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Patriots News 12-12, Much Needed Bye Week, AFC East Notes 

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
December 12, 2021 at 5:00 am ET

Patriots News 12-12, Much Needed Bye Week, AFC East Notes (PHOTO: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)
Posted: Dec 12, 2021 05:00
🕑 Read Time: 8 minutes

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 12-12 and AFC East Notes.

The Patriots have won seven in a row and now have a game and a half lead over Buffalo (courtesy of the MNF win) as well as (for now) the top seed in the AFC. But after 13 games, the bye week is a great time for them to get some of their injured players some time to rest and recover. 

With a Tampa Bay victory, the Patriots would actually gain another half-game over Buffalo to increase it to two games. So that one will definitely bear watching today.

Three of their final four games (Indianapolis, Buffalo, and Miami) will all have an effect on the division and the conference. Don’t look now, but Miami has won five in a row and Brian Flores crew has been putting together a nice run. 

Have you checked out our sortable stats for the Patriots? It is a great resource for all of the players on the roster.  

Quick Hitters For the Pats, and the NFL: 

Homefield Advantage? Not So Much: The Patriots home record of 3-4 is a different vibe for the team under Bill Belichick, but overall in the NFL, especially in the AFC, the expected home-field advantage after the fans were allowed back in after the COVID lockouts of 2020, haven’t materialized. 

Buffalo has a 3-3 record at home, while the Colts, Bengals, and Chargers all have 3-3 records as well. The best teams at home in the AFC are the Ravens at 5-1, and the Chiefs at 5-2. The NFC has two undefeated teams at home, Tampa Bay and Green Bay, while the team with the best record in the NFL, Arizona is just 3-2 at home.

It will be interesting to see if this continues into the post-season. 

Hunter Henry: The Patriots tight end and his wife Parker welcomed their first child, this week, which they shared on Instagram. 

Henry had said that he’d miss a game if his wife went into labor during a Patriots game but the timing favored the team as his wife went into labor during the team’s bye week which will also allow a little bit of bonding time. 

Devine Ozigbo: The Patriots signed Ozigbo to their practice squad after J.J. Taylor was placed on the Reserve/COVID list. But his signing could open the door for the back if Damien Harris’ hamstring injury keeps him out for any time. 

Ozigbo, 5’10, 220 pounds averaged 7 yards per carry while rushing for over 1000 in his senior season at Nebraska. While he only ran a 4.65 at his pro day, he also ran a very good 6.95 in the 3-Cone Drill with a 37-inch vertical leap. He’s a powerful runner that could fit in the Patriots system if the need arises. 

Demaryius Thomas: The former Broncos, Texans, Patriots, and Jets WR who earned five straight Pro Bowl berths, died this week at the young age of 33.  Thomas had great production with Denver, especially after Peyton Manning was brought in at QB. 

He last played in 2019 and was known to suffer from seizures during the past year. It is believed that he died from a seizure on Thursday night at his home in Atlanta. 

4th & 2 Podcast: If you haven’t checked out our podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, please check it out. We gathered earlier this week to do a MNF recap of the win over the Bills. 

Russ Francis/Chuck Fairbanks: The former Patriot tight end and head coach both should be in the Patriots team Hall of Fame…this will be on our Sunday posts until it happens.

The Bill Belichick Coach of the Year Award?

Kliff Kingsbury was drafted by the Patriots and Bill Belichick in 2003 out of Texas Tech but is now the head coach of the Cardinals and has his team with the best record in the league at 10-2. Despite that, Kingsbury is considered the #2 coach for the annual Coach of the Year award. Belichick, who rarely gets support for the award, is considered the odds-on favorite to be named this year’s Coach of the Year. 

That is quite the turnaround for Belichick who some media and fans were questioning whether it was time to begin looking to replace the coach after a 2-4 start in 2021 after a very rare 7-9 losing season a year ago.

Kingsbury, however, believes that the award should not just go to Belichick this year, but every year. Not only that, but he believes it should be named after the Patriots coach. 

“They should just name the award Bill Belichick and when he retires, bring that back,” Kingsbury said to the media when asked about he and Belichick being #1-2 in the odds for the award. Belichick has won six Super Bowls as head coach of the Patriots, has won more than 300 games, including 31 in the postseason, but yet has been named the Coach of the Year, just three times.

“Until he retires, I don’t think anyone else should get that award. He should be that every single year he is coaching.” 

Gillette Stadium, Big Changes Coming, Could it Affect Games?

The Kraft family is planning on some massive changes to Gillette Stadium that will enhance the fan experience as well as increase the indoor space of the venue, but could these changes also affect football games on the field? We’ll have to wait and see. 

In a released statement, the Kraft family is calling these changes “the most dramatic Gillette Stadium improvements since its opening in 2002.”

The renovations, which are slated to begin in 2022, will begin with the plaza which is wasted space right now on game days as this is where fans have to pass by security to enter the venue. Security checkpoints will be pushed out and then the plaza will be open for fans to enjoy “part of the game-day experience and atmosphere,” according to Kraft Sports & Entertainment Chief Operating Officer Jim Nolan.

The iconic lighthouse is going to be enlarged and enhanced, rising to 218 feet above the surrounding area and now fans will be able to enjoy a 360-degree view from the observation deck which will be open 365 days a year. 

