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Johnny Manziel believes ‘The GOAT’ Tom Brady will lead Patriots to Super Bowl vs. Falcons 01.19.17 at 12:50 pm ET
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With an endorsement like this, the Patriots can’t lose.

TMZ Sports caught up with Johnny Manziel recently, and the disgraced former NFL quarterback offered his thoughts on who’ll be playing in the Super Bowl.

“It’s hard to go against the GOAT, Tom Brady,” Manziel said. “I’m a big Kyle Shanahan guy. I’m pulling for Matt Ryan.”

Shanahan is Atlanta’s offensive coordinator, and the presumed next coach of the 49ers. That means Manziel sees a Patriots vs. Falcons Super Bowl.

In the same interview, Manziel said he’s working out five or six times a week, presumably in the hopes of making a comeback.

Read More: Falcons, Johnny Manziel, Matt Ryan, Patriots
5 mostly Patriots-related thoughts on Sunday’s divisional playoff action: If you don’t have an elite QB, you’re out of luck 01.16.17 at 12:05 am ET
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Aaron Rodgers celebrates the Packers' win Sunday. (Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports)

Aaron Rodgers celebrates the Packers’ win Sunday. (Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports)

1. So the NFL’s Final Four is set, with the Packers meeting the Falcons in the Georgia Dome Sunday at 3:05 p.m., and the Patriots and Steelers squaring off at 6:40 in Foxboro. In the NFC, it’ll be a four seed (Green Bay) and a two seed (Atlanta), while the No. 1 seed in the AFC (New England) will host the third seed (Pittsburgh). But more importantly, it’s simply the latest reminder that in a quarterback-driven league, if you don’t have a signal-caller who stands head-and-shoulders above the rest of the field, you’re pretty much going to be out of luck. It’s hard to look at this group of quarterbacks — Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisbeger, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan — and not include them in some sort of combination of the NFL’s top 5 QBs, at least at this point. (What does it say about the field that the guy who now appears to be the odds’ on favorite to win the MVP has the thinnest resume of the bunch?) Anyway, keep that in mind when the next round of team-building commences shortly after the end of the postseason. (Oh, and for what it’s worth, I’d still be shocked if Roger Goodell was in Foxboro this weekend. That dude is headed straight back to Atlanta.)

2. These quotes from Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler will be fun to revisit this week. Prior to the October game between the two teams in Pittsburgh, Butler was interviewed for the “Coordinators Corner” podcast on the Steelers’ team website, and was asked about Brady and Bill Belichick and if they study harder than other teams, or if they’re doing something special? “I don’t think they’re doing anything special,” Butler said, via “I think they do things outside the box sometimes, you know, that might be on the edge of being legal or not legal. They’ve done a couple of things in the past — putting an offensive tackle out as ineligible but he’s not really. Sometimes the emphasis by the NFL in terms of what they call and what they don’t call, [the Patriots] use that a little bit. They’ve been accused of doing a lot of things. But the thing we’ve got to do is ignore that and play.”

For what it’s worth, Brady has faced the Pittsburgh defense twice since Butler took over as defensive coordinator prior to the start of the 2015 season:

9/10/15 in Foxboro: 25-for-32 for 288 yards with four touchdowns, no picks and two sacks in a 28-21 win
10/23/16 in Pittsburgh: 19-for-26 for 222 yards with two touchdowns in a 27-16 win

3. Travis Kelce wants to be Rob Gronkowski the same way that Bon Jovi wants to be Bruce Springsteen. The Kansas City tight end was underwhelming on the big stage Sunday night against the Steelers, committing a dopey penalty while finishing with five catches for 77 yards in the loss. On a night where the Chiefs needed Kelce to be a difference-maker, he and the rest of the Kansas City offense came up short. Consider this NSFW locker room video of Kelce a fitting postscript to the season:

4. The Steelers are a far more appetizing opponent for the Patriots to consider than the Chiefs for multiple reasons, not the least of which is the fact that Pittsburgh does a better job stirring the emotion in the New England fan base than Kansas City. Who can get upset with Kansas City? It’s Andy Reid in a big red jacket. Meanwhile, the Steelers are still worthy of a spot among the Patriots’ chief rivals. There’s so much terrific history to consider between these two teams. The names and faces have changed along the way, but this week promises to be a lot more fun — at least from a hype-driven perspective — than last week against the Texans.

