The fans of Boston sports are enjoying a bountiful of riches. Currently, the Bruins are on a 10-game winning streak. The New England Patriots are reloading for another championship run with the signings of All-Pro cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner as well as wide receivers Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell. The Red Sox are preparing to defend their 2013 World Series championship. Then there are the Celtics.
At this point, Celtics’ fans are eagerly anticipating the NBA Lottery in May. Co-owner Wyc Grousbeck recently said,”there will be fireworks” in the off-season. Certainly, there will be fireworks on the Fourth of July, but there are many questions on how the Celtics proceed during this upcoming summer.
Jerryd Bayless, Avery Bradley, and Kris Humphries will become free agents. Bradley will be a restricted free agent, which means the Celtics have the opportunity to match any offer from another team. The biggest uncertainties will be whether the Celtics move point guard Rajon Rondo, who has a year left on his contract after the 2013-’14 season. Rondo stated that he is willing to test the market. Will Danny Ainge ship Rondo to another team or will the two sides come together on an agreement? Every player on the roster, including Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, could be used as trade chips. There are many high-caliber players entering the last year of their deals in 2014-’15, especially power forward Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Cleveland Cavaliers’ point guard Kyrie Irving. The Celtics will have the room both financially and roster openings to bring these stars to Boston. It already happened in 2007 when the Celtics acquired Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett.
The Celtics also potentially have 10 first-round picks over the next five years. This year’s draft class is loaded with prospects such as Duke’s Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins of Kansas. The Celtics own the sixth worst record in the NBA. The Celtics could hold onto these selections and rebuild with a young roster like the Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder.
We do not know whether “fireworks” will explode in the Celtics organization, but the summer of 2014 will play a big role in the Celtics future.
Here are the tweets:
Saying a prayer for @DallasStars center Rich Peverley. Praying for a speedy recovery
This was a scary incident that affected every sports fan, especially Boston fans. Peverley was a key player for the Bruins 2010-’11 Stanley Cup championship and Peverley nearly helped the Bruins beat the Chicago Blackhawks in last year’s Stanley Cup Finals. On July 4th, the Bruins traded Peverley and Tyler Seguin to the Dallas Stars. Peverley’s collapse had an effect on Green because Green was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm. The Celtics’ forward was forced to miss the 2011-’12 lockout-shortened season while he underwent surgery. While Green was able to come back to the court, it is unknown whether Peverley will be back on the ice. If Peverley is able to play again, he will have a huge fan in Green.
Olynyk wished his followers a Happy St. Patrick’s Day on Monday. The Celtics wore special uniforms this weekend for the occasion. They wore green-sleeved jerseys for three games during the weekend. The shirt had gold trim around the neck. Also, the team name on the front of the jersey and the players’ numbers were written in gold. While the players’ last name and the shamrock logo on the back of the shirt were designed in white. Meanwhile the shorts were green with gold on the sides and the shamrock logo was within the gold coloring. These jerseys were worn in recognition of the 1946-’47 team who wore similar-style uniforms.
The AFC matchup of Championship Sunday sees two of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game go head to head once again as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots go on the road to take on the Peyton Manning led Denver Broncos with a place at Super Bowl XLVIII at stake!
The hype around this game is incredible as Tom Brady and Peyton Manning face off in the 15th installment of a quarterback rivalry that has lasted for over a decade. With both of these QB’s in the later years of their 30′s you would probably say that this could be the last time that these two face off with the stakes being as high as they are for tomorrow.
But as we know you should never count out Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. Manning has finally got to where he wants to be and that is within reach of a third Super Bowl appearance; he is having a monster season having broken Tom Brady’s regular season record for passing touchdowns by throwing 55 and breaking Drew Brees’ passing yards record by racking up 5,477. These stats will count for nothing though if the season doesn’t end with Peyton hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in the air.
Tom Brady is quite simply Peyton Manning’s kryptonite and there is no doubt about it because history doesn’t lie. Even in recent memory you only have to look back at the week 12 encounter at Gillette Stadium where Tom Brady and co wiped out a Broncos lead of 24-0 to win the game 34-31 in overtime. That victory gave Brady his 10th victory over Manning in their 14 games against each other including the postseason. Let us look at the stats between the two in the encounters:
Now I will be the first to point out that tomorrow’s game between Denver and New England is not just about these two men as it is between two teams who are both hungry to play in the biggest sporting spectacle on earth but whoever wins out of Brady or Manning will have their picture posted on websites across the world for the next fortnight. Brady’s 10-4 career head-to-head over Manning says it all and his touchdown to interception ratio shows his efficiency. Brady leads in all categories but one and has a passer rating that is higher by 11! The only category that he doesn’t lead in is passing yardage and you could argue that it is because Manning is behind in most games so his teams have chased the games meaning he passes more but enough of that.
