Bravo, everyone. We’re as gullible as ever.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady didn’t practice on Thursday, a matter that raised a few eyebrows seeing as it was only 72 hours before his team’s season opener against the Dolphins in Miami. When the Patriots released the injury report later in the afternoon and reasoned Brady’s absence with a calf injury some of us got a little stupid, from wondering what it meant for Sunday to even buying into unsubstantiated claims that he was out for the season.
For God’s sake, is this our first rodeo? A Patriots injury report is like submitting a book report without reading the text; there may be a fact or two in there, but it’s mainly hogwash. Brady has been on this thing since 1957 with a shoulder injury, and it hasn’t exactly slowed him down.
But the shoulder gag has become tired, so clearly it was time for Bill Belichick to mix things up. I’m not really sure how effective this gamesmanship might be, but Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin does seem like the sort of guy who might be interested in magic beans. Poor guy was probably up all night.
“Physically I had the day off, but I got a lot of extra film in,” Brady told Jim Gray on Westwood One Thursday night. “I got a lot of extra mental reps in and walk-throughs and such and I’ll be ready to go Sunday.”
When Gray asked Brady how the injury occurred, Brady went into an unprecedented, detailed analysis as to why his name popped up on the report.
“That’s very private information that the Patriots would never want to give out. But it’s listed on the injury report. That’s what you read to me.”
So, there. He’s playing Sunday and he’s not out for the season. Will the calf be a nagging injury that Brady will have to deal with all season though? Well, there’s your compelling storyline for 2014. Give me the drugs now.
Who they’re picking
Our roundup of picks for this week’s Patriots-Dolphins game.
Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Dolphins 24, Patriots 20. “AAAWWWK!” sings the Upset Bird, barrel-rolling to decorate a preening entrance. “Ryan Tannehaawwk!” Bill Belichick (gunning for his 200th career win) and Tom Brady have ceased to be an unsolvable mystery for a Miami team I see as better than most NFL literati do. Recall the Dolphins beat the Pats here, 24-20, last December on a big day from Ryan Tannehaawwk, I mean Tannehill. Yes, the English have Rob Gronkowski back from injury now and added cover guy Darrelle Revis. They remain entrenched as AFC East favorites — and should, until a replacement raises a hand and proves worthy. But the margin has narrowed. Time will tell if I’m being a homer here, but I honestly think the Fins begin the season as one of the league’s most underrated teams. I also think Brady, 37, will face steady pressure Sunday and be sacked three-plus times. “Giselle won’t like that,” notes U-Bird, beak clamped in a nodding smirk. “Hey, anybody up for starting an appreciative Joe Philbin chant Sunday? Who’s with me? Joe Philbaaawwwk!”
Will Gordon, Boston.com: Patriots. “Hey, the Dolphins scare me a little bit this year. They’re no real threat to win the division, but they seem entirely capable of beating good teams at home. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill continues to improve and seems ready to become legitimately good in his third season, as long as he stops throwing dumb interceptions when no one’s open. This is an especially important caveat when your top two receivers are Brian Hartline and the wildly overrated Mike Wallace, which means there are going to be a lot of times when no one’s open. At least they have Jim Brown clone Lamar Miller at running back. Man, that’s a pretty grim skill position depth chart. I don’t think the Fins have the weapons to score enough on this improved Patriots’ defense, but it could be a close one. Nah. Pats by a comfortable dozen.”
ESPN staff: Patriots across the board.
Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com: Patriots 27, Dolphins 26. “It will be hot, humid and that will be a challenge for New England. The Dolphins have offensive-line issues, which could show up. Look for Tom Brady to find a way to pull this one out in the fourth quarter.”
CBSSports.com staff: Six out of eight pick New England (Miami plus-5 1/2).
Yahoo Sports: All Pats.
USA Today staff: Six out of seven pick the Patriots.
Foxsports.com staff: Six out of seven go with New England.
Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk.com: Patriots 34, Dolphins 24. “With a much better defense and a still-potent offense, the Patriots launch the 10-year anniversary of their last Super Bowl-winning season with a performance that could put them back there, again.”
Michael David Smith, ProFootballTalk.com: Patriots 24, Dolphins 10. “We’ve heard a lot about how the Dolphins have changed their offense to run at a faster pace, but I just don’t think Miami has the personnel to match up with New England, which remains the best team in the AFC East.”
Vinnie Iyer, The Sporting News: Patriots 34, Dolphins 20. “Tom Brady’s Patriots have had their share of issues in South Florida over the years, but look for them to take control early with Rob Gronkowski and Brady’s other receivers creating mismatches. As the Dolphins try to play catch up, the Pats will sit back and sip a pina colada on South Beach as Revis Island maroons Mike Wallace and their pass rush tees off on Ryan Tannehill.”
Elliot Harrison, NFL.com: Patriots 34, Dolphins 23. “New England will be up 34-17 in the fourth quarter when the Dolphins’ passing attack gets going. Sure, it won’t be enough, but at some point, we need to see some urgency from Ryan Tannehill, Mike Wallace and Co. Of course, that will be much easier for the Fins to accomplish if someone emerges in their running game.”
NFL.com staff: Four out of five go with New England. Dan Hanzus likes Miami.
SB Nation staff: All Pats.
Neil Greenberg, Washington Post: Pick: Miami +5.5, Win probability: New England Patriots 54.9 percent. “New England, the third best team in my preseason power rankings, added cornerback Darrelle Revis. And while that should make life difficult for Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill, it won’t make it impossible.”
Boston Globe staff: Four out of six pick the Pats (New England by 4 1/2).
It says here: Patriots 27, Dolphins 17. The Dolphins hope to run their offense at a faster pace this season. See how that worked out for the Packers on Thursday night.