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After three great games, Patriots make a statement

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass during the second quarter of their NFL AFC Divisional playoff football game against the Houston Texans in Foxborough Reuters

We saw three great football games this weekend. And then we saw one great football team.

After a tremendous Saturday in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, Sunday got started with another phenomenal game as the Falcons jumped out to a big lead, squandered that lead, and then came back to win 30-28. Through three games, this was as good a weekend of football as I can ever remember.

And then came the Patriots against the Texans, which was not a great game, or even a good one. It was just the Patriots beat the Texans 41-28 on the strength of a huge game from Tom Brady, while making a statement that they’re the favorites to win the Super Bowl.

The way the Patriots’ offense is playing right now, I don’t see anyone slowing them down. Brady can spread the ball around to so many different receivers — even with Rob Gronkowski and Danny Woodhead both exiting the game early with injuries, he completed 25 of 40 passes for 344 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions — that the Ravens aren’t going to have much of a chance in the AFC Championship Game.

And at the moment I’d definitely favor the Patriots over the Falcons in the Super Bowl, and I’d probably favor them over the 49ers too. Yes, the 49ers won at New England in December, but I think Bill Belichick with two weeks to game plan would make life very difficult for the young San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

So many crazy things have already happened in these playoffs that it’s way too early to make any definitive declarations about what we’re going to see in the final three games of this NFL season. And Gronkowski being knocked out of the rest of the playoffs is a significant blow. But after watching the divisional round of the playoffs, my best bet is that we’re going to see the Patriots win the AFC Championship Game, and then win the Super Bowl.

Here are my other observations from Sunday’s games:

Icing the kicker didn’t work. As Falcons kicker Matt Bryant was about to try his game-winning field goal, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll called timeout. But the Falcons went ahead and snapped it, held it and kicked it anyway — and Bryant missed. That practice kick apparently helped Bryant, because he made it when it counted. Carroll may make other coaches think twice about icing the kicker.

Why is Tony Gonzalez retiring? I know the soon-to-be 37-year-old Gonzalez says he’s done after the playoffs, but I don’t see why he should be. He caught six of the seven passes thrown to him, for 51 yards, and his one-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone was a thing of beauty. He has plenty of football left in him.

Live by Richard Sherman, die by Richard Sherman. Sherman was the best cornerback in the NFL all season and one of the biggest reasons the Seahawks made the playoffs, and he got off to a great start against the Falcons, knocking away two passes on Atlanta’s first drive. Unfortunately, he also got torched on a 47-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to Roddy White. Sherman is an outstanding cornerback, but the Falcons weren’t afraid to go after him.

The Seahawks missed Chris Clemons. Clemons was the Seahawks’ best defensive lineman during the season, but he was out after suffering a torn ACL last week against the Redskins. It was easy to see how much Seattle missed him. Not only did Matt Ryan throw 35 passes without ever getting sacked, but the Falcons often ran directly at Clemons’ replacement, Bruce Irvin, who’s a good young pass rusher but still a liability against the run.

That’s a penalty? Patriots receiver Brandon Lloyd got flagged for something I’ve never seen before: Throwing the ball too hard at the official. I’m all for the players treating the officials with respect, but I think this official was oversensitive. Lloyd didn’t chuck it at the guy’s head or anything, he just threw it quickly and the official didn’t see it coming. I agree with former NFL official Jim Daopoulos, who said it looked like the official who threw the flag had a short fuse.

Matt Schaub has a long way to go. Schaub has his moments when he looks like an elite NFL quarterback, but those moments don’t come consistently enough. Most of the time, Schaub is too skittish in the pocket and too prone to bad decisions. I think my least favorite of all was a third down on which he was pressured, rolled out of the pocket and then just threw the ball out of bounds, giving up on the play. Great quarterbacks don’t give up on plays like that.

Rob Ninkovich was outstanding. I started by praising the player on the Patriots who always gets praise, Tom Brady. So I’ll close by praising a player who doesn’t get nearly enough attention: Ninkovich, the starting linebacker who was all over the field on defense, with an interception, three tackles behind the line of scrimmage, a hit on Matt Schaub that hurried a throw on third down, a very athletic play on which he caught Foster from behind at the end of a 28-yard catch and run, and a recovery of an onside kick. Players like that are the players who help teams win Super Bowls.

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121 Responses to “After three great games, Patriots make a statement”
  1. caseyanthonymunoz says: Jan 13, 2013 8:00 PM

    Tom Brady breaks the all time record for playoff wins the same weekend Peyton Manning ties Favre for the most all time playoff losses. Please national media, don’t compare the two ever again. Manning is a great QB during the regular season against bad teams while playing indoors. Brady is a true football legend whose only comp is Joe Montana.

  2. jakec4 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:02 PM

    Hope you enjoyed your tune up game, New England. It figures to get significantly more difficult for you next week. Can’t get to the Super Bowl that easily. The Ravens are a very dangerous team who know you well.

    Man, I’ve wanted this rematch for a year. I’m so glad it’s New England who have become the Ravens biggest rival outside of the division. They’ve played some classic games that have been fun to watch, and are close down to the very end.

    Even though Baltimore won that game in September, something still feels off about it with those replacement refs.

  3. tedmurph says: Jan 13, 2013 8:02 PM

    That official just lost his cool on that one. Never seen that in my life. Cost the Pats points

  4. reed20fence says: Jan 13, 2013 8:05 PM

    Revenge is a dish best served cold Pats fans.

    We’ve been itching for this the second that kick sailed left.

  5. phillyphever says: Jan 13, 2013 8:06 PM

    tedmurph says:
    Jan 13, 2013 8:02 PM

    That official just lost his cool on that one. Never seen that in my life. Cost the Pats points

    Yeah, I bet Brady and Belicheck are upset they didn’t put up 50 on them. Oh well, they’ll settle for the win.

