Patriots 34, Texans 16: Game notes

Patriots 34, Texans 16: Game notes

FOXBORO -- Notes from the Patriots' 34-16 Divisional Round playoff victory over the Texans, courtesy of the Pats' P.R. department:


Sweet Six: The Patriots advanced to their sixth straight AFC Championship Game, setting an NFL record for consecutive conference championship appearances. They had been tied with the 1973-77 Raiders at five.

Lucky Thirteen? This will be the Patriots' 13th appearance in the conference championship game. They are 8-4 in their previous 12 games, including 5-1 in Foxboro and 4-1 at Gillette Stadium.

Top Five: The Patriots have now won 30 postseason games, one of only five teams in NFL history to do so. The others are the Steelers (35), Cowboys (34), Packers (33) and 49ers (30).

Record Advancement: The Patriots have now won at least one postseason game in six consecutive seasons, tying the 1991-96 Cowboys for most consecutive years advancing in the playoffs.

Home cooking: The Patriots are now 19-4 (.826) in home playoff games, the second-best home playoff record in NFL history among teams that have played at least 10 home playoffs. (Seattle is first at 12-2, .857.) The Pats are 15-3 in playoff games at Gillette Stadium.

Passing Landry: Bill Belichick will coach his 11th conference championship game next week, most in NFL history. He had been tied with legendary Cowboys coach Tom Landry at 10.

Approaching Landry . . . and Shula: Landry and ex-Colts/Dolphins coach Don Shula share the NFL record for most postseason games coaches at 36. Belichick now has coached in 34, and will tie them if the Patriots advance to the Super Bowl.

He's Number One: Brady will play in his 11th conference championship next week, most in NFL history. He had been tied with ex-Raiders Gene Upshaw and George Blanda at 10.

He's Tied At Number One: Brady played in his 13th Divisional Round playoff game, tying Jerry Rice for the NFL record for most appearances in the Divisional Round.

Catching History: With eight catches (for 137 yards), Julian Edelman (76) passed Wes Welker (69) to become the Patriots' all-time leader in playoff receptions. He also moved into second on the Patriots list with 819 receiving yards in the postseason, 33 yards behind the all-time leader Deion Branch (852).

Moving up: Edelman passed Art Monk (69), Anquan Boldin (70), Fred Biletnikoff (70) and Cliff Branch (73) to move into a tie for seventh place with Thurman Thomas on the all-time postseason reception list in NFL history.

Third time's the charm: Edelman had his third 100-yard postseason game.

Making his points: Stephen Gostkowski's 10 points in Saturday night's game gives him 142 career postseason points, good for fourth place on the all-time NFL list. He had been tied with Rice at 132.

A first: As noted elsewhere, Dion Lewis is the first player in NFL postseason history to have a rushing TD, receiving TD and kickoff return for a touchdown in a single game.

Another first: Lewis became the first player in Patriots history to return a kickoff for a touchdown in a postseason game.


Eagles announce Wentz has torn ACL, out for rest of year


Eagles announce Wentz has torn ACL, out for rest of year

PHILADELPHIA -- Eagles star quarterback Carson Wentz has a torn left ACL and will miss rest of the season and playoffs, coach Doug Pederson confirmed.

Wentz, a favorite in the NFL MVP race, had an MRI on Monday that revealed the severity of the injury. Wentz was hurt late in the third quarter Sunday at Los Angeles. Backup Nick Foles rallied the Eagles (11-2) to a 43-35 win over the Rams that secured the NFC East title and put them in first place in the conference with three games remaining.

The Eagles have overcome several key injuries and now have to move forward without their most indispensable player. Nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, return specialist/running back Darren Sproles, star linebacker Jordan Hicksand special teams captain Chris Maragos already went down for the season.

"If there's ever an opportunity for me to rally the troops as the football coach, now might be the time," Pederson said. "You can't lose faith. This has been a resilient football team all season long."

After starting all 16 games as a rookie, Wentz made a giant leap this year. He passed for 3,296 yards and set a franchise single-season record with 33 touchdown passes while only tossing seven interceptions.

Foles led the Eagles to a pair of field goals on consecutive drives against the Rams. He is 20-17 as a starter in six seasons with the Eagles, Rams and Chiefs.

Pederson insisted the offense won't change with Foles.

"He's a highly intelligent football player," Pederson said.

A third-round pick by former Eagles coach Andy Reid in 2012, Foles in his second stint in Philadelphia. He replaced an injured Michael Vick in 2013 and led the Eagles to an NFC East title during Chip Kelly's first season as coach. Foles tied an NFL record with seven TD passes in a game at Oakland in November 2013 and finished that season with 27 TDs and only two picks. The Eagles lost at home to New Orleans in the playoffs. Foles went to the Pro Bowl and was the offensive MVP.

But Kelly traded Foles to St. Louis for Sam Bradford after the 2014 season. Foles spent a year with the Rams, a season with the Chiefs and returned to Philadelphia as a free agent this season.

Second-year pro Nate Sudfeld is Philadelphia's No. 3 quarterback. Pederson said he hasn't spoken to personnel boss Howie Roseman about adding a third quarterback yet.

"I'm absolutely ready to go - need be," Foles said after the win over the Rams. "I prepare every day."

Brady winning MVP might not be ideal for Pats fans, according to one important stat. . .

Brady winning MVP might not be ideal for Pats fans, according to one important stat. . .

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- A fan base would have to be crazy not to want its star player to be recognized as the NFL's best, right? 

With 14 weeks of the NFL season nearly in the books, Tom Brady is now the favorite -- according to Bovada and OddsShark -- to win the league's MVP award. Former MVP front-runner Carson Wentz suffered a torn ACL on Sunday, leading to the recent shift in the odds. Russell Wilson, Drew Brees and a trio of Steelers -- Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell -- round out Bovada's top-six. 

Brady has captured the award twice previously in his career in 2007 and 2010, and there's a reason Patriots fans might be OK with someone else taking home the hardware this season. 

Since 2000, no NFL MVP has won the Super Bowl. 

Call it circumstance. Call it a curse. Call it whatever you want. That's how it's worked out. Matt Ryan kept the streak alive last season. 

The last MVP to hold the Lombardi was Kurt Warner when he led the Rams to a title in 1999. MVPs ending the season with a win was actually pretty run-of-the-mill that decade. Terrell Davis (1998), Brett Favre (1996), Steve Young (1994) and Emmitt Smith (1993) all were MVPs and Super Bowl champs. 

In the Super Bowl era, MVPs have won championships 10 times in 51 years. So history isn't totally stacked against for the game's best player. It's just that recently, MVPs have had a hard time carrying their teams to the finish. Ryan, Cam Newton (2015) and Peyton Manning (2013) were all named MVP on the eve of the Super Bowl -- NFL practice since 2010 -- and lost. 

Things set up pretty nicely for Brady to have a strong finish and solidify his standing as "most valuable" since he'll face three divisional opponents -- two at Gillette Stadium -- and a Steelers team built for shootouts. 

And despite what recent history says about MVPs and the Super Bowl, Wentz's injury could help make 2017 the year that trend is altered. Bovada now has Brady and the Patriots as 9/4 favorites -- up slightly from 12/5 -- to win the championship, with the Steelers (4/1) and their three MVP candidates following closely behind. The Eagles, meanwhile, fell from 6/1 odds to win it all to 9/1.