CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason, speaking with Dennis & Callahan Monday morning, said he foresees the Patriots beating the Ravens on Sunday in the AFC championship game. Esiason said Tom Brady has a renewed intensity and will lead New England back to the Super Bowl.
"He didn't have a great game against Baltimore in the playoffs a couple of years back. He did not have a great game last year against the New York Jets in the playoffs. But this is a different Tom Brady," Esiason said. "And I've been using this kind of theme over the last month or so, about how Tom said last year after the Jet loss [that] it was the worst loss of his career. And I think it's fueled a very competitive Tom Brady.
"[Chad] Ochocinco made mention of that last week in some interview -- I forget where it was -- that he has never seen a quarterback so intense in practice. Well, I extrapolate that as saying here's a guy that is extremely -- I mean, extremely -- determined to get back to the Super Bowl and win the game, if for nothing else than to cement a legacy that will be on par of Joe Montana's if he's able to do it."
Added Esiason: "He's always been a very competitive player, you can see that when he plays. But the last few weeks and the way that he's played and some of the things that have come out of the New England locker room this past week, he has taken it to another level. It's almost as if he is obsessed with winning the Super Bowl, which is exactly the level of commitment that you need in order to do it. And maybe he's recognizing that he has a very special team around him and this is the year it's going to get done again."
The Patriots came out and took it to the Broncos right from the opening snap Saturday.
"When I watched the game on Saturday night, when you see the Patriots come out and play like that offensively, there was a determination there," Esiason said. "It was almost like they were pissed that they were playing against Tim Tebow, who got all the headlines going into the game. And it's about us making sure everybody remembers that we're still here. I don't necessarily really feel like that's their motivation, but that was something to behold. That was vintage Tom Brady in his finest hour. He probably played as well Saturday night, against a team that he should have played well against, as any game we've ever seen him play.
"That level of intensity is there for the offense. I thought that the defense met it for the first time in a long time this year, where they really came to play, and they were saying, 'There's no way that Tim Tebow's coming into this building and beating us.' Now they're going to have to have the same kind of mindset with Joe Flacco. And this is going to be a much tougher game. Don't think for one moment that it won't be. Baltimore presents so much different challenges defensively."
With the New England offensive line also coming off perhaps its best game, the Patriots appear to be peaking at the right time.
"If the Patriots defense can do what they did against Denver, and do what Houston did yesterday to Joe Flacco, then I don't see how the Ravens can stay with the Patriots offense," Esiason said. "This is Tom Brady, this is the guy that's going to be standing back in the pocket. And if you ask me, maybe the most impressive performance -- other than Tom's six-touchdown performance on Saturday night -- is that of the offensive line of the Patriots. Tom might have gotten hit maybe once or twice in that game. That's what a healthy offensive line can do for you."
Following are more highlights from the interview.
On the Patriots routing Tim Tebow and the Broncos: "Listen, that was a scrimmage. They were playing against a kid that's not ready for prime time yet. If you look at the Denver Broncos, they lost four out of their last five games. Their offense was terrible in those games, with the exception of the Pittsburgh game; Tim made some plays. But he was not ready to compete on a level that you need to compete at in order for them to win on Saturday night."
On the Patriots' resurgent defense: "I thought the Patriots defense played great on Saturday night. It was probably the best performance that we had seen all year. They really ramped up the intensity, it seemed to me. There were a lot more guys rallying to the football. [Rob] Ninkovich had a great first half. [Gerard] Warren and [Vince] Wilfork played their asses off in the middle."
On the aging Ravens defense: "They're not the players that they once were; nobody ever is. But I will say this: Ray Lewis made some great plays yesterday. In watching how he was hitting Arian Foster, somebody 15 years younger than him. I think about Ray Lewis and I think about it in conjunction with my own career. My last game was against him. I think it was Ray Lewis' second year. And that's when I realized, I said, 'Oh, my God. I don't necessarily know that I belong on the field with this kind of player out here.' I had never seen anybody like him. Now, he's not that player that he was some 14 years ago, but I'll tell you what, he's still a very formidable foe. And the one thing that he knows, is he knows how to communicate with the guys around him. In other words, nothing that the Patriots throw at them I think will surprise him simply because he will have the presence and he will have the poise to be able to react to it. I just don't think he has the speed that he used to have."
On the surging Giants: "They're playing so well right now, it's scary. The fact is is that they are healthy at the right time. And they do have such an athletic defensive line that when they're on their game, they can make plays. They can make plays like stripping the ball out of Aaron Rodgers' hands -- that's how smart Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora are. This is still a team that has a penchant for giving up big plays. … Don't be surprised if San Francisco gives them a hell of a game. I think it's going to be a really close game."
Holley and Keefe check in with NFL Network's Heath Evans for some final thoughts on the Houston win and to look ahead at the Steelers in the AFC Championship.
