Baker’s Perfect Entrance in Browns Win – Week 3 Preview and Predictions

Another crazy NFL week has past and now we are onto week 3 with number one draft pick, Baker Mayfield, finally entered the affray of the NFL, as he overturned a 14-0 deficit against the New York Jets last Thursday night, whilst giving Cleveland it’s first win after 635 days. Meanwhile troubled former Cleveland Brown’s wide receiver Josh Gordon was traded to the New England Patriots.

Baker’s Perfect Entrance

Baker Mayfield did not flinch when called upon to replace the injured starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor last in the second quarter. Whilst the offence really struggled with Taylor, the entrance of Mayfield provided a massive boost as the offence seemed to click, this is very much surprising considering Mayfield has had very limited if even any reps with the starters in practice.

The number one draft pick of 2018, completed 17 of his 23 passes for 201 yards as he helped Cleveland outscore the Jets 18-3 after his introduction. Cleveland had not won in 635 days so it was the perfect arrival for the Texas native and former Heisman Trophy winner.

It was an impressive win however the opportunity was perfect due to the number 3 pick Sam Darnold struggling for the New York Jets and the Browns having a collectively better defence, running back and wide receiver. So credit must be given to Baker as with Taylor I don’t think this would have happened but the Jets were the perfect opponent.

Browns head coach Hue Jackson said that he will ‘look at the tape’ to decide who will be his starting quarterback for the week 4 match up against the Oakland Raiders.

 

Can the Patriots help put Gordon’s career back on track?

Gordon who has only appeared 11 times in 4 seasons due to various drug and outside of the sport issues, was given plenty of last chances by the Cleveland Browns off the back of his break-out 2013 season whereby he went to the pro bowl with his statistics for the season being – 87 receptions for a league high 1,646 yards and 9 touchdowns.

Gordon’s issues include violating the NFL substance-abuse policy many times causing many suspensions and a driving under the influence charge. Gordon had applied to be reinstated to the league in 2015 and 2016 but both were denied due to failing a drugs test.

If anything for sure is that the Patriots, led by the great Bill Belichick, will not hesitate on getting rid of Gordon if he continues to cause harm to himself and the team. However the upside of Gordon could be monumental as he has the nickname ‘Flash’ for a reason. It’s certainly been the storyline of the week and Patriots QB Tom Brady has come out and said that he does not want to set expectations for the Texas native.

Gordon will need to be like the flash in adapting to the New England offensive playbook whereby many players have struggled with its complexities which are driven on its schemes and quick tempo. New England do not have a ‘number one’ wide receiver and Gordon would be the closest thing to replacing the loss of Brandin Cooks who was traded to the Los Angeles Rams in the recent off-season.

Gordon’s arrival in Boston has attracted some comparisons to Hall of Fame and former Patriot wide receiver Randy Moss due to his ‘persona’ and ‘issues’. However I do not see the close comparison and just that they are both extremely talented. Moss went onto be all time great and although he was not the easiest to get along and did have some issues off the pitch it was not to Gordon’s lengths. Gordon has shown many times at relapse and for the sake of himself I hope he at least gets better even if that means he does not return to the field. However as a Patriots fan, I hope he can contribute greatly and if anyone is to get the best out of him it will be Tom Brady. Fingers crossed.

Predictions

Week 1 – (9-6-1)

Week 2 – (10-5-1)

Overall – (19-11-2) 59.4% Correct

Last Thursday

New York Jets 17-21 Cleveland Browns

Sunday

NO Saints @ Atlanta Falcons

San Francisco 49ers @ Kansas City Chiefs

Oakland Raiders @ Miami Dolphins

Buffalo Bills @ Minnesota Vikings

Indianapolis Colts @ Philadelphia Eagles

Green Bay Packers @ Washington Redskins

Cincinnati Bengals @ Carolina Panthers

Tennessee Titans @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Denver Broncos @ Baltimore Ravens

New York Giants @ Houston Texans

Los Angeles Chargers @ Los Angeles Rams

Chicago Bears @ Arizona Cardinals

Dallas Cowboys @ Seattle Seahawks

New England Patriots @ Detroit Lions

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

AFC Championship Rematch – Week 2 Preview and Predictions

After game week one my predictions were mixed so I will be hoping to have a better set of predictions this week.

