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Patriots Replay Tue Sep 29 | 12:00 AM - 11:55 AM

Ask PFW: On to the Super Bowl

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When does the NFL schedule come out?*
*Jordan Geddes

Though New England's opponents for 2015 have already been finalized – and can be found here – the times and dates for those games won't be announced until this spring, generally in the middle of April at some point.
Andy Hart

Can people watch Patriots practice in AZ week before Super Bowl?
Andrea Orozco

No. The general media is not allowed to attend Super Bowl practices, either. The only person allowed to view the sessions is a pool reporter. That reporter will put out a pool report from each of the Patriots practice sessions. Another pool reporter will do the same for the Seahawks.
Andy Hart

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Do you think it helps the Seahawks a bit to be playing at a very familiar stadium in Arizona and wearing the host-team jerseys in addition to not dealing with deflated balls hysteria Pats were inundated with?*
*Stan C.

Of the three things you mentioned, I think the so-called Deflate-gate might be the biggest of the issues. Sure the Seahawks have played in University of Phoenix Stadium each season against the Cardinals. But I think that's a very minimal advantage, if at all. I don't think the jersey colors will matter at all, other than for personal preference, superstition or fans' viewing pleasure. But the week of crazy media storm surrounding Deflate-gate was certainly something Seattle didn't have to deal with. The Patriots – especially Bill Belichick and Tom Brady – had their name dragged through the mud. There were extra press conferences and extra questions. If any team can deal with such a potential distraction and actually turn it into a motivational positive, it's New England. But we'll have to let Super Bowl week play out and see how the game unfolds before we can really try to grasp how the controversy may have affected the team.
Andy Hart

What color uniform are the Patriots wearing for Super Bowl 2015?
Henry Basile

As technically the visiting team for Super Bowl XLIX the Patriots will be wearing their white road jerseys for the game.
Andy Hart

I saw where Chris Canty has inferred that the use of deflated footballs was the equivalent of using PEDs. How could he make that statement? The footballs can be tested to see if they comply. Yet the testing of HGH has still not come about. Isn't that a double standard? If the players like Canty think cheating should be taken out of the game, then why are the players resisting having the testing for HGH being delayed? Could it be that they know some are cheating?
Stephen Libby

The NFL and the NFL Players Association agreed to and initiated HGH testing in the league earlier this season.
Andy Hart

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What is your most favorite moment that you had playing in a game?*
*Rene Kinney

Has to be my 63-yard touchdown run during my sophomore year in the second half of a blowout loss at New Bedford. It was garbage time, but that run against a powerful opponent was pretty fun for a young ball carrier. Nothing like a little time reliving the glory days. Thanks for asking.
Andy Hart

With the many thoughts running through the fans of the Patriots, what is your motivation leading up to the game and is the team going out with a pure mindset and being fired up to beat the Seahawks?
Mark Willoughby

I think Belichick and the Patriots are masters of minimizing distractions and turning them into motivation. My expectation is that under the direction of Belichick and Brady, New England will weather this media storm and come out the other side a unified front looking to do some serious damage on the Seahawks. Remember how the Patriots turned Spygate into a series of blowouts early in the 2007 16-0 regular season? Well, now squeeze all that emotion into one, 60-minute football game with all the world watching. The "us against the world" mentality should be in full effect Sunday night in Arizona. That usually works out pretty well for the Patriots.
Andy Hart

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There are two very serious concerns I have about this situation, and I believe it will cost the Pats the SB: First, Belichick was complaining today that he is spending too much time on this deflation business, which means he's not putting enough time into beating Seattle. And secondly, I can't see the NFL allowing the Pats a victory with the possibility that the SB winner might then be revealed to have broken the rules being the commentary all offseason. I believe the Refs will be making questionable PI and holding calls all night against the Pats, and overlooking them on Seattle. Do you disagree?*
*J.P. Galasso

I disagree completely. At issue is the integrity of the game and the NFL simply cannot compound things through the actions you are suggesting. The ball deflation controversy will play itself out in due time, after the Super Bowl. Regardless of how that unfolds, a controversy of the league trying to fix a game would be infinitely worse. No way that will happen. While there may be questionable calls – as there are every week in every game in the league – I don't think there will be any bias against the Patriots. As for the time lost to the deflation issues this week, while it is certainly unfortunate it's not something Belichick and his staff won't be able to overcome. Belichick downplayed that idea/excuse in his Saturday press conference. Even at that point there remained more than a full week to get ready for Seattle. I expect New England to be totally prepared by Sunday night.
Andy Hart

I hope Bill doesn't try the contain game because we don't seem to be very good at it. I feel like if we blitz and shoot the gaps we will have a lot more success. Our big guys up front don't have the athleticism to keep up with Russell [Wilson]. I really don't want to see us try the 3-4 again either. What about using Ayers as a linebacker in 4-3 as QB spy? Thanks.
Ben C.

