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Tempering the enthusiasm

Join my chat every Monday to have your question considered for the weekly Bruschi on Tap Q&A.

Q. Hey Tedy, a solid team win yesterday. What do you believe is this team's biggest weakness right now, and what are some possible solutions? -- Ryhan (Florida)

A. Don't get me wrong, it was a great game yesterday. I'm sure for all you fans out there, it was a lot of fun to watch. But this Bears team is average at best, especially on defense. In terms of Patriots weaknesses, I still believe OL issues can possibly still show up in key moments. Also, I still think the run defense is a problem. Those are the two main weaknesses for me. What are the solutions? I don't see a magical solution. Some are thinking of a trade to improve talent, maybe at the linebacker level. But you have to remember how valued draft picks are to this organization.

Q. While it is midseason, do you see the Super Bowl coming down to the Patriots and Broncos right now? The best team in the NFC is the Cowboys, who I don't think can be trusted since Tony Romo has yet to perform in big games. Also, it seems as if the Patriots have found their form offensively and the cornerbacks have found their form as well. Is the only issue going to be stopping the run without Jerod Mayo? -- Matt (Boston)

A. I still think it's a little early to be talking Super Bowl. We haven't even had our turkey yet, but I'll oblige. The Broncos are playing the best football in the AFC. I'm going to temper my enthusiasm on the Patriots based on the opponent yesterday -- the 3-5 Bears. But in the AFC, a contender can come out of the North; and for me that's Baltimore or Pittsburgh (I don't see Cincinnati as a long-term contender). The Colts are also a solid team. So right now, after Denver, there are a handful of teams that can be there in the AFC Championship.

Q. Bru, zone coverage seems to be a major liability for this D. Since there are now true shutdown man coverage options, why even play zone? -- BB (Boston)

A. BB, usually only my friends call me Bru, but it's OK if you follow my chat. Yes, this is mostly a man coverage team. But the one thing you have to have is a changeup, BB.

Q. Do all these flags lessen your enjoyment of watching NFL games? -- Rob (Naples, Florida)

A. It's getting there, Rob, especially with the illegal contact, defensive holding and pass interference emphasis. I will say one thing -- I've also seen more OPI calls this year. They're trying to call it both ways. I understand that. I just fear that some team's season is going to end based on a call being emphasized rather than officials understanding the situation. Also, these officials are so worried about being graded and losing the competition to be the top-rated officials to work in the playoffs and Super Bowl, it's almost like they're taking away their own personal interpretation of it. Sort of like hands to the head of the quarterback. You should be able to interpret that call as an official. I've seen calls where there is inadvertent contact and the QB is barely affected and it's 15 yards. That's too damaging to a defense.

Q. Hey Tedy, lots of positives to take away from the game but I know the Pats are always looking to improve. With the offense clicking on almost all cylinders, how has Julian Edelman gone from the only viable option in the pass game to having the drops and seeing his playing time dip? Has Brady lost confidence in him? -- Roy (Cape Cod)

A. I don't think Tom Brady has lost any confidence in Edelman at all. This offense is now starting to become an equal-opportunity offense, and that's the way they want it -- Brandon LaFell developing, Rob Gronkowski getting healthy. With Danny Amendola on punt returns, it raises his level of involvement and keeps him into it. That's why the Patriots are a tough team to have any fantasy football options. You just don't know who is going to be the main target of the day. My son learned this yesterday. He had Edelman.

Q. Tedy, 36 years young today! What goes on in a player's head when they start dropping balls? Edelmen was like flypaper with Tom, but the past few weeks has left something to be desired. I'm wondering from a psyche perspective how a pro overcomes football stage fright. -- Patrick (Disneyland)

A. Happy Birthday, Patrick. Have a magical time. First of all, I don't think Edelman has stage fright at all. This is a mentally tough player. Sometimes you worry about guys that when things go bad, 'Uh-oh, he's done for two weeks' because it takes him that long to overcome it. Edelman isn't that type of guy. Look for him to have a strong game against the Broncos.

