New England Patriots Reach The AFC Championship: Open Thread

Jamie Collins showed up huge against the Indianapolis Colts. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: James Christensen

For the third consecutive year, the New England Patriots have reached the AFC Championship game. Their opponent hasn’t been determined as of yet—the Denver Broncos play the San Diego Chargers Sunday afternoon—but it won’t be the Baltimore Ravens.

In a 43-22 win, it is tough to single out a specific performance. LeGarrette Blount was a sledgehammer. The offensive line was incredible. Alfonzo Dennard had two picks and nearly had a third. Stephen Gostkowski stepped in for Ryan Allen and punted as well as he kicked.

However, in my opinion, Jamie Collins was the most impressive player in the game.

Collins showed his athleticism throughout the game. He showed his balance in staying off the ground after taking a hit and was able to trip up Trent Richardson for a loss. His explosiveness was on display bounding over Richardson—who was trying to execute a cut block—and sacking Luck. His speed and agility shone on his deep drop and interception of Luck in the fourth quarter—icing the game for New England.

Your turn, who impressed you the most in Saturday’s victory?

For a bonus question, who do you want to play in the AFC Championship game?

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26 Responses to “New England Patriots Reach The AFC Championship: Open Thread”

  1. SparePlanet says:

    Hoping for game-changing defensive plays by McCourty and Collins.

    Belichick basically traded Dez Bryant for McCourty and Cordarelle Patterson for Collins (based on on actual starters for this AFC Championship Game). Those two wideouts, even one of them, would be very nice to have in a game like this.

    Let’s hope the old “good defense beats good offense” adage applies this Sunday.

  2. J H TARBORO says:

    Broncos signed Marquise Cole today, they’re stupid and should have saved their money, he’s soft and can’t tackle worth s##t, you see how the D. Branch signing worked out for Indy.

  3. YodasLlama says:

    My Seven Round Patriots Mock Draft. Patriots Trade Ryan Mallet to Texans for 2nd and 6th round picks.

    1. Jace Amaro TE Texas Tech
    The most talented TE in this draft. Would complement Gronk nicely and give Brady a nice weapon to throw too.
    2. (Texans) Bradly Roby, CB, Ohio State
    Bill is friends with Urban Meyer and Roby is extremely talented. Borderline first round pick and could start opposite of Dennard if Talib leaves. Even if Talib stays having four talented CBs has never hurt anyone.
    2. Dominique Easley, DT, Florida
    It could be a redshirt season for Easley as he is rehabbing a torn ACL. He is more of a pass rushing threat than run stopper but a rotation feature Chris Jones, Armstead and Easley inside at DT would give opposing QBs nightmares.
    3. Daniel McCullers, DT, Tennessee
    Wilfork is getting older and probably wont be able to play right away for New England. Kelly is also aging so bringing in a giant body like McCullers to dominate the line and open up gaps for the other DT. The Patriots are not afraid to double dip in a position to get maximum value.
    4. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
    This will be Brady’s successor. McCarron has the intelligence and accuracy to be a good Pro QB. Give him a few years under Brady and he could be a really good QB.
    6. (From Texans) Chris Watt, OG/C, Notre Dame
    Depth for the Patriots OL. He is a project but it gives Scar a talented player to mold into a starting interior lineman.
    6. (From Eagles) Ronald Powell DE/OLB Florida
    Powell should have stayed in school and I think he will fall because teams will be scared of his injuries and moderate production when healthy. IF he does not get hurt I can see Powell becoming a great backup DE for the Patriots and a rush linebacker on third down.
    6. T.J. Jones, WR, Notre Dame
    A good reliable possession receiver who plays above his size. He is a great route runner and would add more talented depth to the patriots WRs. Reminds me of Deion Branch. Could be used on kickoffs and out of the backfield. A versatile player that the Patriots love to have.
    7. Colt Lyerla, TE , Oregon
    Bill is not afraid to take characters and Colt would be an absolute steal in the seventh round as long as he kept his head on straight. Imagine a TE team of Gronk, Amaro, Lyerla and Hoomanawanui.

