|Marshall Faulk: There’s an asterisk next to Tom Brady’s name for greatest of all-time||02.05.17 at 3:13 pm ET|
HOUSTON — This is the week of Marshall Faulk hating on the Patriots.
He had his rant on Thursday, and then was back at it Sunday morning on the NFL Network’s Gameday Morning when asked if Tom Brady if the greatest of all-time, as he said it’s more complicated than some think.
“I like it,” Faulk said. “It’s like the Olympics now, getting the silver helps. I would say yes, but there’s always that little asterisk when you start talking about greatest ever.”
Host Rich Eisen asked what is the asterisk?
“Come on Rich,” Faulk said, “I don’t even want to get into that. Man is about to play in his seventh Super Bowl, he has a chance at winning five, it’s been great. But some things has happened and we know what those things are — when you talk about Super Bowls and things that has happened along the lines with the Patriots and we just cannot pretend like they didn’t happen.”
Faulk is likely referring to his comments earlier in the week when he still claimed he believes the Patriots taped the Rams’ walkthrough before Super Bowl XXXVI.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
|Super Bowl scene-setting from Houston: Tom Brady, Bill Belichick look to make Super Bowl history||at 3:11 pm ET|
HOUSTON — The moment is finally here for Bill Belichick and Tom Brady – and the New England Patriots.
Their shot at Super Bowl history comes this afternoon on the turf of NRG Stadium in Houston where the Patriots aim for their fifth Super Bowl title in franchise history against the upstart NFC champion Atlanta Falcons.
On a warm, humid day in Houston, conditions inside the 71,000-seat retractable-roof facility will be ideal as the Patriots look to join the 49ers and Cowboys for the second-most Vince Lombardi trophies. Pittsburgh sits atop the mountain with six in the Super Bowl era.
The 49ers won their five in 14 seasons from 1981-94. With a win, the Patriots would claim their fifth in 16 seasons from 2001-16.
Belichick would surpass Chuck Noll for the most Super Bowl wins with his fifth while Brady would break a tie with his childhood hero Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw. All three quarterbacks own four Super Bowl rings.
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported Sunday morning that the Patriots believe Brady when he says he has a desire to play 3-5 more seasons, and at a high level. Rapoport reported that the team would pursue a contract extension after the 2017 season, making it more likely they trade backup Jimmy Garoppolo in the offseason. Garoppolo has been rumored to be atop the wish list of the Cleveland Browns this offseason.
Another story that broke Sunday morning was the news that the Patriots wanted to trade Jamie Collins to the Texans for DeAndre Hopkins in October before settling on the deal that landed the former Patriots star linebacker in Cleveland.
There are injuries on both side of the ball worth monitoring early on. The more serious appears to be with the Falcons. Starting Pro Bowl center Alex Mack is dealing with a chip fracture of the fibula in his left leg. The Falcons believe he can start and play effectively but head coach Dan Quinn admitted Thursday that there is a good level of concern about how it would hold up. Likely, it will come down to pain threshold. Julio Jones is battling a toe injury but said this week he expects to be full go for the game. Both players were limited all week but will start in the game.
For the Patriots, Alan Branch had his toe stepped on in the first practice of the week on Wednesday. A day later Branch said the toe was “a little sore” but that he was feeling good and should be fine in the game. Another defensive lineman could be more of a concern as rookie Vincent Valentine had back pain on Thursday and was limited the last two practices. Valentine also had back issues early in the season. He is expected to be available.
Then there’s Martellus Bennett. Like Alex Mack, the Patriots tight end has been dealing with a bone chips in his right ankle since suffering the injury against the Browns on Oct. 9. He will likely have a procedure once the season is over. As he has been throughout the playoffs, he will play through the pain for the Super Bowl.
|Patriots reportedly expecting Tom Brady to play into his 40s, contract extension to come||at 12:04 pm ET|
HOUSTON — Tom Brady has always said he wants to play into his 40s, and now it looks like the Patriots want him to too.
According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, the Patriots believe Brady will play three to five more years and the team will look to extend his contract in the next offseason.
Brady is 39 years old now and is signed through the end of 2019.
If the Patriots believe he can play five more seasons, then they likely would add two years to his current contract, signing him through the 2021 season.
This also factors in to Jimmy Garoppolo’s situation this offseason. It increases the likelihood that he will be traded. If there were any questions about Brady’s long-time future then the organization might be more likely to hold on to Garoppolo, but this is a sign Brady will be part of the long-term plan and thus Garoppolo can be dealt.
Many teams including the 49ers, Browns, Bears and even Jets have shown interest.
Brady’s current contract has him with a base salary of $14 million in 2018 and 2019 and could be altered like it was the previous time he re-did his deal.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
|Duron Harmon knows Super Bowl LI could be his last game as a Patriot, but he hopes it’s not||at 10:34 am ET|
HOUSTON — Super Bowl LI could be the last game in a Patriots uniform for a number of players. Some could retire, some might not re-sign in the offseason, or some might even get released.
One of those players is safety Duron Harmon, who will be an unrestricted free agent after being drafted by the team in the 2013 NFL draft.
Harmon acknowledged it could be his last game with the Patriots, but he hasn’t thought about it.
“No, not really,” Harmon said this week. “I am enjoying myself so much. I really am. Being with all my brothers, being in the Super Bowl, it’s something I wish would never end.”
Harmon would like to return to New England next season.
“Definitely. I love it here. I definitely love it here,” he said. “I like playing for this organization. I love this organization. They do things the right way and I know they play the game the right way. I’ve learned so much being here. I’ve become a good player here and I wanted to continue to grow here.”
The 26-year-old has emerged as a solid NFL safety and has learned from the best in Devin McCourty, who also went to Rutgers. Playing with so many former teammates is making reaching the Super Bowl a second time that much more special.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “It’s something special playing in the Super Bowl. Rarely anybody in the world gets to do this and I get to participate it in it with the guys I’ve known for eight years. Guys that I continue will have relationships with — Log [Logan Ryan], [Jonathan] Freeny, Dev [Devin McCourty]. All those guys that I really consider my brothers and my kids call them uncle. It’s amazing we all can experience this together, and enjoy it together at the same time.”
Harmon also hit on how much he’s learned in New England and has improved a great deal since coming into the league as a rookie.
“A lot. A ton,” Harmon said. “I remember coming here as a 22-year-old rookie and you think you know football and you learn from Coach [Bill] Belichick and you realize you don’t know anything. From the bottom up, being a better player and getting better each and every year. Seeing where I am at now is great. It lets me know that hard work really does pay off.”
|WEEI.com predictions for Patriots-Falcons in Super Bowl LI||at 10:00 am ET|
The Patriots and Falcons will meet Sunday night in Super Bowl LI. It will feature the No. 1 scoring offense in football in Atlanta against the No. 1 scoring defense in New England.
Here are WEEI.com’s predictions for the game.
Chris Price: Patriots 38, Falcons 28.
I have gone back and forth on this over the course of the week, and having watched plenty of film and talked to people who know far more about the game than I do, everything seems to suggest a New England win. The question? A Patriots win or a Patriots blowout (14 points or more). Of the four personnel groupings — Patriots offense, Patriots defense and Falcons offense and Falcons defense — I think the weakest of those four is the Atlanta defense. And that group will ultimately be Atlanta’s undoing. That’s not to say it’s going to be a blowout. This Falcons’ offense is the deepest and most complete group that the Patriots’ defense will have faced all season. And I believe that the defense will be competitive. But there’s going to come a breaking point early in the second half where it won’t be able to hold on anymore, and that’s when New England will start to separate. In the end, I expect a massive game for Lewis. It won’t be good enough to wrest the MVP trophy from Brady, but he’ll be the difference-maker. Lewis will have over 100 yards from scrimmage. Brady will throw three touchdowns and Trey Flowers will finish with a sack.
Mike Petraglia: Patriots 45, Falcons 28.
Tom Brady throws three touchdown passes. LeGarrette Blount, Dion Lewis score and Malcolm Butler records a pick-6 as Patriots roll, 45-28.
Ryan Hannable: Patriots 31, Falcons 24.
While it may finish as a one-score game, the Patriots should be in control of this one throughout. It will be more of a run-heavy offensive attack with both LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis seeing a lot of action. Look for James White to be an under-the-radar star catching passes as a receiver out of the backfield.
John Tomase: Patriots 31, Falcons 17.
I mean, what do I know, but I can’t fathom this game even being close. Brady’s fifth title is simply meant to be.
Alex Reimer: Patriots 35, Falcons 27.
The Patriots will get ahead early, forcing Atlanta to play catch up for almost the entirety of the game. Tom Brady exposes mediocre Falcons defense, which won’t make a single play.
Scott McLaughlin: Patriots 30, Falcons 24.
The Patriots’ defense comes up with a couple big stops and that winds up being the difference. Tom Brady wins a record fourth Super Bowl MVP and Julian Edelman goes over 100 yards for the fifth time in his last six playoff games.
Rob Bradford: Patriots 44, Falcons 10.
