New England Patriots

AFC East

2014 Schedule

  • Week 1

    NE @ MIA


    1:00 pm

  • Week 2

    NE @ MIN


    1:00 pm

  • Week 3

    OAK @ NE


    1:00 pm

  • Week 4

    NE @ KC


    8:30 pm

  • Week 5

    CIN @ NE


    8:30 pm

  • Week 6

    NE @ BUF


    1:00 pm

  • Week 7

    NYJ @ NE


    8:30 pm

  • Week 8

    CHI @ NE


    1:00 pm

  • Week 9

    DEN @ NE


    4:30 pm

  • Week 10


  • Week 11

    NE @ IND


    8:30 pm

  • Week 12

    DET @ NE


    1:00 pm

  • Week 13

    NE @ GB


    4:30 pm

  • Week 14

    NE @ SD


    8:30 pm

  • Week 15

    MIA @ NE


    1:00 pm

  • Week 16

    NE @ NYJ


    1:00 pm

  • Week 17

    BUF @ NE


    1:00 pm

PYRO Fantasy Depth Chart

The PYRO Fantasy Football Depth Chart is a rundown of where Team PYRO projects the fantasy production for each team at each position. It is NOT an attempt to inform you of the current starters for each team. For example, we are well aware that Brandon Manumaleuna is currently the starting TE for the Chicago Bears, but if you look at the Bears Team Page, we have Greg Olsen listed at TE. Why? We’re projecting that Greg Olsen will be the most Fantasy Football relevant TE for the Bears this season. Since Olsen will be the Bears leading FF point scorer at TE, it’s his name at the top of the TE column on our PYRO Fantasy Depth Chart.

The Tuck Rule Game

Rule 3, Section 22, Article 2, Note 2 of the NFL rule book, which states that "any intentional forward movement of [the thrower's] arm starts a forward pass, even if the player loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to tuck it back toward his body."

That is the NFL’s Tuck rule, which was instituted in 1999. The rule was repealed in March of 2013 by a vote of 29-1 with two abstentions. The reason for the repeal was due to this controversial call impacting games at key moments. There is no better example of this happening than during a Divisional Playoff game in Foxboro between the New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders on January 19th, 2002, which has since come to be known as “The Tuck Rule Game”.

Tom Brady had taken over as the Patriots quarterback, after Drew Bledsoe was knocked out earlier in the season, and was preparing to start his first ever playoff game. The Oakland Raiders had made the long cross-country trip after defeating the New Yorks Jets at home the previous week. The Raiders were coached by Jon Gruden, and had started the season 8-2, but finished 10-6, losing their final three games of the regular season. The Raiders would not only have to deal with the time zone adjustment, but the California team also had to deal winter conditions.  It was a blustery New England day, with 28-degree temperatures, wind, and a steady snowfall.

The game began with each time fighting to find their footing, and neither team was able to score in the first quarter. The Raiders had the ball in good field position at the start of the second quarter, and proceeded to drive 50 yards downfield, culminating in a James Jett 13-yard touchdown catch. That would be the only score of the half, with the Raiders leading 7-0.

The Patriots received the second half kickoff, and Tom Brady led a methodical six minute plus drive down to the Raiders five-yard line, but stalled out there. The Patriots would have to settle for an Adam Vinatieri 23-yard field goal, to cut the lead to 7-3. The Raiders dominated the rest of the third quarter scoring, but only mustered two Sebastian Janikowski field goals and a 13-3 lead heading into the final quarter.

It was at this point that Tom Brady gave the first glimpse of the clutch quarterback he would become. The Patriots got possession of the ball at their own 33-yard line, with 12:29 left to play.   Brady would complete nine consecutive passes on the drive, which ended with a Brady 6-yard scramble for a touchdown and only 7:57 remaining in the game. The Patriots now trailed 13-10.