Week 2 throw’s up some top tier match-ups which include New England travelling to Jacksonville which will attract lots of attention to due it being a rematch of the AFC Conference match last season, whereby the Patriots came from behind in the 4th quester to win 24-20 and head off to the Superbowl. Both teams recorded wins and will aim to go 2-0 at the TIAA Bank Field.

A key match up will be Jacksonville’s cornerback Jalon Ramsey who, as I mentioned in my last post, has been voicing his opinion and said that the patriots tight end Robert Gronkowski who will be a first ballot hall of fame candidate has really bad games when put up against cornerbacks. So it will be interesting to see who lines up across from Gronkwoski and if Jacksonville will double team him as teams usually do and I think if Brady can use Gronkowski in motion (moving him before the play starts), Brady can assess the defence as he dictates the play behind the line of scrimmage.

Jacksonville maybe without first round draft choice running back Leonard Fournette who limped out of week 1’s opener against the New York Giants. The jaguars are primarily a run first team so losing their key piece would be a blow. Against a New England defence which already looks steps above last season’s and as they seem to have much more depth and the return of outside linebacker Dont’a Hightower is a big bonus as he missed the back end of last season and he was a key defensive cog which really hurt New England. Either way, both sides of the turf it will be an interesting game to watch. Like the last game, even if the Jaguars get a lead I expect Brady to work out the very good Jaguars defence in a one score game and 4th quarter comeback.

Predictions

Week 1 (9-6-1)

Week 2 (Prediction in Bold)

Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons

LA Chargers @ Buffalo Bills

Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers

Cleveland Browns @ NO Saints

Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets

Kansas City Chiefs @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Philadelphia Eagles @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans

Indianapolis Colts @ Washington Redskins

Arizona Cardinals @ LA Rams

Detroit Lions @ San Fran 49ers

Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos

New England Patriots @ Jacksonville Jaguars

New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys

Seattle Seahawks @ Chicago Bears

Last Thursday

Baltimore Ravens 23-34 Cincinnati Bengals

This Thursday

New York Jets @ Cleveland Browns

NFL Sunday’s are back! – Week 1 Preview and Predictions

NFL Sunday’s are back as we get to see a majority of the new look teams in action for week 1.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs New York Giants

Odell Beckham Jr, returns from injury and big new contract alongside number 2 draft pick Saquon Barkley for the New York Giants against the Jacksonville Jaguars led in part by the very vocal Jalen Ramsey who has had his fair share of comments about OBJ and his quarterback Eli Manning. Ramsey a former top 5 pick, labelled the New York Giants receiver a premier player, and he was nowhere near as boastful as he was in an ESPN story by Mina Kimes or the piece in GQ magazine in which he was critical of numerous NFL quarterbacks, including saying Beckham is the reason for Giants quarterback Eli Manning’s success.

Ramsey also went on to say that

“Football is a team game. Eleven guys out there for us, 11 guys out there for them. We going to have to come together and do what we gotta do to try and get a win. I’m going to try and do my part…. It’s 11 versus 11. It’s not me vs. him all game. I’ll be on him a fair amount; I’m sure other guys will be on him too.”

Odell vs Ramsey has been a headline but I believe that Jacksonville have a better cornerback in A.J Bouye who I think will take most of the snaps across from OBJ, but nevertheless I am sure Ramsey will be talking his usual trash from the Jacksonville secondary. Barkley’s impact will be one to watch for as he is an explosive running back but against a top Jaguars defence it will be tough for him, I expect the Jaguars to edge this encounter.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cleveland Browns

The new look Cleveland Browns who will start Tyrod Taylor at quarterback instead of number one pick Baker Mayfield who continues his NFL education, will play division rival the Pittsburgh Steelers.. Cleveland seem to have wiped there slate clean after an awful few years and will look to write a different story this season.

