Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 1/9/13

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.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top 10 matchups for Week 12 of the NFL season

Tyrann Mathieu says Blaine Gabbert has a ‘better grip on what’s going on’

NCAA frees Kansas blue chipper Cheick Diallo

Rockets hold in-season training camp in attempt to rebound from disastrous start

Kansas City Chiefs: No Jamaal Charles, no problem

How the Warriors can win 72 games


Frank Gifford suffered from CTE, family announces

Syracuse basketball gets one scholarship per year back

LeBron James says his back feels better than it did a year ago

Sean Payton on firing Rob Ryan: Status quo ‘would be madness’

Report: Blue Jackets listening to offers for Ryan Johansen

Report: Greg Hardy cancels club event after 'catching heat'

5 outrageous predictions for Week 12 of the NFL season

How the Detroit Lions became the face of football on Thanksgiving Day

The 10 most disappointed fan bases of the 2015 college football season

Jimmy Butler wants Mason Plumlee to pay his $2,500 fine

Jose Bautista's bat flip inspires a holiday sweater

The Kristaps Porzingis comparison project

What’s next for Johnny Manziel and the Cleveland Browns?

Gisele Bundchen asks Tom Brady ‘all the time’ why he still plays football

Highlighting the biggest NFL games of Week 12

Greg Olsen calls Jason Witten 'the epitome of a pro'

Are Sidney Crosby and Mario Lemieux growing apart?

Stop sleeping on Giannis Antetokounmpo

Worst-case scenarios for end of college football season

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.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top 10 matchups for Week 12 of the NFL season

The 10 most disappointed fan bases of the 2015 CFB season

Gronk: Takes mental toughness not to overeat on Thanksgiving

Blue Jays fans create website in effort to keep David Price

The five most overrated teams in the Week 13 coaches' poll

10 storylines for Week 13 of the college football season

Ranking the 10 best games of 2015 college football rivalry week

Examining the Mavericks' hot start

Johnny Bench(ed): Manziel demoted to third string

Mike Trout, four years in

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker