Patriots: Prime-time players

Aaron Hernandez will need to come up big Sunday.

Three players the Patriots need to shine for success on Super Sunday:

Aaron Hernandez
It wasn’t for Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez would probably be the most talked about offensive weapon for Tom Brady, and rightfully so. Hernandez somewhat quietly had a huge year for the Patriots, lining up at tight end, wide receiver, and even running back. With a less-than-100 percent Rob Gronkowski (who will play), Brady might be looking to Hernandez in pressure situations. In two postseason games, Hernandez has 11 catches, 121 receiving yards, and a touchdown — you can tack on 70 rushing yards too.

Matt Light
Since 2001, Light has been protecting Brady, keeping him in tip-top shape and helping him maintain his supermodel-husband-worthy status. That will all need to continue Sunday when the beastly front four of the Giants lick their chops and try to take him down. It’s not just Light, obviously, as Logan Mankins and the rest of the O-line need to be on their best game.
Brandon Spikes
You know what you’re going to get out of Vince Wilfork, and make no mistake he’s the heart and soul of the Patriots defense. Jerod Mayo anchors the linebackers, and Patrick Chung has somewhat of a handle on the secondary. So who is the X-factor? It’s got to be Brandon Spikes. Perhaps nobody should evoke more fear than Spikes, and sometimes fear can go a long way in stopping receivers. He’s already promised pain, now he needs to make good on that promise. We’ve seen flashes of greatness — and now’s the time to shine.


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