No offence to Peyton Manning fans but they love to use statistics to fight their corner. I don’t want to take anything away from Manning because he is one of the greatest to play at the position but unfortunately for him if the Broncos lose tomorrow that leaves Manning on his own with a record that nobody wants and that is a quarterback with the most losses in the postseason. 12 losses when it matters lost is unprecedented and that does not look good on anyone looking to leave a legacy.
Brady’s legacy will be uncanny if he and the Patriots win the Super Bowl this year. The same applies for head coach Bill Belichick; he claimed his 19th victory as a coach in the playoffs when New England eased past the Colts last week which now leaves him tied in second place with Don Shula. If the Patriots win tomorrow Belichick will tie Tom Landry for the most playoff wins with 20 and if dare I say it the Patriots win the Super Bowl that would be the perfect way for Belichick to break the record and it will leave him on 21.
Back to Brady and his legacy; he is so close to being the greatest quarterback of all-time and if he guides an injury depleted Patriots side that has so many similarities to 2001 Super Bowl winning side it will be the perfect way to cement his name as the greatest to play the game. Brady is tied for Super Bowl appearances with John Elway having played in 5. He and Elway have both won 3 of those which leaves Brady just one shy of Montana and Bradshaw’s record of 4 Super Bowl wins. Brady holds the record for playoff wins by a quarterback with 18 so a win tomorrow against Denver and a Super Bowl victory would see Brady end the 2013 season with 20 playoffs wins, 4 Super Bowl victories and 6 appearances in the big game which in my opinion leaves no debate as to who is the greatest quarterback to grace the NFL.
As I have pointed out though this is a team game and it will take a big performance from the New England Patriots to topple the Denver Broncos tomorrow. The Patriots are playing up to the title of underdog and why not because it puts pressure on the opponents. Personally I feel that they are underdogs as despite the fact that Brady can pick holes in a vulnerable Broncos secondary he goes up against a Broncos run defense that has improved in weeks gone by and they know that they have to stop the likes of Blount, Ridley and Vereen in order to win this game. On the flip side Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense is firing on all cylinders and the likes of Welker and Decker along with Julius and Demaryius Thomas will pose problems for a New England defense haunted by injuries.
For Denver to win this game is to score early because taking the pressure off Peyton Manning is a must especially in a conference championship which sees Manning take to the field in a game of his magnitude for the first time since the 2009 season (Brady on the other hand is making is 8th conference championship appearance). Now this may sound silly as it always applies but turnovers are the decisive and key factor for me. My explanation is that if the Patriots turn the ball over I feel they can still win this game but if the Broncos turn it over it’ll cost them and they will lose. The more pressure on the Denver Broncos tomorrow and the more likely it’ll be that they fall.
New England’s defense is led by the defensive mastermind that is Bill Belichick and despite injuries to Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork the younger guy on the team like Chandler Jones and Hightower have been big for this team. Last week saw the emergence of Jamie Collins and he will be looking to build on his success from that win over the Colts. Rob Ninkovich and Dane Fletcher also deserve a mention too and then there’s the secondary which possesses the likes of Aqib Talib, Devin McCourty, Alfonzo Dennard and Logan Ryan who can all hold their own against the firepower of the Broncos offense.
If the Pats defense can continue to force turnovers it will give them a very good chance of walking out of Mile High as winners tomorrow. Nobody anticipated that the Pats offense would become the ground and pound juggernaut that it has done in recent weeks led by LeGarrette Blount who continued wrecking havoc last week when he ran in for 4 touchdowns and 166 rushing yards which tied a franchise record. If the ground game gets going again with the one-two punch of Blount and Ridley it will open up Shane Vereen in the backfield for Tom Brady and also give him plenty of play-action opportunities which we saw tear Denver apart earlier in the season. Julian Edelman will obviously be crucial to any success the Patriots have tomorrow night and it is also the perfect time for Danny Amendola to step out of the shadow of Wes Welker by outplaying his opposite number. I could sit here night and day writing comparisons but the fact of the matter is that this New England Patriots vs Denver Broncos game will be one for the ages and a playoff game that will be remembered for years to come as well as possibly playing a critical role in deciding an argument that has gone on for years. Brady vs Manning part 15: Let the games begin!
