Patriots

Cowboys ahead of Patriots? Madden NFL 20 team ratings may cause a stir

Cowboys ahead of Patriots? Madden NFL 20 team ratings may cause a stir

EA Sports released full player and team ratings for its "Madden NFL 20" video game Monday, and you know what that means: It's time for everyone to get angry about them.

The New England Patriots actually fared pretty well in the player rating department, as "Madden" gave Tom Brady the second-highest rating among NFL quarterbacks and assigned high grades to cornerback Stephon Gilmore, wide receiver Julian Edelman and a few others.

So, surely the defending Super Bowl champions would have one of the highest (if not the highest) team grades, right?

You would think, but "Madden" gave New England an 87 overall rating ... tied with three other teams for third in the NFL.

Here's the top five:

1. Philadelphia Eagles: 89
2. Dallas Cowboys: 88
T-3. New Orleans Saints: 87
T-3. Green Bay Packers: 87
T-3. New England Patriots: 87

This a video game, remember, so a team's overall rating doesn't necessarily correlate to its projected record. The Patriots have proven time and again you can win Super Bowls without having the most "talent."

... But the Cowboys ahead of the Patriots? Seriously?

"Madden" makes a compelling case for the Eagles, who boast a talented roster with five players ranked 90 overall or better and should be an NFC contender if Carson Wentz stays healthy.

The Cowboys are coming off a 10-6 season, though, and haven't made it past the Divisional Round since quarterback Dak Prescott took over the offense. We're guessing EA Sports is blinded by Dallas' star power with big names like Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott on offense and DeMarcus Lawrence and Sean Lee on defense.

The Patriots' offense did get some love, earning a 91 rating that trailed only the Saints at 92. But their defense rating of 84 appears to have knocked them down a few pegs in the virtual world, where Aaron Rodgers and the Packers (who went 6-9-1 last season) are somehow on the same plane as the reigning champs.

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Four Patriots are the greatest of all time at their positions, per ESPN list

Four Patriots are the greatest of all time at their positions, per ESPN list

Sure, there have been bumps along the way. But New England Patriots fans truly are witnessing a golden era for what's become the model NFL franchise.

ESPN provided more proof of this Wednesday while rolling out an ambitious project that anoints the single greatest player at every position as the NFL enters its 100th season.

The Patriots, as you may expect, were impressively well-represented, with four players/coaches making the list: Tom Brady as the greatest quarterback, John Hannah as the greatest offensive guard, Adam Vinatieri as the greatest kicker and Bill Belichick as the greatest coach.

Think about that for a second: By at least one media outlet's judgment, the Patriots currently employ the greatest quarterback and the greatest coach in NFL history. During the early 2000s, they had three of the 23 greatest players/coaches ever in the same room.

No wonder New England has six championships, nine Super Bowl appearances and 16 AFC East titles since Belichick and Brady came to town in 2000.

(One could also make the case for Rob Gronkowski as the greatest tight end of all time, although Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez is a worthy choice.)

Hannah's Hall of Fame career shouldn't get lost in the modern-day shuffle, either: The 10-time first-team All-Pro is considered one of the best offensive lineman in NFL history, period, and ESPN included an apt quote about Hannah from former Patriots coach Ron Erhardt:

"I used to see people all the time who just would dive to get out of his way."

It's also worth noting that Brady, Belichick and Vinatieri are the only three active NFL members on ESPN's all-time team, as Vinatieri is still kicking for the Indianapolis Colts while Brady and Belichick gear up for their 20th season together.

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Bill Belichick talks relationship with media, when reporters 'cross the line'

Bill Belichick talks relationship with media, when reporters 'cross the line'

It's hard enough to get Bill Belichick to talk to the media, much less talk about them.

But the New England Patriots head coach pulled back the curtain Wednesday for a special occasion.

Belichick joined Red Sox manager Alex Cora, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens and Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy on WEEI's "Ordway, Merloni & Fauria" for a rare "coach's roundtable" as part of the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio Telethon.

At one point, each coach was asked how they approach the media. As expected, Belichick gave the most brief answer, but his response was still interesting.

"Things are a lot different than they were at a different point in time. It is what it is," Belichick said, via WEEI.com. " ... Everybody is trying to do the best they can. I think there are times when -- I think when it gets personal, I think that is crossing the line.

"You can think whatever you want about my coaching — good, bad, I have heard all of it. That is your opinion and I have no problem with that. I think when it gets personal with players and other people within the organization, I don’t think that is where it belongs, but I don’t have any control over that. Whatever it is, it is. I just try and do the best I can for our football team."

Belichick's answer checks out, as trying to get him to talk in specifics about his players -- especially when injuries are involved -- is like pulling teeth. Just look at his comments from earlier this week about reinstated wide receiver Josh Gordon, which included a pair of snarky remarks and a loud snort.

The Patriots coach wasn't alone in his opinion, though. Stevens, who's as polite as they come while dealing with reporters, admitted he gets irked when he feels his players are being unfairly criticized in the media.

Belichick certainly sets the bar in Boston when it comes to keeping the media at arm's length. But at least he's willing to admit where he draws his battle lines.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.