    Is it next Sunday yet? I really can’t wait for the AFCCG.

  6. sabatimus says: Jan 13, 2013 8:06 PM

    JJ Watt should spit on the logo next week too, if it means 41 points for the Pats.

  7. classyjacklambert says: Jan 13, 2013 8:07 PM

    I think everyone besides actual Pats fans and Ravens fans were hoping for any other two teams to make the AFC championship game. Nothing against those two teams we are just sick of watching the Ravens lose in the AFC championship game and the Pats lose in the Super Bowl.

  8. warriors2533 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:08 PM

    No comparison brady vs manning… Brady with the ko punch with this win

  9. tonyugoh says: Jan 13, 2013 8:08 PM

    Tom Brady breaks the all time record for playoff wins the same weekend Peyton Manning ties Favre for the most all time playoff losses. Please national media, don’t compare the two ever again. Manning is a great QB during the regular season against bad teams while playing indoors. Brady is a true football legend whose only comp is Joe Montana.
    ———————————————————-
    Look I’m not going to argue anybody saying Brady is the best ever cause he certainly has a case but Brady and Manning’s playoff stats are almost identical. Say Brady is fine but don’t act like its not an argument, because regardless of what he did in the postseason this year Manning just had one of the most impressive seasons and comebacks of all-time. Also, I’ll accept Montana and Brady as better than Manning if you want but can we stop with this nonsense that John Elway was better than Manning?

  10. grogansheroes says: Jan 13, 2013 8:09 PM

    I’m a pats fan, but there’s no way they’re winning the Super Bowl. All of the Texans points came off bad Kickoffs, save three from a bad punt. Baltimore has a much better kick returners. The Pats are down to Welker and Hernandez. I can’t see them beating Baltimore, never mind SF. also, can’t get any pressure on the QB, Boldin and Torrey Smith will eat them up.

  11. geniusfan says: Jan 13, 2013 8:09 PM

    Even without Gronk the Patriots offense has more than enough weapons to win a 4th Super Bowl for Brady and Belichick. They’re used to not having him at this point as well, they just scored 41 points.

    If the special teams for the Patriots didn’t have such a bad game this one wouldn’t have even been close.

    It’ll be fun seeing the Patriots play Baltimore in another AFC Championship game.

    Go Patriots!

  12. lilrob10201 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:10 PM

    caseyanthonymunoz says:
    Jan 13, 2013 8:00 PM
    Tom Brady breaks the all time record for playoff wins the same weekend Peyton Manning ties Favre for the most all time playoff losses. Please national media, don’t compare the two ever again. Manning is a great QB during the regular season against bad teams while playing indoors. Brady is a true football legend whose only comp is Joe Montana.
    —————————————-
    You also got to think that Brady has a great HC beside him when Peyton only has a good coach beside him.Brady also had a good defense behind him when he won his 3 super bowls.Tom Brady and Manning are comparable,but I think that Manning is slightly better.

  13. tedmurph says: Jan 13, 2013 8:10 PM

    reed20fence says:Jan 13, 2013 8:05 PM

    Revenge is a dish best served cold Pats fans.

    We’ve been itching for this the second that kick sailed left

    ———————————————————-

    Be careful what you wish for. Two emotional games, big east/west road trip, it could get ugly. We’ll see. Pats will be favored by more than a TD

  14. reed20fence says: Jan 13, 2013 8:13 PM

    NFL Fans thumbs up if you want the Pats to win next week. Thumbs down for the Ravens.

  15. patriotsdefense says: Jan 13, 2013 8:13 PM

    If JJ Watt wants to get pumped for football next week it’s shame he’s going to have to spit on the carpet of his living room

  16. dwheel79 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:14 PM

    This game wasn’t about how good the patriots are or played its more about how bad the texans played..

  17. jakec4 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:15 PM

    Be careful what you wish for. Two emotional games, big east/west road trip, it could get ugly. We’ll see. Pats will be favored by more than a TD

    ————————————————————–

    I sure hope so. The more the Pats are favored the better the Ravens will play. The Broncos and Patriots are basically the same team except Denver had the better defense. I hope the Ravens are a double digit dog next week.

  18. washstnative says: Jan 13, 2013 8:16 PM

    Great Season Seahawks!

    They will be tough to beat next year…

    #GoHawks

  19. jtchernak says: Jan 13, 2013 8:16 PM

    Should be a good game. Gronk out will hurt but I am not worries as we still have a hot defense and an o that had the young players step up today like vereen. Should be a nervous game

  20. kev86 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:16 PM

    Pats/Niners …Niners win it.

  21. dwayston says: Jan 13, 2013 8:17 PM

    Counting your chickens before they hatch cause if you think the Pats are just going to win and the Ravens don’t have a chance, you’re on drugs. Raven Nation!

  22. noring4youstill says: Jan 13, 2013 8:17 PM

    I still think about Rob Nichovich and why the Saints let him leave.

  23. bucslose says: Jan 13, 2013 8:17 PM

    I hate to say it but i wish Bellichick coached my team. He has his team ready to play, always. They get everyone to play their best, offense and defense.

    Now lets go Ravens

  24. edge661 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:18 PM

    How can u say ant team is favored right now. Just let the playoffs play it self out.

  25. tedmurph says: Jan 13, 2013 8:18 PM

    grogansheroes says:Jan 13, 2013 8:09 PM

    I’m a pats fan, but there’s no way they’re winning the Super Bowl. All of the Texans points came off bad Kickoffs, save three from a bad punt. Baltimore has a much better kick returners. The Pats are down to Welker and Hernandez. I can’t see them beating Baltimore, never mind SF. also, can’t get any pressure on the QB, Boldin and Torrey Smith will eat them up.

    ———————————————————-

    Now there’s a typical NE fan. I’m sure I’ll see him at the parade, telling people he had it all the way.

