Patriots “We’re On to Atlanta” AFC Championship Postgame Reaction and Quick Hits

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I’mma let the Kekambas start this one off tonight:

For the third year in a row, and the NINTH time in Brady’s career, the Pats are back in the Super Bowl after what was an all-time game for the ages. No, but seriously, that game was almost indescribable – a complete roller coaster that had me experience pretty much every human emotion possible, especially in the second half.

While the Pats rolled out to a 14-0 lead, holding one of the greatest offenses the game has ever seen to zero points and just 32 yards of total offense at the half, things changed significantly over the last 35 minutes. Not only did the Chiefs increase their yardage output eight-fold in the second half (they finished with 290 total yards), but the Pats offense also slowed down significantly, starting off with a punt, field goal, failed fourth-down conversion, and an interception on their first four drives after halftime. In the meantime, the Chiefs scored three touchdowns and were up four with about eight minutes left to play.

There was also a muffed punt, ANOTHER interception by Brady, multiple back-breaking penalties on both sides – including a few complete B.S. calls, or missed calls (cough*that missed illegal pick by the Chiefs on Sammy Watkins’s TD*cough) – and THREE scores over the final 2:06 of regulation, including two within the final 42 seconds. Seriously, it would take an entire 1,000-word piece just to detail the insanity that was the fourth quarter.

All that matters is that Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr. proved once again (for the 567,589,732th time) why he is the greatest player to ever step onto the gridiron. He not only lead two scoring drives in the final eight minutes of regulation, but that opening drive of overtime was a thing of beauty – one that saw Brady convert on three different third downs of 10 or more yards, before Rex Burkhead’s game-winning score.

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Red already hit ya with a little postgame piece earlier tonight, but here’s a few more takeaways for all you out there in Pats Nation as we celebrate deep into MLK Day:

  • I usually hate giving individual awards to a group of players, but there’s no doubt that the Pats’ offensive line has been the team’s offensive MVP this season. It seems like every week I wax poetic about the big boys in front of Brady, but it’s because they are literally playing out of this world. They held the league’s No. 1 pass-rush to ZERO sacks, and Brady was hurried just ONCE on the night. Even with Aaron Donald and his 20.5 sacks set to square off against us in two weeks, I am not scared one bit. How could I be? This might be the best Patriots offensive line I’ve ever seen in my 29 years of living. Actually, no – it IS the best, no questions asked.
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We wouldn’t be here without these guys this year, plain and simple.

  • A lot of people may want to hop all over cornerback J.C. Jackson for what looked like a horrendous night BUT two things: 1) that P.I. he was called for at the end of the game was complete and utter BULL, and 2) he was asked to cover Travis Kelce one-on-one on multiple occasions, for what reason I have NO idea. The undrafted rookie has actually been fantastic this season, grabbing hold of the starting job opposite Stephon Gilmore midway through the season and coming up big on multiple occasions. For what it’s worth, he wasn’t as bad as some may think tonight. He’s going to be a good player here for a long time.
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Don’t worry, kid, I’m still on your side.

  • And let me set the record straight: the defense was NOT bad tonight; they held the third all-time scoring offense to less than 300 total yards. Even more impressive was the fact they held Tyreek Hill to just one catch. Bill Belichick is a master of neutralizing the opponent’s No. 1 weapon, and he did so once again on Sunday, double-covering the speedster all evening and making him pretty much invisible. Kelce also only had three catches for 23 yards. (And remember, these two combined for 190 catches and over 2,800 yards this season!!!) This man is a master schemer, and this secondary is playing absolute lights out.
  • On the other hand, Kyle Van Noy actually had a much worse game than people think, and he’s been getting away with some pretty lackluster play at times this season. Yes, he makes nice plays here and there, but he also absolutely whiffed on multiple tackles tonight, including what should have been two more sacks on Mahomes. He also couldn’t cover a defensive tackle stuck in molasses in pass coverage. Again, he’ll have a nice sack here and there, but if it weren’t for our stellar secondary and solid D-line, this defense would be in trouble.
  • As pointed out by Red already, the team’s running game came up huge again. Sure, none of Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, or James White averaged more than 3.9 yards per carry, but they ALL came up big when it counted: two TDs a piece for both Michel and Burkhead; SIX first-down conversions for White; no turnovers; and 176 rushing yards overall. Burkhead even received four targets to White’s six in the passing game. This is a really solid three-headed monster which will keep a solid L.A. defense on its toes down in Atlanta.
  • Finally, I gotta give it up to Patrick Mahomes. That kid is ICE COLD, in a good way, and he will be running the league for years to come once TB12 hangs ’em up for good. Seriously, this kid is a monster, and there is no way he should be hanging his head after this one.

