1. Tom Brady– He’s back for the seventh time playing in a Super Bowl, the most ever by a starting quarterback. Normally, a quarterback in his age 39 season is on the verge of slowing down. That’s not the case at all with Tom Brady who is coming off a season where he threw 28 touchdown passes, a league low, two interceptions and in the twelve games he played in, he won eleven of them. He’s still on top of his game and believe it or not, Super Bowl 51 will be the final game that he plays in his 30s. The legendary resume just continues to grow and grow and with another Super Bowl win on Sunday, he will have five and will be labeled as the greatest ever to play the position of quarterback.
2. LeGarrette Blount– Coming back to New England was the best thing that could’ve happened to him and he’s become that security blanket for Brady ever since Gronkowski went down. I’ve never seen a running back his size move as fluidly as he does. He’s 250 pounds and moves as if he’s 190. He gives the Patriots offense the much-needed balance and a consistent boost in the running game.
3. Julian Edelman– He’s just as important to the passing game as Rob Gronkowski is. When they drafted him, he learned so much playing behind Wes Welker and once Wes decided to sign elsewhere, Edelman entered the same role that Welker had and everytime I see Brady connect with him on a pass, I immediately have flashbacks of the Brady/Welker connection. I love the toughness that he brings to the field. He always wants the football and he feels he can make something happen with it each time he has it in his hands.
4. Chris Hogan– I loved this signing during the offseason and it’s worked out perfectly. Although he’s a wide receiver, I’ve stated that they’ve been using Chris Hogan in the same capacity that they would use Gronk. He’s been running up the seam, working the middle of the field and catches everything thrown in his direction. In the AFC title game, he had the best game of his career. He’s gone from being the fourth option on so many other teams to a second or third for a Super Bowl contender.
5. Chris Long– The one thing about this football team is when they trade or release a guy, they always find a way to replace him and that’s what they did with Chandler Jones. He was traded to Arizona and Belichick will do what’s always best in the interest of the team. They replaced him with Chris Long who for so many years played on teams that struggled to make the playoffs. His first year in New England, he’s playing to win his first Super Bowl. He’s a great pass rusher that can get to the quarterback, he can force a fumble and make a key play when the team needs it.
6. Alan Branch– He’s the elder statesmen of this defensive line and if they want to stop the run, he along with Malcom Brown need to be big time in doing so. Every defense has that guy that sits in the middle of the defensive line and is a run stopper and that’s Alan Branch. He’s a physical guy that works to dominate the line of scrimmage and at 350 pounds, I think it’s safe to say that he does just that.
7. Rob Ninkovich– He’s another veteran savvy guy that’s a big difference maker for this defense. He can come off the edge and rush the passer, he drops back into coverage and he’s also one of the more underrated guys that we don’t discuss too much. He’s aged and doesn’t have the speed that he once did, but he’s still more than capable of making a play when the Patriots defense needs it.
8. Devin McCourty– He started out as a corner and now, he’s made that transition to safety and he’s become one of the best at his position. What allows him to have success is his ability to cover ground and help over the top of the defensive backs. He’s added the ability to “sniff out” the football and can tackle in the open field. Wherever the football is, Devin is there.