Patriots

Packers aiming to match rare playoff feat last accomplished by Patriots in 2001

Packers aiming to match rare playoff feat last accomplished by Patriots in 2001

The Green Bay Packers earned an impressive 13-3 record in the regular season, but they haven't always looked like an elite team.

The NFC North champs ranked 15th in points scored, 18th in yards gained and 18th in yards allowed. These numbers don't exactly jump off the page. The Packers also lacked a signature win, and with a chance to make a statement versus the San Francisco 49ers in Week 12, Green Bay was dominated in a 38-7 loss.

However, if veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers leads his team to an NFC Championship Game victory on the road against the 49ers on Sunday, the Packers will become the first team since the 2001 New England Patriots to reach the Super Bowl after being outgained in the regular season (h/t to NFL Media's Mike Giardi).

The Packers defense gave up 5,642 total yards, while their offense racked up 5,528 total yards, resulting in a difference of minus-114 yards through 16 regular-season games.

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This trend continued in last weekend's NFC Divisional Round matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. The Packers escaped with a 28-23 win at Lambeau Field, but the Seahawks outgained them by 31 yards. It also was the Packers' 10th game of the season decided by one score, and Green Bay owns a 9-1 mark in those matchups.

How have the Packers won so many games despite being outgained on a consistent basis? Well, it sure helps to have a quarterback as talented as Rodgers.

The future Hall of Famer sealed the Packers' victory last week with two clutch third-down conversions late in the fourth quarter. It wasn't an all-time performance from Rodgers, but when it's winning time, he usually steps up and makes a huge play. 

Rodgers' playoff experience and ability to come through in the clutch give the Packers an important advantage at the quarterback position entering Sunday's NFC title game. Oddsmakers, however, have still pegged the 49ers as an overwhelming betting favorite.

Rex Ryan says Tom Brady, not Bill Belichick, was the key to Patriots dynasty

Rex Ryan says Tom Brady, not Bill Belichick, was the key to Patriots dynasty

It's a question we'll never get a definitive answer to. Who was more important to the New England Patriots in their 20-year dynasty, Tom Brady or Bill Belichick?

That debate will only heat up once Brady begins his new chapter with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In fact, it was mentioned to Brady on Wednesday during his interview with Howard Stern on SiriusXM, and the ex-Pats quarterback called it a "sh---y argument."

Still, the argument was made shortly thereafter by Rex Ryan on ESPN's "First Take." The former New York Jets and Buffalo Bills head coach says it was Brady, not Belichick, who was the key to New England's six Super Bowl titles.

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“It was definitely Tom Brady,” Ryan said. “If I’ve got to take one I’m taking Brady.”

“Let’s give [Belichick] somebody else, let’s give him [former Jets quarterback] Geno Smith, let’s give him whoever, and let’s see how many Super Bowls he would have won. We saw the answer was zero in Cleveland.”

Watch the full clip below:

Ryan actually makes a fair point, although there certainly seems to be some saltiness on his part since Geno Smith was his QB from 2013-14. Smith didn't take too kindly to his former coach's remarks, either.

Although we'll never know how Brady's Pats career would have gone without Belichick and vice versa, 2020 will be a true test for both New England icons. Brady will look to prove he can duplicate his success in Tampa with Bruce Arians as his head coach, and Belichick will look to do the same likely with Jarrett Stidham under center.

Patriots Talk Podcast: Stephen Gostkowski on Patriots career, quarantine life and what the future holds

Patriots Talk Podcast: Stephen Gostkowski on Patriots career, quarantine life and what the future holds

The New England Patriots ended an era last month when they parted ways with longtime kicker Stephen Gostkowski.

Gostkowski took over for Adam Vinatieri as the Patriots' kicker in 2006 and went on to help New England earn three Super Bowl titles. The 36-year-old has four Pro Bowl selections in his career and is a two-time first-team All-Pro.

In 2019, Gostkowski missed most of the season after he was placed on injured reserve. While it obviously isn't how he hoped his Patriots career would come to an end, there's no taking away his contributions to the team's success over the course of its dynasty.

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So now that his Pats career is over, where does Gostkowski go from here? He caught up with Tom E. Curran on the latest Patriots Talk Podcast to discuss.

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Gostkowski makes it clear he plans on playing in 2020, as long as the coronavirus pandemic doesn't lead to the season's cancellation.

I'm not ready to just hang it up. I'm gonna try to play. It's going to be tough to show teams what I can do right now or work out or do a physical, but I'm not too worried about it. I'm not concerned. I kind of take things day by day.

I feel good. I'm starting to feel better. I'm trying to keep getting in better and better shape and I've probably done more so far this year as I would heading into a normal season so I feel like I'm ahead of where I usually am and I have nothing but time.

Along with discussing the future, Gostkowski also took some time to reflect on the past.

We've been so successful as a team, there's nothing for me to complain about...We have had it really good and finally being done with the Patriots it's fun to actually look back at it and be able to talk about it in a positive way.

Because when you're in it and in the mode, you can never like, sit back and pat yourself on the back or talk about how good it was because you'd win, get drunk at the parade and after that you're like, 'OK, can't talk about it anymore.' It's fun to look back and everything I look back at is all positive memories.

Gostkowski also chats with Curran about what he's been up to while quarantining, Tom Brady's departure from the Patriots, and much more. Check out the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network or on YouTube.