    Patriots Projected Depth Chart

    *Denotes Rookie


    QB: Brady, McCarron*
    RB: Blount, Ridley, Bolden
    3RB: Vereen, TJ Jones*

    LT: Solder, Svitek
    LG: Mankins, Watt*
    C: Wendell, Watt*
    RG: Cannon, Watt*
    RT: Vollmer, Svitek

    WR1: Dobson, Thompkins
    WR2: Amendola, Jones*
    WR3: Edelman, Moe

    TE: Gronk, Amaro*, Lyerla*
    TE2: Hoomanawanui


    DE: Jones, Carter, Buchannon
    NT: Wilfork, McCullers*
    DT: Armstead, Easley*, Jones
    DE: Ninkovich, Buchannon, Powell*

    OLB: Collins, Fletcher
    ILB: Hightower, Beauharnius
    OLB: Mayo, Fletcher

    CB: Talib, Dennard, Ryan, Roby*
    NB: Arrington

    FS: McCourty, Wilson
    SS: Harmon, Gregory

    • qwerty says:

      McCourty and Logan Ryan good
      Say goodbye to Gregory at 3 million plus
      Not sure about Tavon Wilson. Since that Seattle game …
      Patriots could use another talented Safety
      Having 4 quality CBs is good too
      especially in this pass happy league
      so find a talented secondary player

      usually first round is about taking the best player available except for a few positions

    • steve earle says:

      Sorry I can’t agree, let me explain my reasoning. !st, no mock anywhere has Amaro anywhere near us. Roby in 2nd is okay but no IR ( redshirt, injured) should ever be a 2nd. Trading Mallett is more wish then pratical ( see my reasoning to your post on the other page) McCullers is a wasted pick as I stated on the other page too. Another rookie low round WR lucky to make the ps can be had in FA. Lyerly in 7th? Okay, what the heck.

  4. J H TARBORO says:

    Broncos top CB Chris Harris tore his right acl in yesterday’s game.

  5. J H TARBORO says:

    At times on this site, we as fans can be extremely critical, i know i have been guilty of that many times this season! I really think that we are watching a very “special” group of individuals, that none of the pundits are giving us a chance to win. We all know Peyton Manning is a great player, but we have Tom “Teriffic” and a team of no names that believe we can win, and i’m onboard. Peyton will shrink in this big game, he is haunted by his loss to the Ravens last year at home, and in watching an interview, you can’t tell me he’s not worried about us, his body language says it all. Whatever our gameplan, we must play inspired football and recognize that we earn the right to be there, that being said Pats go take it.

  6. Pat says:

    After the last couple of weeks, Denver is not going to allow Blount to dominate. The Broncos will take the odds on Peyton vs. Tom in a throwing match. Peyton has the better weapons. Tom has…Edelman, whom Denver will likely blanket. (This is a game where, alas, Gronk would be perfect.) Pats’ secondary has to be exceptional to win this game. Brady and the New England offense is not going to score four touchdowns, and New England won’t score 28 overall. Pats are victorious if Denver is held to 20 or less. It’s a coin flip at 24 and lights out if Denver scores more.

    • acm says:

      it’s not really that much up to what Denver does or not. Of course the running game would appreciate Tommy getting fancy here and there with the Broncos secondary, which will be missing Harris btw, to keep the O balanced and their D honest.

      Chargers couldn’t run the last night because they had only one power RB, who was closer to being 40-50% and didn’t even finish the game. On top of that their O line looked disorganized and lost for most of the game both in blocking and pass protection. That was more of an issue with being mentally ready than anything else.

      This Pats team has 3 power RBs and another RB in Vereen who is himself pretty decent thru between the Ts. That allows for keeping the running game fresh, while punishing the D. The only thing that could render the run game inefficient imo is Josh M getting away with it if it’s not very productive in the beginning. Given enough time, lanes will start opening up as the D gets tired. Credit to Josh M, he did stay true to the run first game plan vs the Colts even when they weren’t getting that much yardage out of it, so my hopes that he has finally smartened up are pretty high.

      Bar any injuries like with the Chargers D last night, I feel confident that BB and the D will keep Manning in check … but even more confident that Peyton will be Peyton when the pressure is on him.