  26. tonyugoh says: Jan 13, 2013 8:18 PM

    To everyone insisting that there is no debate between Brady and Manning, I ask, was Troy Aikman better than Steve Young? Was Terry Bradshaw better than Roger Staubach?

  27. stoney18 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:19 PM

    Pats vs Texans is another playoff game with some egregious calls by the guys with the skunk shirts. Sure, I understand the human error part on bang-bang plays, but some of the reviewed plays and the calls afterwards ….. did they see what we saw???
    Please NFL, next year have the regular units work together and only the top rated units! The players and fans deserve much better.

  28. bobzilla1001 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:19 PM

    Elite quarterbacks are quarterbacks who quarterback elite offenses. Matt Schaub and his offense don’t qualify.
    There are only four elite quarterbacks/offenses in the entire league: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. All the others are merely pretenders.
    It should be noted that it doesn’t take an elite quarterback to win a Super Bowl. What it does take, however, is a complete TEAM effort.
    Even though I live in Pittsburgh, I predict an All-Harbaugh Super Bowl. The good news from that scenario would be that a Harbaugh would have to lose.

  29. tigerlilac says: Jan 13, 2013 8:19 PM

    Ninkovich is a great player.

  30. grandmarnier0013 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:20 PM

    That’s it…keep writing off the Ravens

  31. anyonebutbrady says: Jan 13, 2013 8:20 PM

    After seeing some of the snags his receivers made tonight, I’m left wondering if Texan nation wouldn’t have rather had Yates out there tonight. The defense deserves blame of course, 41 points is 41 points, but QB play was a HUGE factor

  32. bratbeach says: Jan 13, 2013 8:21 PM

    I can’t see them beating Baltimore, never mind SF.
    —-

    Next week’s game is going to be close and hard fought but I have to wonder what teams and games someone has been watching if they say that they can’t see the Patriots beating Baltimore. The earlier match-up was a 1 point win by Baltimore in Baltimore and went down to the end. So to say you can’t see the Patriots beating them is a stretch.

    Plus there’s been injuries and returns from injury on both sides. Also in the Patriots case they also brought in Talib and moved McCourty to safety. I’m sure the Ravens may have shifted some things too. I hate when people say “oh it’s not the same team as it was” but in this case it’s true there have been key additions and line-ups to both rosters.

    Should be a good one. Go Pats!

  33. mimitaroo says: Jan 13, 2013 8:22 PM

    Two observations from your observations:

    “Great quarterbacks don’t give up on plays like that.”

    Peyton took that mentality and tried to make a play at the end of yesterdays game. And ended up blowing it by throwing a pick on the run.

    “the Ravens aren’t going to have much of a chance in the AFC Championship Game.”

    People said that about them this week too…

  34. txndave says: Jan 13, 2013 8:23 PM

    Idk how we go into next season with Schaub our starting qb.. I know we signed him to an extension but if he’s our qb next year, us Texans fans can expect the same result in the playoffs.
    But Kubiak wont have the stones to cut him….

  35. dolphins1121 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:24 PM

    A great weekend of football, but I just have to point out a huge negative that is seriously making football extremely difficult to watch. When did we reach a point in our culture that we are so willing to accept being absolutely inundated with advertising? We are watching anywhere from 35-47 minutes of advertising during a 3 hour broadcast of a 60 minute football game. It has gotten way out of hand, and I would love to see more people in the industry take a stand on this. It is simply outrageous. Most countries in Europe have legislation in place that allows their soccer fans to watch an entire match while only being interrupted by commercials before the game and at halftime. Football fans are some of the greatest in the world, and we deserve better than this.

  36. atwatercrushesokoye says: Jan 13, 2013 8:26 PM

    I was only able to watch two games this weekend (both AFC games) and I came away disappointed with how poor the officiating was both ways in both games. As documented in the story yesterday Denver had several bad calls go against them, but Baltimore did as well the one in particular was the facemask call that wasn’t really a facemask.

    Then today you’ve got the unsportsmanlike call against Lloyd, the badly missed offensive PI call that should have been made against Hernandez on a play where he got a ton of yards (41 I believe) that led to a Patriots touchdown, and numerous others.

    These guys are certainly better than the replacements but they have no consistency whatsoever, hopefully the nfl addresses this, the games should be about the players not the calls that the officials do and don’t make.

  37. ultramegacritic says: Jan 13, 2013 8:26 PM

    PFT be honest here.. Pats beat the Texans. A team that could not beat anyone late in the season and only beat the Bengals cause they got lucky. The Jags could beat the Texans. They are awful.
    Patriots may go to the Superbowl cause again they get lucky they get to play the Ravens that are coning off a game that went almost 6 quarters and had to play in Denver now fly to New England but the Ptas will not win the SB. Pats will not be able to beat the 49ers there is no chance.
    Because this time 49ers will not be playing a soft zone D when they are up 30 points. Harbaugh is going to put the pedal to the metal.
    Its going to be ugly
    49ers 51
    Pats 21

  38. watermelon1 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:27 PM

    The Patriots made a statement?!?

    Really?

    They beat a team that hasn’t done anything since about Week 10 of the regular season.

    The Texans were about as unimaginative as you could be on both sides of the ball.

    Schaub doesn’t make one good throw to Andre Johnson until it’s for a 2 point conversion? That makes sense. Why not throw that exact same pass when you’re on the goal line going for a touchdown!?!

    The reason Ravens fans wanted to play the Texans is not because they wanted “revenge” for earlier this season, or because they are supposedly “scared” of the Patriots.

    It’s simply because the Texans have been playing horribly the last 6-8 weeks.

    Next week should be another great game between the Ravens and Patriots that probably goes down to the wire.

    I think I speak for everyone, including fans of teams not involved…. that we all hope the officials don’t try to take over that game.