But again, all that matters in the end is that WE’RE GOING BACK TO ANOTHER FREAKIN’ SUPER BOWL. Man, this just does NOT get old.

Be sure to stay tuned to The 300s for all your Patriots pre-Super Bowl coverage – including our soon-to-be-officially-announced LIVE podcast!

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The Patriots Are Going to Their Ninth Super Bowl With Tom Brady After Instant Classic AFC Championship

Over an hour after the game I still have a heart rate somewhere near 200 beats per minute because that was the most stressful 4 hours of my life since February 2015 during the Patriots Seahawks Superbowl. My goodness. If I was wearing a Life Alert necklace there would be an ambulance on the way to my house right now because my heart rate is straight up unhealthy. As I said earlier tonight, this is no way to live….but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Rob Gronkowski: Vintage like Merlot

He may not be putting up 9 for 160 and 3 TDs anymore, but this guy is still Tom Brady’s “gotta have it” guy. He is still a 6’6″ mammoth of a man with baby soft hands that can beat anyone one on one. As I mentioned on The 300s Podcast last week, the Patriots would need a vintage game from Gronk and thats exactly what we got with some key catches.

Julian Edelman is Logan

The man must have adamantium in his bones, there is no other explanation for how he can continuously take these massive hits. The guy just throws his back into 250 pound linebackers and gets up faster than I get out of bed after sleeping on my neck wrong. Incredible.

The Muffed Punt

If the Patriots go on to win the Super Bowl, the muffed punt that wasn’t will go down as one of the most insane moments in Patriots playoff history.

The Muffed Punt t-shirts are now on sale!

A play that likely would have sunk their season was overturned thanks to instant replay, despite the fact that the footage the referees were reviewing looked like found footage from an iPhone 4.

The Future

To the Chiefs I tip my cap, that was an absolutely incredible game. The future is yours, but like an older brother with the N64 clicker in hand; it’s still our turn.

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AFC Championship Halftime Report

Up 14-0 and 30 mins away from their third straight Super Bowl appearance, the Patriots have come out on fire. Aside from being up by 4 touchdowns, I don’t think the Patriots could have come out to start this game any better. Just as they did against the Chargers last week, the Pats got the ball first and set the tone from the get go with a long touchdown drive. As we had discussed on The 300s Podcast the other day, we expected a big day from Sony Michel as the Pats have morphed into more of a running team than they’ve ever been before. Thats not to say there haven’t been some issues though because the Pats have dodged a couple of bullets.

Tom Brady throwing into quadruple coverage like an asshole.

Eric Berry barely dropped another pick that would have been an incredible play, but again Brady and the Pats dodged a bullet.

Trey Flowers CAME. TO. PLAY. – Flower has been a monster all game pressuring Patrick Mahomes all day into some bad looks. The one standout play came when Mahomes gave back 3 points by taking an absolutely ugly sack on 3rd down to take the Chiefs out of FG position (again due to Flowers’ monster half).

The defensive front 7 as a whole has been incredible to start this game. Kyle Van Noy may be a bit of a liability in coverage, but he chased down Patrick Mahomes for a strip sack to end the half, nearly snagging another 3 spot for New England.

James White has made some *incredible* catches today (6 first downs on his first 6 touches) just a week after hauling in 15 balls against LA.

The Patriots, despite all the running back-ists on sports talk radio, are establishing the shit out of the run, which is exactly what I said they would need to do in order to win this game. You’re playing one of the most explosive offenses in the league that relies on big plays from their athletic freaks so hold the ball, eat up some clock, let those KC players sit on the sideline and freeze.

PHILLIP DORSETT WITH A HUGE TOUCHDOWN. For a guy that catches just about everything thrown to him, we asked on the podcast why not throw to him more then? Well, TB12 found Dorsett for a absolutely money 29 yard touchdown in the last 30 seconds of the half.