5. We covered our feelings about Rodgers and the Packers’ wild win over the Cowboys here, but it’s safe to say, the NFC title game should be a compelling contest in the Georgia Dome. Can Ryan rise to the challenge and advance to the Super Bowl for the first time in his career? Can Rodgers keep his remarkable streak rolling? From this viewpoint, we’re in completely uncharted waters when it comes to Rodgers and what he’s doing. Despite the fact that they’re on the road, our first inclination is to go with the Packers. No one else has been able to slow down Green Bay quarterback over the last month-plus. Why should Atlanta be any different?

Read More: aaron rodgers, Andy Reid, Ben Roethlisberger, Bon Jovi
Per Bovada, Tom Brady now has fourth-best odds to win NFL MVP 12.28.16 at 12:38 pm ET
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FOXBORO — With a week to go in the regular season, Tom Brady’s odds of winning NFL MVP have dropped from second to fourth.

According to Bovada, the Patriots’ quarterback is now 5/1 to win the MVP. Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott (2/1), Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan (9/4) and Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers (15/4) lead the pack. That’s a drop from

Per Bovada, the odds remain very good for the Patriots and their chances of winning Super Bowl LI. New England is 2/1 to win it all, followed by the Cowboys (13/4), Steelers (8/1), Falcons, Packers and Chiefs (all 11/1).

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Read More: aaron rodgers, Ezekiel Elliott, Matt Ryan, Tom Brady
Patriots still have best odds to win Super Bowl, while Tom Brady again has best odds to capture MVP 11.23.16 at 1:45 pm ET
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The Patriots are still have the best odds when it comes to winning Super Bowl LI, according to Bovada.

New England’s odds stayed at 9/4 over the last wee, putting them ahead of the Cowboys (9/2), Seahawks (11/2) and Raiders (12/1). At the other end of the spectrum, the Rams are Jets are both 500/1. (The Bears, Browns, Jaguars and Niners are all off the board.)

Tom Brady was also able to re-establish himself as the MVP favorite. After spending a week behind Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott, the Patriots’ quarterback returned to the top of the heap. He has 11/4 odds to win the MVP, ahead of Russell Wilson (4/1), Elliott (9/2), Derek Carr (7/1) and Matt Ryan (7/1).

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Read More: Derek Carr, Ezekiel Elliott, Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson
As stretch drive looms, who holds lead in race for NFL MVP? 11.21.16 at 11:54 am ET
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In a wide-open chase for this year’s MVP, a handful of candidates have distinguished themselves at the start of the stretch drive. In no particular order, here’s our current top 10.

Quarterback Tom Brady: The quarterback has fallen off the red-hot pace he established through his first few games back after his Deflategate ban, but through his first six games, Brady is still posting comparable numbers to his remarkable 2007 campaign.

Bottom line? His team currently holds the top spot in the AFC and he’s putting up big numbers. In what is shaping up to be a season where there’s no consensus candidate, he remains a strong possibility to take home his third MVP award.

Quarterback Matt Ryan: The Boston College product has had the best season of his career to this point; with Brady missing the first four games of the year, Ryan is at or near the top of most major passing categories. (If he’s in second, more often than not, the only guy he’s trailing is Drew Brees. And HE isn’t getting any MVP votes this year.) Ryan is 236-for-346 (68 percent) with 3,247 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, five interceptions and a passer rating of 115.1 for the 6-4 Falcons. Good numbers that should continue to have him in the hunt as the playoffs loom.

Running back Ezekiel Elliott: With Brady and Ryan, one of three serious candidates at this point on the calendar. The rookie out of Ohio State is having one of the best seasons of any young running back in recent history with 1,102 yards on 223 carries for nine touchdowns in 10 games. The 6-foot, 225-pounder us on pace to finish with a whopping 1,763 rushing yards. If he does that and the Cowboys finish 15-1 or 14-2, it would be hard for many national voters look past him.

Quarterback Dak Prescott: The Elliott-Prescott combination has really clicked for Dallas this year, and the quarterback has done more than his share in getting the Cowboys to 9-1. The 6-foot-2, 225-pounder has gone 214-for-316 (68 percent), with 2,640 passing yards, 17 touchdowns, just two picks and a passer rating of 108.6. But could Prescott and Elliott end up splitting votes?

