NEW YORK (AP) Comments on the New England Patriots by the AP Pro32 panel (ranking in parentheses):
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (2)
Chris Berman (ESPN, 3) - Third highest-scoring team ever pitch a shutout in finale.
Clifton Brown (Sporting News, 1) - If they have to win in Denver to reach Super Bowl, Patriots can.
Cris Collinsworth (NBC Sports, 2)
Rich Gannon (CBS Sports/SiriusXM NFL Radio, 2) - If Brady has an off day the Patriots are on big trouble.
Bob Glauber (Newsday, 5) - The Patriots sent the Texans into their late-season tailspin and take advantage by getting the No. 2 seed and the all-important playoff bye. A sixth Super Bowl appearance for Brady-Belichick?
Rick Gosselin (Dallas Morning News, 3) - The Patriots were the third highest-scoring team in NFL history this season with 557 points. Only the 2007 Patriots (587) and 2011 Packers (560) scored more.
Clark Judge (CBSSports.com, 2) - Get ready for another Tom Brady-Peyton Manning showdown, and the Pats will take their chances. Brady is 16-6 in the playoffs and holds a 9-4 edge over Manning in head-to-head play.
Ira Kaufman (Tampa Tribune, 4) - Outscored opponents by an average margin of 14 points per game. Ho hum.
Pat Kirwan (SiriusXM NFL Radio/CBSSports.com, 2) - As usual Tom Brady brings his team to the finish line as a top team in the NFL. This team can score close to 30 points on any team.
John Lynch (Fox Sports, 2) - The Patriots returned to their days of Super Bowl glory this season with a more balanced offensive approach. That, coupled with the dizzying tempo with which that offense plays and a youthful defense that has toughened up combine to make the Patriots a very tough out.
Alex Marvez (Foxsports.com, 4) - The Patriots took a big step toward a Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning rematch in the AFC championship game by securing the conference's No. 2 playoff seed.
Dan Pompei (Chicago Tribune, 5) - They made an NFL record 444 first downs and head into the playoffs with the NFL's most dangerous offense.