Tom Brady isn’t really matched-up against Andrew Luck tonight, or is he? They’re never on the field together so they can’t block or tackle each other. However, the presence of both men under center is the decisive factor for both teams.
Brady is Brady. His playoff resume is well known and boasts the most playoff wins (17) ever. He’s also struggled lately in the postseason with a 5-5 mark in the last 10 games. He’s been erratic at times this season, largely because of the chaotic state of the offense around him. He’s still the essence of the New England Patriots, and the ubiquitous Patriots Way. He said while esponding to a question about facing Luck’s Colts and Luck himself:
My motivation is pretty simple. I just try to win, that’s what I try to do and try to be part of the reason why we’re successful. That’s part of doing my job and trying to be the best I can be for the team…To be a professional athlete and to play at this high level with this level of competition, winning is the only thing that’s important. That’s one goal and one objective that I’ve had for a and very long time.
The media coverage of Luck makes him sound like a Brady clone. Is there a difference between the two, beyond the age and experience factors? I thought of two distinctions.
Mobility. Brady can’t move. We’ve all seen him try and we’ve seen him not scramble when he possibly could. Luck is RGIII compared to Brady. Against Kansas City, Luck displayed some elusiveness with the touchdown he scored after he recovered a fumble.
Weapons. Luck’s team might be the only team left with fewer established options than Bill Belichick’s squad. T.Y. Hilton is the target of choice for Luck and should face the Aqib Talib treatment from the Pats tonight. Julian Edelman at least has Danny Amendola running routes alongside him. And, would anyone trade LeGarrette Blount and Stevan Ridley for Donald Brown and Trent Richardson?
The quarterback play is usually a huge factor in a game. Luck doesn’t have much around him to work with. BB’s defense keeps getting injured, just ask Brandon Spikes. Jamie Collins and Dane Fletcher are the next in line to do their jobs. Two other key players should be Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones who need to keep Luck in line and possibly provide a sack or two.
Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts roll in to Gillette stadium on the back of one of the greatest comeback wins in playoff history when they overcame the Kansas City Chiefs last weekend 45-44. Luck engineered a comeback which saw him bounce back from 3 interceptions in the game to tally up a total of 443 yards as well as 4 touchdown passes along with 29 completions out of 45 attempts.
It was Luck’s first playoff victory and the second largest comeback in postseason history as the Colts bounced back from 38-10 deficit. Tonight they face the New England Patriots who have stared adversity full in the face throughout this 2013 season. The Patriots have found a way to win all year throughout various tough spots and scenarios with the team finishing the year 12-4. Middle linebacker Bradon Spikes went down this week ending his season which means that he joins the likes of Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, Sebastian Vollmer and Thomas Kelly which shows how depleted this defense core is plus it is impossible to forget that on offense superstar Rob Gronkowski is out with an ACL and MCL injury but we’ll get to that later.
Despite the injuries on defense Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones have been shining stars all year with the two combining for 19.5 sacks this season. Jones is in his sophomore season and leads the New England pass rush with 11.5 sacks. Fellow sophomore Dont’a Hightower will suit up at running back along with athletic linebackers Dane Fletcher and rookie Jamie Collins so although they are thin at key positions they have the talent to succeed. These linebackers will need to stop in form Colts running back Donald Brown who continues to impress; last week he had 55 yards from 11 carries and a touchdown. Jones and Ninkovich are no slouches in the running game either so despite the fact that pass rushers don’t traditionally shine against the running game the fact that they are willing to do dirty work to help the team is typically of the Patriot way and the winning identity Bill Belichick puts in his men.
To get to where they are is a testament to Belichick as a head coach and in the playoffs we know anything can happen so if this Patriots team did manage to win the Super Bowl it would surely be his greatest achievement to date. His main challenge tonight is to stop Colts wideout T.Y. Hilton who is coming in to this match on the back of his best career game with him going off last weekend as he caught two touchdowns and finished with 224 receiving yards. The Patriots secondary will have a tough challenge against him but we’ll hope that the likes of Aqib Talib and Devin McCourty can stop his blistering speed with smart defensive blame to limit his output; Hilton had 100 yards and 2 touchdown passes when the two teams went head to head in 2012.
The last time these two teams met New England destroyed the Colts 59-24 but a lot has changed since then. Andrew Luck continues to show why he is one of the best quarterbacks in the league already despite it only being his second year; he has 11 game-winning drives in his career already and with a record of 22-10 Luck has one more win that Tom Brady from his first 32 career games (21-11). With that being said Tom Brady may not be having one of his best seasons statistically but as a leader there is nobody better as he has managed to pull his team out of many deep holes this year with late victories over the Saints and Browns as well as rallying back from a 24-0 deficit to defeat the high flying Denver Broncos!