Quarterback Russell Wilson: From this perspective, Wilson has a fantastic opportunity to make a closing statement over the final month-plus of the season. The signal-caller, who finally appears to be over the health issues that dogged him for much of the first half of the season, has the Seahawks back on track and playing fantastic football. The numbers aren’t overwhelming when stacked against some of his contemporaries: on the year, he is 221-for-335 (66 percent), with 2,714 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, two interceptions and a 99.3 passer rating. But if he stays healthy, Seattle continues to play well down the stretch and ends up with 12 or more wins, Wilson is going to get lots of votes.

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Read More: Dak Prescott, David Johnson, Derek Carr, Ezekiel Elliott
Patriots still have best odds when it comes to winning Super Bowl LI, while Tom Brady leads MVP chase 11.02.16 at 1:59 pm ET
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The Patriots are still the favorite to win Super Bowl LI.

According to Bovada, New England has 2/1 odds when it comes to capturing the title, followed closely by the Cowboys (9/1), Seahawks (10/1), Packers (12/1), Broncos and Vikings (both 14/1). It’s no surprise that the Pats are at the head of the pack when it comes to AFC odds as well; New England is 10/11 to win the conference championship, with the Steelers (6/1), Broncos (7/1) and Chiefs (7/1) next.

Quarterback Tom Brady also has the best odds to win the NFL MVP at 5/4. Matt Ryan (11/2) and Ezekiel Elliott (15/2) are second and third, respectively.

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Read More: Ezekiel Elliott, Matt Ryan, Tom Brady,
Handicapping a weird NFL MVP race: Does Tom Brady actually have a shot? 10.20.16 at 11:19 am ET
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This is shaping up to be one of those year’s with no slam-dunk MVP candidate. So after six weeks, who has the best shot at the title? In no particular order, here’s our current top 10.

Quarterback Tom Brady: Despite the fact that he missed the first four games, the quarterback has suddenly injected himself into the MVP discussion with a dynamite pair of games, the likes of which we haven’t seen from him before.

As strange as it sounds, even after his four-game exile to start the season. he’s as good a candidate as anyone at this point on the calendar. Overall, Brady has completed 76 percent of his passes and thrown for 782 yards, to go along with six touchdowns and no interceptions. Unless someone on a high-profile team gets hot and separates himself from the rest of the pack (like a 20-sack season from Von Miller, for example), he should be able to stick around and be a part of the conversation, provided he stays healthy. (At least the oddsmakers like his chances.)

Linebacker Von Miller:
You can certainly make a case for the best defensive player on the best defense in the league, especially (as we said) if he’s able to break out with some sort of big numbers. He’s on his way with a league-best 7.5 sacks in six games. From this viewpoint, as long as the Broncos remain in the race, Miller will get plenty of votes.

Running back Ezekiel Elliott: Why not? The Elliott/Dak Prescott combo has injected new life into the Dallas offense. Elliott has 703 rushing yards through six games, and a 2,000-yard season and postseason berth for the Cowboys would certainly get him MVP consideration. He could end up splitting votes with Prescott — who will be the default Dallas candidate, especially if he continues to play well — but from this viewpoint, we’d be more inclined to cast our ballot for Elliott.

Quarterback Matt Ryan: The Falcons are a surprising 4-2, and the 31-year-old Ryan is a big reason why. The former BC product has completed 68 percent of his passes for 2,075 yards, with 15 touchdowns, three interceptions, and a passer rating of 117.9 (best in the NFL among starters). It might not be sustainable, but he’s made as good a case as anyone to be consider the first ex-Boston College player to win an NFL MVP award.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger: Roethlisberger is out for this week’s game against the Patriots, but through the first six games, he’s led the Steelers to a 4-2 starts, and has been right there when it comes to statistical totals. The Steelers’ signal-caller is at or near the top of the league in most major passing categories, including completion rate (64 percent), total passing yards (1,685), touchdowns (16), just six picks and a passer rating of 99.2.

Quarterback Russell Wilson: Wilson will never overwhelm you with crazy numbers, but his ability to keep his head in big games as the quarterback for one of the best teams in the league wins him a spot on this list. The Seahawks are 4-1, while Wilson is clicking with a 66 percent completion rate, 1,334 passing yards, five touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 97. Again, not overwhelming, but his performance as the centerpiece of one of the best team’s in the league should be enough to keep him in the conversation.

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Read More: Ben Roethlisberger, Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Julio Jones
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