EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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December 18, 2013

If Brady gets help, sky is the limit

It’s a catchy football phrase the New England Patriots have claimed their own … Next man up!

It’s supposed to refer to a good player or two going down with a long-term injury and the second best guy at that position takes his place and remarkably fills in admirably.

The Patriots, though, have taken the moniker and run with it, as in … Second and third team up!

This was meant for role players like Kyle Arrington, who we’ve come to find out is not a natural, speed cornerback, but a quick guy that can handle the middle of the field. If he has to fill in for, say, Aqib Talib, we can expect a semi-decent performance.

When Patriots coach Bill Belichick came up with his version of Next man up!, he wasn’t thinking the likes of Joe Vellano, Josh Kline and Sealver Siliga (three undrafted free agents who all played key roles on Sunday in Miami). Those guys were supposed to be on the practice squad, taking notes and getting ready for their potential splashes in 2014.

That being said, the Patriots are primed for the playoffs.

Yes, that’s right, I said “primed.”

Looking around the NFL landscape, there is one scary team: Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks.

The one benefit for the AFC entry into the Super Bowl is it won’t have to play in Seattle, which is nearly impossible to do for road teams.

After the Seahawks there are really six or seven teams (49ers, Broncos, Patriots, Cardinals, Bengals and Ravens – in that order) ready to contend for a championship. In other words, the New England Vellanos aren’t dead just yet.

What we’ve come to learn about the Vellanos … I mean Patriots, is that nothing will come easy, even against the Oaklands, Houstons and Buffalos.

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