The Raiders then put a decent drive together, but stalled out at the Patriots 45-yard line and were forced to punt. Brady and the Pats were unable to do anything on the drive, and were forced to punt back to the Raiders with only 2:41 left to play in the game. Charlie Garner ran for seven yards on the first play, followed by the Patriots first timeout. Garner would carry again for two yards, followed by the Patriots second timeout. On the crucial third and one play the Raiders gave the ball to 240-pound fullback Zack Crockett, who was shut down for no gain by Teddy Bruschi and Ty Law. Oakland would have to punt. This is when the fun began.

Troy Brown returned the punt 27 yards, before he fumbled the ball. Luckily for the Patriots, teammate Larry Izzo recovered the fumble at the Patriots 46-yard line with 2:06 remaining. Brady would then complete a pass to Kevin Faulk for seven yards, followed by a scramble for five yards. New England had first and ten at the Raiders 42-yard line with 1:50 left to play. Tom Brady dropped back to pass, pumped the ball and pulled it back when it was knocked out of his hands by Oakland’s Charles Woodson, and recovered by teammate Greg Biekert. The ruling on the field by head referee Walt Coleman was fumbled and recovered by Oakland, but the game was inside the two-minute warning meaning replays were initiated by the replay official. Replay official Rex Stuart called for a review of the play. The replay showed that Brady started to throw the ball but when he felt Woodson’s pressure he brought the ball back, bringing his throwing arm down and tucking the ball, like he was going to run with or protect the ball.

When Walt Coleman exited the replay booth, he ruled that the pass was incomplete due to the tuck rule. It was at this point that NFL fans became acutely aware of Rule 3, Section 22, Article 2, Note 2 of the NFL rulebook. The Patriots maintained possession of the ball and would finish the drive five plays later with an Adam Vinatieri 45-yard field goal to tie the game 13-13 with only 0:32 left in regulation. The game would go to overtime, and it was clear that the wind had been taken out of the Raiders sails after the tuck call took their fumble recovery away.

New England won the toss, and elected to receive the overtime kickoff. Brady led the Patriots on the first of many big game winning drives. Brady would complete nine consecutive passes during the 15-play, 61-yard drive that lasted 8:25. Brady drove the Patriots all the way to the Raiders 5-yard line, before Adam Vinatieri sealed the game with a 23-yard field goal.

Needless to say, Oakland felt cheated out of this game, and it would even cost Jon Gruden his job with the Raiders. It would go on to become known as “The Tuck Rule Game”, and it will forever remain that way in history, now that the rule has been abolished. The impact of this game became two fold, as it also became the catalyst to Tom Brady becoming Tom Brady. If the Raiders had won that game, it would have been one and done for Tom in his first playoff game. Instead, he would rally that into his first of three Super Bowl victories. The Raiders would make it to the Super Bowl the following season, although they would run into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, coached by Jon Gruden, who destroyed his former team 48-21. In the end, the tuck rule was all bad for Oakland, and all good for New England and Tom Brady.


By Houdini

Spread The Fire

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Belichick compares Edelman to Tedy Bruschi

"I think Julian's career compares to players like Tedy Bruschi, who played one position in college that was — I would say — pretty unrelated to the position that he played professionally," Belichick said on a conference call on Saturday. "Tedy went from a defensive tackle always in a three-point stance, never in coverage, to playing on his feet, playing middle linebacker, and playing a majority of the game in coverage. Julian was a quarterback that never returned kicks, and now, can return punts and plays receiver."

Edelman had the best receiving season of his career last year, totaling 105 catches for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns. He also returned a career-high 35 punts for 374 yards. His average of 12.3 yards per punt return is the highest among active players and the fourth-highest all-time.

He also set a Patriots franchise record with a 94-yard punt return in the season finale against the Miami Dolphins in 2010, his second year in the NFL.

"Julian's worked extremely hard. I would say he's developed skills in two areas — punt return and receiver — that he didn't have any experience at," Belichick said. "That's not an easy thing to do at all. You've got to give a lot of credit to the amount of work and dedication and training that he's put into that."

Pyro's take: Belichick loves players like Edelman, and Julian has done nothing this preseason to alter his feelings. In their third preseason game Edelman had eight receptions for 99 yards. He is Brady's favorite target, and is going to improve on his yardage numbers from last season, while still being a major PPR threat.

08/24/14, 04:24 PM CDT by Houdini

Edelman gets boost from Darrelle Revis

Edelman put up astounding numbers last season, he had 105 receptions on 151 targets, posted 1,056 yards receiving, 6 TDs, and he also had over 300 punt return yards. Now, those numbers aren’t as good as Welker’s best season with the Pats, where he put up 123 receptions, 1,348 yards and 4 TDs in just 14 games. But Edelman has something that Welker never had during his stay in New England: Darrelle Revis.

With the Patriots adding Revis to their defense, Edelman gets to go up against the leagues BEST corner all the time during practice. By facing Revis on a regular basis, Edelman will get better; he has to if he ever wants to make any catches in practice. This offseason has been filled with Edelman making all kinds of circus catches and looking like the best receiver on the field. This continuous ascension into super stardom started last year, but Revis will put Edelman in with Victor Cruz, and Wes Welker (2 of the premier slot receivers in the league). But Edelman is more than just a slot receiver; he spent the majority of his time last year on the outside.

Pyro's take: Edelman has been a favorite of d-Rx for a long time, and he proved it last year. This season he is still being drafted as a value, and one that you should be paying attention to.

Darrelle Revis will make Edelman better, not to mention he still has Tom Brady throwing him the ball. Brady trusts him more than any other receiver on the team, and Gronk is still not an option yet. Julian will a fantasy factor, and he will also be a consistent source of points. If he falls in your draft, and he will, grab him.

08/17/14, 07:48 PM CDT by Houdini

Ridley continues to have ball security issues

When Stevan Ridley fumbled early in the second quarter of Friday night's preseason game between the Patriots and the Eagles, it was immediately recovered by fullback James Develin. It also appeared close as to whether or not the play should have technically been ruled a fumble at all since Ridley was very close to being on the ground when the ball popped loose.

Technicality or no technicality, Patriots coach Bill Belichick explained in a conference call on Saturday why the team never wants its players to loose their handle on the football.

"We always talk about ball-security," Belichick said. "Taking care of the ball, there's nothing that correlates more to winning and losing than the turnovers so that's always a high priority for us. We never want the ball out. On the other side of the ball, defensively and the kicking game, we always try to get it out. Sometimes when we get the ball out, we don't recover it. Sometimes when we recover it, they blow it dead. But we always want to try to do that.

"Same goes true on the offensive side of the ball. We don't want plays where they end up with the ball, whether they're ruled in our favor or not: Have an interception in their hands but drop it, or plays where the ball gets away from us, or we recover, or it goes out of bounds, or they recover it. Those are all plays that we try to avoid, obviously. They do matter. And so do the ones that we -- same thing on defense. Plays where we get it out . . . we don't get 'em all. But the more we get 'em out, the more we'll get. So they are significant."

Pyro's take: Ridley has had a case of the fumbles since he entered the NFL, and that has consistently put him in Bill Belichick's doghouse. The fact that this trend has continued in this preseason is bad news for Stevan. The Patriots have added James White to the backfield in the draft, and he is quickly moving ahead of Ridley. The other issue is that Ridley is a one dimensional running back. In his three seasons in the NFL Stevan only has 19 receptions. So if he continues to have the ball security issues then it will be a no brainer for Belichick to bench him in favor of the rookie. Ridley is not a recommended back this season.

08/17/14, 02:44 PM CDT by Houdini

White turning heads in New England

According to Phil Perry, fourth-round rookie James White and Shane Vereen got the majority of the work with the New England Patriots first-team offensive on Wednesday.

Veteran Stevan Ridley? Not so much.

Ridley’s frequent fumbling problem has been a continual thorn in the side of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. Ridley has fumbled four times in each of the last two seasons, with all four resulting in turnovers for New England last year.

With White only had four carries for nine yards in the Patriots preseason opener against the Washington Redskins last week, he appears turning heads in training camp and earning extra reps in practice.

Pyro's take: This is not a total to surprise to us, as Bill Belichick will always go with the hot hand, and turnovers are the main deciding factor in his mind. Stevan Ridley is a fumbler, and that is not going to change, which is why James White is getting such an extensive look.

White comes from Wisconsin, where he was a standout. The reason he did not get a lot of attention in college was because he played behind Montee Ball for three seasons, but was always productive. Now he is getting his chance, and looks to have a chance to make an impact as a rookie. Move him up your tiers.

08/14/14, 11:58 PM CDT by Houdini

Amendola looking to make amends in 2014

Amendola is out of the spotlight, but he is still on the spot. He is the highest-paid receiver on a team that has significant questions about its receiving corps. If the Patriots are going to provide quarterback Tom Brady with a better arsenal of pass receiving options than last season, Amendola’s comfort level and production have to go up in year two or the team could send him on a go route after it.

“I feel comfortable,” Amendola said. “It’s different. A year under your belt in a new system, in a new place, in a new organization, it’s kind of like when a rookie comes in for the first time and tries to learn the offense. It might be difficult at times, but that second year that learning curve is much less. I feel very comfortable right now. I’m just trying to come out here and work.”

The Patriots are hoping Amendola catches on faster this year.

His debut season with the Patriots was framed by a serious groin injury and an inability to get into Brady’s circle of trust. The fast-talking, quick-footed Texan hurt his groin in the preseason and then tore it completely in the season-opener against Buffalo, soldiering on to catch 10 passes for 104 yards in that game.

Pyro's take: Amendola is on his last legs with the Patriots, and has fallen well down wide receiver rankings this summer. Injury is still the biggest concern for Amendola, who has only played in 24 games the last three seasons.

If Danny can stay healthy, and hold onto the football, he will have a chance to have a bounce back season. The other major obstacle for Amendola is the emergence of Julian Edleman. Edleman has the trust of Brady, and is a hard worker who is not going to give anything up easy. I would target Amendola in the later rounds of your draft, especially if you are in a PPR league. High risk/reward with Danny.

08/02/14, 12:18 PM CDT by Houdini

Dobson has a permanent screw in his foot

Before practice began this morning, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reported a new detail about Aaron Dobson's surgery from back in March. According to Howe, the surgery required the insertion of a permanent screw to aid the healing process. As a result, Dobson's recovery has been moving slower than originally expected.

"Dobson didn't even begin running until July, and that progression ultimately leads to aggressive planting and cutting," says Howe. "The Patriots medical staff is making sure Dobson is able to handle the rigors of the job before allowing him on the field."

Pyro's take: This news hurts, and means that the Patriots have yet another fragile member of their receiving corps. When Dobson gets back on the field he will have a chance to make an impact in the offense, but injury is a real risk. We all saw what happened to Julio Jones last season, who also has a screw in his foot. There are a lot of other options for New England, so it is imperative that he gets back as soon as he can. It will be important to see him play in actual games and make cuts before I feel comfortable drafting him as WR3 or Flex.

07/29/14, 10:08 PM CDT by Houdini

Gronk should be ready for week 1

According to NFL Media's Albert Breer, the goal is for Gronkowski to be on the field for the season opener at Miami.

Gronkowski's rehab has been a lot smoother than last offseason's. The Patriots aren't going to take any risks, though. Gronkowski will spend a portion of the next month rehabbing near Foxboro.

It's possible that Gronk's knee will be ready for the start of training camp in late July, Breer reported on Friday's edition of NFL Total Access, but the Patriots won't do anything to jeopardize his chances of being ready for Week 1.

Pyro's take: It sounds like the Patriots are not going to get burned again by rushing Gronk back onto the field. Even if he sits out the entire preseason, he will still be a beast when he gets on the field.