Michael Holley and Rich Keefe speak to special teams captain Matthew Slater as the Patriots head to the AFC Championship and host the Steelers.
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Ben Kichen of the 'Dale and Holley Show' talk about Isaiah Thomas' flagrant foul against the Heat, and also discuss why it's time for the Celtics to address their biggest need.
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Ben Kichen of the "Dale and Holley Show" discuss the latest news on the injury that has kept Isaiah Thomas off the court and how valuable it is for Marcus Smart to stay in control.
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Ben Kichen of 'The Dale and Holley Show' talk about last night's disappointing finish against the Rockets and they talk about their love for DeMarcus Cousins.
Rob Bradford is joined by Jackie Bradley Jr. to discuss race in baseball and in Boston, along with the importance of Martin Luther King Day. The Red Sox outfielder also dives into how he never really felt comfortable in a major league clubhouse until last year, the approach he's taking heading into 2017, and why he's not playing in the World Baseball Classic.
Mut, Rob, and John are talking about their interview with Red Sox Manager John Farrell, the Red Sox approach to breaking up the lefties in the rotation, and the platoon at third base.
Bradford and Tomase talk with Red Sox Manager John Farrell. They talk about Eduardo Rodriguez recovery from his knee injury, the Red Sox third base competition in spring training, and guys playing in the WBC.
Ken, Rear and Ty get into a very solid week for the B's beating St Louis and the Flyers and losing a hard-fought game against the Predators. Is this team turning things around? Krug and Marchand are kicking things up a notch. The guys also talk about Claude and Sweeney's job security before getting into some big hits around the league this week.
Ken, Rear and Ty talk all things Bruins as they come off a 4-0 shutout win in Florida and head to Carolina later today. Did that victory save Claude's job? The boys get into Don Sweeney's recent comments on Claude's job and what the future holds for the black and gold.
Hour two of Saturday Skate as Ken Laird and Rear Admiral kick around the perception of backup goalie Anton Khudobin, B's coach Claude Julien, and possible trade target Gabriel Landeskog.
Hour 4. Fauria is wrong about Rodgers. Lucy ranked the wives and girlfriends of Patriots players and Trenni isn't happy about it.
Hour 3. Aaron Rodgers doesn't get along with his family. Trenni's dream man in the Boston media is revealed.
Hour 2. Trenni defends Charlotte Wilder against the evil people on Twitter. Headlines with Kirk.
Glenn, Lou and Christian talk about Aaron Rodgers, who has been on fire to close out the season, and how he compares to Tom Brady and the rest of the top quarterbacks of all time.
Everyone's talking about Antonio Brown live-streaming the Steelers team's post game speech after their win over the Chiefs. We hear from Edelman, Hightower, Brady and a few Steelers.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger both spoke to the media today, and each of them address Antonio Brown's Facebook Live video that called the Patriots a-holes.
Trent Dilfer, ESPN, joins the show to talk about Antonio Browns locker room video and why Tom Brady is the best QB left in the playoffs.
Michael Holley and Rich Keefe discuss the tough-fought win over the Texans, and begin talking Steelers, who the Patriots will face in the AFC Championship. Plus the Steelers take their lockerroom live to the fans and Facebook.
Kirk Minihane has a loud and very confrontational argument with media personality John Ziegler about the guilt or innocence of Jerry Sandusky. Kirk believes him to be guilty, John believes beyond a shadow of a doubt that Sandusky is innocent. Yes, it may be an old case, but you all remember it and this episode may change your mind about some of the things you previously thought with regards to Penn State, Jerry Sandusky, and Joe Paterno.
Kirk Minihane wants to sit down with both sports editors at the major newspapers in Boston. Only Boston Herald sports editor Sean Leahy took Kirk up on the invitation to join the show. What you will hear is a great conversation between two people who are very interested in the newspaper business and how that business has changed over the years and what the future holds for newspapers. Kirk and Sean talk about the ongoing and longstanding rivalry between the Herald and Globe.
Kirk talks with basketball legend Kevin McHale about his Celtics career, as well today's NBA and the current Boston team. Kevin analyzes the theoretical clash of the '86 Celtics and today's Golden State Warriors in addition to how C's heroes of the past would perform in today's game. Also featured: a podcast intro from Kirk's children Cate and Harry.
Ken Laird and Chris Curtis get back to post-show work with a Trenni Tuesday recap.
Ben and Josue talk about the moves the Celtics need to make in order for the team get over the top in the Eastern Conference.
Tom Brady joins the show to discuss the game against the Texans, the AFC championship versus the Steelers, his diet, and Roger Goodell.More from this show
Hour 1. The Steelers are coming to New England for the AFC Championship and Kirk is picking Pittsburgh to win.More from this show