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New England Patriots News 4-23, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
April 23, 2017 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here are your Sunday’s Patriots news 4-23, & AFC East Notes.

We saw a lot of talk this week about the death of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez and much of it had the word ‘tragic’ built into it. That story was anything but tragic unless the conversation has to do with his daughter, who will grow up never knowing her father, Odin Lloyd, who Hernandez was found guilty of murdering, or the other two young men who he was acquitted of shooting and killing outside a Boston nightclub just last week.

But even if he wasn’t convicted of their murders, he was most certainly there and don’t forget, he shot his own friend in the eye in Florida and left him on the side of the road.

Hernandez had the world as his oyster with a $40 million-dollar contract, of which he’d probably have seen every dime of and would still be young enough to see another big money deal. He was set for life. Instead, he pissed it all away and was doing life in prison because he’d rather be a street hood than catch touchdowns from Tom Brady.

Tragic? No, his actions, for which he was responsible for were stupid.

Blount Very Visible for a Free Agent Who May Not Be Back:
One of the more curious sights this weekend? LeGarrette Blount, the Patriots free agent running back who is rumored to not be returning, was out doing charity work with the team.

Case in point, Blount was in Grafton, Mass on Friday night for a charity basketball game between the Grafton Police against the Patriots All-Stars featuring the past and current members of the team. On Friday night, Blount joined current Patriots Brandon King, Justin Coleman, and Devin Lucien as well as alumni Patrick Pass, Mark Levoir, Vernon Crawford and Steve DeOssie.

Patriots free agent RB LeGarrette Blount signs autographs at halftime of a charity basketball game in Grafton on Friday. (SBalestrieri/Grafton News photo)

Patriots Add New Podcast to their Website, Featuring Price, and Banks:
Congrats to former WEEI Patriots beat writer and all-around great guy Chris Price. He and Don Banks will be hosting a podcast on Patriots.com “Cover 2 with Banks and Price” which will run on Tuesdays. Price has also authored his fourth book, “Drive For Five: The Remarkable Run of the 2016 Patriots” and it details the Pats run to the Super Bowl in the 2016 season.

Patriots Name Three Hall of Fame Finalists This Week:
This week the Patriots announced the three finalists for their team Hall of Fame induction in the Hall at Patriots Place.

This year’s finalists include CB Raymond Clayborn, DL Richard Seymour, and LB Mike Vrabel.  2017 will be Clayborn’s fourth straight as a finalist, Vrabel’s second, while Seymour is a finalist for the first time.

While all three are deserving, Clayborn is saddled with playing in an era before most of the fans who will vote, were even born. He was incredibly durable, playing in 161 straight games, still a team record. And he’s tied with Ty Law with 36 career interceptions. He was a member of the Patriots All-1970s and ALL -1980s teams.

Seymour was one of the best if underrated defensive linemen of his era earning five straight Pro Bowls and four straight All-Pro seasons, including three Super Bowls. Seymour was one of the most dominant defensive linemen of the time but never had the sexy stats because of the system the Patriots played.

Vrabel was also an integral member of the team’s first three Super Bowl seasons being a versatile defender who could also play offense in goal line situations. He caught touchdown passes from Tom Brady in Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX. In 2007 Vrabel had an All-Pro season garnering 12.5 sacks.

Fans can vote online at the Patriots website here:

Patriots Schedule Has Some Intriguing Twists:
The NFL announced the league’s schedule on Thursday night, but as is typical when discussing the goings on at Park Avenue, it was leaked out much earlier. In regards to the Patriots schedule, they have some interesting factors that will play into their season.

The team opens the second half of the season by playing five out of six games on the road, including two in a row in high altitude cities. First in Denver, then the following week in Mexico City against the Raiders. The Patriots always seem to have trouble in Denver, and Mexico City’s stadium is about 2000 feet higher in elevation than Mile High.

