ROUNDTABLE: A Look At The Postseason

The NFL is full of predictions, prognostications and people who think they know what's going to happen. But when you look at it, things change. Our crew takes a look at the playoff picture and the Patriots' regular season. See what they had to say.

POSTSEASON QUESTIONS
January 8, 2011
We asked our crew what they thought of the teams headed into the postseason and for their thoughts on the 2010 New England Patriots. Here's what they had to say about four Hot Topics.
 
 
1) Did the Patriots have a better / Worse season than you expected and why?
 
James Christensen (NEPatriotsDraft.com)
We predicted that the Patriots would have a 12-4 record and win the AFC East, stating that the defense would gel later in the year when all the rookies and second-year players were getting acclimated.
While those two predictions were pretty close to reality, we were certainly surprised by just how amazing the offense has played this year, especially after jettisoning Randy Moss a third of the way through the year.
I think the turn-around started with a bushy-bearded guy from out west named Logan Mankins. Once he came back, the Patriots have been lights out.
 
Kevin Saleeba
Although I did pick the Patriots to win the AFC East, I was expecting an 11-5 season. So they clearly exceeded my expectations. No way did I think they'd have the number one seed in the AFC.

Jim Poore
I predicted the Patriots to go 9-7 and miss the playoffs. I was obviously way off, and I think most people out there never expected them to go 14-2 in the regular season. I am not sure though that if they don't win the Super Bowl if the season is considered a success. I think it is. The reason they did better than I expected is because the young players stepped up faster than I expected, and Tom Brady had a career year. We will see the fans reaction though if they don't win the Super Bowl.
 
LoVell Parkman (aka Morpheus11)
The Patriots had not just a better season but a much better season than expected. Never did I expect them to finish 14-2. The Patriots had questions on defense, replaced all of their tight end and added two rookie tight ends, Welker coming off a serious injury, injuries to starters and un proven person calling the offensives plays one of their best offensive lineman if not their best holding out…basically they had a lot of questions and a tough schedule.
 
Shane Leketa (MyPatsSpace)
Before this season started, I picked the Patriots to make it to the AFC Championship game versus the San Diego Chargers, even though I picked them to go the championship game,this season has been much more balanced than I ever thought that it would be. An offense with a passing game that spreads the ball all over the field, a running game with Green-Ellis breaking the 1000 yard mark and Woodhead to compliment him on 3rd downs, and a defense showing up to hold teams to single digits in a few of the final games against good offenses. A well rounded season has been a great surprise.

Jon Scott
I believe my preseason prediction had me with the Patriots cementing a 12-4 season and a bearth in the playoffs. I predicted a division win, but my main concern was the new faces in Foxboro. I thought four was the limit which they would lose. At 14-2, they did better than IN predicted.


2) Who is the most valuable player on the Patirots aside from Tom Brady?
 
James Christensen (NEPatriotsDraft.com)
The second most valuable player on this team is Devin McCourty and it isn't even close. He has been the difference-maker all year long, finally providing a top-notch corner that consistently makes plays and makes a QB think twice before throwing to his side of the field.
The offensive line, Vince Wilfork, and Jerod Mayo should all get some consideration, but the growth that the Patriots defense made this year is directly related to #32.
 
Kevin Saleeba
I think Jerod Mayo is the true MVP of the Patriots. Mayo leads the league in tackles and gives the defense toughness at the inside linebacker position. He's also growing into one of the main leaders on the Patriots' young defense. They don't win 14 games without Mayo.
 
Jim Poore
I would have to say the non Brady MVP has got to be Benjarvus Green-Ellis. I might have picked him even if Brady was a choice. Here is a guy that goes undrafted, and is the third string running back heading into the season. Not only does he become the feature back, but he rushes for just over 1,000 yards and had NO fumbles. The no fumbles part is really remarkable. I am not sure if Green Ellis is their running back of the future, but it might change their draft plans a bit.
 
LoVell Parkman
Vince Wilfork. He assumed more of a leadership role this season. Played more than NT this season and help keep the defense together while they were growing.
 
Shane Leketa
Well, if I could vote for Bill Belichick as a most valuable person on this team, I would. But to tackle the question asked, I would have to say Jerod Mayo. I know, I know he is on the defense but he and Vince Wilfork have been true leaders on that young defense and with the amount of tackles for Mayo this year (175 tackles/assists) along with 2 sacks on the year. He has been the other Most Valuable Player on this young team, his leadership has brought out the best in players like McCourty and Chung.
 
