The New England Patriots didn’t arrive in Denver with enough fire to take the AFC title and head to the Super Bowl. As Patriots fans start to cool off and look ahead to next season, remember—there’s still one more football game this season. And even though we in the Northeast don’t have a stake in the game, there are still reasons to get excited—and frustrated. Here are a few.
5. Richard Sherman
Everyone in America knows Sherman’s name now. The thing is, he’s even better at football than he is at causing a ruckus. Re-watch that game-ending deflecting from the NFC Championship. With the entire game on the line, Sherman made the biggest play of the year—practically by any player in the NFL—and he’ll have an even greater challenge facing him across the line of scrimmage this week in Demaryius Thomas. It’ll be exciting for any football fan, and after losing Aqib Talib in the AFC title game, we in New England have a yearning to see some magnificence from a cornerback.
4. Marshawn Lynch
“Beast Mode” might be the greatest power runner in the league right now. LeGarrette Blount, however, could make a run at that honor if he continues to build on his monstrous 2013 campaign. As New England’s offense starts to shift its focus to a balanced approach with significant attention to the running game, folks in the Northeast should be paying close attention to what the Seahawks are doing right.
3. Pete Carroll
Pete was not a great head coach for the Patriots, leading them to playoffs in consecutive years but failing to make a deep run or much of an impact on the program. Still, he’s a permanent part of Patriots history, and as such, there should be a soft spot for him.
2. Wes Welker
It’s official: New England hates Welker. Bill Belichick expressed his distaste for Welker’s hit on Aqib Talib and has had some less-than-kind sentiments for the former Patriots receiver since the team parted ways with #83 a year ago. Those Old Spice commercials were funny, but then again, remember that Super Bowl we should have won?
1. Peyton Manning
Manning has one Super Bowl ring; Tom Brady has three. Let’s root for the Seahawks and hope it stays that way. Manning vs. Brady is one of the most legendary quarterback rivalries in the history of the sport, and while Peyton necessarily commands respect, especially for his stellar 2013 season, he still doesn’t have our love.