Spikes looks to improve upon 'worst game' vs. Ravens


Spikes looks to improve upon 'worst game' vs. Ravens

FOXBORO - Brandon Spikes tried to own up to his self-proclaimed poor performance against the Ravens in Week 3.

But it was hard to speak over his fellow linebacker Jerod Mayo, who was doing his best to get Spikes to crack on camera.

"Honestly, me personally, I felt like I had played my worst game of the season, and I definitely want to come out-"

"True!" Mayo yelled from his locker, as the corner of the room erupted in laughter, Spikes included.

"-I definitely want to come out and do a lot better than I did in Week 3," Spikes finished saying.

The light moment was a representation of the overall feel of New England's locker room on Thursday. There was a kind of easiness to it, a comfortableness that you might not expect from a team on the verge of either going to the Super Bowl, or going home.

Deion Branch joked with Aaron Hernandez. Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty were getting into it as usual with teammates who walked by their lockers over on the secondary's side of the room.

And it appeared that just about every player left the facility with a brand new pair of Beats by Dre headphones and portable speakers.

Must be nice.

"Last year really don't matter," Spikes said. "It's a whole new year, whole new team, different chemistry and stuff like that. We just want to come out and play to our strengths. Whatever the Ravens have, I'm pretty sure we'll be prepared all the way around."

That type of confidence - not cockiness - seems to ooze out of the Patriots this week as they look to return to the Super Bowl for the sixth time since 2002.

"Honestly I feel like we're a whole different defense than Week 3," Spikes said.

But that certainly isn't to say that Spikes and the Patriots aren't taking Baltimore seriously. Like anybody else who's watched the Ravens over the last two weeks, and really, throughout many games over the regular season, Spikes sees what they're doing well on offense.

"From just watching film they look pretty good," he said. "They definitely demand the physical presence up front, and I just think that they get off on that front five. If they're firing off the ball and Ray Rice is doing what he does, we'll have a big problem if we don't come out do our job just all the way around the board, everybody has got to be hitting on all cylinders."

With the Ravens' deep ball on display against the Broncos, it appears as though Ray Rice, the team's biggest offensive threat, has gone through the radar somewhat. Spikes is the team's best run stuffer, and will play a big role in limiting Rice, who ranks second in the NFL this postseason in rush yards at 199.

"I think he's just an all-around player," Spikes said of Rice. "He can catch it in the backfield, make plays - explosive plays - and we got to do whatever we can to contain a guy like that. And I have the utmost respect for a guy like that. He's been in the league doing it, playing at a high level, very productive, and we got to just key him and try to do what we can to contain him."

Rice rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown, and caught five balls for 49 yards in Week 3. Spikes had just four tackles on the day.

"I just don't think I wasn't prepared and I just made mistakes that I normally don't make, and stuff like that," he said of his Week 3 performance. "I watched the game, and it wasn't the Brandon Spikes that I know. I definitely want to come out and capitalize off of a game like that and do whatever I can and get whatever edge I can get to try to better myself."

Players, analysts weigh in on Chris Sale trade

Players, analysts weigh in on Chris Sale trade

The Red Sox made a major splash with Tuesday’s Chris Sale, the second swap of the day after acquiring Tyler Thornburg from the Brewers. 

While Boston had to give up top prospect Yoan Moncada and three other legitimate prospects in the trade, the deal gives them a very deep starting rotation that figures to see last offseason’s big acquisition -- David Price -- end up as Boston’s No. 3 starter. 

Here’s what the reaction looked like as the trade came down: 

CSN baseball analyst Lou Merloni gave the deal his stamp of approval. 

Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan cautioned against thinking the Red Sox at a discount. 

Blake Swihart was not one of the four prospects involved in the deal, and he’ll have a heck of a team to work with going forward. 

In Tampa, Chris Archer realized the AL East has a new ace. 

And one Sox fan pointed out that Dave Dombrowski has absolutely dumped out what was once a large and top-heavy chest of prospects.