MVP is last thing on Brady's mind

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MVP is last thing on Brady's mind

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady has thrown for 27 touchdowns and has over 3,000 passing yards in 12 games. He was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday after his four-touchdown performance against the New York Jets Monday night. It was his second straight four-touchdown, zero-interception game.

With all of that comes the never-boring MVP chatter.

Up until a few weeks ago, it seemed that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and his 21 touchdowns (15 passing) would run away with the award. But now Brady's name has emerged as the leading MVP candidate in many people's minds.

So what does Brady think?

"It's really the last thing on my mind," said the Pats' quarterback, who won the award in 2007, prior to Wednesday's walkthrough at Gillette Stadium. "Regardless of how I play, it's how our offense plays. That's what I'm concerned most about."

And the Patriots have the best offense in the NFL. New England averages 31.6 points per game, ahead of the Eagles (28.7) and Chargers (26.9). San Diego's number explain why Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers -- 24 touchdown passes -- has also been involved in the MVP debate.

But Brady seems to be grabbing more attention than Vick and Rivers at this point. Part of that has to do with Monday's nationally televised game. But, in truth, Brady is actually proving to be the league's most valuable player. The 10-2 Patriots -- coming off a 45-3 beatdown of the now 9-3 Jets -- are beginning to look like the dominant Patriots teams we've seen in the past.

Still, Brady won't compare it to the last Patriots team that went to the Super Bowl, in 2007-08.

"We're not even close to that," said Brady. "I think we were an entirely different team and style than what we're trying to accomplish here. We're just trying to get the ball in the end zone.

"That's what our job is. We don't go out there to punt. Coach Bill Belichick doesn't send us out and say, 'Run three plays and then send the punt team out.' We're going out there to score."

On Sunday in Chicago, the Patriots' offense will have to go out there and score against the third-best defense in the NFL, as the Bears have only allowed an average of 16 points per game this year.

After that, the Patriots will have to go up against the league's top defense in the Green Bay Packers -- who allow only 15.2 points -- at Gillette Stadium.

A dominating offensive performance by Brady in Chicago and then again at home against the Packers would most certainly eliminate Vick and Rivers from the MVP debate.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comdannypicard

Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

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Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will head into Sunday's AFC title game with seven players listed as questionable, including three receivers. 

Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan have all been limited in practices this week due to their injuries. Amendola has been dealing with an ankle issue since a Week 13 win over the Rams, while Mitchell has not played since injuring his knee in Week 16 against the Jets. Hogan suffered a thigh injury against the Texans and left the game in the third quarter.

Both Hogan and Mitchell indicated this week that they were moving in the right direction in terms of their recoveries. One would think that the Patriots would need at least one, if not both, to help stress the back end of the Steelers secondary this weekend.

Hogan has been the team's most consistent down-the-field threat this season, averaging a whopping 17.9 yards per catch during the regular season. Against the Texans, before his injury, he reeled in four passes for 95 yards. 

Mitchell, meanwhile, had a very productive second half of his rookie season before he was hurt. He compiled 25 catches for 306 yards between Weeks 11 and 16, establishing himself as one of Tom Brady's go-to targets. 

The overall health of the Patriots receiving corps -- which will also include Julian Edelman and Michael Floyd -- will bear watching when the Patriots and Steelers kick off in two days.

The injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Steelers game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

QUESTIONABLE
WR Danny Amendola (ankle)
TE Martellus Bennett (knee)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder)
WR Chris Hogan (thigh)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee)
DL Jabaal Sheard (knee)

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

QUESTIONABLE
TE Ladarius Green (concussion/illness)
LB James Harrison (shoulder/triceps)
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (concussion)

NOT LISTED
RB Le'Veon Bell (not injury related)
K Chris Boswell (illness)
LB Anthony Chickillo (ankle)
S Sean Davis (shoulder)
C B.J. Finney (illness)
WR Darrius Heyward-Bay (illness)
DE Ricardo Mathews (ankle)
QB Zach Mettenberger (illness)
S Michael Mitchell (not injury related)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (not injury related)
LB Vince Williams (shoulder)