What return of Chris Hogan, James White means for Patriots


If they can control the clock and move the chains with Henry they will have a chance.

Their dominant 35-14 victory over the Titans in Saturday night's AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium sends the Patriots to their seventh consecutive AFC Championship.

He's 11-2 in 13 divisional-round games since 2002 and has completed 316 of 509 passes for 3,700 yards and 28 TDs in those games.

Wide receiver Chris Hogan (shoulder) and linebacker Kyle Van Noy (calf) have been removed from the Patriots' final injury report of the week, so they've been cleared to play Saturday against the Titans.

"It's pretty incredible to be a part of that". "We don't take it for granted. The reality of the National Football League is what we did this week has nothing to do with what happens next week".

He pounded the Chiefs' defense for 156 yards on 23 carries, including a 35-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that cut Kansas City's lead to 21-17.

He became the third player in Houston Oilers/Titans history to total 100 yards rushing in a playoff game, while having three 100-yard outings all season (regular season, playoffs).

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Nevertheless, in the enchanted world of Patriots Nation entitlement, where anything less than a Super Bowl appearance elicits rampant panic the temple might be about to tumble down, that's not necessarily the case.

Brady shrugged off another thoughts that the Patriots were distracted by a bye-week ESPN report indicating a rift between himself, coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft.

Like so many athletes who must deal with off-the-field distractions, it sure looked like being on the football field with his teammates was a sanctuary of sorts for Brady.

When I started this column, my wife Sharon quickly said, "They're going to get killed". "Ultimately, you've got to go out there and do it".

But Brady's recent numbers entering the game were cause for alarm for some.

Hogan, who missed seven of the final eight games of the regular season due to a shoulder injury, was removed from the injury report for the first time since October 29.

And that's exactly what he did.

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Tennessee hasn't been to a conference championship game since the 2002 season, but has been invigorated coming off its first playoff win in 14 years.

Sure, Brady got some help. His return not only adds depth to the Patriots wide receiver depth chart, but Brady is getting one of his top targets back, which makes his passing attack that much more hard to defend.

The last time the Titans were double-digit underdogs against anyone was Week 15 of the 2015 season.

"I've been around long enough", Brady said. "I'm not the first player to play against his former team". That just goes with the territory.

But adding two of the team's better offensive weapons back to the fold, coupled with Gronkowski, Cooks and Lewis, gives Brady one of the healthiest and more talented array of pass catchers heading into the postseason in years.

With Brady, of course, there's no "in between".

While Roethlisberger probably will play far better than that, the biggest challenge for Jacksonville could be stopping Le'Veon Bell in the running game.

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