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Around the AFC East, Week 6: New England Patriots

It's Friday, and for a sixth consecutive week, we'll be dedicating our Friday to meandering around the three two opponent cities of the AFC East.  With Brian Bassett on vacation, however, we'll be going around the East sans Jets - which isn't a total loss, because, well... they're just not that good, are they?

Apparently, this was the week to vacation, which explains why Pats Pulpit's MaPatsFan also isn't with us today.  We do, however, have a knowledgeable Pulpit minion here with us today as a pinch hitter; she goes by the name of Marima, a self-proclaimed "homer through and through".  Lovely, right?  We're very glad she's here to join us.

This morning's Pats topic: RB Kevin Faulk.  You may also know him as "that shifty little annoying [insert favorite expletive] that always screws the Bills."

Brlogo_medium    Clearly, I'm not a huge fan of the Patriots, and don't hold any of your team's players or coaches in especially high regard.  But no matter how much he's hurt Buffalo, nor how frustrating he's made my life as a fan of the Bills, I've always quietly been a fan of RB Kevin Faulk.  Talk about his importance to a Patriots offense that leaves his name relatively anonymous.

Patspulpit_s_medium    Pats Pulpit: The Patriots' offense IS the Patriots' offense because of Kevin Faulk.  His stats won't make any team's defense lose sleep before a game - hence the anonymity - but afterward they just might be watching him on film.  Last season for example, he gained only 265 yards on 62 carries, and caught 47 passes for 383 yards and 1 touchdown.  Stats just don't tell the story of how clutch those yards were.  Yards that kept drives going, kept Brady on the field, and kept the team in a position to win the game.  Hard to measure reliability when it counts, or the confidence it gives a QB to be able to dump the ball off when your premier receivers are covered, especially when he knows Faulk rarely goes down before the yellow line.

I don't think it's too much homer-ism to suggest that Faulk is probably the best 3rd down back in the NFL.   He seems to do everything well, even when performing cold off the bench in a critical time of the game.  He’s a tremendous blocking back, outstanding in picking up the blitz, and doesn't run his mouth or seek out media attention.  A leader in every sense.  No shame at all in being a quiet fan of Kevin Faulk.  In fact, we'd prefer it kept that way.

Actually, there's plenty of shame in being a quiet fan of Kevin Faulk; I was raised from my toddling days to spit venom at the Bills' most bitter rivals' players.  Believe me, there's venom when Faulk is quietly scraping together fourteen first downs (at least, that's what it seemed like) in a 49-point blowout loss to the Pats.  It just amazes me that on third downs, opposing defenses still forget about the guy.  At age 32, he should be close to retirement, right?

Only one more round of Around the AFC East coming up, where we'll talk to the fearless leader of a group of fans of aquatic mammalian creatures in Miami.  Stay tuned.