Last season Gronk had double-digit targets in four of seven games, and never had less than five in a game. The best part of his game is the ability for #87 to score touchdowns. If he is healthy, he will have a chance to challenge Jimmy Graham for best fantasy tight end.

06/30/14, 10:29 PM CDT by Houdini

Dobson and Thompkins fitting for starting spot

The New England Patriots still haven’t found a starter at one of the most important offensive skill positions.

The battle for the starting “X” wide receiver in the Patriots’ offense rages on this offseason. The “X” receiver typically is a bigger player who can use size and speed to beat pressing cornerbacks. He should be the “big-play” receiver in the Patriots’ offense.

Last year, the position was held by 2013 rookies Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce at different times in the season. Now, veteran Brandon LaFell has joined the mix, and training camp and preseason will dictate who starts in Week 1.

Julian Edelman still will start in the “Z” role, and Danny Amendola is expected to hold down the slot for the second consecutive season.

Pyro's take: Aaron Dobson would have the inside track, but he is still be hampered by a foot injury. He has better speed than Thompkins, and as the big play receiver in the offense, that speed should be the difference maker. Dobson was also starting to get on the same with Brady. The addition of Brandon LaFell also throws a wrench into this situation.

Dobson still has the best chance to come out on top of this battle, but in a Bill Belichick offense there is a high probability that he will go with the hot hand once the season starts.

06/29/14, 06:41 PM CDT by Houdini

LaFell's head is spinning in New England

There’s opportunity for LaFell with the Patriots, but he’ll have to fight to earn Tom Brady’s trust.

On Friday, LaFell admitted that his head was already spinning. He was trying to learn the playbook and find a place to live. He was asked about personal goals and scoffed at the idea that he even had any at this moment.

“Goals? I just want to win. That’s my goal. I want to win and just keep winning,” LaFell said. “All the personal goals are out the window. I just want to win and play good football and not be someone that holds this team back. I want to be someone who helps this team progress.”

Pyro's take: LaFell joins a very crowded receiving corps in New England, but he should earn one of the two outside receiver spots. Brandon showed flashes in Carolina, but he never had more than 49 receptions or 677 yards. The history of free agent receiver failures (Danny Amendola, Chad Johnson, Tory Holt, Joey Galloway) in New England is also not on LaFell's side.

I think he will put up better numbers with the Patriots, but not enough to make a real fantasy impact.

06/12/14, 07:36 PM CDT by Houdini

LaFell signs with the Patriots

Brandon LaFell will be a new Patriot after the Carolina Panthers decided to let LaFell go his own way. Brandon will now join Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins, and Aaron Dobson. He will also have to carve his niche, while battling Rob Gronkowski and Shane Vereen for receptions.

Pyro's take: The Patriots are loading up on wide receivers as they do not want to face the same situation as last year, as they had to rely on 4th or 5th wide receiver quality talent to win ball games. Unfortunately, Brandon La-Fail is a quality 5th receiver with some upside. His only fantasy relevance is due to Tom Brady, or a fantasy league with 20 owners.

03/16/14, 04:07 PM CDT by Vaaal verde

Edelman remains a Patriot

Julian Edelman will remain a New England Patriot after signing an undisclosed deal yesterday. Edelman was a key component in the Patriots offense even though he missed time with an injury. He had his career year in 2013 by having 105 receptions for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns — all career highs. In his five year career, Edelman has caught 174 passes for 1,770 yards and 10 touchdowns while returning three punts for a touchdown.

Pyro's take: The last thing Tom Brady wanted to happen was to lose another top performing wide out, especially after losing Wes Welker to the Denver Broncos last year. The Patriots did bring in Danny Amendola to help ease that loss, but Amendola underperformed and was injured for most of 2013. This has to ease the pressure of Brady, as he retains his go-to-receiver, and Edelman should continue to develop as the number one wide receiver.

03/16/14, 03:30 PM CDT by Vaaal verde

Patriots could trade or cut Amendola

Veteran NFL scribe Dan Pompei reports that the Patriots have “floated” wide receiver Danny Amendola’s name in trade discussions and speculates that he could be cut if a deal is not made.

