Patriots continue their Week 1 dominance

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Patriots continue their Week 1 dominance

File this under Stats That Mean Nothing: With yesterdays victory in Nashville, the Patriots have won nine straight Week 1 match-ups.

It all started in September of 2004, when Mike Vanderjagt went Scott Norwood at Gillette. The next year, the Pats took down Randy Gene and the Raiders. The year after that, they needed a late-game safety to squeak by the Bills.

In 2007, they destroyed the Jets. In 2008, they beat the Chiefs on an afternoon that defined bittersweet. It was the Bills again in 2009, the Bengals in 2010 and, last year, the Pats jump-started their run to the Super Bowl by embarrassing the Dolphins on Monday Night Football.

Of course, as earlier stated, it really doesnt matter. Around these parts, we know better than to get too hopped up on anything we see in Week 1.

Today, Stevan Ridleys a hero, the kid whos ready to revolutionize the Pats offense. However, one big fumble next week against Arizona, or two weeks from now in Baltimore or at any point over the next few months, and its Panic at the Disco. You can already hear the callers on Felger and Mazz: They cant count on this guy, fellas . . . bring back Sammy Morris!

Today, Wes Welkers the forgotten man. Hes splitting snaps with Julian Edelman. Hes no longer integral to the offense. Over the next five months, his value will diminish so abruptly that hell be begging the Pats to slap him with another franchise tag.

Or, maybe it was just one bad game.

Hell, maybe he wasnt feeling well? Whatever it is, heres a question: Would you bet your next paycheck against Welker having another 100-catch season? Would it absolutely blow your mind if he rips off nine catches for 90 yards and a TD next week? Seriously. If the Pats planned on simply phasing No. 83 out this year, why even franchise him? Dont you think Belichick could have come up with a few better ways to spend 9.5M?

Today, the rag tag offensive line that could do no right in the pre-season and nearly cost Tom Brady his nose in yesterday's first quarter might not be so bad. According to Greg Bedard at the Globe, Brady was only hit three times all game, and was hurried only five times on top of that. Today, the notion that the Pats are screwed without Brian Waters has been replaced by: "Waters? Who needs him!?"

But we all know that it only takes one hit in one game to change the entire narrative. That the entire offensive line is perpetually one play away from being remembered as a failure. Regardless of how unfair that might be.

OK, you get it. When it comes to Week 1 of the NFL season, nothing is real. Its the prologue to an 800-page novel, the opening credits in a four-hour action film and any grand statement made in its aftermath will likely leave you feeling stupid.

At the end of the day, you can only hope for two things:

1. No major injuries.

2. A win and even that's taken with a grain of salt the size of Vince Wilforks belly button.

But of course, it beats the alternative. And for the ninth straight year, the Pats have done just that. Save for 2008, when Brady's injury left all of New England paralyzed by depression, they've emerged from the NFL's opening weekend on the right foot, with no ceiling on what they can achieve. The sky's the limit, and even that feels a little restrictive.

Then again, the jury's still out on how crazy that last line will look come January.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Quick Slants Podcast: Antonio Brown’s betrayal; Matt Light; eyeing up Pittsburgh

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Quick Slants Podcast: Antonio Brown’s betrayal; Matt Light; eyeing up Pittsburgh

Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry discuss the aftermath of Antonio Brown’s Facebook Live video. Curran interview Matt Light ahead of the AFC Championship. They dissect the press conferences of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, and look at how to beat the Steelers.

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2:29 Antonio Brown’s Facebook Live aftermath

13:14 Stopping Le’Veon Bell

27:16 heywassyonumba? with Patrick Chung and Kyle Van Noy

32:30 Injury report updates for AFC Championship

36:51 Brady and Belichick’s press conferences

44:50 Matt Light interview

Belichick asked if playing at home helps: 'Go ask Dallas and Kansas City'

Belichick asked if playing at home helps: 'Go ask Dallas and Kansas City'

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick knows that how you play, not where, is what matters most. 

That's why when he was asked on Wednesday about the advantage the Patriots will have by playing at Gillette Stadium in the AFC title game, he wasn't willing to go all-in on how a comfortable environment will positively impact his team.

"I don’t know," he said. "Go ask Dallas and Kansas City."

The Patriots apparently thought enough of home-field advantage that they played their starters throughout their regular-season finale win in Miami, exposing their best players to potential injury in order to maintain their positive momentum while simultaneously ensuring a better road to the Super Bowl. 

The Patriots fans in attendance on Sunday will help when the Patriots take on the Steelers, Belichick acknowledged. But there's much more to it than that. 

"Yeah, of course," he said, "but the game is won by the players on the field. That’s who wins football games – the players. And they’ll decide it Sunday night."

And if you needed any further proof, just ask the Cowboys and Chiefs how helpful their home crowds were in the Divisional Round.