  39. wikidpissah says: Jan 13, 2013 8:27 PM

    classyjacklambert says: Jan 13, 2013 8:07 PM

    I think everyone besides actual Pats fans and Ravens fans were hoping for any other two teams to make the AFC championship game. Nothing against those two teams we are just sick of watching the Ravens lose in the AFC championship game and the Pats lose in the Super Bowl.
    ———————————————

    Look at the bright side, at least you won’t have to watch the Steelers lose another playoff game to the Patriots.

  40. tigerlilac says: Jan 13, 2013 8:27 PM

    Belichick fields a full roster. They lost both Woodhead and Gronkowski in the first series and the reserves stepped up, especially Vareen.

  41. lurch61 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:29 PM

    “but I think Bill Belichick with two weeks to game plan would make life very difficult for the young San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick”

    ———————————————————–
    same thing the writers said before the chicago game, the new orleans game and more recently the first time the niners beat the pats IN new england.
    He will show you guys “bring it on”

  42. badgerbuck says: Jan 13, 2013 8:29 PM

    Lets hope somebody can take Brady out permanently

  43. kellogg1118 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:29 PM

    “that the Ravens aren’t going to have much of a chance in the AFC Championship Game.”

    You’re really going to make this statement? Ravens just beat a team on an 11 game winning streak in cold weather in high altitude along with the fact they beat the Patriots earlier this season, even throwing that out of the book its been 8 years since Patriots won the Super Bowl but time after time writers like you crown them Super Bowl Champs before the AFC Championship game is played never giving anybody a shot enough is enough if they are this good let them actually win the SB before crowning them Champions

  44. steelwarriors55 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:29 PM

    caseyanthonymunoz says:Jan 13, 2013 8:00 PM

    Tom Brady breaks the all time record for playoff wins the same weekend Peyton Manning ties Favre for the most all time playoff losses. Please national media, don’t compare the two ever again. Manning is a great QB during the regular season against bad teams while playing indoors. Brady is a true football legend whose only comp is Joe Montana.

    ———————————————————-

    To me you cant compare Brady to Montana the same way you cant compare Manning to Brady.TB is 1 SB loss away from being .500 in these SB games which is the same record as PM.Yes it’s great to appear in 6 Super Bowls but if you lose 3 of those 6 it means you dont deserve to be compared to Joe Cool

  45. iamtonyarmstrong says: Jan 13, 2013 8:30 PM

    Here we go again, with a member of the national media thinking the Ravens “don’t have much of a chance” to beat the Patriots…

    Didn’t you learn anything from Saturday? Did you not watch LAST YEAR’s AFCCG?

    The Ravens do not fear the Patriots. And are more than capable of beating NE in Foxborough…

    GAME ON!!

  46. jhorton83 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:30 PM

    Icing the kicker has NEVER been shown to work. I find it absolutely mystifying that coaches continue to do it. If anything, it backfires more often than not as was the case today. Coaches think it’s some kind of strategic advantage despite zero evidence that’s the case. You really think giving a 10 year veteran like Matt Bryant MORE time to focus on the kick is going to make him LESS likely to make it? Absolute stupidity.

  47. pawesl says: Jan 13, 2013 8:31 PM

    To everyone insisting that there is no debate between Brady and Manning, I ask, was Troy Aikman better than Steve Young? Was Terry Bradshaw better than Roger Staubach?

    ———————————————————

    And there still isnt a debate. Brady has more SB wins more Playoff wins and his regular season stats are just as good (sometimes even better) than Mannings.

  48. livingsacrifice86 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:35 PM

    So as a Patriots fan I have to disagree that we are the best team. Did you watch that 49ers game? Wow

  49. rainponcho87 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:38 PM

    I don’t get Richard Sherman. He plays like he is highly offended that he doesn’t get respect, but he is now getting tons of respect. He showboats when he defenses a pass, holding his finger up to say he’s number one, but then does a fake patty cake clap when he’s beaten, as if beating him means the other team had to do something spectacular, instead of him underperforming. He makes each game all about him, instead of realizing what situation his team is in. He went offsides twice when the Falcons were kicking the extra point to go up 20-0. Really? Like blocking an extra point was worth the penalties, one of which was assessed on the kickoff. He needs to get a grip. He’s a very, very good player on a good team. Play smart, play hard, try to win games. Realize you are not the biggest story out there. You haven’t even made a pro bowl yet.

  50. tommyribs says: Jan 13, 2013 8:40 PM

    The Patriots have an excellent team, but the 49ers will have too much speed for them to handle if they both reach the SB.

    The Niners time is right now.

  51. weeny00 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:41 PM

    enough with this favored to win the superbowl, . nobody gv d ravens a chance against peyton manning…we’ll js hv to wait n c who will win nx weekend.. i believed ravens cn win d nx game… sorry peopple if u thnk patroits gonna go superbowl, they hv to pass d ravens, …

  52. maalea says: Jan 13, 2013 8:42 PM

    Maybe “great” QBs should give up on plays sometimes. I think Peyton feels like that today.

  53. darkneptune73 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:43 PM

    GO 49ers!

  54. jtchernak says: Jan 13, 2013 8:47 PM

    The only ones thinking that its a guaranteed or patriots victory already are the media. Patriots players don’t believe that at all and us rational patriots fans realize the ravens are a great team. Should be interesting

  55. benroethlisberger7 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:50 PM

    Look, we win big games. We have branded glory in these moments in professional football history. How about yourself? What do you have going for yourself? Still down there with that empty trophy case, eh? Can you hear me down there?!

  56. TheWizard says: Jan 13, 2013 8:51 PM

    Advertising – commercial blocks before and after kickoffs are too much. I usually leave and treat it as one big commercial break.

    “Joe Cool” didn’t play in the salary cap era. That dominant Niners team would never have been together for so many straight years. That’s a huge advantage. Brady would have had Curtis Martin for the first half of his career.

