Patriots owner Robert Kraft was spotted in New York with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell this week. The two reportedly appeared to be on good terms at the time, despite the recent history between Kraft's team and the league.
Many are wondering if there will be any awkwardness between Goodell and the Patriots if they win Super Bowl LI? The commish says there won't, as the Washington Post recounts.
"Not for a second," Goodell said on Wednesday. "This is one of the great opportunities. We have two dominant teams playing in the Super Bowl. The Patriots and Falcons have both earned the opportunity to be there. They deserve it and whoever wins that championship is going to have to earn it, because these are great teams. I'm going to be thrilled."
Thinking of making a trip to see your Patriots in the Super Bowl this year? It could cost you as much as a subcompact car, according to a *Providence Journal *story.
"There is an array of package deals," the article explains, "including the NFL's branded offer through Ticketmaster, ranging in price from $5,799 through $10,999-plus, per person."
Boston.com offers five things Patriots fans might not know about the Falcons.
Another ProJo piece compares the Falcons to what the Patriots used to be.
How can the Patriots thwart Atlanta's high-speed offense in Super Bowl LI? One Boston Herald scribe suggests taking the fight to the Falcons and QB Matt Ryan.
A WEEI.com feature looks back at past Patriots Super Bowls for a clue on how they'll attack Atlanta.
Meanwhile, TE Rob Gronkowski won't be playing in this year's title tilt because of a back injury. But that's not stopping one Herald columnist from asking the unthinkable: would another Patriots Super Bowl victory make Gronk expendable?
On the other side of hte ball, some have questioned whether New England's defense is championship-worthy. A* Boston Globe* columnist believes so.
"Virtually the entire season there has been a debate about whether the Patriots were actually as good as their defensive points per game ranking or merely the beneficiaries of a favorable schedule with mostly forgettable quarterbacks," he writes. "By holding Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers to 17 points in the AFC Championship game, the defense proved its parsimony translates to a top 10 offense and a decorated passer. It's like the Patriots defense dropped the mic, but no one noticed they were singing "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" in the first place."
ESPN's blog offers an interesting feature on the love-hate relationship many football followers have with Tom Brady.
"I will always default to Brady for one reason: the lack of Pro Bowl-caliber skill players he's played with," one former teammate, who asked to remain anonymous, told the reporter. "You cannot overstate what it meant to Joe Montana to have an entire offense that was full of Pro Bowlers. Peyton Manning in Indianapolis was the same. I can even make that case with Rodgers, who's had a lot of consistency at the receiver position. Tom Brady has done what he's done with a bunch of guys you can't even name. Sure, he had [Wes] Welker and [Randy] Moss for a brief period. But other than that, it was David Patten, Troy Brown, David Givens, Reche Caldwell, Deion Branch."
If there's anyone who doesn't dislike Brady, apparently it's one of the Falcons. DE Dwight Freeney says TB12 is a "cool dude."
"You try to hate a guy because you play against him," Freeney explained. "You're playing the Patriots and, of course, you want to hate him. But when you meet him you're like, 'Hey, this guy's a great guy.' He's a cool dude, man."
Finally today, on ESPN's blog, you'll find a ranking of every coach who's ever won a Super Bowl. Spoiler alert: Bill Belichick ISN'T No. 1.