The open end of the stadium is going to be closed up as there will be a 75,000-square-foot glass-enclosed hospitality and function space as this portion of this new space will connect the East and West Putnam Clubs, the East and West Dell Technologies Suites, and the upper concourse.

From the Patriots website, A 370′ x 60′, curved radius HD board will be installed in the north end zone, making it the largest outdoor stadium video board in the country. From replays to fan cam moments, this new board will elevate the game-day experience for fans.

While the bottom area will still remain open to the plaza, but by closing the top area, it is worth wondering if this could impact football games. At times the open end of the stadium could be tricky when kicking field goals. Could the renovation change it? Possibly. And for those fans who have traveled to other venues in the league, Gillette isn’t as conducive to being as loud as others. The open end has a lot to do with that. With those glass-enclosed function spaces, could Gillette become louder? We’ll see. But from the artist’s concept shown below…it looks fantastic. 

Week 14 Predictions:

The slate of games for Week 14 and my predictions straight up for this week.

Thursday Night Football
Minnesota over Pittsburgh 1-0

Sunday –
New Orleans over NY Jets
Atlanta over Carolina
Tennessee over Jacksonville
Baltimore over Cleveland
Kansas City over Las Vegas
Dallas over Washington
Seattle over Houston
Denver over Detroit
LA Chargers over NY Giants
San Francisco over Cincinnati
Tampa Bay over Buffalo
Sunday Night Football
Chicago over Cleveland
Monday Night Football
Arizona over LA Rams


Last Week:         10-4
Season:            127-67-1

Last Season:    169-86-1

2019 Season:   162-93-1

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bad Look, Bills McDermott Loses Cool During, After MNF:

The Buffalo Bills had a mini-bye to prepare for the Patriots since they played on Thanksgiving. Yet despite the extra time, they seemed ill-prepared to stop the Patriots’ running game. McDermott was frequently shown on the sideline and appeared livid the entire game. Coaching, like anything else, suffers when you lose your cool. And that seemed to carry over to the entire team. 

Worse was after the game, almost an hour after the finish, McDermott appeared at his press conference and was asked about Bill Belichick and he went on a mini-rant which came off badly for him where he seemed to have Belichick in his head. 

“Let’s not give more credit than we need to give credit to Bill Belichick in this one,” McDermott said, as quoted in The Athletic. “Whether it’s Bill or anybody else, they beat us. You sit here and you tell me when we start with an average starting field position of the 40-yard line and he starts at the 23-yard line … and we were 1-for-4 in the red zone and they were 0-for-1 in the red zone — you give me that ahead of time and I would say, ‘I like my chances.’

“I don’t think, with all due respect, it’s not a Bill Belichick-type thing. It’s what are you doing with the opportunities you’ve got? We turn the ball over at the plus-30 something yard line, it’s sloppy football. I’m very comfortable in that situation.”

The Bills have a big game today on the road in Tampa Bay. It promises to be a fascinating football game. 

Dolphins Enter Bye Week On a 5-Game Winning Streak:

During their awful 1-7 start, the Fins were a Damien Harris fumble away from starting 0-8. Now, they’ve put together a 5-game winning streak, and at 6-7, the playoffs, while still a tough proposition, is at least now a possibility. 

They will face the Jets, Saints, Titans, and Patriots down the stretch. Their defense has really stepped up and Tua Tagovailoa has been playing very well. But they’ll still have to leapfrog the Bengals, Chargers, or the Bills, who swept them if New England stays on top of the division. 

But the reason Miami is in this position after that horrible start is Brian Flores. B-Flo has the players believing in him, his system, and each other. Regardless of how the Fins finish the year, Flores will be back next year. 

Jets Face Saints, Who Should Have Kamara Back:

The Jets’ sixth losing season in a row continues, but with the youngest roster in the league and a new coaching regime, that wasn’t unexpected. But injuries have really taken a toll on their defense and now they get the bad news that New Orleans is getting Alvin Kamara back for this week’s contest. 

With the Jets’ porous run defense, expect the Saints to use Kamara and QB Taysom Hill in the running game. Hill is limited as a passer but a very effective runner. On the flip side, Jets’ QB Zach Wilson should find some room to throw against the New Orleans secondary if the OL gives him time to throw. The Saints cover up quite a few warts in that secondary with stout run defense and pass rush. 


“That’s why we practice in this s**t!”

Bill Belichick to the team after the win in windy Buffalo on Mon

I think a little bit of all those. There’s an element of all that that’s in place. Josh [McDaniels] did a good job, as he usually does, of making in-game adjustments. Some of the plays that we had, we just need to get straightened out or adjust a little bit. We put in a couple of things that we have, but we weren’t anticipating being big in the game. We missed a couple things there and had a couple tackles for loss. Again, that’s a good defensive team, so that’s going to happen. Hopefully, we can execute those things a little better. Overall, I’d say it’s a combination of that. Some in-game adjustments, some finer things that they are working that they’re having trouble with, and maybe put in something that you didn’t anticipate using in the game because of how they were aligned to a certain look.”

Bill Belichick’s comments when asked about how the team adjusts their game plan during a run-heavy game with different formations and personnel. 


“So, how was your week?”

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

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on Stitcher and Streamyard as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens, and myself from discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.


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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)

Posted Under: Patriots 2021 regular season
Tags: Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills Kyle Van Noy Mac Jones Miami Dolphins New England Patriots New York Jets NFL Patriots

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