  57. harrisonhits2 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:52 PM

    You can be certain Ravens fans, that no matter how overconfident certain Pats fans are that the actual Patriots players will take your team very seriously and know very well they could win next week.

    You can also be certain that because of that the Pats will be working very very hard all week to make sure that particular outcome does not happen.

  58. linemanguy74 says: Jan 13, 2013 8:55 PM

    49ers not that good, packers are weak, they cannot compete with physical teams

  59. classyjacklambert says: Jan 13, 2013 9:02 PM

    @wikidpissah
    Well played sir… well played.

  60. maybenextyearbrowns says: Jan 13, 2013 9:02 PM

    Steelers arent playing. Thats all that matters.

  61. urrealitycheck says: Jan 13, 2013 9:02 PM

    Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers , Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford all great passers & great crowd pleasers,.but against the 49ers they lost.

    Who here really gave the Giants a shot against the fabulous Patriots in those Super Bowls?

  62. savilo831 says: Jan 13, 2013 9:02 PM

    Niner fan here 1 second please, he favors the patriots over the NINERS because they beat a reeling texans team that has a suspect QB. Even after the NINERS beat them in foxboro in December. He talks about belichik having two weeks to prepare. Um harbaugh and his staff will do have the same time. The NINERS are going all the way this year. Brady will have too much pressure trying not to go 3-3 in SBs

  63. tedmurph says: Jan 13, 2013 9:06 PM

    atwatercrushesokoye says:Jan 13, 2013 8:26 PM

    I was only able to watch two games this weekend (both AFC games) and I came away disappointed with how poor the officiating was both ways in both games

    ———————————————————-

    Bet it was even more disappointing that all your prognostications(trash talking) about the NE/Denver AFC Championship game didn’t come to fruition.

  64. jdfrox says: Jan 13, 2013 9:10 PM

    Another week of “The Ravens have no shot.” This never gets old!!

  65. daknight93 says: Jan 13, 2013 9:10 PM

    thumbs up if you believe 49ers will win…thumbs down if falcons will win

  66. dirtdawg54 says: Jan 13, 2013 9:15 PM

    Congratulations to the Ravens, Patriots, Niners and Falcons. It isn’t easy to get to the conference championship and these teams showed why they were at the top, or near it, of the league all year.

    What a crazy playoffs, with plenty of heart stopping action and with glimpses of some incredible talent for years to come (Kaepernick, Wilson, RG III, Morris, Luck, Watt, etc).

    I’m envious, because my team is on the outside looking in, and I can’t say I’m much of a fan of any of these teams but they certainly have all put on a good show to date.

  67. bullcharger says: Jan 13, 2013 9:16 PM

    savilo831 says:
    Jan 13, 2013 9:02 PM
    Niner fan here 1 second please, he favors the patriots over the NINERS because they beat a reeling texans team that has a suspect QB. Even after the NINERS beat them in foxboro in December. He talks about belichik having two weeks to prepare. Um harbaugh and his staff will do have the same time. The NINERS are going all the way this year. Brady will have too much pressure trying not to go 3-3 in SBs

    ———–

    The Niners are going to lose to ATL so it won’t matter.

  68. nepatriotsforlife says: Jan 13, 2013 9:19 PM

    Patriots will beat the Ravens (Ray Lewis retirement party is over) and then will take care of the 49ers. They were lucky the first time and there is no way they will beat the Pats twice in the same season.

  69. therealtrenches says: Jan 13, 2013 9:20 PM

    Not a 9ers fan here, but stating that the patriots were the only team that won going away disrespects the 9ers. That game vs gb was over w/ plenty of time left to play.

  70. ivyleaf98 says: Jan 13, 2013 9:22 PM

    Ravens aren’t going to have much of a chance in the AFC Championship Game~ Michael David Smith, Profootball Talk

    WOW, critics haven’t learned yet. We love it. Sorry, you all didn’t get your Brady vs Manning match up!!

  71. havok82 says: Jan 13, 2013 9:28 PM

    Here’s the deal:
    The Pats/Ravens game will be a good one. I think it will be close, but the Pats at home win this one. I don’t think it’s going to be a last second FG game, either. Ravens have emotion and revenge on their minds, but I just don’t think that will be enough. Good team with a good year, but I see it ending next weekend.

  72. maxl49 says: Jan 13, 2013 9:30 PM

    And last week you were saying the Packers were super :/

  73. 49erstim says: Jan 13, 2013 9:35 PM

    Where is all the bluster raving Seahawks fans? I told ya not to overlook Atlanta. Too busy shining your imaginary regular season win over San Fran trophy. Enjoy your offseason. I truly hoped we’d get that rematch. Oh well. I’m already over it! Lolz.

  74. cmdrsmooth says: Jan 13, 2013 9:38 PM

    Pats are a lock for the SB and championship.

  75. cliffclavicle says: Jan 13, 2013 9:39 PM

    They beat Houston…big whoop. Pats will get schooled next week, they’re not that good.

  76. 8man says: Jan 13, 2013 9:44 PM

    jdfrox says:
    Jan 13, 2013 9:10 PM
    Another week of “The Ravens have no shot.” This never gets old!!
    ————————————————————-
    The Ravens always have a shot. They are a quality organization.

    Signed

    Patriot Fan

  77. ebrownwareagle says: Jan 13, 2013 9:49 PM

    So according to the Media and Experts New England is about to win there 12th STR8 Super Bowl!! Glad the game is played on the field!!

  78. patriotinvasion says: Jan 13, 2013 9:59 PM

    Oh boy. Check out all of these Ravens fans huffing and puffing after getting a miracle brain fart by a safety to give up a 70 yard rainbow prayer with 31 seconds left and no timeouts.

    Let Flacco close his eyes and throw up bombs. I’m sure the Patriots will be ready for them.

    That said, should be a great match up between some of the best players of this generation. See you in Foxboro!

