FIRST QUARTER: What to like about last week’s overtime loss to the J-E-T-S (Really, we’re asking this question??)

Todd: U-G-H. There was little to like from the Pats after halftime, but the first half wasn’t so bad in terms of the scoreboard (21-10). Then again, there were signs at that point the game might turn in the second half. The Pats were already being out-possessed two-to-one in terms of time on the clock and they were 0-for-4 converting third downs. The running game averaged 4.7 yards a carry but only ran the ball ten times, and Brady completed 11 passes but for only 102 yards. Turned out all those numbers accurately foreshadowed a second half demise.

The Jones boys played well, with linemen Chandler and Chris each picking up a pair of sacks and totaling 21 combined tackles. While I was not surprised to see the former put up those numbers, I didn’t even know who the latter was until they called his number in overtime for pushing into the back of backup o-lineman Will Svitek on that Jets’ field goal attempt.

Another sure sign of a Pats loss is when I bring up Ryan Allen’s name as part of what I liked. He averaged an impressive 50.5 yards on his eight punts. But if he’s punting that often then the offense is having a rough day, which we’ll discuss further in my dislikes.

Mike: There was nothing to like. Let's move ahead.

SECOND QUARTER: What not to like (which is A LOT)

Todd: While I didn’t like that pushing penalty being called for the first time ever in overtime with the game on the line, that wasn’t where the Pats lost this game. Well I guess it was, but had the Patriots not allowed the Jets to possess the ball for 46 minutes (to 23 for NE) and or had the offense not been 1-for-12 on third down (now 2-for-24 in their two losses on third down) and had Brady not thrown that pick-six early in the third quarter that turned out to be the beginning of the end for the offense and for any chance at victory, it would have never come down an overtime field goal attempt by the Jets. The Pats’ offense consisted of two field goals after halftime, with one of those coming in the final seconds of regulation just to force the OT.

Back to that offense for a moment—it was great seeing the return of Rob Gronkowski, but not at the expense of the rest of the offensive unit. Seventeen targets? Did Brady forget about all the receivers he threw to in the game-winning drive against the Saints? Touchdown hero Thompkins only received five targets against the Jets?  Surprising.

The offense had all sorts of issues in this one.  On the first series of the game, they scored a touchdown in a drive that lasted 3:45, their longest drive in both yards (80) and time the entire game. By the third quarter they hit rock bottom when they had the ball for just under five-and-a-half minutes, ran 11 plays for a total of -5 yards and had zero first downs.  For some perspective, the Geno Smith and the Jets converted 11-of-21 third down opportunities and held the ball for 8 minutes and 48 seconds on what proved to be their final game-winning drive in overtime.

Here’s something else I didn’t like and don’t like in general—the Ryan brothers. I can only imagine the agita these guys cause Bill Belichick on an annual basis. Because even after a game where Bill and the Pats get the better of Rob’s defense of the Saints, you can bet ol’ Rob was on the phone that night telling brother Rex to watch out for the Pats’ special teams defending field goals.

And finally, for the third time this year Brady completed less than fifty percent of his passes, the first time in his career it has happened three times in a season. Brady has also been sacked a concerning twenty times in seven games (four times by the Jets last week).  Should we be concerned?  Perhaps, I guess I at least wanted to point it out.

Mike: First and foremost, the main thing not to like was the fact that the Pats even had to go to OT with the Jets. This is a team that they should have taken care of easily, coming into the game riding high after a huge win. But instead, they played flat all game, and it did seem like Brady was doing his best to get Gronk back into the swing of things, which is fine, but not at the expense of virtually ignoring his other receivers.

The offense just seemed out of synch to me all game. Brady, who had been looking better when connecting with his receivers, went back to looking frustrated on the field, and that's a bad sign.

THIRD QUARTER: Patriots-Dolphins preview

Todd: The Dolphins have have had their problems over the last three weeks, but they’re still dangerous with playmakers like Mike Wallace and Cameron Wake healthy. Meanwhile, the Pats still need to make adjustments on both sides of the ball, especially if Talib misses another week on the defensive side. Will the return of Andre Carter after a two-year absence (10 sacks in 2011) provide any help? Offensively, watch the Fins try to exploit the Pats’ defensive holes as the Jets did by running up the middle and Ryan Tannehill isolates Wallace deep down the field.  I doubt anything will come easy, but history tells us the Pats rarely lose back-to-back games.  Patriots 23, Dolphins 19.

Mike: I'm with Todd on this one, as bad as the Patriots looked last week, they don't lose two in a row often. Even though Miami is tougher than they have been in recent years, I say they pull it out. Patriots 17, Miami 14.

FOURTH QUARTER: Other games we like this week

Todd (2-1 last week, 9-9 season): Finally Mike hit a speed bump and lost his first two games in a month, giving me a tiny bit of belief I can still catch him over the second half of the season. But had I shown any marbles I would have boldly predicted the Colts were going to knock off the Broncos from the ranks of the unbeaten (a pick I wound up making in a recreational pool but not here). Instead I tried using the logic of the jungle (Lions > Bengals) and wound up like George trying to watch out for that tree (if you don’t get that joke, your parents will).

Speaking of less-than-great jokes, am I allowed to keep using the ‘great googly moogly’ line as long as the Kansas City Chiefs remain undefeated? Seriously, can anyone explain how the 7-0 Chiefs are the last team standing in the way of Mercury Morris popping another champagne bottle? Wasn’t this was the same team that last year won two games and had the first pick in the draft? Then they hired Andy Reid and brought in Alex Smith to play QB because those two have such a championship-winning pedigree…wait, what? Great googly moogly!!

Looks like those charmed Chiefs will beat the Browns at home this week, and for my other picks I’m taking the Saints over the Bills and the Broncos over the Redskins.

Mike (1-2 last week, 13-5 season): OK, so I had a down week, but I'm still in front!

I'll take Pittsburgh over the Raiders, Green Bay over Minnesota and the Seahawks over the Rams.

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