Hours before kickoff, I was talking to a friend about how I thought the Patriots would come out against the Chiefs on Monday night.
My prediction: A slow first half with the Chiefs moving the ball and the Pats settling for a field goal before exploding in the second half.
Well, 34 points later, they proved me correct.
The Patriots put a whooping on Tyler Palko and the Chiefs anemic offense as the defense allowed a mere three points while the offense rebounded from a shaky start to score 24 points in the second half.
Let’s take a look at our risers and fallers.
1. Rob Gronkowski: Let’s just pencil him in for a touchdown and a spot on our Risers list every week. The man is simply…The Man. The former second-round pick is far and away the top tight end in football. His versatility as an in-line blocker, dependable red-zone target and big play threat makes him undefendable. Gronkowski made two of the most impressive plays by a tight end, racing 52 yards for a touchdown and later back flipping his way into the end zone for his second score. Two years into his career, he’s already breaking records, becoming the fastest to 20 TDs by a tight end in only 26 games.
2. Kyle Arrington: His transformation from an undrafted free agent from Hofstra to starting corner to top playmaker has been a pleasant surprise. Arrington picked off two more passes to increase his league-leading total to seven. While he doesn’t have elite physical skills and isn’t a “shutdown corner,” he has a knack for getting his hands on the ball. Turnovers end drives, and Arrington has been a drive killer.
3. Running game: It finally re-appeared. BenJarvus Green-Ellis overcame a slow start to grind out 81 tough yards on 20 carries while adding a 25-yard reception. Danny Woodhead averaged 5.4 yards per carry, but the biggest surprise was the successful debut of Shane Vereen. The second-rounder had yet to carry the ball after finding himself buried on the depth chart, but carried the ball eight times for 39 yards and a TD in the fourth quarter. He displayed impressive speed and quick feet in his limited work.
4. Julian Edelman: The man without a defined role has become the jack-of-all-trades. He’s the new Troy Brown. Edelman worked as the dime back and made a few impressive tackles and finally exploded for a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown that had the crowd in a frenzy. The ultra quick, versatile former college quarterback has played many invaluable roles for this team.
1. Sebastian Vollmer: Last year’s second-team All Pro right tackle has been somewhat of a disappointment this year. He’s missed time with a back injury and has looked rusty since he returned to the starting lineup. He’s been particularly inconsistent in pass protection and was worked over by Tamba Hali several times. Luckily the Pats have some depth with Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon available should Vollmer get benched for performance or injury.
2. Logan Mankins: While he certainly hasn’t pulled a Chris Johnson, Mankins definitely hasn’t played up to his potential after signing a lucrative deal this offseason. The All-Pro left guard picked up two more penalties to increase his team lead to eight. That’s unacceptable for a veteran, especially for a guy considered to be the best at his position.