  79. jody46 says: Jan 13, 2013 10:06 PM

    caseyanthonymunoz says:Jan 13, 2013 8:00 PM

    Tom Brady breaks the all time record for playoff wins the same weekend Peyton Manning ties Favre for the most all time playoff losses. Please national media, don’t compare the two ever again. Manning is a great QB during the regular season against bad teams while playing indoors. Brady is a true football legend whose only comp is Joe Montana.

    Casey you are on the money. I totally agree with you. Montana is the best qb still that I have ever seen. Brady isn’t Montana but he is the closest thing to him. three superbowl wins, um means he can play in the great games, playoffs. I still can’t believe the 50 people who voted for them in the pro bowl number one qb was manning 43, Rodgers 4, and brady had 3 they even picked rodgers over him. people are nuts

  80. ncsaxon says: Jan 13, 2013 10:16 PM

    It looks like Ernie Adams “coaching” method is doing well in New England.

  81. Deb says: Jan 13, 2013 10:20 PM

    Congrats to the Patriots on a decisive win. As a Steelers fan, I’m no Pats lover, but Brady’s the best in the business. Much respect to Manning, Brees, and others. But for me, it’s a no brainer. Won’t say he’s the best ever because I don’t compare players from different eras. Unitas was the man in his day. But Brady sets the bar for this generation of quarterbacks. And he sets it mighty high.

  82. cskreager says: Jan 13, 2013 10:27 PM

    Imagine how we’d view Peyton Manning if he didn’t have a ring.

  83. patsfiend says: Jan 13, 2013 10:30 PM

    The Ravens are better than they were last year, and they play well against the Pats. They don’t have to game plan for Gronk. Smith and Bolden are playing out of their minds, and Flacco can throw it 70 yds on a Pats D that likes to get beat over the top.

    I’m as big a Pats fan as you’ll find, and I’m sure as heck not punching my ticket to the Super Bowl just yet.

  84. thewigglr says: Jan 13, 2013 10:32 PM

    tedmurph says:

    Now there’s a typical NE fan. I’m sure I’ll see him at the parade, telling people he had it all the way?

    With that being said why would you be at the parade? Is it because your team hasn’t won a championship in 30 years if at all and wanna see what it feels like??

  85. vikings2102 says: Jan 13, 2013 10:39 PM

    I am kind of sick of people using the “2nd guessing” on the icing the kicker. I’ll say this 1st, I am a die hard Vikings fan. Could care less about the Seahawks or Falcons.

    But C’Mon, man. When the timeout was called, everyone stopped. The center decided to get a practice snap and Bryant decided to do a practice kick. He did not try. It’s just like the practice kicks they do when they are warming up with out a ball there. He was just going though the motion. If the TO came as the snap happened and then he missed, ok, I see the argument. In this case, he was just making a practice kick, he missed it because he didn’t try.

  86. donkeykong2011 says: Jan 13, 2013 10:44 PM

    love the Pats but I think this is SF’s year.

  87. chrisjohnston10 says: Jan 13, 2013 10:46 PM

    “that the Ravens aren’t going to have much of a chance in the AFC Championship Game.”

    You’re really going to make this statement? Ravens just beat a team on an 11 game winning streak in cold weather in high altitude along with the fact they beat the Patriots earlier this season, even throwing that out of the book its been 8 years since Patriots won the Super Bowl but time after time writers like you crown them Super Bowl Champs before the AFC Championship game is played never giving anybody a shot enough is enough if they are this good let them actually win the SB before crowning them Champions
    ——————————-
    It’s been 13 years since the Ravens have won the AFC Championship.

  88. scoobies05 says: Jan 13, 2013 10:52 PM

    ravens fan here..congrats to all 4 teams and their fans for making the final 4. there should be two great games next weekend. may the best teams win. and to the steeler fans who keep posting…no one cares about your past accomplishements. its about the four teams playing now. show some class for once and appreciate good football. maybe next year you all will be good enough again. go ravens

  89. westclaims says: Jan 13, 2013 10:53 PM

    I called it earlier in the season, Patriots – 49er’s. And, the Patriots winning, while getting maybe 1-2 penalties the whole game, and holding won’t be amongst those penalties unless it’s in the 4th qtr after the game is out of reach. It’s getting a little obvious. Yet, there will be several defensive pi’s against the 49er’s in tha game. Especially in crucial points during the game. bank it.

  90. ravensworknotsteel says: Jan 13, 2013 11:05 PM

    so the ravens don’t have a chance? well I know your mad its not tom and Peyton .but our corners can handle toms boys and the Ravens are gonna bring their a game

  91. alskdh says: Jan 13, 2013 11:07 PM

    Early in his Career, Brady owned the steelers and colts (mostly) in the playoffs. Now he moves on to Baltimore.
    My guess is he will finally finish with a few broncos games after that.
    Completely solidifying him as the best afc QB of all time.

  92. jessethegreat says: Jan 13, 2013 11:13 PM

    The minute the giants were eliminated from making the playoffs I just knew the Patriots were a lock to bring home another Lombardi. Even Superman has his kryptonie… And the Giants pash rush is Brady’s (that and a Bernard Pollard shot to the knee). Would you bet against Superman knowing there was no kryptonite in sight?

    Still disappointed my packers were eliminated, but I would very much like to see Brady carve his name in stone as the greatest qb of all time.

  93. biglaj007 says: Jan 13, 2013 11:15 PM

    Didn’t this same writer pick Den over Bmore & was so confident that it Den & NE in the AFC. Champ game? Keep dreaming…34-7 Bmore!!!

  94. all4patriots says: Jan 13, 2013 11:17 PM

    1-13-2013

    The date that the last 5% of people on Earth, most living in Indiana, Colorado, or working for ESPN,

    finally came to grips with what the other 95% of us already knew:

    There is no Brady-Manning debate.

