Now it gets genuine for Patriots: Two some-more wins to pretension No. 5

1:26 AM ET

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Gillette Stadium soundtrack during TV timeouts is ripped from a 1980s center propagandize dance, though somehow it fits. The Outfield wails that they don’t wanna remove your adore tonight, Rick Astley swears he’s never gonna give we up, and The Knack thumps out an paper to their Sharona. It can feel as if a New England Patriots have been personification a same playoff diversion here for 30 or 40 years.

Patriots will need improved performance in AFC pretension game

The Patriots changed on to their sixth uninterrupted AFC pretension diversion on Saturday, though their opening opposite a Texans was a bit too uneven.

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  • Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have beaten 9 opposite teams in a local turn of a playoffs, and Saturday night’s 34-16 feat delivered them to a sixth true AFC Championship Game. This year’s Houston Texans were a thornier, some-more dynamic jimsonweed than many anticipated, though Brady finally shook them giveaway from his engineer pea cloak in a fourth entertain Saturday night with assistance from his defense. While a diversion did get dicey, a Patriots never trailed, and they’ll be right behind here subsequent Sunday to horde a AFC Championship Game in front of 66,000 New Englanders who usually wanna stone ‘n’ hurl all night and celebration any day.

    It competence feel rote, though it’s about to get real. The unavoidable apportionment of a Patriots’ deteriorate has ended. When we get to a AFC Championship Game 6 true years, it’s what happens subsequent that matters.

    Whoever a Patriots play subsequent week — a Kansas City Chiefs or Pittsburgh Steelers — will be their toughest competition given Week 7. If a Patriots win, they’ll face a Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers or Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl LI. Everything a Patriots have left by to overcome Brady’s Deflategate cessation and tip his punish debate comes down to subsequent week and, ideally, a diversion dual weeks after in Houston. Everything that has happened so distant feels as if it was ostensible to happen, and it has delivered them within dual tough wins of a fifth Brady-Belichick Super Bowl title.

    “We know this is usually a beginning,” parsimonious finish Martellus Bennett said. “And we have to play improved if we wish to get to where we wish to go.”

    That was a transparent and apparent summary in a postgame locker room, where a players were apparently happy to have won though discontented with a approach they’d played. Running behind Dion Lewis scored 3 touchdowns, though his mind was on dual fumbles. Brady finished usually 47 percent of his passes and wasn’t accurately walking on fever about it.

    “It doesn’t feel great,” Brady said. “We work flattering tough to play a lot improved than we played.”

    The china backing here, if you’re a Patriots fan, is that a group didn’t demeanour a best Saturday given they didn’t need to. They haven’t indispensable to for a while. They’ve won 8 games in a row, though a usually group they’ve played during that time that finished a deteriorate in a tip 20 in passer rating was a Miami Dolphins. Houston’s invulnerability gave New England all it had Saturday, though nothing of that mattered once Brock Osweiler started throwing interceptions.

    What creates a Brady-Belichick Patriots good is their array of options to kick you. They have a best scoring invulnerability in a NFL and an array of descent weapons so different that they can tailor any week’s diversion devise to a opponent. One week it competence be Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan who kick you. The subsequent it competence be Lewis and James White. LeGarrette Blount had usually 8 carries in this game, Bennett usually 4 targets in a flitting game. But we know possibly or both could be a primary concentration of a offense subsequent week.

    “We had to make adjustments tonight,” Edelman said. “We had to usually keep on personification and find something, and we did that.”

    They always seem to, and now any bit of that malleability contingency lift them dual some-more times. This year’s Patriots have shown us flashes of who they can be. Given what we’ve seen, and given a story of a people in a team’s dual many critical positions, it’s easy to trust they can rouse their diversion over what has so distant been required. If anything, Saturday reminded them that they must.

    “We’ve got to improve,” Edelman said. “It’s one thing to win one diversion in a playoffs, though that’s not where a mind is at.”

    The Patriots’ minds are on Houston, where 3 weeks from now, organizational nemesis Roger Goodell will palm someone a Lombardi Trophy. New England hasn’t accurately had to quarrel for a right to party, though a Patriots have warranted it nonetheless. Two some-more wins are all Brady needs to trip a ring on his ride and jam it into a NFL’s eye.

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