The Steelers have had their fair share of woes this offseason with the drama of star running back Le’Veon Bell’s dramatic holdout situation. Bell has been holding out from the preseason and training camp, refusing to report for the $14.5 million franchise tag after he and the Steelers in July failed to agree on a new contract. Bell is looking for a deal that pays him as the best running back and doesn’t want to play on one he feels is below market for his skills. Bell looks likely to lose $852,000 for every week he misses, but by holiday out could easily make that back and much more in a major deal next offseason and due to missing game weeks he is preserving his body and keeping his touch count low, therefore meaning that he could extend his career and achieve a large contract which for running backs in their later years is rare.

Even without the great Le’Veon Bell Pittsburgh who have won their last 6 games against their division rival should prevail, with offensive talent of Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger.

 

My Predictions (in bold) for Week 1

Thursday

Atlanta Falcons @ Philadelphia Eagles – Lost

Sunday

Buffalo Bills @ Baltimore Ravens

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns

Cincinnati Bengals @ Indianapolis Colts

Tennessee Titans @ Miami Dolphins

San Francisco 49ers @ Minnesota Vikings

Houston Texans @ New England Patriots

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orlean Saints

Jacksonville Jaguars @ New York Giants

Kansas City Chiefs @ Los Angeles Chargers

Washington Redskins @ Arizona Cardinals

Dallas Cowboys @ Carolina Panthers

Seattle Seahawks @ Denver Broncos

Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers

New York Jets @ Detroit Lions

Monday

Los Angeles Rams @ Oakland Raiders

I am planning to aim to preview the midweek game and then two games for the weekend, including my predictions. Thanks for reading!

NFL Returns – Philadelphia Eagles vs Atlanta Falcons Predictions

A new season approaches and after 214 days football is back, with the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Philadelphia Eagles against the explosive Atlanta Falcons in Philadelphia, and this was a play-off match up last year when the Eagles edged the Falcons 15-10 on the same ground.

The Eagles defeated the New England Patriots in Minneapolis on the 4th February earlier this year to capture their first Super Bowl to cap off a 17-2 season led by head coach Doug Peterson, despite losing their franchise quarterback during the regular season.

As mentioned, Philadelphia are without former 2nd overall pick Carson Wentz as he continues his recovery from his ACL injury, sustained in the back end of the 2017 season. Therefore the Eagles will by led by the recent Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, so not too bad. However I was surprised that during the major free agency quarterback shake up that nobody gave the Eagles a tempting offer for the Super Bowl MVP in the past offseason. Foles was incredible in the Super Bowl and will look to stamp his mark on the 2018 season Eagles but will face a tough prospect in the Matt Ryan led Falcons with weapons such as Julio Jones, who in his last 4 games against the Eagles has 100+ reviving yards in each of those games which is a Philadelphia record.

By looking at least seasons statistics we can see that the Foles led Eagles averaged nearly a touchdown less points per game (24.5) to the Wentz led Eagles (31.1). Although the Eagles were the only team last year to have 3 players with 8+ receiving touchdowns. (Jeffery 9, Agholor 8 and Ertz 8)

As first games of the season go this is a great match up and to lead the league into the new season I hope it is an explosive one and I have the Falcons out-gunning the Eagles for an upset road win against the Defending Champions. I think that Julio Jones will stretch the field early to provide Atlanta the time to implement their ground game with Devonta Freeman, who since he entered the league in 2014 have the joint top amount of touchdowns from scrimmage for a running back. (Tied with Mark Ingram)

Prediction – Atlanta to win by at least a TD.

Aiming to get at least a few briefly detailed previews each week and a list of my initial predictions, then hopefully keep score.