The Chiefs just got shutout in the first half at home for the first time under Andy Reid. The Patriots look excellent as these boys can smell the Super Bowl. It is now officially Neck. Stepping. Time.

 

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The 300s Podcast: We’ll Do it LIVE

The 300s will be taking a page out of the SNL playbook and for our first event we’ll be recording a LIVE podcast! So if you’re in the area you’ll have an excuse to grab some beers and see our handsome mugs at the same time. The date and location will be announced in the coming days as I hammer out the details. Now we just have to combine our collective brainpower together to somehow podcast, live stream, host, shoot video content, and drink all at the same time without starting an electrical fire. Stay tuned for more details!

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REAL TALK: OK, So Maybe the Celtics Aren’t Fine

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No, but really: What the hell is going on with this Celtics team?

For team that was supposed to dominate the East this season, it’s really disappointing to see them sitting fifth in the conference at 26-18, a measly eight games above .500 and behind teams like Indiana and Philly.

I know just 10 days ago I said this team was doing just fine and that soon they’d hit their stride. And they did indeed beat the best team in the conference just two nights ago. But that win was coming off a 2-3 stretch – during which they lost to Miami, Brooklyn, and freakin’ Orlando – and after multiple instances of bitch-assness from a few players throughout the roster.

First, there was Marcus Morris shoving a completely unengaged Jaylen Brown against Miami on January 10:

Then, Kyrie Irving threw a hissy fit on the court after Jayson Tatum’s missed last-second shot attempt just two days later in Orlando, which ultimately led him to call everyone out after the game. To be honest, I’m not even mad about the postgame comments; a leader should step up and call out the young guys when they’re slacking, and I applaud him for doing so. I also think Jaylen Brown acted like a whiny child when he said Kyrie shouldn’t have been “pointing fingers” because it will make some on the team “go into their shells.” (Kyrie actually ended up apologizing for what he said, but Brown’s response was soft.)

BUT NOW, we get the news – compliments of Kyrie himself – that after those postgame comments he made down in Orlando, he called “old friend” LeBron James (catching the sarcasm there?) to apologize to him for being so difficult and not recognizing what a leader he was during their time together in Cleveland. Kyrie said he, too, used to do the very same things that he’s currently accusing the Celtics’ younger guys of doing, and that LeBron was simply trying to teach everyone how to win, much like he’s trying to do in Boston right now.

Wow, Kyrie.

No, seriously, though. A leader doesn’t to try and grandstand his entire team by calling the self-proclaimed “G.O.A.T.” to talk about what could have been and then go out of his way to tell the whole world about it. You’re acting like a manipulative girlfriend who brings up her ex whenever she’s mad at you. What you did was a complete bitch-ass move, Kyrie. It was a textbook LOSER move all around, and I wouldn’t blame the rest of the guys in the locker room for shutting you out for a bit because of it. That was just plain WEAK.

But how about what’s been happening on the court? Well, they did just beat the No. 1 seed Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night – yes, led by Kyrie’s 27 points – but that was after losing to Brooklyn on Monday night, in a game during which they were down by 30 at certain points.

So, while there’s no doubt the roster is still loaded with talent, the inconsistency is what is killing the team right now. This team has flipped flopped between piping hot and ice cold throughout the entire season. Need proof? Here’s a snapshot of how things have gone since Thanksgiving:

  • Won eight straight
  • Lost three in a row
  • 3-2 stretch
  • Won four straight
  • Lost three in a row
  • Win

And what’s even crazier is that, according to the numbers, the team should be one of the top squads in the entire league right now, let alone the Eastern Conference. They’re 11th in terms of offensive rating (112.2) and they’re fifth in defensive rating (106.1). Though they’re technically 14th in points per game (111.8), the stats say they should be able to make up for it with their play on the other side of the ball.

But again, inconsistency has been the killer. While Kyrie – as pissed as I am at him right now – has remained hot for pretty much the whole year, others haven’t been so reliable. For example, Al Horford, who came up huge with 24 points against Toronto on Wednesday, put up totals of 8, 10, 2, 6, and 12 in the five games prior. Gordon Hayward, who was heating up just two weeks ago, put up a total of just 17 points during the team’s three-game losing streak before scoring 18 on Wednesday night at the Garden. Even Jaylen Brown, who is finally starting to pick it up, has seen his totals fluctuate wildly over the past two weeks as well.

