David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
With New England's 28-0 win over the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots have clinched the No. 2 seed in the AFC. With that being said, let's take a look at what we learned from New England's season finale.
It's official: The New England Patriots have a first round bye in the playoffs.
It seemed almost impossible to regain a playoff bye following their loss against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday Night Football back in Week 15—but they were able to pull it off, thanks to a little help.
With the Houston Texans starting off the season with an impressive 11-1 record, they stumbled their way into Wild Card weekend as they finished with a 1-3 record, as they were knocked off by the Indianapolis Colts this week, 28-16.
As the Texans lost, the Patriots won as they shut-out the Miami Dolphins 28-0.
With that being said, let's take a look at what we learned following New England's season finale victory over the Miami Dolphins.
1. The Patriots clinched the No. 2 seed
With the Texans dropping two in a row, the Patriots were able to take advantage to regain that playoff bye.
Not only did the Patriots move up in the standings, so did the Denver Broncos, as they clinched the No. 1 seed—meaning that the road to the Super Bowl goes through Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
The Patriots will play either the Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens or the Indianapolis Colts in the Divisional round of the playoffs.
2. Rob Gronkowski is back and he returned in a big way
Well, it looks like my prediction came true as Rob Gronkowski returned and reeled in a touchdown reception.
Gronk played a total of 24 snaps as he was targeted four times while recording two receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown.
With the Pats having a bye week, it will give Gronk some much needed rest as he's returning from a fractured forearm.
3. Stevan Ridley is a stud running back
All I have to say is that Stevan Ridley is the NFL's most underrated running back. There is no doubt in my mind that this guy belongs in the top 10, if not the top five, for running backs in the NFL.
Ridley finished with 74 yards rushing on 20 carries while scoring two touchdowns.
The second-year pro out of LSU finished the season with 1,263 rushing yards along with 12 rushing touchdowns.
4. Justin Francis has a ton of potential
Some of you might not have known who Justin Francis was heading into this week—but you do now.
The undrafted rookie out of Rutgers had a break-out performance against the Dolphins, as he recorded three of New England's seven sacks against Ryan Tannehill.
With Rob Ninkovich leaving the game with a hip injury, it's certainly encouraging to see how well Francis played.
5. Danny Woodhead continues to act as an x-factor for New England's offense
It's almost like Danny Woodhead is the second-coming of Kevin Faulk.
Woodhead finished Sunday's game with five receptions for 79 yards while picking up 18 yards on the ground on just three carries.
Woodhead is the ultimate package: He's a great change-of-pace running back, he's a great receiver and is a great pass-blocker.