Key Players- Patriots

1. Tom Brady– He’s been to a few of these things called the Super Bowl. On Sunday, he will be the first player ever to start in 8 Super Bowls. Hate him or love him, the man puts in the work to get to this stage each and every season and he continues to add to his Hall of Fame resume. As he’s aged, he’s seemed to look better and continues to play at a very high level. He’s stated that he wants to play until he’s 45 years old and feels that he still has much left in the tank. What a career he’s had and with a win on Sunday, he will become the first player in NFL history to win six Super Bowl titles.

2. Dion Lewis– It’s been a running back by committee type of situation for the Patriots. Mike Gillislee hasn’t panned out as they expected and they have a trio of running backs in Rex Burkhead, James White and this guy in Dion Lewis who I think is the best out of the group. He’s versatile meaning he can impact the game from the rushing standpoint, he can be that check-down option that the Patriots use more than any other team in the league and he’s also a factor in the special teams aspect of things. I guess it’s safe to say that he’s their “Mr. Everything”. Anytime you need him to make a play, he answers the call and he produces.

3. Rob Gronkowski– He’s Tom’s go-to guy for a reason. Anytime a big play needs to be made, 87 is there to make it. He’s an absolute nightmare to defend and prepare for as a football team. He’s 6’6, 265 pounds and each time Brady throws in his direction, he catches it. This offense is almost impossible to stop with him in the lineup, but they are still able to operate without him, look at the Super Bowl last year and the remainder of the AFC Championship game this year. He continues to move up the ranks for a tight end in NFL history and I haven’t seen a tight end on this dominant of a run since the days of Tony Gonzalez.

4. Brandin Cooks– I was pumped up when the Patriots traded for him back in March. This was their first true number one wide receiver on the roster since Randy Moss and it did take him a while to earn Tom’s trust, but he’s got it now. For years, the Patriots have needed a guy to take the top off of zones and make a big play down the field and that’s exactly what he’s brought to that offense. 20 years from now when he’s no longer playing, he can tell everyone that he began his career playing with a legendary quarterback in New Orleans and then he was traded to play with another for the Patriots.

5. Trey Flowers– He’s stepped up big time and become the Patriots best defensive player. He’s relentless and does just about anything to get to the quarterback. He can come off the edge, he can come up the middle on defensive stunts and he’s always giving 110 percent and plays until that whistle is blown. His motor is always revved up and he’ll be needed big time to collapse Nick Foles’ pocket on Sunday night.

6. Kyle Van Noy– I’ve become a very big fan of his this year. When the Patriots were struggling early on as a defense, I stated that they needed to simplify things and match up with the offensive weapons across the board. Kyle’s job is to be a spy in the middle of the defense meaning if the quarterback scrambles slightly out of the pocket, Kyle stays back, but shifts with the quarterback and tries to make him throw it instead of running to get a few extra yards. When he does that, the quarterback is watching him the entire play and that allows the defensive line to get some push up front. Kyle makes tackles and he can get after the quarterback himself.

7. James Harrison– The minute the Pittsburgh Steelers released him, I had a very strong feeling that the Patriots would get their hands on him and here we are a month later. Throughout the year, I kept repeating that the Patriots were lacking that pass rush, something that they’ve always been known to have. This veteran continues to play at the highest level at the age of 39. He’s playing in his fourth Super Bowl and he’s looking to win his third title as a player.

8. Devin McCourty– He’s the leader of this Patriots secondary. When he was drafted by the team in 2010, he was listed as a corner, but could also play safety. When stopping the run, he gets into the open field as if he were a linebacker, he can tackle receivers when they make a catch and then he’s able to cover and tip the ball away or make a hit in the backend. He’s produced at a high level since coming into the league and has become one of the best all-around safeties in the NFL.