Still, making a move would not be cheap. Trading Amendola before June 2 would cost the Patriots an additional $645,000 in 2014, though his cap number would go from $5.75 million to zero in 2015, according to

There are several scenarios involved with cutting Amendola, though this one spelled out by seems to make the most sense:

Cut Danny Amendola before 4PM March 11 and make him a June 2 designation.

That means the Pats would carry his $3 million salary and his $375,000 roster bonus on their books until June 2nd. On June 2nd he would be released. His 2014 cap number would then drop from $4.575m to $1.2million ($1.2 million signing bonus proration) – net cap savings in 2014 of around $2.88 million.

His 2015 cap number would go from $5.575 million to $3.6 million.

Pyro's take: Oh Danny Boy, a cut or trade is calling.

Amendola was a total underachiever, and once again an injury risk in 2013. The Patriots have a decision to make with Julian Edelman, as it became clear towards the end of 2013 that Tom Brady prefers him over Awomandola.

The best case scenario for the Patriots would be to trade Danny Boy in order to get his contract totally off their books in 2015, as well as keep more continuity in their offense by re-signing Edelman.

In the end, the Patriots are probably going to keep him for this season, but he will remain on the hot seat. If the Pats do resign Edelman, there is no reason to keep Amendola. New England has three young talented receivers who are entering their second year: Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce.

03/01/14, 02:07 PM CST by Houdini

Aaron Dobson not content with rookie season

"I'm never going to be content about anything," Dobson said of the state of his game. "I just got to get better, improve and learn to have a better overall understanding of the game and be a better player. As a rookie, Dobson said adjusting to the NFL learning curve proved to be the biggest test, but he's dedicated to apply himself in all phases of the game.

"Me as a player, I'm trying to get better every day, just improve all areas of the game: blocking, catching, running routes, everything," he said. "I'm just going to try to do whatever I need to do." With a tough playoff loss to finish his first NFL season, Dobson said he's ready to get back to action. "It's a new year, it's going to be a whole different team," he said. "I'm just excited to get back and start working."

Pyro's take: Dobson finished fourth in receiving yards on the Patriots last season with 519 yards while missing five games. Even though it was a statistically miserable season for the whole team, Dobson, still finished a respectable 7th in receiving amongst all rookie WRs.

With Edelman being a free agent and Amendola possibly being a salary cap casualty, Dobson is one of the few constants in the patriots WR group. But unless Dobson becomes the number one option, it’s hard to see him being more than a FF WR3; the last WR duo to both go over 1000 yards on the Patriots was Randy Moss and Wes Welker. The potential is out there of course; Dobson was a second rounder in last year’s draft and had a couple of nice games last year.

02/21/14, 03:26 PM CST by SUITS

Edelman will be an interesting free agent target

Mike Reiss suggests the Houston Texans could be a potential landing spot for Patriots impending free agent WR Julian Edelman.

"As for Julian Edelman’s potential market, it makes sense to think it will be close to Danny Amendola range after Edelman's 105-catch season," adds Reiss. "If that’s the case, the Patriots could absorb it but I think they would ultimately decide not to."

Pyro's take: If Edelman ends up signing with another team, his fantasy value will take a dip. The Patriots have been renowned, since Tom Brady has been quarterback, for targeting the slot receiver the most in the offense.

All you have to do is look at Wes Welker and the drop off he sustained this season after leaving the Patriots. Welker had 118 catches with Brady, and only 73 catches with Peyton Manning. Julian had a breakout season this year, but if he ends up leaving you can expect him to fall well short of the 105 catches he had this season.

02/04/14, 05:09 PM CST by Houdini

Murdernandez wins Soap On A Rope League MVP!

If the two letters posted online by TMZ are to be believed, Hernandez is helping out his cellmates by handing off the contact info of women who have written to him in prison.

Also, Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson has told the Boston Herald that Hernandez is not allowed to watch TV, so he hasn't watched any NFL games this season.

