Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/18/14

FOXBORO, MA - NOVERMBER 21: Deion Branch of the New England Patriots reacts after teammate in the second half against the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium on November 21, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
The 2011 Patriots nearly won the Super Bowl. By simple reasoning, that means that the 2012 Patriots, if even a little better, should be able to win it all. With that in mind, veteran wide receiver Deion Branch‘s assessment of the current team bodes well. “Each year is going to be something different,” he told Tom E. Curran of Comcast Sportsnet. “We’re a lot better than we were last year.” Branch knows firsthand how good this team is. Part of the reason he hasn’t been with the team for the full year — he’s been cut and brought back twice — is because the Patriots are stacked on offense. With Rob Gronkowski returning from injury, Aaron Hernandez hitting his stride, and a young running back group including Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead making noise, the Patriots appear primed to punch through for the championship that eluded them last year. Branch wasn’t looking ahead to the Super Bowl just yet, though. While he was quick to compliment various teammates and the state of the team, he also said the Patriots are well aware that their opponent this week, Houston, is going to bring a different game than in their first meeting. New England destroyed the Texans 42-14 several weeks ago. “No, trust me — you’re going to see a different Texans team,” Branch said of whether this matchup was a “cupcake game” for New England. “That we all know, I promise you. They’re a great team. They’ve been a great team all season long. Unfortunately, they ran into a couple stumbles, but that’s football. Trust me, it won’t be the same team that we played five weeks ago.” Branch also gave some insight on how the Patriots have measured themselves this season. He was asked about the team securing the AFC’s No. 2 seed and getting a favorable matchup in the playoffs. The team wasn’t as much lucky, he said, as the Patriots were rewarded by executing when they had to. “Just like we felt like we threw a bunch of games early in the season,” he said, “we got the No. 2 seed because that’s what we deserved.” During that early start, the Patriots had to swallow a 3-3 record despite only being outscored by four points in the three games they lost. After that, they had a much easier time putting up numbers commensurate with their talent, winning all but one of their remaining games, many of them by wide margins. The Patriots are likely hoping they got all the bad breaks out of their system early on, and that they’ll be able to capitalize this time around — especially if, as Branch says, they’re a better team than they were last year.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Knicks reportedly ‘in play’ for Kevin Durant

Fire alarm at Patriots’ hotel goes off for second time in three days

Former NFL QB Jeff Blake: Everyone deflates footballs

Columnist: Media should boycott Skittles to protest Lynch

WATCH: Irving scores career-high 55, hits game winner

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

FCS star QB considering transferring to Oregon

Gronk on interest in his partying: 'I'm a baller'

Jim Harbaugh looking to flip No. 1 quarterback recruit

Colts' suspension of Richardson voids $3.1 million

Five players replacing the biggest names in Pac-12 for 2015

Report: Broncos hire Phillips as defensive coordinator

Where did Seahawks, Patriots find their Super Bowl players?

The all-time best Super Bowl team

Jimbo Fisher's extension could be worth $44 million

Morris twins investigated for possible assault

Padres are bringing back the brown pinstripes

Phil Jackson's old Knicks teams used to deflate balls

David Blatt: There should be more LeBron MVP talk

Richard Sherman, girlfriend expecting son during SB week

WATCH: Marshawn, Gronk play Mortal Kombat with Conan

Armstrong: I’d use PEDs again under same circumstances

Top five free agent quarterbacks

Report: NFL investigators to consult physicist on Deflategate

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Knicks ‘in play’ for Kevin Durant?

Ex-QB: Everyone deflates footballs

Where did 'Hawks, Pats find players?

Columnist: Start Skittles media boycott

The all-time best Super Bowl team

Blatt wants more LeBron MVP talk

Best Super Bowl ads of all-time

5 X-factors for Super Bowl XLIX

Ten worst teams to ever play in a SB

Six MLB teams going all-in on 2015

Patriots' keys to Super Bowl victory

Seahawks' keys to Super Bowl victory

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.