Patriots Draft Breakdown – First 3 Picks

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Round 1 – Pick 23 — Isaiah Wynn OT

Pick Grade: A

How I feel about the pick:

I was surprised at the time from this selection, not that I thought it was a bad pick by any means, however I was more so surprised because I never heard any ‘buzz’ about Wynn to the Patriots through the Pre Draft process. So for myself Wynn was a guy I honestly didn’t do a ton of research on before last Thursday, I looked more at the prototypical OT’s like Williams (mentioned that I liked him in a previous post), McGlinchey and Miller, so I didn’t truly know what to think at the time. First of all I know he was a nice value at 23, perfect area for him to go. The only concern I have with Wynn is if he’s able to play Tackle or not at the Pro level, obviously it’s different from the College level. Being 6’2″ isn’t ideal size for an Offensive Tackle, he’s borderline 6’3″. Matt Light was able to have an awesome career at 6’4″ so maybe I’m digging a little deep to view that as an issue, but we’ll see. He has many solid attributes including athleticism, hand usage, footwork and the power, he has a lot of those main traits right now that can lead him to being successful in the NFL, and everywhere I read about him, a lot of NFL personnel men think he has All Pro potential. Once I looked more into Wynn is suddenly felt content and very happy with the selection, I feel there is a lot of potential with this pick! I give this pick an A.

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Future Outlook:

Ideally I’d like to see Wynn become a day one starter at LT, not fully sure that will happen though but there’s certainly a chance. Absolutely though I fully expect him to become a starter eventually, either a Tackle or Guard. I’m very much sure Dante Scarnecchia was involved in the selection of Wynn, they took him over Connor Williams, so there must be lots of confidence in this selection, Dante should do great things with Wynn. I’d also like to point out that there is a possibility he starts at Guard, Shaq Mason has one year remaining on his deal and is going to get a massive deal somewhere, and we all know the Patriots do have a history of not paying players their worth and simply letting them go. I wonder if this mentality will change if Belicheck leaves at the end of the season?

 

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Round 1 – Pick 31 — Sony Michel RB

Pick Grade: B-

How I feel about the Pick:

Typically it’s just one of those positions you don’t get long careers out of, especially even more concerning when looking at Michel’s injury history. Some of the opinions on the pick are okay with him potentially playing just a couple of years here (injury concerns) but I’m not honestly, I want longer than that from a first rounder, so to be clear I am not saying I dislike Michel at all, it is just an interesting position choice considering injuries could limit his impact in New England. The Patriots have a solid back field with the string of Burkhead-White-Gillislee-Hill-Bolden, so I think at least two will need to be cut before the season starts to accommodate the pick of Michel. He’s very explosive and has a chance to become a featured back, probably as to add some more weight/muscle though which would hold him back right now. It may take some years before he’d become that in New England, as White and Burkhead are under contract for 3 more years each. The Patriots rarely have had featured backs anyways so who knows if it’ll ever happen but as I mentioned earlier that maybe the impact of Belicheck’s departure will change how the Patriots operate. Interested to see how this pick works, if they get some Alvin Kamara type plays, this will be a nice selection.

Future Outlook:

Early on in his career I mainly expect Michel to receive some 3rd Down snaps and as he learns the offense to progress up the depth chart and be a key figure in the passing and running game.

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Round 2 – Pick 56 — Duke Dawson CB

Grade – C

How I feel about the Pick:

I wasn’t overly thrilled with at the time, especially considering Isaiah Oliver was available and I would’ve easily taken him over Dawson, but I’ll go with the decisions the professionals make. Most out there had Dawson as a 3rd to maybe 4th Round Projection, so this probably is a slight reach by the Patriots but they really like Dawson, so I can understand them wanting to secure a player they really like, even if it is a reach. Nick Caserio said that they were prepared to take him at 43rd Overall, ended up getting him at 56. He also mentioned that they did a lot of work on Dawson prior to this year, he had considered entering the Draft in years prior so they have done extensive work on him. They met with him twice through the Pre Draft Process, most notably brought him in for a visit. Dawson was regarded as the best slot corner in this Draft, kind of another reason why I understand that they reach on their guy to secure him. I’d like to think that Dawson fits well, he can jam receivers well and that’s something the Patriots could really use in the slot, something to work with. He doesn’t have ideal speed for a Slot guy, but it’s workable, he has good short speed. Patriots find ways to scheme things to make sure he’s not one on one with burners. He’s a tough, gritty character, he’s physical and likes to get involved in the run game. He also played some Outside Corner and a small bit of Safety, could say it adds some emergency depth there. The Patriots draft history are CB hasn’t been great with the pick up of players like Cyrus Jones so hopefully Dawson is not a Cyrus Jones 2.0.