    Brady >> Manning

  95. patriotenvy says: Jan 13, 2013 11:22 PM

    Now Richard Sherman can sit in his living room and watch a real “team” led by Tom ‘Hall Of Fame”Brady. You’re not mad are you? Ha-ha Sherman is another Freddie Mitchell in the making.

  96. skooter519 says: Jan 13, 2013 11:26 PM

    I like the fact that the Pats lost to Baltimore and the 49ers this year. There’s not many teams that beat the Pats twice in a row.

  97. onlysane1intheroom says: Jan 13, 2013 11:42 PM

    skooter519 says:
    Jan 13, 2013 11:26 PM
    I like the fact that the Pats lost to Baltimore and the 49ers this year. There’s not many teams that beat the Pats twice in a row.

    ——————————

    Except for, you know, Houston.

  98. mbart94 says: Jan 13, 2013 11:49 PM

    Well I just freed up some time in my schedule next Sunday due to this boring matchup. Who would you cheer for…Crybaby Brady or crybaby Harbaugh…Convict Ravens or Cheater Patriots. B-O-R-I-N-G!!!!!!!!!!!

  99. rocketcrab says: Jan 14, 2013 12:15 AM

    After reading some of the on-line “experts”, I’m not at all sure why the Ravens should even make the trip to Foxborough. It’d just be a waste of time.

  100. ramjam28 says: Jan 14, 2013 1:02 AM

    How perfect would it be for Belichik if he beats both Harbaugh brothers in the playoffs to win another ring. I am feeling pretty confident in this Patriots team. They are a special team. Their offense has been great all year. Brady will not be denied. 4th ring here we come!! Go Patriots!!!!!

  101. holdemnutzz says: Jan 14, 2013 1:19 AM

    The Pat’s are good, but they will not be winning the superbowl, even if they make it there. NFC is tougher this year and will be the victors. The AFC isn’t as dominant as it once was.

  102. CKL says: Jan 14, 2013 1:40 AM

    badgerbuck says:
    Jan 13, 2013 8:29 PM
    Lets hope somebody can take Brady out permanently
    ________________________________
    I’m not a huge censorship person but ones like this shouldn’t make it through the censors. Absolutely worthless comment. Says a lot about the person making it.

    Houston made a better showing in this game than the score looked IMO.

    I have respect for the Ravens as an opponent.W or L, they’ve played the Pats tough for the better part of a decade now. I still remember a not so hot Ravens team almost taking down the undefeated Pats squad in 07. Ravens fans are right, few gave them a chance in Den. The huge spread for this game is ridiculous. IMO it should be 3 points max, for home field only, and only because the Ravens just came off a grueling game made moreso by the venue they played it in. These teams are very evenly matched IMO. Matchups are everything.

  103. txnative61 says: Jan 14, 2013 2:20 AM

    Situational awareness. Flacco says “time to take some shots”. Not just the one Denver DB taking blame should have been aware what could lose the game. About 10 degrees, mile high altitude, in overtime well in their own territory. Many things could win for the King of mental preparation, one thing could lose, a turnover. It wasn’t the interception, but the mental lapse that surprised me most. Peyton Manning failed to note his own deterioration in judgement, and the one thing that would lose. It seems he and Bret Farve will both finish with one Super Bowl win.

  104. giantsny says: Jan 14, 2013 4:29 AM

    No one can blam Peyton for lost and the interceptions ,ball was delivered on hands of the receivers, they lost it,
    What ever Brady accomplished in his life, he need to beat Eli, otherwise, Eli<Bready<Peyton in playoffs , in regular season Peyton<Bready <Eli.
    Both one manning on front of Bready,

  105. bunkerhillbob says: Jan 14, 2013 8:45 AM

    As a Patriots fan, I’m shocked and dismayed by this article. Yeah, we have a very good team, but the loss of Gronkowski prevents us from having a great team. This kind of article satisfies the requirement to get a piece in before the deadline, but is only words with little substance. All the remaining games should be hotly contested and unpredictable, regardless of who these “experts” deem to be favored.

  106. trollingthisbridge says: Jan 14, 2013 8:52 AM

    Shirley, the cornerback for the Seagulls got exposed yesterday for the fraudster and overrated player that he is. Had he spent more time trying to cover his receivers and less time dancing around wagging his finger, maybe, just maybe he wouldn’t have been made to look like the fool he is. It was a pretty good game except for that weak link in Seattle’s defense. I hated to see Russell Wilson lose after the tremendous Rookie of the Year season he just completed, but it was a pleasure seeing Shirley ( or is it Sherwood) get exposed on the defense.

  107. trollingthisbridge says: Jan 14, 2013 8:58 AM

    Deb says:
    Jan 13, 2013 10:20 PM
    Congrats to the Patriots on a decisive win. As a Steelers fan, I’m no Pats lover, but Brady’s the best in the business. Much respect to Manning, Brees, and others. But for me, it’s a no brainer. Won’t say he’s the best ever because I don’t compare players from different eras. Unitas was the man in his day. But Brady sets the bar for this generation of quarterbacks. And he sets it mighty high.
    __________________________________
    Have to agree on this one and Brady’s is hands down the best QB in the league today, so enough with crowning Aaron Rodgers; he’s just not as good as Brady and the results prove it.

  108. wikidpissah says: Jan 14, 2013 9:48 AM

    giantsny says: Jan 14, 2013 4:29 AM

    No one can blam Peyton for lost and the interceptions ,ball was delivered on hands of the receivers, they lost it,
    What ever Brady accomplished in his life, he need to beat Eli, otherwise, Eli<Bready<Peyton in playoffs , in regular season Peyton<Bready <Eli.
    Both one manning on front of Bready,
    ————————————————-
    Did you even watch the game? The interception that led to the game winning field goal was a throw across his body (that only rookies and Brett Favre make) right into the hands of a defender.

