Originally written on Foxboro Blog  |  Last updated 11/20/14

Will the real CJ2K please stand up? 

I don't know who was wearing No. 28 for the Titans on Sunday, but the Patriots managed to put a deathly end to Chris Johnson's proclamation that he'll lead the league in rushing this season. 

In New England's 31-13 trouncing of Tennessee, we saw early investments from the 2012 draft class, particularly with Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower. 

For anyone who feared we had another no-show wearing ocho cinco, Brandon Lloyd showed why he will be a lethal threat out wide. 

Bill Belichick will certainly find areas to improve, but yesterday's performance provided plenty of optimism for another Super Bowl trip.

Let's take a look at this week's risers and fallers. 

 

Risers 

1. Stevan Ridley: Anyone still shedding a tear over BenJarvus Green-Ellis? You shouldn't be. Ridley, the second-year back out of LSU, didn't just flash in his first start; he exploded. The surprisngly quick 220-pounder dominated the second half, totaling 125 yards and a score on just 21 carries. Tennessee isn't exactly a top-notch defense, but I expect Ridley to easily top the 1,000-yard mark at this rate. 

2. 2012 draft class: If Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower play like they did on Sunday, this defense will be scary good. Jones—who many experts pegged as a long-term project—made in instant impact playing across from former All-Pro left tackle Michael Roos, strip-sacking Jake Locker. As if that wasn't exciting enough, Hightower recovered the fumble and returned it 6 yards to the house. Second-round safety Tavon Wilson also made a name for himself as he recorded a diving interception in the end zone. It appears the Patriots have found much-needed playmakers for their young defense. 

3. Rob Gronkowski: It's tough to single out a third player, but I tip my hat to Gronk. Playing in his first meaningful game since the Super Bowl, the 6'6" beast showed he's back, reeling in six catches for 60 yards and a touchdown. He showed some rust on his signature spike, but a healthy Gronk bodes well for the Pats. 

 

Fallers

1. Wes Welker: You can't blame Welker entirely for his uncharacteristic statline (3 receptions for 14 yards), but I expected better from Tom Brady's top target. Welker wasn't targeted often and actually played fewer snaps than the Boston TE Party and Brandon Lloyd. Hopefully this doesn't turn into a bigger issue a la Randy Moss in 2010. 

2. Nate Solder: He wasn't horrible, but he wasn't great. Last year's first-round pick surrendered the team's only sack—a fairly nasty one at that. He did some solid work in the run game; however, Solder still isn't up to par as a pass protector. He'll need to improve quickly in order to keep Brady upright. 

3. Pass defense: I promise I'm not hating on the pass defense, but I still doubt whether it's good enough to shut down the league's top offenses. Devin McCourty looked better than last year, yet he still left a few plays on the field. The safeties were a bit late to the ball, and the pass rush produced just two sacks and three quarterback hits. Jermaine Cunningham looked solid as a pass-rusher, but overall the pass defense needs to step it up a notch. 

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Gronk reads erotica, sings Katy Perry at SB Media Day

Governor donates $10K to UNM hoops star’s cancer charity

U.S. Soccer: Hope Solo needs to do 'number of things' to return

K.J. Wright: Targeting injured players 'unacceptable'

Five reasons the Patriots will win the Super Bowl

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Five reasons the Seahawks will win the Super Bowl

Bill Simmons fires a shot at ESPN colleague Ray Lewis

Which teams are most squarely on the bubble?

Tiger Woods: 'There was blood everywhere' after tooth incident

Jerry Rice: Asterisk needed if Patriots win Super Bowl

Pete Carroll ok with Robert Kraft despite Patriots firing

Does MLB need more offense in the modern game?

Re-ranking the Top 25: exposing the biggest flaws

Tiger on wearing mask: ‘Not a lot of brown dudes at ski races’

Putting the Cleveland Cavaliers’ pieces together

Brodeur to retire immediately and join Blues front office

Michael Bennett talks about sex superstition, calls reporter gay

As Patriots prepare, it's easy to forget about Hernandez

Marcus Mariota's younger brother will play at Oregon

Marshawn Lynch on Media Day: 'I'm here so I won't get fined'

Ranking all 48 Super Bowls

'Goodell Must Go' mobile banners heading to Phoenix

NFL pushing College Football Playoff to change its schedule

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Does MLB need more offense in the modern game?

Re-ranking the Top 25: exposing the biggest flaws

Putting the Cavs’ pieces together

Super Bowl XLIX: Key people to know

Ranking all 48 Super Bowls

Bill Simmons fires a shot at Ray Lewis

NFL pushing CFP to change schedule

Can Yanks not pay A-Rod his bonuses?

Petition started to remove Pats from SB

On John Wall's adidas J Wall 1 NYC All-Star Edition

NFL approved Pats' under-inflated balls?

Six best Super Bowl coaches of all-time

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.