Brady sympathizes with Colts...to a point

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Brady sympathizes with Colts...to a point

FOXBORO - The first two questions posed to Tom Brady on Wednesday were tailor-made for odes to Peyton.

Brady passed.

"Hopefully he'll be out there to say hi," was Brady's response to whether he'll miss Manning. His response when asked if the league misses the injured Colts quarterback was even more succinct: "I don't know."

What Brady does know -- and what he labored to make clear -- was that the winless Colts are dangerous. Dangerous despite scoring the second-fewest points in the league (150) and allowing the most (327).

"I think they've got some players that can really play," said Brady. "They've got Dwight Freeney. I wish he was out this week. He's a phenomenal player. If I could be a defensive guy I'd be like him. And Robert Mathis on the other side, those are guys who can really wreak havoc. Coach said this morning, Freeney's got like 99 career sacks and 43 forced fumbles. Almost half the time he sacks you he strips the ball."

Nicenumbers. But the breathless acts oforal persuasion aren't that effective no matter how earnest the Patriots want to make them.

The Colts are awful and they have no shot at winning. And, if they do win -- by some strange confluence of circumstances -- Bill Belichick will pop a vesselbecause good teams don't lose to 0-11 teams.

Although the one great late-seasonupset I remember during Belichick's tenurewas the Patriots 29-28 loss at Miami in 2004. The Patriots were 12-1 and the Dolphins 2-11 for that December 20 loss. And the Patriots still went on to win the Super Bowl.

But that is the kind of memory that Belichick and Brady can cultivate this week. They can also remind everyone how hard it is to be a successful NFL team.

"I think sometimes we take for granted here because(of our success)but it's hard to win an NFL game," said Brady. "Every team has talent. Every team can only spend to the cap . . . It's hard to win games. It really is. You never want to see a team have that kind of season because you know how miserable we are when we lose two in a row. At the same time, our job is to go out there and perform as well as we can against them this week."

In other words, sorry about this but, here is loss No. 12, Colts. Better luck next year. Against everybody but us.

Raiders creep past Patriots in race for top seed in AFC

Raiders creep past Patriots in race for top seed in AFC

The Patriots and Raiders and neck-and-neck as the race for home field in the AFC turns for home. And, with four games left, the Raiders are ahead by a nose. The tiebreakers between the 10-2 teams in play currently? Common games followed by strength of victory. 

The first tiebreaker – conference record – is a deadlock as both teams are 7-1 in the AFC (the Brady-less Patriots lost to the Bills back in Week 4.

After conference record, it's the teams record in common games. 

PATRIOTS 26, RAMS 10

So far in common games with the Texans and Bills, the Patriots have gone 2-1 and the Raiders have gone 2-0. The Patriots play the Ravens next week. Oakland beat them. The Patriots play Denver after that. Oakland beat them as well but have one more game against Denver in Week 17.

So if it comes down to common games the Patriots really need to win these next two games.

Or hope the Raiders stub their toe a time or two in their final four games which are at the Chiefs, Chargers and Broncos with a home game against Indy in Week 16.

As for strength of victory, that too goes to Oakland at this point. The Raiders’ strength of victory is at .471. The Patriots’ is at .370.

But the tiebreaker that kicks in after conference record and before strength of victory – common games – is very much unresolved.The remaining picture as it stands right now? The Ravens are the No. 3 seed with a 7-5 record that leads the AFC North. The Texans’ 6-6 record is good enough to lead the AFC South. The 9-3 Chiefs are the top Wild Card. The 8-4 Broncos are the No. 6 seed.

The Patriots play the Ravens and Broncos over the next two weeks. Currently, the Dolphins (7-5) and Steelers (7-5) are on the outside looking in.

The Titans (6-6) will have a chance to get even with the Texans in Week 17 in head-to-head matchups but they host Denver and play at Kansas City the next two weeks so they have obstacles to clear before they get there.