    The Giants beat Brady and the Pats fair and square, mostly because their D-line can pressure Brady without bringing extra rushers, leaving no one open for the hot reads that Brady burns most other teams with. Despite that, Brady lead the Pats to a TD to take the lead late in the first, and had the Pats ahead late in game 2. Eli deserves great credit for his 2 late game winning drives.

    Brady has more playoff wins than Peyton and Eli combined. He has done it with a complete roster turnover since his first year. Peyton has EIGHT one and dones. Eli has had 2 great runs, but only 2.

  109. skinsfaninnebraska says: Jan 14, 2013 11:37 AM

    Patriots do look like the most complete team still standing this postseason. I’d pick them to win it all at this point, definitely.

    Still, that is why you play the games, because “On any given Sunday…”

  110. ravgt says: Jan 14, 2013 11:58 AM

    Brady has more playoff wins than Peyton and Eli combined. He has done it with a complete roster turnover since his first year. Peyton has EIGHT one and dones. Eli has had 2 great runs, but only 2.

    Flacco, in five years, has the same number of playoff wins (8) as Eli in nine years and one less than Peyton in fifteen years. Just sayin’

  111. hor2012 says: Jan 14, 2013 12:34 PM

    I think the pats are going to win the superbowl.
    But, I’m more concerned with what I saw over the weekend on defense. Now, I’m going to defer to the fans of the teams that played this week and coaches who coach at the HS level. But, I think this was the worst display of tackling I’ve seen in a long time. Defensed complain that the rules are slanted toward the offenses. But, rules had nothing to do with Denver’s safety allowing a receiver to run by him in the last moments of a game. And, the falcons running back runs over a safety and runs forty yards. Until defenders start bringing thier arms to tackle offenses will continue to have thier way. Also I think John Fox blew it. You have a hall of fame QB and you take the ball out of his hands. And, then with 31 sec left you don’t even try to work that ball into FG range

  112. pwoeckener says: Jan 14, 2013 12:53 PM

    Didn’t watch the Patriots game, and I doubt I’ll watch the AFC Championship. I’m sick and tired of New England winning games when it doesn’t even seem competitive. You can’t tell me that there isn’t another team in the AFC that can frustrate Tom Brady and the Patriots? I mean, come on.

    If the Patriots make the Super Bowl I probably won’t watch that either. So sick of seeing Tom Brady’s smirky little face. In the old days, linebackers like Dick Butkus would have made a hobby out of seeing how many times they could break a quarterback like Brady’s nose and make him eat dirt.

    This is what happens when you get penalized for breathing on a quarterback. They get arrogant, and they have nothing to fear. The NFL sucks these days. So sick of Brady and the Patriots. It’s not fun, and it’s just flat out boring.

  113. wikidpissah says: Jan 14, 2013 1:15 PM

    ravgt says: Jan 14, 2013 11:58 AM

    Flacco, in five years, has the same number of playoff wins (8) as Eli in nine years and one less than Peyton in fifteen years. Just sayin’
    ————————————————
    Lots of respect for Flacco. While he’s inconsistent on the regular season, he steps up in the playoffs. He was excellent in last year’s AFC Championship game.

  114. 66orioles says: Jan 14, 2013 3:50 PM

    Another playoff game and another dire prediction for the Ravens.

    Colts will beat the Ravens became Luck’s inexperience cost the Colts and not Ravens are finally healthy and playing up to their ability

    Broncos will rout the Ravens became Refs hand Ravens the win instead of Flacco steps up into a higher class and so do the Ravens.

    Now the majority of the media and even the bookmakers (Ravens 9 point underdog) see no way no how the Patriots can lose.

    Let’s play the game before the Patriots are anointed as The Best Ever and look at the possibility the Ravens are bringing more to the game than what you think you see.

  115. jprcox says: Jan 14, 2013 3:54 PM

    As a Seattle fan, I can tell you that Clemens not being in the game was HUGE. I thought Bruce Irving would do OK, but he wasn’t even at the game it felt like. I wonder how much of Irving’s “good” season was based upon Clemens providing presure from the other side and getting the double team.

    Irving even appears to be too small – he’s a OLB playing DE. Seattle should look at just making him a OLB as he was in school – as he just lacks the size for that position.

    Seattle is a pass-rush away from rolling off a dynasty type team for the next 5 years.

  116. baredon says: Jan 14, 2013 4:14 PM

    Calling a time out to “ice” a kicker is just high school play… The man does nothing but kick a football… Either he hits or misses… Bet Carroll never calls another time out over a kicker…

  117. baredon says: Jan 14, 2013 4:15 PM

    Two best teams should be in Super Bowl. New England and San Francisco… 49’s win as Pats will not be able to contain QB..

  118. kinguga says: Jan 14, 2013 8:20 PM

    I think the Pats are the only opposition in the league that could make 90% of football fans cheer for the Ravens.

  119. txnative61 says: Jan 15, 2013 2:16 AM

    I prefer the Ravens play the 49er’s in the Super Bowl. Two reasons: #1 After years of coaching excellence the Harbaugh’s deserve the big game. #2 Even if a Harbaugh wins one of them is certain to lose, so there’s something for everybody.

  120. nicepak381 says: Jan 15, 2013 9:21 AM

    I would not be too surprized if Atlanta knocked off the Niners this weekend. Their plan will be to keep CK inside, so his only run option is up the middle. That’s the key to the game.

  121. ss376 says: Jan 15, 2013 4:10 PM

    I feel like I hear this every year: “Patriots playing great, look like Super Bowl favorites” then they run into a brick wall, usually called the Steelers or the Giants. Usually, the pundits also say The Patriots addressed weakness x (choose one of “pass rush”, “run game”, “secondary”, or “deep threat”) by signing Free Agent y (choose one of Albert Haynesworth, The Law Firm, Randy Moss, Chad Johnson or Aqib Talib).

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