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New England Patriots News 1-24 and AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
January 24, 2016 at 5:00 am ET

New England Patriots News 1-24 and AFC East Notes(PHOTO: Steve Balestrieri -

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Good morning, here are Sunday’s Patriots news notes and what’s happening around the division.

Belichick Snubbed Again: When the PFWA (Pro Football Writers of America) announced their annual awards, it was no surprise that Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera was named Coach of the Year, by the writers all over the nation who cover the NFL.

While I have no issue with the job Rivera did this season, after all the Panthers went 15-1 and cruised thru the season I didn’t vote for him, (yes I am a member and did vote).

My question is, does the unparalleled success by the Patriots in the Bill Belichick era make the fact that winning 12+ games every year become passé in the eyes of the rest of the league? In the last six seasons, the Patriots under Belichick have not won less than 12 games, they’ve hit that number the last four years in a row. In 2011, they won 13 and in 2010 they won 14.

And yet every year the rest of the NFL falls all over themselves to crow about the job some other coach is doing. A record of 75-21 the past six seasons is outstanding in any circles, but today the Patriots are playing in their fifth straight conference championship game. With a win today, Bill Belichick would have more conference championships (7) than anyone since the 1970 merger breaking a tie with Don Shula.

Belichick and Brady are appearing in their 10th conference championship together today. That’s 10 in 15 seasons together. That’s continued excellence my friends and it seems every year it is ignored.

Mayo to IR, Snyder Activated: In another crushing end to a season following an injury, Jerod Mayo was placed on IR this week with a shoulder injury. His latest injury cut short his third season in a row less than a week before the conference championship.

This may be his final season in a Patriots uniform unless he renegotiates his contract that will carry an $11,400,000 cap hit in 2016. Mayo had returned from two serious injuries in 2013 and 2014 where he played only six games in each and played in all 16 games this season. After starting a bit slowly, he turned things up a notch in the middle of the season and played much more solid until he faded a bit down the stretch.

In his stead the team has activated LB Kevin Snyder from the practice squad. Snyder is the 5th member of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights to be a member of the New England this season joining Devin McCourty, Logan Ryan, Duron Harmon and Jonathan Freeny. He’s a guy that can contribute on defense and special teams.

The 6’2, 240 pound Snyder was signed as an UDFA by the Lions and spent time with them and the 49ers on their practice squad before being released in October. He signed with the Pats practice squad before being signed to the active roster this week.

Snyder ran a 4.58-second 40-yard dash at his pro day in March with a 7.09-second time in the all-important (to NE), 3-cone drill, 4.31-second short shuttle, 35-inch vertical leap and 9-foot, 9-inch broad jump.

His signing is perfect timing for his checkbook; in lieu of his $6600 a week paycheck for being a member of the practice squad, he will get a $46,000 share of playoff money this week.

Why You Should Feel Good about the Patriots Chances Today: Facing a tough Denver Broncos defense, ranked #1 in the NFL this season and on the road here are few reasons Pats Fans should feel confident.

  • Tom Brady with both Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski in the lineup is 22-1 in his last 23 games.
  • In those contests, Brady has completed 67.3 percent of his passes for 7322 yards, 64 TDs and just 13 INTs for a passer rating of 107.
  • Facing the #1 ranked defense in the postseason, Brady has faced all three on the road and is 3-0. And NE won the Super Bowl in all three seasons.

Slater Slater part of Football Royalty: Greg Garber of ESPN wrote a fantastic piece this week on Patriots ST captain Matthew Slater and his dad Jackie, long-time Rams OL and a member of the NFL Hall of Fame.

The Slaters are #2 in the amount of Pro Bowls earned by a father son team with 12. They trail only the Mannings with 16. Slater was the slight, asthmatic kid with the thick glasses who everyone told would never amount to anything on a football field.

But he learned a one-of-a-kind work ethic from his dad and never looked back. And Jackie is one proud dad of the player and man his son has become. Take the time and read this one…it is well worth it.

Some Other Playoff Notes:

By starting the game on Sunday for the Patriots, Tom Brady will stand alone in NFL with the most playoff games played in with 31. He currently stands tied with former Patriot Adam Vinatieri.

Obscure stat of the day goes to Ryan Hannable of WEEI who found that when an opponent in the playoffs scores 19+ points, Peyton Manning’s record is 3-12.

BTW Tom Brady’s record when scoring 19+ points in the postseason is 20-2.

Even More Obscure Fact of the day goes to Alex Spier of the Boston Globe who researched the amount of times that Brady and Belichick face an opposing head coach what their winning percentage is. Whe-2n facing a coach for the seventh time…Brady and Belichick are 8-2. And they’ve faced Broncos HC Gary Kubiak six times, tomorrow will the seventh. You can’t make this stuff up.

Bills Hire First Female Assistant Coach: Kudos to the Bills and Rex Ryan by hiring Kathryn Smith as their special teams quality control coach for next season. Smith has worked with Ryan for nearly the past decade and has earned her shot.

Special teams quality control coaches normally break down film from the opponent and is considered a stepping stone job to ones with more responsibility. Ryan knows her and trusts her ability to get the job done. It wasn’t some kind of publicity stunt and she earned the right to move up the ranks.

But not everyone is happy about it. Kevin Kiley a radio host from Cleveland made many misogynist quotes on his show that reveal he has more in common with 19th century thinking than those of today. Let Smith succeed or fail or her own accord. And let’s not jump to conclusions and act a fool for your 15 minutes.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

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About Steve Balestrieri

A former US Army Special Forces NCO and Officer, Steve has been following the Patriots since their days at Fenway Park. Steve has worked in the film industry and wrote as an Military Editor at, as a reporter for the Millbury Daily Voice, Millbury-Sutton Chronicle, and the Grafton News. He's also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Tags: 2015 NFL Post season 2015 NFL Season 2015 Patriots 2015 Patriots Season AFC Championship Game Bill Belichick Brandon LaFell Chandler Jones Danny Amendola Denver Broncos Gary Kubiak Jabaal Sheard Jackie Slater Julian Edelman Malcolm Butler Matthew Slater New England Patriots NFL Patriots Patriots edge rushers Peyton Manning predictions Rob Gronkowski Tom Brady

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