Pyro's take: Sharing is caring... too bad Aaron will never see freedom again and any girl that wants to have a tryst with this thug better have a great vibrator. Let's be honest, Aaron Murdernandez is The Soap On A Rope League MVP & Rookie of the Year this year. He's still got it...

For the time being, a real nice Tight End.

01/29/14, 07:32 PM CST by d-Rx

Edelman's 105 catches doesn't tell the whole story

After compiling a total of 69 receptions through his first four NFL seasons, Julian Edelman broke out for 105 catches in 2013 - good for fourth in the league behind only Pierre Garcon (113), Antonio Brown (110) and Andre Johnson (109).

However, Edelman was only able to amass 1,056 yards with those 105 catches, which would end up ranking him all the way down at 21st in the league.

Pyro's take: Another little unknown fact is that of the 79 different 100-catch seasons during the Super Bowl era (1966-2013), Edelman's 1,056 yards was the fourth-fewest total of the 79 and the absolute fewest by a wide receiver (TE Jason Witten - 1,039 yds; FB Larry Centers - 962 yds; RB LaDainian Tomlinson - 725 yds).

Basically, if the New England Patriots are able to re-sign him, fantasy owners could target Julian as a WR2 in PPR leagues, but probably shouldn't be thought of as more than a WR3 with upside in standard scoring leagues.

01/27/14, 09:18 PM CST by Dawgmaticå

Brady is looking to topple Montana, not Manning

It’s Brady. It’s always been Brady. And even if Manning’s favored Denver Broncos prevail Sunday against the New England Patriots, it still will be Brady.

This is not about quarterback ratings or NFL MVP awards, of which Manning has a record four. The most crystallizing, defining measure of a quarterback is this: whether he can perform at his best at the most crucial moment of his given season.

Manning, 37, has superior career passing and touchdown numbers, but those will never trump these: Brady, 36, has won twice as many playoff games and two more Super Bowl trophies. And he has been to three more Super Bowls and four more conference championship games .

Even the best statistical argument for Manning in my mind — his 51 game-winning drives, which are tied with Dan Marino for the most in a career — falls short. Brady has led 42 such drives, but seven have come in January or February, three of them in the Super Bowl.

That’s not merely clutch for his era. That’s historically money.

Joe Montana has 33 game-winning drives but just three in January — including “The Catch” to Dwight Clark against Dallas in the 1981 season’s NFC championship (which Brady actually saw in person as a 4-year-old Bay Area kid) and the 1988 Super Bowl to beat the Bengals.

Fact: Brady and Montana are the only two players in NFL history to win the NFL most valuable player and Super Bowl MVP awards multiple times. If Brady wins two more games this season, he will have as many Super Bowl titles as Montana.

Fact: Brady and Elway are the only two quarterbacks to lead their teams to five Super Bowls. If Brady takes the Patriots to a sixth this season, he stands alone.

Fact: No quarterback has more wins in playoff history than Brady’s 18 against seven losses. Montana went 16-7. Brady has 31 more regular season wins than Montana and a higher career passing rating.

Fact: Joe Montana’s greatest receiver during his Super Bowl years was Jerry Rice, only the greatest receiver ever. Peyton Manning’s was Marvin Harrison, soon to be a Hall of Famer. Tom Brady’s greatest receiver during his three Super Bowl victories was Troy Brown. (Randy Moss, bless his straight-cash-homie heart, was just passing through.)

Fact: Peyton Manning is 10-11 in the postseason.

Pyro's take: Brady has been Mr. Clutch in his career, just not as of late. Since losing to the Giants in the Super Bowl Brady is 4-4 in the post-season, including his win last week. In order for Brady to put himself in a class of his own over Montana and Elway he needs to win the title this year. Manning just happens to be standing in his way.

Brady is the quarterback you want in the big game. Tom terrific is once again doing it with no receivers to speak of and just keeps getting it done. A win today against Manning will put him on the verge of being the greatest quarterback of all-time.

