Curran: Doubt planted that NFL playoff seeding matters

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Curran: Doubt planted that NFL playoff seeding matters

It's going to be hard for the Patriots to duck the Wild Card round.

Despite having lost their four games in 2012 by a total of 11 points and beating the two teams ahead of them in the AFC playoff race, the Patriots are likely bound for a home game at Gillette on the weekend of January 5 and 6.

If form holds, the Patriots will head to Denver for a rematch with the Broncos and Peyton Manning.

Blame the NFC West. The Patriots went 1-3 against the once-hapless division, their only win coming against the St. Louis Rams in London.

So how screwed are the Patriots if they have to win four playoff games to bring home a fourth Lombardi?

Using history as a reference point, not totally screwed.

The Giants were the No. 4 seed in the NFC in 2011 with a 9-7 record and they hammered Atlanta, outplayed Green Bay, lucked out against San Francisco and weathered the Patriots to win the Super Bowl.

In 2010, the No. 6 Packers won at Philly, at Atlanta and at Chicago before knocking off the AFC's No. 2 Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl.

The Saints and Colts were both No. 1 seeds in 2009 and made it to the Super Bowl where New Orleans won when Manning threw it to the wrong team in the waning moments of a would-be game-winning drive.

The Cardinals were the fourth-seed and the Steelers were a two-seed in 2008 when they had their epic bout in Tampa.

And the top-seeded Patriots lost to the fifth-seeded Giants in the Super Bowl in 2007.

Extra games increases the likelihood of injury to key players. Road games bring on crowd noise, adversity presented by travel and any number of comfort factors on game day.

The mettle and mental toughness of a team is what's relevant. Can a team embrace the adversity it's been handed -- as the Giants have done in their runs -- or will it lament how it got itself in a spot where it's playing on the road?

These are the dynamics the Patriots will face in January. Would it be "easier" if they didn't face the specter of two road games against Houston and Denver? Probably. But the whole thing's supposed to be hard anyway. C'est la vie.

Cyrus Jones: 'I'll never take credit for something I don't feel I contributed to'

Cyrus Jones: 'I'll never take credit for something I don't feel I contributed to'

It was a tough rookie season for Cyrus Jones after being selected by the New England Patriots in the second round of the the 2016 NFL Draft.

Despite struggling in the return game all season and being inactive for the playoffs, Jones will forever the labeled as a "Super Bowl Champion" after his team's victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.

But you won't hear Jones bragging about the victory.

"I'll never take credit for something I don't feel I contributed to," Jones told Childs Walker of the The Baltimore Sun. "I was part of the team, but I didn't feel a part of it."

The 23-year-old rookie played in 10 games for the Patriots, seeing 147 snaps on defense. But his struggles in the return game were a talking point for most of the season after he came in with such high expectations as a returner out of Alabama. 

"Honestly, it was hell for me," he explained. "That's the only way I can describe it. I didn't feel I deserved to be part of anything that was happening with the team. I felt embarrassed that these people probably thought they wasted a pick on me."

Jones has already turned the page on his rookie season saying, there's "no such thing as an offseason" because he "didn't earn it."

Robert Kraft profiled on this week's 'Real Sports' on HBO

Robert Kraft profiled on this week's 'Real Sports' on HBO

Robert Kraft is a bit taken aback when he walks into a room at Gillette Stadium and sees the Patriots' five Lombardi trophies lined up.

"Wow. That's the first time I've seen five trophies there," he tells Andrea Kremer on HBO's "Real Sports" in a interview that will air as part of this week's episode Tuesday at 10 p.m.

"A lot of people have their big dreams and get knocked down and don't have things go their way," Kraft says, "And you never give up hope and you really just hold on to it. Hard work and perserverance. You just keep getting up and getting up and then you get that breakthrough. I think that's what happened in overtime down in Houston. And that's lessons in life that are good for anyone." 

Here's an excerpt: