5 reasons the Patriots will win, for the Patriots optimists
Cassel To Moss Is Inevitable
Matt Cassel hasn't had many opportunities to throw the ball deep downfield, and when he has he's connected with Randy Moss. In the Patriots first game against the Chiefs, Cassel had enough time to throw and looked to Moss. From his own two, Csasel stood in the pocket to throw deep to Moss in single coverage for a 51-yard hookup. Moss caught 6 passes that day and has only connected with Cassel six times since. The 49ers will try to cover Moss with two men, taking away Moss deep, but the Patriots will force San Francisco out of the coverage by picking apart the defense underneath. A healthy running game with Laurence Manorey will also help.
Patriots Front Seven Due
The Patriots have just six sacks on the year, but that is about to change. The 49ers have given up 19 sacks on the year (nearly 5 per game). The Patriots have two options to derail the 49ers big play offense, blitz or play coverage. Teams that blitz can get burned, but that's because they sell out against the pass. The Patriots have yet to bring the heat from their front seven on a consistent basis. That should change Sunday when you can expect more 4-man fronts with either Mike Vrabel or Adalius Thomas manning the fourth defensive lineman spot. The Patriots use the lineup to bring pressure when they want to force the play - one only has to look at Byron Leftwich in Jacksonville to see how well it worked.
Pats Will Get Ground Game Going
If the Patriots are to throw the deep ball, they must get the ground game going. After seeing how poorly the line was able to open holes against the Dolphins - who used 9 men in the box - offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has more reason to adjust his alignments. That should help the team find ways to disguise obvious runs so opponents cannot key on the Patriots personnel to ferret out the play. The 49ers have the 22nd ranked defense overall and 21st against the run yielding 124 yards per game. The Patriots have averaged just over 100 yards per game, with Maroney missing week three against the Dolphins.
49ers Will Give The Ball Away
J.T. O'Sullivan may be leading a top 12 offense, but his penchant to put his team in a bad situation could, and will benefit the Patriots. New England has used turnovers to score points to keep themselves in games. With O'Sullivan, it's typically boom or bust. The 49er shave the ability to make the big play, but the Patriots will be looking for that. Although New England has just a -2 turnover differential, part of that is because Matt Cassel was forcing the issue in week three giving the ball away twice. New England is more about controlled football than the 49ers and it will show up again this week.
Special Teams Are Special
Blame the offense of blame the defense for New England, but don't blame the special teams. The punt and kickoff units have lived up to their billing as one of the better units in the NFL. Ellis Hobbs' 36-yard average leads the NFL on kickoffs and the team is second best overall with a 30.9 average. New England ranks sixth in punt returns. The coverage unit on kickoffs is also on their game limiting opponents to starting their drives from the 22 yard line.
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