01/19/14, 01:02 PM CST by Houdini

Amendola looking to end the Welker discussion this week

Amendola was either supposed to be the second coming of Welker or an injury-prone “wuss” who couldn’t finish a season. It turns out neither party was correct.

It would have been impossible for Amendola to live up to his hype or his predecessor. The slot receiver has followed in Welker’s footsteps his entire career from attending Texas Tech, to going undrafted, to signing with the Patriots. Now, Amendola will be compared to Welker once again as the Patriots face the Broncos on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game.

Just because Amendola didn’t turn out to be Welker 2.0 doesn’t mean his regular season was a disappointment, though. Amendola displayed impressive toughness, missing just one game with a concussion and playing through a painful groin injury. Amendola originally suffered the groin ailment in the preseason. He had healed by the regular season but the injury worsened before halftime in Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills when he ripped the groin muscle completely off the bone.

Amendola wound up with 54 catches for 633 yards and two touchdowns during the regular season. He added three catches for 77 yards in the Patriots’ divisional-round playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady offered up some lofty praise for Amendola on Thursday.

“Danny’s had a great season,” Brady said glowingly. “He’s showed me really what he’s all about. He’s fought through a lot of adversity earlier in the year and is really playing his best football. He’s done a great job. He’s been in and out of different roles in the whole offense and different positions, different formations. He’s had to learn a lot of different spots. He’s willing to do whatever it takes. He’s doing great and I love being out there with him.”

Pyro's take: Amendola has been walking in Wes Welker's footsteps since he enrolled at Texas Tech. This season he was supposed to step in the role vacated by Welker, and, in the eyes of many, was supposed to be the next coming of Wes.

Well, as it turned out it looks like Julian Edelman did a better job at filling that role. Amendola still had some success in the offense, just not what he, the Patriots or anyone in fantasy expected from him. That can all be put to bed with a great showing in the AFC Championship game.

These are the types of games where players who are not necessarily the best on their team step up to make the difference. With how well Edelman has been playing it could be easy for defenses to forget about Amendola. Danny will look to make this be his statement game of the season, and help New England fans to move on from Wes Welker envy.

01/19/14, 12:26 PM CST by Houdini

Blame it on Del Rio

Toucher & Rich out of Boston shed light on a nutty selection of stats that Tom has against Jack...

Tom Brady has completed 171-of-235 passes (73 percent) for 1,771 yards, 17 touchdowns and zero interceptions. That’s a passer rating of 121.1 against Del Rio, now Denver’s defensive coordinator.

Brady’s record against Del Rio in those games is 7-0, including playoff victories over Jacksonville in 2005 and 2007 when Del Rio was the Jaguars’ head coach.

Pyro's take: Looks like the Stetson Man knows how to shred Blame it on Del Rio's defenses, those numbers are totally staggering, almost impossible to believe. This doesn't bode well for the Broncos who are really banged up on defense at the moment as it is.

If I am a Patriots fan, I'm feeling really good about my team's chances on offense right now. The only question is can the Patriots defense stop the Peyton Manning offensive juggernaut.

01/18/14, 01:17 PM CST by d-Rx

Aaron Dobson back at practice, could suit up Sunday

Dobson was unable to play in last week's Divisional Round game due to a foot injury and in fact, hasn't even practiced since suffering a setback with it during the Patriots Week 17 game... that is, until now.

The rookie wide receiver reportedly got in a limited session with the team on Wednesday and could be targeting a Sunday return.

Pyro's take: It's possible the Patriots are pushing for Dobson to fight through his injury due to the concussion Kenbrell Thompkins sustained last weekend. At this point, it's unknown if Thompkins will be cleared in time to suit up, but if he isn't, then Dobson might be forced into action regardless of how his foot feels in practice this week.

Stay tuned to this story, as either Dobson or Thompkins could end up being a vital element in the Pats' game-plan for Sunday against the Denver Broncos.

01/15/14, 10:01 PM CST by Dawgmaticå


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