Patriots

Chiefs cornerback defends Tom Brady amid talk of Patriots QB's decline

Chiefs cornerback defends Tom Brady amid talk of Patriots QB's decline

If you just focused on stats, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady looks like a good-but-not-great player in 2019.

The 42-year-old quarterback ranks fifth in the NFL in passing yards with 3,268, but he's only completing 61.1 percent of his passes with 18 touchdowns and six interceptions. He's on pace to finish with 24 touchdown passes, which would be his lowest total since he had 25 in 2013.

Stats don't always tell the whole story, though, and that's certainly the case with Brady.

Brady's biggest problems are beyond his control. His wide receiver corps has several new faces, including rookies N'Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers, who have been asked to play roles they're probably not yet ready to undertake. Antonio Brown was brought in after Week 1 to be the No. 1 wideout and then was released 11 days later. Josh Gordon also was let go after battling an injury. And, of course, future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski hasn't been adequately replaced.

Brady needs to play better. There's no question about that. However, he's still a really good quarterback. 

One of the Kansas City Chiefs players who will be tasked with helping to slow down Brady and the Patriots offense in Sunday's Week 14 game at Gillette Stadium is cornerback Bashaud Breeland. Here's his response this week to talk of Brady's decline, via Herbie Teope of the Kansas City Star.

It’s a myth. People said the same thing about Aaron Rodgers. He’d have slow starts, and then he’d turn it on. Once you’re a GOAT (greatest of all-time) and you have that GOAT status, at any moment you can turn it on. Brady can hit that switch anytime he’s ready.

New England needs a huge bounce-back performance from Brady on Sunday because so much is riding on this result. The Patriots lost control of the race for the No. 1 seed last week when the Baltimore Ravens overtook them in that spot. The Ravens and Patriots both have identical 10-2 records but Baltimore owns the head-to-head tiebreaker from its Week 9 win over New England.

Another loss likely would give the Patriots no chance to secure the No. 1 seed and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. It might not even matter, anyway, because the Ravens don't have a hard schedule the rest of the regular season. But to have any shot at the top spot in the conference, Sunday's game is pretty much a must-win for the Patriots. A lot of the responsibility falls on Brady, who needs to elevate his performance for the Patriots to beat a Chiefs team that scores the third-most points per game in the league.

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NFL conference championships see ratings drop without Patriots

NFL conference championships see ratings drop without Patriots

Love 'em or hate 'em, the New England Patriots garner the attention of the masses.

That was evident during last year's AFC Championship game vs. the Kansas City Chiefs, when an average crowd of 53.9 million people tuned in to watch the Patriots win in an overtime thriller and advance to Super Bowl 53.

To put that into perspective, this year's late-window matchup between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers drew only 42.7 million viewers, per Austin Karp of Sports Business Daily.

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Of course, much of that discrepancy has to do with Pats-Chiefs being far more competitive than Packers-Niners. Plenty of viewers likely tuned out of the latter matchup when San Francisco led Green Bay 27-0 at halftime.

Even so, it just goes to show how much more attention is paid to the NFL playoffs when Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the rest of New England is involved. This year's AFC Championship featuring the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs marked the first without the Patriots since 2011, and it was the smallest audience (41.1 million) for an AFC title game in 11 years.

In comparison, the early game in 2019 (Los Angeles Rams vs. New Orleans Saints) averaged roughly 44 million.

The Chiefs and 49ers will meet in Miami for Super Bowl 54. It'll be interesting to see how those ratings compare to last year's Patriots-Rams matchup.

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George Kittle celebrated Super Bowl berth with hilarious Jimmy Garoppolo shirt

George Kittle celebrated Super Bowl berth with hilarious Jimmy Garoppolo shirt

George Kittle had a little fun with his quarterback after the San Francisco 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers in Sunday night's NFC Championship Game to clinch a berth in Super Bowl LIV.

The All-Pro tight end showed up to his postgame press conference with a custom t-shirt that included a shirtless photo and autograph of 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Check it out in the tweet below:

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Garoppolo was asked by reporters about Kittle's shirt, and he couldn't hold back his laughter.

“I got him earlier in the week with a shirt, showed it to the media and everything, so he had to get me back a little bit," a smiling Garoppolo said, per 95.7 The Game. "I thought it was a nice shirt he had on. Maybe we’ll get them in the team store soon.”

Garoppolo is no stranger to the Super Bowl. He made two Super Bowl appearances with the New England Patriots as Tom Brady's backup, and in two weeks he'll make his first start on that stage.

The 49ers quarterback hasn't had to play at an elite level for his team to reach the Super Bowl, but that should change in Miami on Feb. 2. The AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs have an offense that looks unstoppable right now, so Garoppolo likely will need to play one of his best games as a pro to give San Francisco a strong chance to win its sixth Lombardi Trophy in franchise history.

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