      No worries, Pats got this 😉

    • steve earle says:

      Let’s hope Denver does focus on Blount that opens the play action passes by Tom. With their best DB out blanketing Edelman is easier said then done, then who acounts for Vereen? BB has always game planned well against Manning. Our run def is much better then it was in the first meeting and Moreno is hobbled. I see a close game but barring some freak plays, Pat’s 28 Den 24. JMO

  7. BAMNation says:

    I cannot just list one as well….

    Blount, Collins – 1 offense and 1 defense

  8. John Courtney says:

    We should send a big THANK YOU CARD to the Bucks for the trade for Blount in exchange for a player who didn’t want to play football anyway. Great job by coaching staff to see his potential with the team. Just saying. Great job by whole team and by O Line who doesn’t get enough credit for what they do.

  9. steve earle says:

    Well Charges are out and the team goes to Denver next weekend. I give us a good chance. Bill will have them ready for the noise, SD wasn’t, Bill has Payton’s number and I think we can run against them too.

  10. acm says:

    great game by the team as a whole but Collins’ performance stood out for me. Hope this is a sign of things to come and not just a flash in the pan.
    Let’s hope Allen is OK – that IR list is ridiculously long as is already.

    Wasn’t too worried about this game as I saw this as a serious miss-match in Pats’ favor. People who thought otherwise really need to get a firm grip on their Luck-mania.

  11. Tosh says:

    What do you guys think for Def. Game plan against the Bronco’s tho, if they win today…. Im thinking Collins will probably be matched up with Julius Thomas a lot, like he was with Fleener, and Talib can lock down Thomas.
    Welker/Decker et al can probably be taken care of by jams and soft zones…. but they need to lock down Julius and Demaryius. A man-zone combo type idea and dare Denver to run it…. the longer the ball stays out of Manning’s hands the better…

    I really like the new offensive look though, should be successful against Denver, whose down a lot of guys on their front 7… their defense actually looks a lot like the Colts, with slightly better personnel, but their schemes look fairly similar and their execution in terms of strength’s and weaknesses…. I think if the Pats continue to use the Run to set up the Play action, it will have similar results as the colts game

    So thats my speech. any Thoughts?

    • steve earle says:

      This sounds just about right to me too. Bill has always defended Manning very well, all we have to do is look at the record. Your insight that Denver is much like Indy is brilliant. We use to beat Indy when Manning was there so I see no reason Bill won’t beat him again.

  12. J H TARBORO says:

    The NFL network on their web site just released the rosters for East vs. West shrine game.

  13. J H TARBORO says:

    LOL Someone call Zoltan Mesko!

    • Russell Easterbrooks says:

      Mesko is under contract with Cinn. until after the Super Bowl. Thier are a w free agents out there however.

  14. J H TARBORO says:

    Great game, great win! Collins, Denard, Siliga, Blount, Mankins and the O line were “DAWGS”. Thompkins down, is this the case of next man up for the 3 practice squad WR’s? A lesson should learned, this is a pass driven league, but if you don’t have a run game you won’t get very far, we seen the same parody in the NCAA and the NFL this year.
    Watching Patriots pre game live, Felger is a hater! Love Troy Brown,but i think he misses being out on the field, to many comparisons to his former Pats squad and Ty Law, says things that make you think there’s some animosity toward the team. just sayin!

  15. Russell Easterbrooks says:

    A solid ground game . Wish the pass game looked alittle better. D played well just a couple of break downs. Turn overs and time of possition, power run game, soild D , great win.
    Looks like we lost Ryan Allen, headed to IR, Thompkins banged-up, other wise stayed healthy.

  16. kevan says:

    yea collins. bb sees the future or something. 8 confrence title games in 14 seasons! that is just incredible on steroids times a 1000 plus aliens with sugar and cheese on top. seriously

  17. steve earle says:

    You want just one? No-can-do ! Running game was terrific and that takes 11 guys. Our run def was tough, didn’t allow a run over 10 yards as I remember it and even our pass def looked good, so how the heck can you pick just one?
    They keep running like this we could end up with the 32 pick in the draft.

  18. Kyle says:

    Jamie Collins also impressed me the most. His athleticism was on display and he was dynamic at all levels. His coverage ability really stood out, as he hung with Fleener all game.

    I want to play the Chargers in the championship game, but expect the Broncos to be our opponent.

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