more. Mazz is terrible on several levels but Felger's good.

    • Frank

      Plus I think he's starting to ease off the contraian bit because Mazz is so over the top with his SUCKS routine.

  • bostonsportsmediafan

    Day 3: Dale Arnold, Bob Ryan, Meter and an interview from the Celtics ownership. Very pleasant and they interacted with fans via text during the interview. Similar interaction with callers where even if they were not informed (hockey point on drafting Seguin), Dale shared information and kept the caller on for more than 30 seconds and wasn’t screaming at them or berating.

    On the Celtics ownership interview: they did a great interview and asked some “sharp” questions (like about officiating and the Paul trade) where Stern could/would fine if they answered “wrong”. Respectful overall and conducted well.

    Link to the interview: http://t.co/AkPhzsye

    Hate to keep harping this but I’d love to see some ratings with these two when it’s not a holiday period.

  • Mark C

    I didn't want to do it but I had to turn off Mike(Skip Bayless) Felger and Tony(i got beat up so bad as a kid)Massarotti so I could listen to the Pandora Christmas channel.

    I even went against a vow and turned on the Big Blowhard Show on EEI. Luckily they had Belichick on.

    I can see the Patriots flaws and I expound on them every Sunday(or Monday) when they're playing but I can acknowledge that a lot of teams have flaws. Do I think they have less flaws and therefore can make it to February? I can't honestly say for sure but I'm going to enjoy the ride. These guys couldn't see the forest through the trees. They're just hanging out waiting to say their favorite saying: "I TOLD YOU SO"

    Massaroti is really pathetic especially when he makes fun of the locals(of which he is one) and Felger is a spoiled brat who says he's from Wisconsin but alas grew up in the poor enclave of Boca Raton, Florida. Poor little rich boy.

    Felger is playing his cards right as Comcast soon becomes a major sports network that will(hopefully) compete with ESPN. He is gunning for the national show in the Skip Bayless role. The Sports Hub afternoon show is so contrived I can no longer listen.

    Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Holidays to everyone

    • 02062

      "will(hopefully) compete with ESPN."

      Based on the crap they put on the air locally, it won't last long.

      Haven't they already done that with that NBC Sportsdesk show on Versus?

  • Chris

    bbopes,

    You're clueless because:

    You WROTE the Jets would ABSOLUTELY beat the Texans and the Broncos if they played them. Even though the Jets already lost to the Broncos. You didnt write that they might win, could win, etc. ABSOLUTELY WOULD WIN.

    You WROTE that "we all knows its impossible to beat the same team 3 times in one season". The facts are that 65% of the time the team who won the first 2 times wins the 3rd time. So its far from IMPOSSIBLE as you wrote.

    You WROTE that the Pats running game scares you. Even though they rushed for 140 yards last week, you want them to run more and take the ball out of the hands of one of the best QB's of all time. Do you think Packers fans are worried about their team not running more? Last I checked the Pats are averaging 107 yds per game rushing. The Packers 99. Though they dont have a lot of shoe peeing fans running around like chickens with their heads cut off whining about everything under the sun while having one of the best teams in the league.

    You make real fans look completely bad. Please go and root for another team. You're nothing but a pink hat fan who came aboard around 2004 and feels like YOUR TEAM should win the Superbowl every year or else the season is a waste.

    I'm not sensitive at all. I just cant stand STUPID PEOPLE who write things as fact when stats prove otherwise. It just makes them (you) look idiotic. Do some research next time before you sit down and try to share your deep and dark concerns with the masses. We would all appreciate it.

    • bbopes

      Before you start calling out STUPID PEOPLE, do some 4th grade research yourself and learn how to use the word "root."

      Lesson learned that all followers here are the arbiters of "real" fans and what that entails.

      • Chris

        My point stands. I used facts to prove everything you said was wrong and make you look stupid. You used a spellchecker to try and get your point across. Not one thing you've written can be backed up by anything other than your shoe peeing fragile feelings about the team that wins a whole lot more than it loses. As I said, go ROOT for someone else and try enjoying a season when the team wins 6 games a season and leave ROOTING for the Pats to us fans who have been watching them since the early 70's when they were truly horrible. You entitled whining douchebags all feel like you deserve something because you watch the team every week. You could have a great future in the Boston media. You sound just like them.

      • Scott Benson

        That (your persecution complex) is some pretty weak sauce, pal. Its the last vestige of a scoundrel, and has been used here by people a lot brighter than you. You make all sorts of wild assertions that are in no way grounded in reality or logic (I enjoyed your blog post that alternately praised Gronkowski and Hernandez while complaining that Brady doesn't get enough blame for not developing young receivers), then cry foul when confronted with your own absurdities. Speaking of absurdities, I like the blog post that claimed the Jets are the only team that has shown they can consistently shut down the Pats offense, after the Pats averaged 33.5 per game against them in 2011. But you don't care about stats, do you?

        That much is flipping obvious.

    • Winning_

      He doesn't make real fans look bad because he isn't one. His ideas are not based on fact or trends but more wild ideas and "gut feelings" Stats get thrown to the wind.

      Gresh actually touched on this point yesterday which surprised me. At what point did "we" fans become spoiled. When did Division titles become completely meaningless? Now to me these small milestones should be recognized, as we have forgotten how hard it is to win a Division title in Football. It's not realistic to expect a Superbowl victory everyone season. Theres too much parody. We can hope that the Pats win. BBopes summarizes this "person" Gresh refers too.

  • Scott Benson

    safe to say bbopes has gone to get his shinebox?