2013 DRAFT GUIDE
Patriots in rare position as postseason underdogs

    2014-01-14 02:12

(Eds: With AP Photos.)
By HOWARD ULMAN
AP Sports Writer

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - The Patriots' streak of 11 postseason games as a favorite is over.

For the first time since the AFC championship game against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in 2007, New England is a playoff underdog - against Manning and the Denver Broncos in the AFC championship game on Sunday.

Tom Brady & Co. are willing to use that as motivation for the game that will send the winner to the Super Bowl.

''We play with a chip on our shoulder,'' wide receiver Danny Amendola said. ''We like to play that way.''

Count the Patriots out?

Go right ahead, fullback James Develin said.

''I can't really speak for everyone, but I personally love the underdog story,'' he said. ''It just kind of keeps a little bit of the pressure off you and I just like to prove the doubters wrong.''

Brady sounded the first ''woe is us'' note during his weekly appearance on WEEI radio Monday.

''I know when we played Baltimore nobody picked us to win,'' Brady said. ''I'm sure no one's going to pick us to win this week. We've had our backs against the wall for a while. Really, the whole season we've lost players, and teams have really counted us out.

''We've got a bunch of underdogs on our team, and we'll be an underdog again.''

The Ravens were favored to extend their four-game winning streak in the next to last game of the regular season. Baltimore was at home, but the Patriots won 41-7.

Now New England (13-4) is preparing to go on the road again. And Brady's teammates figure if playing the underdog card against Denver (14-3) is good enough for him, it's good enough for them.

''If Tom's going to embrace it, I'm going to embrace it,'' New England running back LeGarrette Blount said with a smile. ''That's the leader of this team, and if that's how he feels, I'm sure that's how most of the guys out here feel.''

In that loss to the Colts seven years ago, the Patriots held an 18-point lead late in the first half but lost 38-34. Indianapolis went on to win the Super Bowl.

That also was the Patriots' most recent playoff road game. Since then, they're 7-2 at home and 0-2 in Super Bowls at neutral sites.

This season, they were underdogs at home against Denver on Nov. 24, but won 34-31 in overtime after trailing 24-0 at halftime. Broncos tight end Julius Thomas missed that game with a knee injury. Now he's back, one of five Denver receivers with at least 60 catches this season.

''He's a heck of a football player, a playmaker, go-to guy for them,'' Patriots safety Steve Gregory said. ''He can create mismatches and things like that, so he's a good football player. But they have a lot of good football players.''

The 250-pound Blount creates mismatches as well - able to elude big linemen and run over small defensive backs. He ran for 166 yards and four touchdowns in Saturday night's 43-22 win over Indianapolis after rushing for 189 yards and two touchdowns in the previous game, a 34-20 win over Buffalo in the regular-season finale.

''I can do a lot of improving,'' Blount said after watching video of the Indianapolis game. ''I've seen a couple of holes I could have hit, and I've seen a couple of cuts I could have made. I'm going to go out there and look at what they're going to give me, and hopefully explode somewhere.''

Blount got off to a slow start this season, his first with the Patriots.

It would be dangerous to underestimate him now, just as the Broncos would be unwise to put too much stock into their status as favorites.

After all, Brady fooled all those teams that bypassed him in the 2000 draft until the Patriots took him in the sixth round with the 199th overall pick.

''He came into the league as a big underdog,'' Develin said, ''so I'm sure he's used to that.''

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Matt FlynnApr 16 10:01a

Green Bay Packers QB Matt Flynn is expected to compete with QB Scott Tolzien for the backup quarterback job, but head coach Mike McCarthy anticipates keeping three QBs on [ More ]

Rolando McClainApr 16 12:03a

Retired LB Rolando McClain (Ravens) worked out for the Baltimore Ravens Tuesday, April 15, as he attempts a comeback. The workout wasn't a smooth one in terms of conditioning, [ More ]

Chris JohnsonApr 16 12:03a

The New York Jets are sticking to their budget/value system. While they want free-agent RB Chris Johnson (Titans), they will not 'overpay' for him. The depressed running back market [ More ]

Aldon SmithApr 16 12:03a

San Francisco 49ers LB Aldon Smith hasn't only lost the benefit of the doubt with the team, but he probably won't play with the team in 2014, according to [ More ]

Malcom FloydApr 15 11:53p

San Diego Chargers WR Malcom Floyd (neck) continues his rehab from a neck injury, but his status is still uncertain. When the team begins voluntary workouts April 22, Floyd [ More ]

Chris JohnsonApr 15 07:53p

Free-agent RB Chris Johnson's (Titans) visit with the New York Jets reportedly went well Tuesday, April 15, but he left without a deal. Other teams are involved with him, too.

