The week has started with a bang.

After Sunday’s win over the Chiefs in the AFC divisional playoffs Sunday night, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin’s postgame speech was caught on Facebook Live by wide receiver Antonio Brown. In his address to the team — roughly two minutes in — Tomlin noted that the Patriots, who won Saturday afternoon, had a jumpstart on Pittsburgh when it came to preparation.

“We spotted these [expletives] a day-and-a-half,” Tomlin could be heard telling his team. “They played [Saturday]. … We’ll be ready for their [expletive].”

Shortly after that, someone else could be heard telling players to “be cool on social media. This is about us. Nobody else.”

Check out the video here.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Aaron Rodgers celebrates the Packers' win Sunday. (Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports)

Aaron Rodgers celebrates the Packers’ win Sunday. (Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports)

1. So the NFL’s Final Four is set, with the Packers meeting the Falcons in the Georgia Dome Sunday at 3:05 p.m., and the Patriots and Steelers squaring off at 6:40 in Foxboro. In the NFC, it’ll be a four seed (Green Bay) and a two seed (Atlanta), while the No. 1 seed in the AFC (New England) will host the third seed (Pittsburgh). But more importantly, it’s simply the latest reminder that in a quarterback-driven league, if you don’t have a signal-caller who stands head-and-shoulders above the rest of the field, you’re pretty much going to be out of luck. It’s hard to look at this group of quarterbacks — Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisbeger, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan — and not include them in some sort of combination of the NFL’s top 5 QBs, at least at this point. (What does it say about the field that the guy who now appears to be the odds’ on favorite to win the MVP has the thinnest resume of the bunch?) Anyway, keep that in mind when the next round of team-building commences shortly after the end of the postseason. (Oh, and for what it’s worth, I’d still be shocked if Roger Goodell was in Foxboro this weekend. That dude is headed straight back to Atlanta.)

2. These quotes from Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler is going to be fun to revisit this week. Prior to the October game between the two teams in Pittsburgh, Butler was interviewed for the “Coordinators Corner” podcast on the Steelers’ team website, and was asked about Brady and Belichick and if they study harder than other teams, or if they’re doing something special? “I don’t think they’re doing anything special,” Butler said via MassLive.com. “I think they do things outside the box sometimes, you know, that might be on the edge of being legal or not legal. They’ve done a couple of things in the past — putting an offensive tackle out as ineligible but he’s not really. Sometimes the emphasis by the NFL in terms of what they call and what they don’t call, [the Patriots] use that a little bit. They’ve been accused of doing a lot of things. But the thing we’ve got to do is ignore that and play.” For what it’s worth, Brady has faced the Pittsburgh defense twice since Butler took over as defensive coordinator prior to the start of the 2015 season:

9/10/15 in Foxboro: 25-for-32 for 288 yards with four touchdowns, no picks and two sacks in a 28-21 win
10/23/16 in Pittsburgh: 19-for-26 for 222 yards with two touchdowns in a 27-16 win

3. Travis Kelce wants to be Rob Gronkowski the same way that Bon Jovi wants to be Bruce Springsteen. The Kansas City tight end was underwhelming on the big stage Sunday night against the Steelers, committing a dopey penalty while finishing with five catches for 77 yards in the loss. On a night where the Chiefs needed Kelce to be a difference-maker, he and the rest of the Kansas City offense came up short. Consider this NSFW locker room video of Kelce a fitting postscript to the season:

4. The Steelers are a far more appetizing opponent for the Patriots to consider than the Chiefs for multiple reasons, not the least of which is the fact that Pittsburgh does a better job stirring the emotion in the New England fan base than Kansas City. Who can get upset with Kansas City? It’s Andy Reid in a big red jacket. Meanwhile, the Steelers are still worthy of a spot among the Patriots’ chief rivals. There’s so much terrific history to consider between these two teams. The names and faces have changed along the way, but this week promises to be a lot more fun — at least from a hype-driven perspective — than last week against the Texans.

5. We covered our feelings about Rodgers and the Packers’ wild win over the Cowboys here, but it’s safe to say, the NFC title game should be a compelling contest in the Georgia Dome. Can Ryan rise to the challenge and advance to the Super Bowl for the first time in his career? Can Rodgers keep his remarkable streak rolling? From this viewpoint, we’re in completely uncharted waters when it comes to Rodgers and what he’s doing. Despite the fact that they’re on the road, our first inclination is to go with the Packers. No one else has been able to slow down Green Bay quarterback over the last month-plus. Why should Atlanta be any different?

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.</p>
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It’s official.

The Patriots will host the Steelers in the AFC championship game next Sunday at Gillette Stadium. The game will kickoff at 6:40 p.m. EST on CBS.

