Patriots

Eli Manning treads lightly in response to Tom Brady's Super Bowl tweet

Eli Manning treads lightly in response to Tom Brady's Super Bowl tweet

Eli Manning knows better than to take pot shots at the GOAT.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady congratulated Manning on his retirement Friday with a playful reference to the two Super Bowls Manning's New York Giants won at the Patriots' expense.

Manning was asked about Brady's tweet Friday at his retirement press conference and how it felt to hand the Patriots legend two of the biggest losses of his career.

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Here's his perfectly diplomatic response:

I’ve been around Tom a number of times and see how competitive he is. We joke around a little bit, but I think it's not real funny to him.

Something tells us Eli is right.

Manning did admit New York's Super Bowl wins over New England in the 2007 and 2011 seasons were two of the greatest wins of his career.

"Both of them two-minute drives to go down there and win it, one against an undefeated team (in 2007) that hadn't lost all year," Manning said. "So, I think those are special."

But the longtime Giants quarterback was hesitant to paint those victories as him triumphing over Brady.

"Everybody wants to make it me versus Tom Brady. It's the Giants versus the Patriots," Manning said. "The defense was outstanding, guys made plays. David Tyree, Mario Manningham, Plaxico Burress in the corner of the end zone ... You just cherish those moments."

Brady obviously feels very differently -- he's said on several occasions those two losses will always haunt him -- and Manning knows better than to rub salt in the wound.

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Patriots have the NFL's toughest schedule next season

Patriots have the NFL's toughest schedule next season

With or without Tom Brady at quarterback, those traditional complaints about the Patriots having an easy schedule will likely die down a bit next season.

Yes, there's still the AFC East for the Pats to feast on, but based on their opponents' records in 2019, New England has the NFL's toughest schedule in 2020. 

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Patriots opponents had a .537 winning percentage in 2019. Dates and times will be released as usual in mid-April, but the opponents have been known for a while and they include the two Super Bowl teams (on the road vs. the champion Kansas City Chiefs and hosting the runner-up San Francisco 49ers) and five other games against team who made the playoffs (the Buffalo Bills home and away, at the Seattle Seahawks, at the Houston Texans and home vs. the Baltimore Ravens).

The Pats are matched up with the AFC West and NFC West for non-division opponents, which throws some coast-to-coast trips in the mix. It also puts New England's AFC East rivals right up there with the toughest schedules as well, with the Jets second, the Miami Dolphins third and the Bills the fifth-toughest. 

The team with the easiest schedule next season? It's the one that won the most regular-season games (14) last season and earned the AFC's No. 1 seed in the playoffs, the Ravens. Their opponents had a combined .437 winning percentage last season. 
 

Vikings WR Stefon Diggs' Instagram activity sparks Patriots trade speculation

Vikings WR Stefon Diggs' Instagram activity sparks Patriots trade speculation

One of the New England Patriots' primary focuses this offseason will be to add weapons to an offense that lacked its usual explosiveness in the 2019 season.

There are plenty of options on the free agent market that could help the Patriots in that regard, but they also could look to improve their roster via trade. In fact, one particular star wide receiver appears to be placing himself on the trade block.

On Tuesday, Minnesota Vikings star Stefon Diggs removed all Vikings-related content from his Instagram page. That means no Vikings photos or videos, and no mention of the organization in his "bio" section.

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Predictably, that sparked plenty of "Diggs-to-the-Pats" speculation on social media.

And there's much more where that came from.

Making a move to add a top-tier wideout like Diggs not only would give the Patriots' receiving corps a much-needed boost, it also could entice soon-to-be free agent Tom Brady to stay in New England. The 42-year-old quarterback is set to officially hit free agency on March 18.

As for Diggs, he has four years remaining on his contract and the Vikings' asking price would be reasonably high. The 26-year-old caught 63 passes for 1,130 yards and six touchdowns in 2019.

Is there a chance this is nothing and we're all reading way too much into social media? Of course. But it wouldn't be an NFL offseason if we didn't have this kind of drama to talk about.