BOSTON (CBS) — Former Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather really, really loves former teammate Vince Wilfork. Who doesn’t?

98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich asked Meriweather about the former Patriots, now-Texans nose tackle, who comes to Foxboro with Houston for Saturday’s AFC Divisional Playoff. With Wilfork apparently considering retirement after the season, that means that Saturday could be his last game in the NFL.

Wilfork is surely a Patriots Hall-of-Famer, but does he have a shot at making it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton? Meriweather sure believes so.

“Yes, Vince is a Hall of Famer. First-ballot, I think,” Meriweather said, with no hesitation. He also described Wilfork’s impact on the Patriots defense during his career.

“I wouldn’t give him ‘The Tom Brady of the defense,’ but he’s just as important to the defense as Tom Brady was [to the offense],” he said. “If Vince had a bad day, everybody had a bad day. So Vince could never have a bad day. Vince was more important than a lot of people on that side [of the ball].”

For a long time, Wilfork was a big part of the Patriots’ weekly preparation, which remains the most consistent in the league. Meriweather explained how Bill Belichick keeps his players focused on the tasks at hand throughout the season and into the playoffs, even during bye weeks.

“[Belichick’s] going to make sure that you study up and you’re on your book and you’re doing all the small things to know you’re still taking the team seriously,” said Meriweather.

Meriweather also brought up the NFL MVP race. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan appears to be the frontrunner after snagging First Team All-Pro honors over Tom Brady. But Meriweather believes the award should go to Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott.

“If you put Tony Romo at that QB [spot], they are a Wild Card team at best,” Meriweather said of the Cowboys, who finished 13-3 and the No. 1 seed in the NFC Playoffs. He would still pick the Falcons and Patriots as the likely Super Bowl teams, with the Steelers and Seahawks as dark horse candidates.

He’s giving the Steelers an outside chance of making the Super Bowl, even having to go through the Patriots in Foxboro – because of how they’re playing at the moment.

“The playoffs aren’t [about] who’s better, the playoffs [are about] who’s hot,” said Meriweather. “As you saw last week, Pittsburgh is hot right now. So if that torch keeps lighting, they’re going to be hard to beat regardless of where they’re playing.”

Listen to the full podcast below:


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