Brady-Manning XIII and the hype machine

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Brady-Manning XIII and the hype machine

FOXBORO -- The two best quarterbacks of their generation -- arguably of any generation -- will meet once again at Gillette Stadium on Sunday in Brady-Manning XIII. And it could be the last time.

If there's going to be a XIV, it'll have to come in the postseason or the two teams will have to finish in the same place in their respective divisions. And it'll have to come soon because the boys are getting up there -- Peyton Manning will be 37 in March; Tom Brady turns 36 next August.

They've gone through this process enough by now to know how it works in the days leading up to their teams' meeting. Their job is simple. Lob verbal bouquets infused with the baby's breath of respect and admiration until Friday. And then try to eviscerate the other guy's defense on Sunday.

This ain't the Decatur Staleys against the Providence Steamrollers and it's not 1931. Brady and Manning don't need to carnival bark to help this game get attention. We all take care of that for them.

Asked if he wearies of speaking about playing "against" someone who he only touches when he shakes hands with Manning before and after the game, Brady said, "At the end of the day, its the Patriots versus the Broncos. I have a job to do and the defensive guys have a job to do," Brady said.

He did, however, indicate that there may be a different mindset with the Patriots offense against Manning than when it faces a garden variety Locker, Kolb or Fitzpatrick.

"You're not blind to the fact that theres a great player on the other side of the ball that is capable of having a great performance," Brady allowed. "I think you realize that thats a part of the game. He's going to complete passes, they're going to gain yards. Its just a matter of us playing a better 60-minute game, being good on third down, being good in the red area, situationally being good."

And if you listened closely, you heard Brady allude to the history between these teams. He may not have meant to, but when Brady talked about the competitiveness of these matchups, he seemed to reference the 2009 meeting in Indy and the infamous Fourth-and-2 game.

"If we have an opportunity to win the game at the end, thats what youve got to do," Brady added. "It seems like it has always come down to the end against him. When he was playing for the Colts, it was always close games. Theyve been in every game theyve played this year, right down to the end. The two games they lost, the other team was in a four-minute offense and really made a couple critical first downs there at the end to win to not give them the ball back."

Plumbing the interpersonal relationship between Manning and Brady has yielded little. They're friends and maintain contact but they don't seem to run in the same circles.

The competition and rivalry we as media or fan "experts" are forever taking stock of is not the cutthroat one that, say, Magic-Bird was in the early days.

"He's a friend of mine," said Brady. "We dont talk much during the season, but I think hes someone that certainly Ive always looked up to and admired and really respected the way he plays the position, the way he works, the way he leads. Hes been a phenomenal player and we played against him a long time at the Colts -- it felt like very year -- so you see a lot of those games and obviously I have learned a lot from him."

But neither Brady nor Manning will be thinking about the day they played golf at Cypress Point or how they both missed full seasons but came back to play again or whether they'll enter the Hall of Fame on the same August day in the next decade or so.
They will be worried about themselves and their jobs, said Brady.

"We have to score more points than the other team," he pointed out (helpfully). "If they score 10, weve got to score 11. If they score 40, weve got to score 41. I think thats more the mindset. Hopefully the defense goes out there and plays a great game. At the same time, you have to expect to play a great game as well. You cant think that you're going to score 20 points and think its good enough or 30 points and think its good enough. Whatever they score, we have to score more."

Sanu on Patriots' Super Bowl comeback: Lady Gaga's long halftime hurt Falcons

Sanu on Patriots' Super Bowl comeback: Lady Gaga's long halftime hurt Falcons

Three weeks removed from his team blowing a 25-point, second-half lead in the Super Bowl, Mohamed Sanu offered a possible explanation for the Atlanta Falcons losing their edge against the Patriots.

Lady Gaga.

More specifically, it was the half-hour-plus halftime show that interrupted the Falcons' rhythm, the receiver said Friday on the NFL Network's "Good Morning Football."

“Usually, halftime is only like 15 minutes, and when you’re not on the field for like an hour, it’s just like going to work out, like a great workout, and you go sit on the couch for an hour and then try to start working out again,” Sanu said.

Sanu was asked if the delay was something you can simulate in practice. 

"It's really the energy [you can't duplicate]," he said. "I don't know if you can simulate something like that. That was my first time experiencing something like that."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick did simulate it. In his Super Bowl practices, he had his team take long breaks in the middle.

Sanu also addressed the Falcons' pass-first play-calling that didn't eat up clock while the Patriots came back.

"The thought [that they weren't running the ball more] crossed your mind, but as a player, you're going to do what the coach [Dan Quinn] wants you to do." Sanu said. "He's called plays like that all the time."


 

It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade

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It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade

The Patriots received a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018 from the Browns in return for Jamie Collins. That's how the trade was described on the league's transaction wire. 

The "condition" of that fourth-rounder? Well, if the Browns received a third-round compensatory pick in 2017, the Patriots would nab that pick instead. 

On Friday, the NFL announced that the Browns had in fact been awarded a third-round compensatory pick, which meant that almost three full weeks after Super Bowl LI, everything was still coming up Patriots.

In actuality, the odds were pretty good all along that the Patriots would get what they got

Cleveland lost Pro Bowl center Alex Mack in free agency last offseason when he opted to sign with the Falcons. Because compensatory picks are based on free agents lost and free agents acquired, and because the Browns did not sign any similarly-impactful free agents, there was a good chance Mack's departure would render a third-round comp pick that would be shipped to New England.

Had Mack suffered a significant injury that forced his play to drop off or limited his time on the field, a third-rounder may have been out of the question, but he played well (named a Pro Bowler and a Second Team All-Pro) and stayed healthy -- lucky for the Patriots -- missing just 17 total snaps in the regular season. 

The Browns comp pick that will be sent to New England is No. 103 overall. The Patriots were also awarded a fifth-round comp pick, No. 185 overall. That was a result of the league weighing the departures of Akiem Hicks and Tavon Wilson against the arrival of Shea McClellin.

The Patriots now have nine selections in this year's draft: One first-rounder; one second-rounder; two third-rounders; one fourth-rounder*; two fifth-rounders; two seventh-rounders.

The third-round compensatory pick acquired by the Patriots carries additional value this year in that it is the first year in which compensatory picks can be traded. A near top-100 overall selection may allow the Patriots to move up the draft board or build assets in the middle rounds should they be inclined to deal. And we know they oftentimes are. 

* The Patriots forfeited their highest fourth-round selection in this year's draft as part of their Deflategate punishment. They acquired a fourth-round pick from the Seahawks last year. Because that would have been the higher of their two selections, that's the one they'll lose. They will make their own fourth-round pick at No. 137 overall.