Jon Scott
Without Brady in the mix, I have to give the nod to Devin McCourty. Normally I would give it to Jerod Mayo or Vince Wilfork, but McCourty singlehandedly stopped the bleeding in the New England secondary. With the loss of Leigh Bodden, and the struggles of Darius Butler, the secondary needed someone to step up. That someone was McCourty.

3) Most dangerous team in the Playoffs (AFC)?
 
James Christensen
The most dangerous in the AFC playoffs is the team that scores over 32 points a game. The Patriots have done it on offense, defense, and special teams all year. That won't change in January.

Kevin Saleeba
I don't want to sound like a homer, but the Patriots are the most dangerous team in the AFC. They have beaten six current playoff teams. What other playoff team has that record this season against quality opponents? If I have to pick another team other than the Patriots, I still will go with the Colts, because of the Manning-effect.
 
Jim Poore
Baltimore. I have been touting the Ravens since before the season started, and I am not going to back off now. I think the Ravens MIGHT have the Patriots number a bit, after their playoff win last year and two near regular season wins in Gillette Stadium over the past two years. I think they match up with New England well, and their running game is getting hot, something the Patriots defense struggles with a bit. The Ravens also have no fear playing on the road.
 
LoVell Parkman
The Patriots. The have the best record in the NFL, have beaten the best teams in the AFC and most of all the road to the Super Bowl goes through Foxboro where the Patriots almost never lose. If I'm picking a non Patriot team I'd say the Steelers.
 
Shane Leketa
We all know what happens when the gun goes off and the playoffs begin, the slate is now clean and it is everyone starting at 0-0. There are two teams that worry me in the AFC. One of them is Kansas City and their vaunted running game and great tutelage from Weiss and Crennel with a team put together by old friend Scott Pioli. But, if I had to pick a team that is most dangerous it would have to be the Indianapolis Colts. The reason for this is that they are just starting to get healthy with Mathis and Freeney and with running back, Joseph Addai bac, this offense will always be dangerous with Peyton Manning at the helm.
 
Jon Scott
If I were to say the Patriots, it might sound like I was a bit of a homer. But that's the reality. If you're talking about teams who can knock off the Patriots, I think it's Baltimore. Though I believe Baltimore is overrated, they managed to blow out New England at home last year, and until proven otherwise, that same capability remains. For the record, I also believe New York and Indy are also overrated. The Chiefs, when they're firing on all cylinders, are the only team I'm seriously concerned about.
 

4) Who do you expect to see in the Super Bowl?
 
James Christensen
We said in July that there would be a rematch of the '96 Superbowl: Green Bay vs New England. With Aaron Rodgers playing instead of Matt Flynn, this Superbowl could be another one for the ages. Just keep Desmond Howard far, far, far away.
 
Kevin Saleeba
The New England Patriots vs. The New Orleans Saints! Brady vs. Brees! I think I'd like to see the match-up!
 
Jim Poore
I am picking Baltimore and New Orleans, with the Ravens winning the Super Bowl. As I said in question three, I have been touting the Ravens all year, and with a 12-4 regular season record I am still confident with my choice. I also picked New Orleans at the beginning of the year, and though they aren't the favorite in the NFC, they are the defending champs until further notice. I think they have enough to get through the NFC and advance to the Super Bowl.
 
LoVell Parkman
Patriots vs. Packers

Shane Leketa
Even with what I said above, I think it is going to be a one two combination for the best records in their respective leagues, I think it will be the Atlanta Falcons versus the New England Patriots. This is going to be a wild and fun game taking on Boston College native Matt Ryan and the Dirty Birds.
 
Jon Scott
I predicted the Colts and the Vikings before. I had the Saints, Packers also in teh mix, causing my some consternation as to the NFC titalist. With Minnesota a distant memory as a playoff contender, I'd say it's Green Bay over New Orleans. I like the Saints' big play potential, but I'm not so sure they're robust enough. In the AFC, I think the Colts are now running on fumes, and the same can be said with the Jets or Chiefs. Only the Steelers concern me at this point, but I believe it's a New England - Green Bay showdown... again.
 

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