There will be a lot of pressure on the Patriots front seven (or six, depending on the sub look) in this matchup. That includes dealing with the power running game of Marshawn Lynch, the option that Wilson runs so well and the ability that Wilson has to run in the passing game. Sorry, but I think there was to be some contain rushing up front and the team has to be careful in the use of extra rushers. Wilson has an innate ability to find space and know where everyone else is on the field at all times. Too much focus on the inside will give him a chance to get outside. I am worried about Chandler Jones getting sucked down inside on the read option plays. I'm not as concerned about Rob Ninkovich on the other end. This is certainly going to be a big game for those guys as well as for linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower. I think you'll see a lot of four-man fronts to get big bodies in the middle to deal with Lynch's power game. The rush must be faithful to its lanes. It won't be an easy job. The Patriots aren't an overly attacking, aggressive defense by nature and I'm not sure you want to break out that plan in the Super Bowl. The pass defense has been very good most of the season. That group should be able to do its job without much help, assuming the front doesn't let Lynch (and Wilson) run crazy.
Andy Hart

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I'm guessing the defensive plan will be to nullify Marshawn Lynch as much as possible and force Russell Wilson to beat us with downfield throws. As such, I see removing the option (whether to hand off or not) and using one linebacker (Jamie Collins ) to 'spy' Wilson/drop into coverage and another (Hightower) to support the big guys up front in run plays, whilst another linebacker (Akeem Ayers) creates a five-man rush (similar to the strategy in Super Bowl XXXIX) to keep Wilson in the pocket and unsettled. I know the Seahawks have decent receivers, but they aren't good enough to beat our normal, 'base' secondary. Do you see that working?*
*David Beckett

Hey guys, I'm really excited to see us back in the Super Bowl and I think all this deflate-gate talk is BS! Anyway I think we look great on offense and our defense looks better than it has in years. I really think our best shot to beat Seattle is to control Lynch and make Russell Wilson try and beat us with his arm? Kinda like the Packers played them until they blew it in the end! Our corners are good and should be able to cover their receivers. Please let me know what you think? GO PATS!
Todd Patton

Each of these plans begins with the idea of controlling or nullifying Lynch on the ground. There is no doubt that is the first key to any game plan against Seattle. But it's not as easy as simply saying it and having it be so. The execution up front from the defensive tackles, defensive ends and linebackers has to be stellar. Getting multiple guys to the ball and tackling well will be stressed. The New England run defense was impressive for most of the second half of the season. But it was a little suspect against the Ravens in the first playoff matchup. That can't be the case against Lynch, Wilson and the rest this time around or Super Bowl night could turn into a nightmare. I think fans are correct in being confident that the Patriots pass defense can deal with the Seahawks suspect talent at receiver. Wilson is a wild card, as he can buy time and make big plays down the field after things breakdown. But I agree that everything the Patriots want to do on defense will start with trying to slow down Lynch.
Andy Hart

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If the New England Patriots win the Super Bowl do you think Tom Brady will retire?*
*Charles Fuller Jr.

No, I do not. At the age of 37, Brady is still going strong. He's personally playing at Pro Bowl/All-Pro level. He has a team that is on the brink of bringing home another Lombardi Trophy and should be in the running once again next year. Brady has talked about want to play into his 40s and does everything in his power to ensure he has the chance to do that. Anything is possible, but I don't think No. 12 is ready to walk away whether the Patriots win Super Bowl XLIX or not.
Andy Hart

IMO the media will have the players mentally drained for the Super Bowl because of the controversy. I don't think you will see New England's 100% best effort because of this which will sadly take away from the game. Patriots haters will say that's their punishment but who really wants to see a Super Bowl if you are not going to get 100% from both teams. I don't think the Pats can win this game if they are not completely mentally as well as physically ready. Please tell me I am way off here??
Mike Schriver

I can't tell you that you're way off, because no one can know for sure. But I don't think you are going to find the Patriots a tired, ill-prepared team by Sunday night. I think Belichick did a nice job last Saturday nipping the deflate-gate talk in the bud before it turned into an even bigger blooming controversy that might overtake Super Bowl week. I expect the Patriots to be focused, motivated and ready for the Seahawks on Sunday.
Andy Hart

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First off I would like to start by saying thank you to Larry McCourty, Devin's older brother, who serves in the Army. As a Veteran I appreciate his service and the sacrifices of him, his brothers and his mother! That being said the Patriots need to lock up Devin long term. Without him patrolling the deep end of the field we wouldn't be able to play the defense that has led us to this Super Bowl! Revis is priority 1A but Devin is 1B. Your thoughts on where re-signing him or extending him rank in the offseason?*
*Shane Taylor

I do think that McCourty will be one of the team's priorities this offseason. You are right that it all starts with Revis and everything falls into place after that. I think McCourty has benefited greatly from playing with Revis, and to a lesser degree Browner. It's allowed him to settle into the deep safety role and the Patriots have benefited. My general belief is that McCourty would like to remain in New England and that the Patriots would like to keep him. But it will come down to money, as it so often does. Top safety contracts can range north of $40 million and McCourty likely sees himself in that range. Hard to say whether the Patriots would be willing to go as far as what it might take to get a long term deal. There is also the pretty decent chance that the team could slap the franchise tag on the former first-round pick to keep him for a year at a relatively reasonable number. That would keep him in town and give the sides longer to try to work out a longer agreement moving forward.
Andy Hart

It was nice to see Joe Vellano back on the field for the AFC Championship (yes, I am related, albeit pretty distantly - my father and Joe's grandfather were cousins). Do you think coach Belichick will keep him on the roster for the Super Bowl?
Ralph Colucci

Vellano's promotion was at least in part due to Chris Jones missing the title game with an elbow injury. Jones seems poised to return to action for the Super Bowl. That said, Vellano will likely stay on the roster unless there is the need for a guy from another position to be signed from the practice squad. As of right now, though, it seems the man they call Meatball might finish out a Super Bowl season on the active roster. Well deserved.
Andy Hart

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I have been very impressed with Jamie Collins. Belichick has alluded to him have Lawrence Taylor ability. What is the upside if he really puts it all together? Can we finally put to bed the comments that we got the raw end of the Cordarelle Patterson trade?*
*Mike McWherter

I don't think Belichick intended to compare Collins to LT, just more so that the two players have pretty unique skill sets and versatility. That said, Collins does appear to be on the verge of becoming a superstar. He can pretty much do it all for a defense. That includes rushing, playing the run, covering and roaming all over the field thanks to his speed, athleticism and length. Collins is a unique talent and a Belichick dream player given his ability to do so many jobs well. I don't think there is a single Patriots fan who would swap Collins for Patterson at this point. Not one. Certainly no one in the New England organization would do it.
Andy Hart

The Pats have five RBs between Bolden, White, Gray, Blount and Vereen. Who & how many backs will they keep active for the Super Bowl? (I believe White was signed to the practice squad last week, is he still?) Why does it seem that over the last few games we have seen less & less of Tim Wright? He was productive this year when we needed him.
John Pierce

I would guess the Patriots would have four of the running backs you mentioned – Blount, Gray, Vereen and Bolden – active for the Super Bowl. That's the way it's been of late. The rookie White remains on the active roster, but has been a healthy scratch for nearly the entire season. I think the Patriots might try to run at the Seahawks imposing run defense – something the Packers did with some success in the NFC Championship. LeGarrette Blount would be the most obvious choice given his success against the Colts and being of similar style to Green Bay's Eddie Lacy, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Gray get some chances to hit the hole with his quick, powerful style. Vereen is key figure in the passing game and Bolden is a special teams cog with backup duties in the backfield. Wright has had his ups and downs in terms of playing time all season. He's a nice complementary weapon in certain situations and has made the most of the bulk of his chances. But with the core of the offense healthy for the Super Bowl – Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell – Wright will remain as an extra option more than a key, consistent target.
Andy Hart

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