I had the pleasure of visiting Boston this weekend. I was there purely on a sports mission.
Yankees vs. Red Sox (Sat-9/29)
First stop was Fenway on Saturday. Yankees vs. Red Sox. I was in complete awe as it was my first time at Fenway. That place is beautiful. It is without a doubt one of the most pleasurable baseball viewing experiences there is. The game itself wasn’t as lively as the traditional rivalry only because both teams have monster records and have already clinched the division and wild card spot. Sadly, MVP candidate Mookie Betts had a day off, as did Yankee’s behemoth Aaron Judge. However, Mike Stanton picked up Judge’s slack in the inning with a soaring shot to the Green Monster. Then some legendary Braves fan with a freaking hose throws the ball back and drills Stanton rounding 2nd. It was bizarre, but It was impressive as hell.
Ultimately the Yankees won 8-5. In an otherwise meaningless game, the Yankees managed to achieve a piece of MLB history. They hit their 266th home run of the season to secure the most ever by one team in a single season. Andrew Benintendi (Arkansas) had a good game for the Sox with two hits and an RBI. Ian Kinsler (Missouri) had a hit and three walks on the day which is a good sign of his pitch awareness heading into the postseason. Jackie Bradley (South Carolina) had a nice game as well. He and Kinsler both recorded a double and a steal. Bradley also had a few outstanding catches in the outfield. The Red Sox are the best team in baseball, but the Yankees don’t look too far off. In my opinion, one of these two teams will win the World Series.
Dolphins vs. Patriots (Sun- 9/30)
The main reason we were in town was to watch the Patriots game. They stumbled into this one with a 1-2 record. The offense hadn’t looked in synch, and it resulted in some lackluster performances. The Dolphins were undefeated with some plus victories under their belt. A lot of people were going with the Dolphins in this one because of their explosive offensive potential. However, that explosion fizzled out against the Pats reawakened defense.
It appears the return of Trey Flowers (Arkansas) was all they needed to get things back on track which makes sense when you consider how terrible they’ve been at setting the edge. Flowers is one of the best run stuffing defensive ends in football. He’s highly underrated in several categories, but it is now glaring how vital he is to their defense. Donta Hightower (Alabama) looked like he benefited the most from Flowers return. He was being taxed the most in his absence because all the runs broke to the outside where his lack of lateral speed has been exploited. With the edge being set on Sunday against the Dolphins, Hightower was able to stay within the box most of the time where his size enables him to shed blockers and wreck offenses. The Patriots were able to hold the Dolphins to 176 total yards. Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M) was infective all day long. Kenyan Drake (Alabama) also was non-existent in this one. The Patriots limited the Fins to only 56 rushing yards. They’ll need that sort of defensive production consistently if the Patriots want to make another Super Bowl run.
On the offensive side of the ball, the receiving game finally received a much-needed boost in Josh Gordon. He’s still not 100% healthy, he’s dealing with a hamstring injury, but his talent is evident. Brady was developing a good rhythm with the wideout on Sunday. The more often they play together, the better they’ll get. People keep comparing it to the Brady and Randy Moss matchup, and honestly, I agree with that comparison. Both are dynamic receivers who have talents that can’t be coached. Another boost to the offense came from the running game. The offensive line was one of the best run blocking units in the league last year. Led by my guy Shaq Mason, who is arguably one of the best run blockers in the league, the Patriots line was dominant against an inferior Dolphins front. Sony Michel (Georgia) had his breakout game in this one with 112 yards and a touchdown. For those who drafted Michel in their fantasy leagues, it’s time to bring him off the shelf and put him in your starting lineup. Another explosive player that had a nice game was Cordarralle Patterson (Tennessee). He’s a swiss army knife that can do a little bit of everything. He can be the x-factor of this offense once all the pieces fall into place.
Overall, if the Patriots continue their success from this game, then all the naysayers will fade away. Brady still looks as capable as ever. They’re getting a suspended Julien Edleman back next week. Josh Gordon is getting in a rhythm. This team looks like it can flip the script and maintain their AFC crown by season’s end. My early Super Bowl matchup is the Rams vs. Patriots. The AFC is lacking a really great team right now. I have to see Kansas City does all season before I’m ready to say they are legit. Andy Reid is notorious for collapsing late. It appears the stage is being set for the Patriots to once again control the AFC.
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(Photo Courtesy Last Word on Pro Football)<