More than likely the winner of tonight’s matchup will face Denver in the AFC Championship game which sets up a mouthwatering encounter either way. Tom Brady and this Patriots team seem to have a feel of destiny around them with a win tonight setting them up with a shot at reaching another Super Bowl, the 6th of the Belichick-Brady era. Despite losing Rob Gronkowski to another season ending injury, Wes Welker to the Broncos and Aaron Hernandez to unforeseen circumstances New England continue to grind out victories this season. If anything despite their problems they have gone back to basics in recent weeks following Gronk’s injury against Cleveland and have established a power running game with LaGarrette Blount leading the way by decimating opposing offenses. His season is picking up at the right time with the 27 year old running back becoming a key part of New England’s offense heading in to the postseason; he set a team-record 344 all-purpose yards along with a personal best 189 yards on the ground and two touchdowns in the season finale against Buffalo.
Brady and Blount celebrating
Along with Blount the Patriots have Stevan Ridley who is perfect for the one-two punch running game to go with Blount. Ridley has speed and elusiveness which can go a long way to helping the Pats succeed in the playoffs providing he can cut out the high profile fumbling issues that surround him. Thankfully the emergence of Blount takes the pressure of of Ridley as being labelled as the team’s primary running back and when you take in to account that fellow back Shane Vereen is one of Tom Brady’s favourite targets it shows you the talent the Patriots still have on this team despite their many losses. Vereen is a valuable weapon in a depleted passing game with him turning up in the big games like the one against the Broncos earlier in the season. Vereen missed a chunk of games with a broken wrist but has 427 yards and 3 touchdown receptions on the year and he will be an asset to this offense heading in to win or go home time.
The key tonight will be the success of the Pats offense as Tom Brady has the ability and the know how to pick off weak points in the Indianapolis secondary. He will use the run game whenever necessary and thanks to its success he can rely on play-action plays which he executes to perfection. Brady has a 99.8 passer rating on play-action passes this season in comparison to his general passer rating for the year of 87.3. Despite the statistics he has improved in the second half of the year and finished the regular season with 4,343 passing yards along with 25 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. The offensive line will need to protect the superstar quarterback from the Colts’ main pass rusher Robert Mathis who has been rejuvenated this year with the 33 year old playing one of the best seasons of his illustrious career; he leads the league with 19.5 sacks this season and when you consider the team themselves have 42 on the year that is outstanding.
Brady has Julian Edeleman in the passing game to rely on like he has done throughout most of 2013 especially when Gronk missed the early part of the season and since his season ending injury. Julian Edelman defines what a Bill Belichick player is all about as he is so productive in the head coaches system and has come up big with Brady in many matches this year. For the first time in his career Edeleman hauled in over 100 catches and racked up over 1000 receiving yards as he finished the regular season with 6 touchdowns. With rookie wideout Aaron Dobson ruled out and Kenbrell Thompkins questionable it falls to the likes of Edelman, Vereen and 2013 summer acquisition Danny Amendola to get things done for Terrific Tom in the passing game. Personally I feel now is the time for Amendola to shine as he has shown his toughness to overcome injuries and he clearly has a good rapport with Brady that will be effective enough to come up big when it matters most which is now in the playoffs.
Despite a troublesome groin injury and some growing pains in this offense Amendola ended the regular season with 663 receiving yards and two touchdowns. With the Patriots’ playoff journey starting tonight Amendola will need to pull his weight and ensure he can reach Edelman’s level of production so that Brady has two valuable and reliable wideouts. The playoffs are a clean slate and anything can happen which is something we have seen a lot over recent years as getting hot can end with your team lifting that Lombardi trophy high in the sky. Tom Brady and the Patriots may be 7-7 in the postseason since 2005, he started his career with 10 straight postseason wins, but Terrific Tom holds the record for most playoff victories with 17. Three more wins would leave him on an unprecedented 20 victories in crunch time and with a 4th Super Bowl ring from 6 appearances in the big one cementing his place as the greatest QB to play the game. Each of the last three times the Colts and Patriots have gone head to head in the postseason has resulted in the winner going on to win the Super Bowl so whoever comes out on top tonight could well go on to win it all come February 2nd at MetLife Stadium. For the Patriots they always confront adversity full in the face and a victory tonight will show their metal. Defying the odds are what great teams are made of so if Tom Brady and co pull out a win tonight who’s to say that can’t go all the way because when the games on the line there’s nobody better than Brady to lead your team in to battle.