We’re all over-hyping the Falcons. They beat up on a horrific Packers defense. Yippee! They aren’t that good. And in case you haven’t heard, they have the most apathetic fans in pro sports.
Ty Anderson: Patriots 34, Falcons 29.
I’ve read all the quotes and the comparisons telling me why both the Falcons and Patriots should turn this game into a blowout. But I just feel like Tom Brady is back in that assassin mode and will not be stopped. At the same time, I know better than to think a Patriots Super Bowl is going to be a blowout. I’ll take Marty from the Imagination Agency to have a big night, too.
|Falcons C Alex Mack reportedly will play in Super Bowl LI with ‘chip fracture’ in left fibula||at 9:17 am ET|
HOUSTON — It’s been known for a week that Falcons center Alex Mack will play in Super Bowl LI, but there’s still a big question of how effective he will be.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Mack will play with a fracture in his left fibula that he suffered in the NFC championship game. There’s no word on how long he will be able to play, or how effective he will be.
In the report, Schefter said one source told him Mack could have missed six to eight weeks and it’s a concern for Atlanta.
In the pool report Saturday, Falcons head coach Dan Quinn was asked if he believes if Mack will play the whole game.
“I do. And the reason I do is because I knew he would have to go full speed on Wednesday and Thursday and stick his foot in the ground and go,” Quinn said. “The fact that he was able to do that, and then I went back to watch the [practice] tape and communicated with him, and honestly, he said [his leg] felt better than it did in the NFC championship game. That made me feel a lot better, and when I watched him, it looked like him. We know he is ready.”
The Pro Bowl center will receive a pain-killing injection to help him get through the game.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
|10 prop bet locks for Patriots-Falcons in Super Bowl LI||at 7:00 am ET|
HOUSTON — A big part of the Super Bowl viewing experience is not just watching the game, it’s having squares and also perhaps wagering on some prop bets.
Here are 10 prop bets that have a good chance of winning (odds are courtesy of Bovada).
1. Patriots first quarter points: over 7.
The Patriots are one of the best first quarter teams in football, averaging over eight points a game in the opening quarter. Although they haven’t scored in the first quarter in the previous six Super Bowls under Bill Belichick, this one feels different, especially with the 27th ranked Atlanta defense.
2. Dion Lewis total receiving yards: over 22.5.
New England’s running backs should have big games. This could be like Super Bowl XLIX when the top receiving target was Shane Vereen out of the backfield. Also look at James White over 25.5 yards.
3. Taylor Gabriel total receiving yards: over 47.5.
The Falcons are likely going to pass a lot and when it comes to the Patriots’ secondary, the opposition’s No. 3 receiver usually has a big game. The Patriots will likely focus their defense on Julio Jones, which could free up Gabriel for a solid night.
4. Tom Brady rushing yards: over 2.5.
This year more than any other year, Brady has shown the ability to make plays with his feet, and to get past the 2.5-yard mark all he needs his one scramble. Also, the quarterback has been known to be a fan of the quarterback sneak.
5. Tom Brady total completions: under 26.5.
Could be wrong on this one, but the Patriots could go with a heavy rushing attack against the Atlanta defense and limit Brady’s throws, as well as time on the field. In five out of his last six games, Brady has completed less than 26 passes.
6. Dion Lewis rushing attempts: over 9.5.
Lewis is going to have a big game and the Patriots could alternate between LeGarrette Blount and Lewis getting carries in the backfield. He’s received double-digit carries in four out of the last five games, as the team has continued to increase his work load each week since his return.
7. Dont’a Hightower tackles: under 5.
While Hightower is the leader of the Patriots’ defense, it doesn’t seem like this will be a big game for the signal-caller in terms of making tackles. Hightower’s strength is stopping the run and the Falcons likely won’t be running the ball much. Also, Hightower is still dealing with a shoulder injury, which saw his playing time dip against the Steelers in the AFC title game.
8. Will the word “lacrosse” be said on the broadcast?: yes.
Probably the lock of the century. Not only is it Chris Hogan’s back story, but big with Bill and Steve Belichick.
9. Times “deflate” or “Deflategate” be used on the broadcast: over 1.5.
One of the biggest storylines of the game — the Patriots and Brady getting the ultimate revenge for what took place over the last two years and Brady being suspended the first four games. If Brady is in the MVP running, this might happen twice in the fourth quarter alone.
10. LeGarrette Blount rushing yards: over 57.5.
The Patriots will have a run-heavy attack against the weakness in the Atlanta defense and with Blount being the lead back this should happen.
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