Pittsburgh got to the AFC title game by way of its 18-16 win over the Chiefs Sunday night. The game was originally scheduled for 1:00 p.m., but it was moved on Friday due to a weekend ice storm in Kansas City.

Ben Roethislberger will face Tom Brady in the AFC title game. (Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports)

Ben Roethislberger will face Tom Brady in the AFC title game. (Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports)

It’s official.

The Patriots will host the Steelers in the AFC championship game next Sunday at Gillette Stadium. The game will kickoff at 6:40 p.m. EST on CBS.

Pittsburgh got to the AFC title game by way of its 18-16 win over the Chiefs Sunday night. The game was originally scheduled for 1:00 p.m., but it was moved on Friday due to a weekend ice storm in Kansas City.

Steelers kicker Chris Boswell set an NFL record with six field goals in the win. The Chiefs scored with 2:43 left, but failed on the two-point conversion. They scored on the original play, but after a holding penalty the ball was re-spotted at the 12-yard line and Alex Smith threw an incomplete pass.

Pittsburgh will come to Gillette Stadium led by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, running back Le’Veon Bell, and wide receiver Antonio Brown. Its defense hasn’t put up the best of numbers this season, but is playing very well of late, as the Steelers have now won nine straight games.

Led by head coach Mike Tomlin and their physical play, one thing is for sure and that is they will not enter Gillette Stadium scared.

The Patriots and Steelers met in Pittsburgh on October 23 of this season where the Patriots won 27-17, although Roethlisberger didn’t play due to a shoulder injury and Landry Jones started at quarterback.

The two teams have met in a conference championship before when the Patriots blew the Steelers out, 41-27 in Pittsburgh during the 2004 playoffs and went onto win the Super Bowl, and also in 2001 when the Patriots won 24-17 in Pittsburgh. They also won the Super Bowl that year.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

There are some similarities between Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. (Stew Milne/USA Today Sports)Stick with me on this, because I’m admittedly broad-brushing the comparison.



It’s been a week since Josh McDaniels interviewed with three teams for their head coaching jobs — the Rams, Jaguars and 49ers.

Now, just one remains: the 49ers.

It was reported San Fransisco was his preferred destination if he were to leave New England and now there’s some talk he’s “conflicted” about whether he wants the job or not.

It appears if Josh McDaniels wants the 49ers job, it's his. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

It appears if Josh McDaniels wants the 49ers job, it’s his. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

It’s been a week since Josh McDaniels interviewed with three teams for their head coaching jobs — the Rams, Jaguars and 49ers.

Now, just one remains: the 49ers.

It was reported San Fransisco was his preferred destination if he were to leave New England and now there’s some talk he’s “conflicted” about whether he wants the job or not.

According to Pro Football Talk, the job is his if he wants it and McDaniels has been reaching out to potential assistant coaches to tell them to remain available. Others say he’s conflicted about taking it considering he has four young children and he would have to move his family across the country. He would not want to do that for potentially a short-stint.

As coach of the Broncos in 2009, he didn’t even make it two full seasons and the 49ers have gone through three coaches in almost two years. That certainly raises some questions, especially when it’s not just impacting him personally, but his entire family.

The flip side of that is the 49ers may recognize their recent history and be more patient with the next head coach. They also will be hiring a new general manager.

Bottom line, it seems the ball is in McDaniels’ court. If he wants to leave New England, the 49ers job is his, but he also has a pretty good gig leading Tom Brady’s offense with the Patriots.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

The Patriots were already down one receiver entering Saturday’s game with Malcolm Mitchell being inactive due to a knee injury, and then during the game they lost another.

Before getting injured, Chris Hogan had a great game. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Before getting injured, Chris Hogan had a great game. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Patriots were already down one receiver entering Saturday’s game with Malcolm Mitchell being inactive due to a knee injury, and then during the game they lost another.

Midway through the third quarter, Chris Hogan was seen getting his leg stretched out on the sideline before heading inside to the locker room. The team announced it as a thigh injury and his return as questionable.

Hogan appeared back on the sidelines midway through the fourth quarter, even running in place on the sideline appearing ready to re-enter the game, but never did.

On Sunday, Bill Belichick had no update on Hogan’s status.

“Yeah, no, I don’t have any update,” he said. “We’ll update you on Wednesday when we do the practice reports. All of that stuff now, it’s a bunch of hot air.”

Although Belichick didn’t offer any update, things appear to be OK for Hogan given he returned to the sideline and likely would have returned if the game was closer. Also, he was seen in the locker room after the game without showing any sign of a limp.

Prior to getting injured, Hogan was having a great game. He caught all four of his targets for 94 yards.

If Hogan and Mitchell can play in next week’s AFC title game, there’s a chance Michael Floyd could be inactive.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable