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."
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Patriots WR, Danny Amendola, joined the show for a bit to talk about his health, the evolution of the playbook, and the heated battles between the offense and defense.
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discuss Wednesday's Patriots practice, which featured Brandon Browner getting into it with Kenbrell Thompkins and a couple others.
Jackie Mac joins the guys to discuss her thoughts on a possible mid-season tournament in the NBA, LeBron's return to Cleveland, trade rumors with the Celtics and Red Sox, and Darrelle Revis' contract situation.
Jackie MacMullan of ESPN Boston to talk about the Lebron James Saga, the possibility of Rajon Rondo being traded, and the future of Marcus Smart.
Former coach of Celtics 1st-round pick Marcus Smart, Travis Ford joins MFB to talk about what Celtics fans should expect from the strong point guard. Among other things, Coach Ford says Smart will be a hard worker, and will improve his shooting ability.
Rob and Alex talk with John Farrell about all the moves the Red Sox made at the deadline, what they gave up and what they gained.
Rob Bradford and Alex Speier are in and talking about all the moves made by the Red Sox at the trade deadline, because the most fun thing about the day is talking about the moves of the day. Red Sox GM Ben Cherington held a press conference talking about the Red Sox moves, and Rob and Alex talk with Red Sox manager John Farrell about the moves made at the deadline.
Former Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes reacts to the news that he, along with Jon Lester, have been traded to the Oakland Athletics for Yoenis Cespedes
Rob Bradford is joined by WEEI.com Bruins beat writer DJ Bean, as well as Boston sports fan/blogger Turtleboy to talk all things Bruins free agency. With the B's recent moves, the conversation turns to where the Bruins might next turn and what kind of dent losing Jarome Iginla and Shawn Thornton might make.
DJ discusses Shawn Thornton's new deal, and the on going negotiations with Jerome Iginla
DJ Bean joins the program to dismiss the recent rumors that the Bruins are in discussions to trade Brad Marchand to the Sharks for Patrick Marleau
The top stories of the day as recounted by John Dennis.
John, Gerry and Meter react to the breaking news of Jon Lester being dealt to the A's.
ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes gave us the latest on the Lester trade talks.
Lou goes through the 5 stages of grief, then John Lackey gets traded to the Cardinals.
Lou, Christian, and Tim react to the news that Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes have been traded to Oakland for Yoenis Cespedes. Lou hates the deal the move, especially because Cespedes is not arbitration eligible.
Former Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes joins MFB to react to the news he has been traded along with Jon Lester to the Oakland Athletics for Yoenis Cespedes
Biggest trade deadline day in recent memory for the Boston Red Sox... and not in a good way. We discuss it all as the news happens and take your reactions.
We tackle four topics, all surrounding the four worst Sox trade deadline deals in recent memory.
As news looms about a possible Jon Lester trade, we sit down with the skipper of your Sox live from Fenway park.
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Mut and Villani are talking about the MLB All Star Game, Adam Wainwright and Derek Jeter, and what are some of the worst ideas in sports.
Sam and Zach discuss changing the format of the Podcast, the Chris Archer-David Ortiz debacle, and LeBron James being a super genius
Particularly in a year where the Red Sox have struggled while trying to integrate numerous young players into regular big league roles, accusations that Red Sox prospects are overrated -- whether by the team or writers -- have been widespread. Jim Callis of MLB.com joins the show to take stock of the matter, and to discuss the team-building impact of overrating and underrating prospects.
With the trade deadline looming, the next few days will be defined by how teams value prospects -- and their potential long-term contributions -- against big leaguers with established track records who can address immediate needs. Are prospects being valued accurately? Red Sox left-hander Andrew Miller -- once one of the two key chips that sent Miguel Cabrera from the Marlins to the Tigers -- assesses the matter.
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