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It’s seriously tough to predict how the book on the Gordon Hayward era in Boston is going to be written when it’s all said and done.

Marcus Morris and Jayson Tatum have been pretty reliable, with each consistently contributing 15-16 points a night. But even their once vaunted group of role guys like Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart have not been able to cement their purpose in the rotation; yes, they’re all still playing, but not as cohesively as hoped.

The problem is that there are just too many cooks in the kitchen right now, and it’s hard for anyone to start to simmer. This has also caused some serious issues in the locker room – some of which we still might not even know about – and that old “Ubuntu” mentality, championed by Celtics teams of old, seems to be a thing of the past.

Again, as I said the other week, I do believe this team can still get hot. But we’re now officially over halfway through the season, and things have actually been trending downward lately, as opposed to getting any better. Maybe Danny Ainge should think about blowing things up a bit (e.g. trading Rozier), allowing for guys to actually be a bit more selfish and solidify their respective roles a bit more. Or maybe some guys can get over themselves a bit and try to be a better teammate.

Either way, something’s gotta give, for better or worse, and something needs to be done sooner rather than later.

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#RushHourRap – Beastie Boys – Paul Revere

We’re jumping into the way back machine, way back before I was even born, all the way to 1986. Back when the Beastie Boys ruled the early rap scene. And for all the millennials reading this, no that is not Eminem’s album cover. Em’s most recent album paid tribute to those that came before him with the Kamikaze cover.

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Patriots Chiefs AFC Championship Preview, Odds, and Predictions

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For only just the fourth time this decade, the AFC Championship will not be held at Gillette Stadium. And, for the very first time ever, the game will be held at legendary Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City – long said to be one of the loudest, craziest, and toughest venues to play in throughout the entire NFL.

Some are also saying it could be a symbolic changing of the guard were the Chiefs to win, as 41-year-old Tom Brady – the man, the myth, the legend, the G.O.A.T. – is set to square off against 23-year-old NFL phenom Patrick Mahomes – the young hotshot (and likely MVP) who posted 5,097 passing yards and 50 touchdowns in his first year as a starter. Perhaps not since a young Tom Brady has a signal-caller burst onto the scene so quickly and with such force, and now they’re set to face each other for a chance to win a title. How poetic.

The game will also feature two top-five offenses, which both averaged well over 3.5 touchdowns per game in 2018 and are loaded at pretty much every position on that side of the ball.

On defense, it’s a bit of a different story. Both teams finished in the bottom third of the league in total defense this season, even though the Pats have given up six less points per game. This, coupled with the explosive offenses on both sides, might lead many to believe we’re in for a shootout; however, most reports are predicting single-digit temperatures at kickoff, which is obviously going to affect both teams’ ability to move the ball.

This one is gonna be fun.

Before we get into the preview, here’s a look at when, where, and how to watch the game along with the latest lines:

  • Location: Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, MO)
  • Kickoff: Sunday, Jan. 20, 6:40 p.m. ET
  • TV: CBS
  • Odds (via Odds Shark): Patriots: +3 (spread) / Patriots: +145 (moneyline) / 55.5 (total)

For the first time this season, the Patriots actually have a plus sign in front of the spread on their side of the line; that’s because this is the first time, in 17 games this season, that the Pats are the underdog. It is not the first time they’ve ever been a dog in the postseason; in fact, it has happened seven times during the Brady/Belichick era. But most of those games came early on in the run, during TB12’s younger days, as the Pats have been the favorite all but ONCE in their other playoff games since 2006. It’s important to note, though, that the team is 1-4 in their last five road playoff games.

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Things didn’t go so well the last time the Pats played on the road in January.

But rather than continue to get caught up in numbers and past history, let’s instead take a look at who these two teams are this season.

Again, while I did say last week that Los Angeles might have the most talented roster from top to bottom in the AFC, there’s no doubt that Kansas City’s offense is simply unmatched. Anyone who’s paid attention at all to the NFL this year knows just how prolific Mahomes has been, but the Chiefs also feature three other First Team All-Pros on offense (four in total, including Mahomes) and averaged a silly 35.3 points per game in 2018, good for third all-time.

