NFL Divisional Round Preview: QB disparity will define divisional round

NFL Divisional Round Preview: QB disparity will define divisional round

The Patriots hit back hard after the article was published, issuing a joint statement from Belichick, Brady and Kraft refuting numerous conclusions reached - among them that Kraft ordered Belichick to trade backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to appease Brady, that Belichick was unhappy about coaching in New England and that Brady's personal trainer had created a divide in the locker room. Most of the damage has been done on the edges, but teams have found running room more often than not regardless of approach in 2017.

The Tennessee Titans are a team that will need to take a lot of steps moving forward if they hope to keep this game close.

Mariota's legs figure to play a bigger role in Saturday's matchup than normal as the Patriots have had struggles with mobile QBs.

"It's magnificent, who doesn't love starting?" Case in point: Deflategate and its aftermath.

"It's a playoff game, so it's not like it's the preseason where I can go out there, "Oh, it's Brady, ' and I'm chillin", Byard told the Tennessean this week.

Brady had two touchdown passes in that game, but was also sacked twice. Nobody has won more playoff games than Belichick, nobody has won more Super Bowls. They are so competitive and cognizant of their legacies. They're kind of like the Yankees with their seemingly constant strife amid World Series titles under owner George Steinbrenner with his managers (Billy Martin, Joe Torre and Joe Girardi) and star players (Reggie Jackson, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez). It was very encouraging to see that effort from Marcus Mariota who has been much maligned for a lot of the season.

For the past 18 years, we have watched Tom Brady lead the New England Patriots through the NFL.

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Yet there they were on stage, holding up the Lombardi Trophy last February in Houston.

The divisional winners will meet on January 21 for Conference titles with the victors playing for the Super Bowl on February 4 in Minneapolis.

"Tom Brady is a great quarterback, but it's a playoff game". It's hard to get to this point.

"They've been that way for a long time". That's Belichick's mantra - "Do your job".

The Vikings' season looked to be in trouble when Sam Bradford was ruled out for the year in the early autumn. It was obvious that Jimmy was worth more than this, and it was even more obvious that Belichick did not want this transaction to happen. Mobile quarterbacks have given the Patriots occasional problems this season, and if the Titans use him on planned zone-read keeps toward the edges that could put some stress on the Patriots front seven - especially if Kyle Van Noy experiences any problems with the calf that kept him out of the lineup down the stretch. "I think he saw that, and obviously he's a quick, fast learner". Tennessee ended up making the postseason thanks to their midseason success, since the Titans lost 3 out of their final four games. "Field goals won't beat us". In the Belichick/Brady era, the Patriots are 15-3 in home playoff games and can once again pull together to defeat the media noise that suggests they are about to disintegrate due to dissension. The 16-year age gap between them is the largest between starting quarterbacks in a playoff game in National Football League history.

Ultimately, the Patriot Way rules the day.

So be prepared to see a focused New England team this postseason with a great chance to be the first repeat Super Bowl champs since - who else? - the 2003-04 Patriots.

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