Q. Hey Tedy, I thought Jonas Gray acquitted himself quite well in the preseason and again on Sunday. Has he earned himself playing time? -- Patrick (Keene, New Hampshire)

A. I thought Jonas Gray was solid. I also thought the offensive line is showing some improvement, especially Bryan Stork at center. I say that while noting that Stork's play is tied to better play at guard with Dan Connolly and Ryan Wendell. A few plays stood out to me in this area -- first quarter, 4:42 remaining, Stork achieves an initial stalemate of the nose and Wendell comes down hard to get movement and Gray barrels through for six as Wendell climbs to the linebacker. On the next play, the same thing happens, but with Connolly crashing down and it's 5 yards for Gray. There was a little bit of a difference when Stork was alone (2:02, first quarter), as Paea wins initially, gets in the backfield and Gray is stopped for 1 yard. In the end, the way to measure a successful running game is if you can run it when you have to and the defense knows it. That is still to be determined with Gray and the Patriots.

Q. Are the Cardinals the best team in the NFC? -- Rob (Naples, Florida)

A. Real quick, we'll allow this one. I'll go Dallas and Arizona. It turns out they meet each other in Week 9 (at Dallas). Bruce Arians is a great coach.

Q. Hi Tedy -- HUGE fan!!!! Would a guy like Vincent Jackson come here for reduced $$ in a prove-it-in-6-7-games deal at this point in the season, and do you see a move like this as wise? -- Frank (Maine)

A. What I recognize in the last three weeks is vast improvement in this offense. LaFell has come along and become a big target that Brady appreciates, especially in the play-action game when you're running quick slant routes and you know the defender is going to be there and the big body is necessary to shield him off. What you saw yesterday against Chicago, do you want any of that to be disrupted? I say no. I don't know if a trade will be made or not, but I say you roll with what you have right now. If you're going to make a trade, I'd say OL, DL or a LB to provide depth, because I'd say Deontae Skinner has some improvement to make.

Q. What do you think is the top two key match-ups in the upcoming Pats-Broncos game? What is the real game changer? -- Chad C. (Pats fan in Denver)

A. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say Brandon Browner vs. TE Julius Thomas. I know everyone is excited about them bringing Revis in, for this type of game, to match up with Demaryius Thomas. But they also brought in Browner, I believe, for this type of matchup with Julius Thomas. And let's see how the offensive line handles their Pot Roast (aka Terrance Knighton). We saw Browner match up with Bears TE Martellus Bennett at times on Sunday, and that could be a preview of the Browner-Julius Thomas matchup when Denver comes to town.

Q. Tedy, what do we do with Jaime Collins? He's a great pass rusher but also plays well in coverage. Do we let him get after Peyton Manning or do we drop him back? -- Thomas (URI)

A. I think you drop him back. Sending extra rushers at Manning is not a good idea. Collins is going to be needed to stop the run with possibly only six in the box and play whatever coverage they want to.

Q. How do you see Belichick and Patricia disrupting Peyton on Sunday? -- Mike

A. Mike, check out "Bruschi's Breakdown" later this week. But I'll give you one hint: Ronnie Hillman.

Q. This will be the 16th time that Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will meet. What do you personally appreciate about this rivalry? -- Mike (Boston)

A. Starting off, you're going to be looking at two of the best who have ever played the game go against each other. There are so many different top-5-of-all-time-quarterback lists, but it's almost a guarantee that these two have to be in there somewhere, depending on your taste. These two players have battled for AFC supremacy for so long that being a player in the locker room knowing when these games were coming up, as soon as you step on the field it has that NFL Films quality to it. You know that you can almost hear the music in the background, the slow-motion cameras, the ball in the air, and every single play having the possibility of being shown for years to come. It's because of what the game means. I know it's a regular-season game, but you understand the magnitude of it. There is one ball I saved in my office; when I intercepted Peyton Manning in 2004, the kickoff game when we played the Colts on Thursday night. It's those types of plays that you remember because of who you're playing against. I'm excited for players like Darrelle Revis in this game, those who are in this game for the first time -- Patriots vs. Colts/Broncos; Brady vs. Manning. You know the QBs get most of the credit. I actually chuckle when I hear things like Brady's record at home referenced on TV, and say, 'He won those games all by himself?' What made us so successful is that we realize that it isn't Tom vs. Peyton. It's the defense of the Patriots vs. Manning and his offense. That's what it really is.

Maybe Revis and Browner, who are playing in this type of rivalry game for the first time, can get a similar memento.