Those other three players are wide receiver Tyreek Hill, tight end Travis Kelce, and offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz. Hill and Kelce form perhaps the most lethal WR/TE combo in the game right now, as they both combined to total 190 catches, 2,815 yards, and 22 touchdowns on the year. (WHAT???!!!) Those numbers are truly unbelievable, in every sense of the word.

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Seriously, what a freakin’ combo these two are.

Hill also torched the Pats the last time these two teams played, in Week 6, to the tune of 142 yards and three scores. His pure speed is almost superhero-esque, as he has routinely been clocked at speeds of 20-23 miles per hour (as a human being), and no matter whether the Pats choose to bracket him or not, this man can do some damage. No matter what.

Fortunately, the Pats have been great against tight ends this season, finishing eighth in DVOA against the position. They also held Kelce to just five catches and 51 yards back in October. Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, and Duron Harmon will be tasked with keeping him at bay once again, and there’s no reason to believe they won’t with how strong they’ve played all season.

And while many would expect the Chiefs running game to have crumbled after losing Kareem Hunt, they’ve actually been just fine without him. While partly due to injury, which has kept him out the past four games, Spencer Ware has not been as effective as the team hoped in Hunt’s stead. But, Damien Williams – a former Dolphins disappointment – has been reborn in Kansas City; since Week 13, when he was finally given the chance to play meaningful minutes, the 26-year-old has averaged 5.3 yards a carry and four catches per game. He’s also coming off a 154-yard, five-catch, one-score performance against the Colts last week. So, yeah, the Chiefs can still run the ball, too.

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Williams is playing the best football of his life right now.

As pointed out in last night’s podcast, the Pats have actually put up more yards of total offense over the past six games (2,523) than the Chiefs (2,466), so there should be no doubt that they can keep up, especially against Kansas City’s lackluster defense. The only thing that can stop either side is the weather, which I do believe will be a factor.

Now, let’s get into some storylines and matchups to watch out for:

(Neutralize the Pass-Rush): For as much flak as Kansas City’s defense gets, they have a pretty good trio of pass-rushers in Justin Houston, Dee Ford, and Chris Jones. Ford (13 sacks in 2018) and Houston (a former All-Pro with nine sacks in just 12 games this year) are known commodities, but Jones exploded onto the scene this year with 15.5 QB takedowns of his own. We’ve talked at length about how good the Pats O-line has been this year, and they completely shut down Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa last week. They’ll have their hands full again in this one, though.

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Impending free agent, Dee Ford, is going to be playing for his next contract in this one.

(Another Prime Spot for Sony): I said that Sony Michel would need to have a big game last week for the Pats to win, and he did just that with 129 rushing yards and three scores. He’s a big reason why the Pats were able to dominate time of possession, and he’ll need to do that again this week to keep the ball away from Mahomes and the rest of the Chiefs attack. Before last week, the Chiefs were giving up an average of 164.2 yards on the ground to opponents in the five games prior, and the rookie did have 106 yards and two scores against Kansas City in Week 6. Hopefully the kid steps up big once again on Sunday night.

(OH, and The Other Backs, Too): “Big Game James” White came to play when it mattered most once again, with 15 catches last week, tying an NFL postseason record for running backs. He’ll likely be relied upon once again to move the chains on short passes out of the backfield against a team that struggles mightily against the short-to-intermediate passing game. Rex Burkhead could also be called upon to share the load as well to keep the Chiefs guessing. Theoretically, the Patriots offense could actually run entirely through the running back corps on Sunday night, with a heavy dose of Julian Edelman sprinkled in as well – pretty much exactly the offense they ran to beat L.A. last week. (The Chiefs are also terrible against tight ends, so maybe we see good old Gronk helping out a bit as well. This is as good as spot as any for him to do so.)

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Perhaps one of the most underrated players in Patriots history, White will be called upon once again in K.C.

Prediction

It’s going to be cold, it’s going to be a battle, and it’s going to result in the Patriots going to yet another Super Bowl. Maybe it’s recency bias; maybe it’s because we got a guy named Tom Brady; or maybe it’s because I really just want it to happen. Regardless, I say the game remains close until late in the second half, when the Chiefs start to fade and Belichick out-coaches Andy Reid in the big moments with the game on the line. The Pats will take it 27-20 and head to Atlanta to try and secure ring No. 6.

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