Rolando McClainApr 15 07:53p

The Baltimore Ravens worked out LB Rolando McClain, and it reportedly wasn't a success. McClain didn't finish his conditioning test and didn't perform drills.

Terrell ManningApr 15 05:43p

The Minnesota Vikings claimed LB Terrell Manning off waivers from the San Diego Chargers Tuesday, April 15.

Adam PodleshApr 15 05:13p

The Pittsburgh Steelers signed free-agent P Adam Podlesh (Bears) to an undisclosed one-year deal Tuesday, April 15.

Allen ReisnerApr 15 03:53p

The Minnesota Vikings announced Tuesday, April 15, that they've signed free-agent TE Allen Reisner (Jaguars) to an undisclosed deal.

Daniel KilgoreApr 15 03:23p

San Francisco 49ers OG Daniel Kilgore was found not guilty of public intoxication related to his arrest in January in Tennessee. His case was dismissed following his appearance in [ More ]

Matt FlynnApr 15 02:23p

The Green Bay Packers agreed to terms on an undisclosed deal to re-sign QB Matt Flynn Tuesday, April 15, according to a source.

Dion JordanApr 15 01:53p

Miami Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey is expecting big things from DE Dion Jordan in his second season this year. He's a very talented player and this is a [ More ]

Brandon LloydApr 15 01:33p

The San Francisco 49ers signed free-agent WR Brandon Lloyd (Patriots) to an undisclosed deal Tuesday, April 15.

Chris JohnsonApr 15 12:23p

The Buffalo Bills have shown some interest in signing free-agent RB Chris Johnson (Titans), according to sources.

Duron HarmonApr 15 10:57a

New England Patriots SS Duron Harmon is the leading candidate to take over as the Patriots' top strong safety now that Steve Gregory has been released.

Eli ManningApr 15 10:23a

Former New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said it's 'ludicrous' to think that Giants QB Eli Manning is in decline. 'There's been no deterioration of his arm strength, [ More ]

Chris JohnsonApr 15 09:33a

The New York Jets are visiting with free-agent RB Chris Johnson (Titans) Tuesday, April 15.

Will MontgomeryApr 14 11:52p

The Denver Broncos' offseason conditioning program begins Monday, April 21. It's not known whether C Will Montgomery or C Manuel Ramirez will start at center.

Sidney RiceApr 14 11:52p

The Carolina Panthers might show an interest in free-agent WR Sidney Rice (Seahawks), but only at the right price.

Manuel RamirezApr 14 11:52p

The Denver Broncos' offseason conditioning program begins Monday, April 21. It remains unclear whether OT Orlando Franklin, OG Ben Garland or C Manuel Ramirez will be the team's left guard.

Terrell ManningApr 14 05:32p

The San Diego Chargers have released LB Terrell Manning.

Nate IrvingApr 14 05:12p

Denver Broncos LB Nate Irving appears to be the leading candidate to start at middle linebacker at this time, but the team is expected to select a middle linebacker during the 2014 NFL Draft.

Leon HallApr 14 04:12p

Cincinnati Bengals CB Leon Hall (Achilles') has been cleared for all football drills as part of his rehab.

Jamarca SanfordApr 14 04:12p

Minnesota Vikings SS Kurt Coleman will likely be a contributor on special teams this year and enter the year competing with SSs Jamarca Sanford and Andrew Sendejo for a backup safety spot.

Dustin KellerApr 14 03:42p

The New England Patriots could show interest in free-agent TE Dustin Keller (Dolphins) at some point this offseason.

Jermichael FinleyApr 14 03:32p

Updating a previous report, the Miami Dolphins have told the agent of free-agent TE Jermichael Finley (neck) that they could be interested in signing Finley if he is cleared [ More ]

Von MillerApr 14 03:32p

Denver Broncos LB Von Miller (knee) said his surgically repaired knee is feeling good and hopes to play better than he did before he suffered his injury. 'I'm a [ More ]

Kurt ColemanApr 14 03:22p

The Minnesota Vikings have agreed to terms with free-agent SS Kurt Coleman (Eagles). Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Sidney RiceApr 14 02:52p

Free-agent WR Sidney Rice (knee) has been cleared to participate in football activities by Dr. James Andrews, according to a source. The Seattle Seahawks, New York Giants, New Orleans [ More ]

Chris CulliverApr 14 02:22p

San Francisco 49ers CB Chris Culliver has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor hit-and-run charges and felony possession of brass knuckles. Culliver was arrested March 28 for allegedly hitting a [ More ]

C.J. SpillerApr 14 01:12p

The Philadelphia Eagles tried to land Buffalo Bills RB C.J. Spiller before they traded for RB Darren Sproles this offseason, according to two league sources familiar with the situation. [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group