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Future Outlook:

It is going to be interesting to see how the Patriots fit him in to the defence and I am still apprehensive about the pick but hopefully he can replace the inconsistent Malcolm Butler.

To Stick or Twist? – Patriots Draft 2018

To stick or twist?

Entering the final few days before the 2018 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots are in a predicament. They have acquired two 1st round and 2nd round picks to use at their disposal. Below I will discuss the offensive options that the Patriots organisation could aim to draft.

They either could choose to use the picks in their current draft positions (#23, #31, #43. #63) which could be used to fill lots of the current Patriots holes, which include left tackle as they lost veteran LT Nate Solder to the New York Giants during the recent free agency. Furthermore. with last years trading of back up quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco whilst having 40-year-old veteran Tom Brady at the helm, a new back up quarterback is required and maybe they could package the current high picks to trade up and select a top quarterback prospect?

Offensive Line

As previously mentioned the loss of LT Nate Solder is a big one as he is a savvy veteran who has been part of the side for 7 season which includes 4 trips to the Superbowl with 2 victories. The Patriots offensive line is already very battered and beaten and really was an under performing part of the roster last year by allowing QB Brady to be sacked 35 times last season. Brady even though is basically Benjamin Button needs to be protected and losing a vital cog (Solder) to the Patriots offence means that to draft at least one piece to the OL is a big need.

One of the offensive tackle options that the Patriots worked out is Connor Williams from Texas, and according to Ian Rapoport – “What Williams lacks in size, he makes up by being a rare athlete that enters the draft with a sound technique in both his pass protection sets and as a run blocker. A potential first-round selection and day one starter next year, the 20-year old is one of the better offensive tackle prospects in this year’s draft”. This certain is an exciting piece of information and notes considering that he could fall to one of the Patriots top 2 draft picks and would be a day one starter which is key to protecting Brady now.

Quarterback

Now, a very interesting position. It is no secret that the Patriots are in need of a player to step out of Tom Brady’s shadow when he decides to retire (unless he carries on forever – fingers crossed). This draft offers at least 5 QBs who I think will be drafted inside the first round and that includes Darnold, Allen, Rosen, Mayfield and Jackson. Now unless the Patriots effectively go all-in by packaging lots of picks to move up the first 4 names on the list are unlikely, although the Patriots are noted to be fans of Josh Allen’s.

The most probable out of the 5 names listed is former Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson from Louisville. Once again, Ian Rapoport noted him as – “As a duel-threat, Jackson was a prolific player throughout his career and carried the football 232 times in 2017, gaining 1,601 yards and scoring 18 times. While his passing numbers were less impressive – he completed 59.1% of his throws for 3,660 yards, 27 touchdowns and 10 interceptions –, Jackson still got the job done: Playing in an offense similar to New England’s, he displayed a strong arm, an ability to diagnose coverages and a solid understanding of play development”.

Let’s say that the Patriots do want Jackson, how are they going to judge when to grab him? Due to the unpredictable nature of the draft, New England would need do the trade whilst the draft is underway and that safe to say is risky. That surely will not be the Patriots only option and they will – like they always do – make adjustments. I expect offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to have large input into who the Patriots draft considering that is likely for him to be the next head coach of the team. It is difficult to see if the Patriots who are usually more for a team to trade down than trade up will form a package of picks to draft a quarterback. Usually the first round of drafts aren’t really ‘that’ exciting for Patriots, so maybe some trade action may produce an interesting and future defining night for Patriots life Post-Brady and Belichick.

Running Back

If the Patriots are to draft a running back to help fill the hole that Dion Lewis has left this off season after joing the Titans in free agency, I think that it will be in the later rounds simply becasue of the value Coach Belichick, puts on running backs which is that people can be easily replaced and in his system. The Patriots Coach has the ability to simply just improve a player without ever giving them the big pay day – The Patriot Way. This is what you are seeing with Dion Lewis, I have no doubt that he is a quality man to have in your backfield but is he a Todd Gurley? No, he isn’t. With Lewis out of contract this off season and recently off a solid season which included impressive play-off performances surely he has the right to be paid? Coach Belichick probably would say yes however not for the Patriots organisation whereby he will find a replacement with surprising ease – It is just what he does. On the 15th March, Lewis signed for the Titans in a 4 year deal worth $20 million – absolutely no way the Patriots would match that. Belichick has a way of turning low prospects into world beaters, in a way it is similar to my favourite football team’s former manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Never thought I would be trying to compare Dion Lewis to a Javier Hernandez type player, whereby he was bought cheaply and as soon as he requested a bigger contract he was moved on.

Now back on track, the draft holds lots of running back depth so picking a RB in the early rounds is a waste, as the franchise could prioritise other positions first,  so maybe the Patriots might pick one up later in the draft to help new off season acquisition running back Jeremey Hill, fill the Dion Lewis left hole. The Patriots worked out running backs such as Derrius Guice, Ronald Jones, Kalen Ballage, Kerryon Johnson, however I doubt they will fall far enough for the Patriots to invest in them as a pick in this years draft.

Interview with Bernd Buchmasser – Editor + Senior Writer + Social Media for Pats Pulpit

Pats Pulpit is a New England Patriots community page which gives a variety of quality posts about the NFL franchise and I have been a fan and follower of the website for quite some time. Therefore, I decided to ask for an interview with the person who is an editor, senior writer and in charge of the social media for the blog and that is Bernd Buchmasser.

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I reached out to Bernd and he was quick in his response and gave me a great insight to a his writing style, aspirations and how he got involved within the Pats Pulpit.

Below is the interview and I would highly recommend you follow him on the links below!

What do you think influenced you to write?

“Ever since I was a child, I love the creative process in any form. While it was mostly drawings and the like back then, it evolved into music and the written word — both heavily influenced by bands like Bright Eyes or Death Cab For Cutie, and writers like John Steinbeck or T.C. Boyle. While I never harbored any realistic aspirations to go into music, I stuck with writing as the creative method of my choice through high school and college until now. I therefore wouldn’t say that there has been a single influence, but rather a process aided by an exposure to popular culture and, later, sports.”

How did you get started with the website?

“I grew up in an area where soccer and winter sports are the predominant sports. Since I loved football but had few people to talk about the game with, I turned to the internet and started commenting on a website called Pats Pulpit in 2014. I started writing my first articles later that year and midway through the 2014 season was asked to join the staff as a writer. One thing led to another and I’m now working as an editor, senior writer and do most Pats Pulpit’s social media. So it was basically a combination of a well to express opinions and finding the right vessel to do just that.”

What do you think are your best writing techniques/strengths?

“I think there are a few things I’m comfortable with and which by extension can be seen as strengths — and they are often closely tied to technique. One of those things, for example, is creating narratives (which is where the literary influence mentioned earlier comes into play) from quotes. You only get limited input from players and coaches but being able to turn them into a coherent story is one of the things I feel most comfortable with. The same goes with analyzing game film or personnel transactions. This process, at least in my experience, wouldn’t work without a concrete plan, though. For me, it all starts with the first paragraph, which oftentimes serves as a build-up to the main point of the story (the one tied to its title). Once this introduction is established so is the tone. With this foundation in place, it becomes easier to add more complex information or analysis to the piece.”

What are your aspirations for yourself and the website?

“There are two aspects for me when it comes to looking at the personal part of this question: a financial and a creative one. Money, as with every job, is an important factor but I’m sure you’ll understand that I’m not going to get into any details here. From the creative point of view, I simply want to get better when it comes to reporting. I think I’m on a good way in terms of analyzing developments but I also want to get better with my research/”digging-into it” game. When it comes to Pats Pulpit, the goals are manifold: Produce the best possible content. Continue to grow our social media following and readership. And further down the line, start to challenge the big regional players (Boston Globe, Boston Herald, NESN etc.) when it comes to Patriots coverage.”

His Twitter – https://twitter.com/BerndBuchmasser

Pats Pulpit Twitter – https://twitter.com/PatsPulpit

Pats Pulpit Website – https://www.patspulpit.com

Once again I would like to thank Bernd for the interview.