Okay, let’s face it. 2013 was not a kind year for the Patriots at all. It started with them getting knocked around in the AFC Championship game at home to the hated Baltimore Ravens, there was a star Tight End arrested for murder, and every time Gronkowski touched the ball in 2013, he got hurt. Here are the top 5 Patriots moments from 2013:
5.) Patriots Defeat the Texans in the Playoffs, January 13, 2013.
The Houston Texans were a different team after losing big time to the Patriots on a Monday night in the regular season. Houston knew it was a huge game, and even wore their letterman jackets to Foxboro. That game morally destroyed that team, and when they returned to Foxboro for the divisional playoff game, their tails were still between their legs. The Patriots destroyed the Texans 41-28 to advance to play the Ravens in the AFC Championship for the 2nd year in a row.
4.) Patriots Complete Miracle Comeback Against Browns, December 8, 2013.
Things were not looking good for the Patriots against the lowly Cleveland Browns. They were down by 12 points with just over a minute to play in the 4th quarter. With 1:01 left, Tom Brady threw a 2 yard Touchdown to Julian Edelman to make the game a 1 possession game, but the team still needed to recover an onside kick, which almost never works. Stephen Gostokowski laid down a beautiful onside kick which the Patriots recovered at the Cleveland 40 yard line. After a 1 yard pass by Brady, he tried going deep in the end zone to Josh Boyce, but on the play pass interference was called and the Patriots got the ball at the 1 yard line. They punched the ball in to take a 1 point lead. The Browns still had enough time to drive the ball, and kicker Billy Cundiff missed a field goal as time expired to give the Patriots the win, and keep them in contention for a first round bye.
3.) Patriots get Payback against the Ravens, December 15, 2013.
Whenever the Patriots and Ravens play each other, the games seem to be close. The Patriots went into Baltimore with the Ravens still playing to get a playoff spot with 2 weeks remaining. The Patriots took an early 17-0 lead, but the Ravens kept it close. It was just a 2 possession game in the 4th quarter, but then the Ravens puked all over themselves, and the Patriots defense took over to give the Patriots a 41-7 win. All the “experts” from ESPN picked the Ravens to win the game. That loss eventually kept the Ravens who defeated the Patriots twice last season, out of the playoffs.
2.) Unicorns, Show Ponies, Where’s the Beef?!?! October 13, 2013.
Every football fan has heard Scott Zolak’s call of the Tom Brady’s winning TD pass with 5 seconds left in the game. As amazing as the TD was, it was a miracle the Patriots were even in the position. Trailing by 1 the Patriots failed to convert a 4th down conversion inside their own 30 yard line, and the Saints were only able to come up with a field goal to make it a 4 point game. On the next play, Tom Brady threw an interception, and that surely looked the end for the Patriots. Luckily for New England, the Saints didn’t weren’t able to eat the clock up. The Patriots got the ball back with 1:13 to play and no timeouts. Tom Brady was Tom Brady and kept his cool and drove the offense down field, and eventually it Kembrell Thompkins for a 17 yard TD with 5 seconds left to win the game 30-27.
1.)Brady V. Manning, 24 point comeback, November 23, 2013
It was Wes Welkers return to Gillette Stadium, and of course all the hype of a normal game against Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. On the coldest night in November, the Patriots couldn’t hold onto the ball, as they lost fumble after fumble to the Broncos, and they looked like a team lost on the football field trailing 24-0 at halftime. It was so bad fans at Gillette were booing the hometown team as they went to the locker room. They came out of the locker room a new team. Brady found Edelman in the end zone early in the 3rd quarter to make it 24-7, and the Patriots kept bringing the heat and scored 31 un-answered points to make it a 31-24 game. But Peyton answered and tied the game with 3:06 to play. With the wind playing a major factor, Bill Belichick decided to defer the ball to start overtime after winning the coin toss. It paid off as the Broncos were unable to score. But then the Patriots couldn’t score, and the teams kept punting the ball to each other. With 3 minutes left and the Patriots punting, old friend Wes Welker didn’t call off his teammates in time and a Bronco made contact and the Patriots got possession of the ball in the Broncos 20. That led to the Game winning kick by Gostkowski, and proved to the football world, the Patriots were a legit contender.
Now with the playoffs and 2014 starting let’s see what this Patriots team can do. They hope to go to New York for the Super Bowl in February.