The Pats bye week is located smack in the middle of the season after Week 8. And they open the 2017 campaign at home against the Chiefs on the league’s Kickoff Thursday Night Football game. Their Super Bowl rematch against the Falcons won’t be until Week 7, as Atlanta is celebrating the grand opening of their new stadium Week 1.

James White’s Deal A Win-win:
Once the details of the three-year contract extension for running back James White emerged, it was obvious that this is a deal that will work for both parties. White, who would have been a free agent at the end of the 2017 season, could have waited and possibly made more money, but he opted for the chance to stay in New England.

White’s three-year $12.69 million-dollar deal, which included a $4 million dollar signing bonus, works for both parties as it gives him an excellent chance of seeing every dime and for the Patriots.

It is a bargain signing, and it ensures White will be with New England in his prime years for a player who is a perfect fit for the team in New England’s offense.

Gillislee Deadline is Monday:
The other news on the running back front is that Buffalo Bills restricted free agent Mike Gillislee will have to wait until Monday to find out if he’s playing for New England this fall or heading back to Buffalo. The Patriots signed him to an offer sheet for a two-year deal with most of the money being front-loaded into the first season.

Buffalo is strapped a bit under the salary cap and the Bills are pondering the decision on whether to match New England’s offer. They quickly declined to match on Chris Hogan’s offer sheet a year ago and already lost CB Stephon Gilmore to New England in free agency. Those situations may factor into their decision.

But by placing (some say foolishly) only a fifth-round tender on Gillislee, they opened the door for a team to come in and make him an offer. If the Bills do decline, they’d get the Patriots fifth-round draft choice

NFL Draft Begins Thursday Night but When Will NE Pick?
As things stand right now, the NFL Draft may be a pretty boring one for New England fans for the first two rounds because the Patriots probably won’t be picking in either one. We say probably because although New England doesn’t have a pick in either of the first two rounds, they can still wheel and deal right up to the final moment if they really covet a player.

The Patriots traditionally under Belichick have a much smaller draft board than other teams. They’ll scout extensively but then break it down to players who they feel will fit their system.

Someone DM’d us this week as to why they’re bringing in players for pre-draft visits that are slotted to go early in the first round when they don’t pick until #72?

Sometimes, I think it is a situation where they like this player and they want to see what makes him tick and could they risk moving up for him, or it is information they’ll store for attempting to bring in the player later? We’ve seen this with free agents Jabaal Sheard and Barkevious Mingo, both of whom the Patriots liked in the draft.

Sometimes they just want to see a player they feel they may face in the future and get a feel for him. It would come in handy when game-planning against some of those.

The Patriots had a private meeting with UConn safety Obi Melifonwu on Thursday. He’s slated to go either in the late first or early second round. With Belichick’s penchant for drafting safeties early, he’d be a tremendous addition to the strong safety position and an eventual replacement for Pat Chung but the team would have to move up to get him.

Amendola Restructures Contract for the Third Straight Season:
Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola, to no one’s surprise, has restructured his deal with the Patriots, re-doing his deal for the third time since signing with the team four years ago.

He was scheduled to make $6 million and instead will make $1.6 million, a modest pay increase from what he made in 2016 for the veteran wide receiver. While Amendola is arguably the fourth option in the passing game, his production is nearly always at crunch time and comes in clutch situations. While it seems like a minor move, considering the other weapons in the Patriots WR arsenal, his signing is indeed a big move.

East Bound and Down…AFC East Notes:

Bills’ Lineman Kouandjio Found Wandering in a Field With No Pants:
The Buffalo Bills had a bizarre incident on Wednesday morning when Erie County deputies got a call about a person acting strangely and found OL Cyrus Kouandjio wandering in a field with no pants just a few minutes from the Bills facility.

His vehicle was found abandoned on the highway a short distance away and deputies stated he was cooperative and answered their questions. Although according to some reports when asked what he was doing there, he responded to the Deputies, “Shoot me!” He was taken to the hospital for observation. However, no charges were filed.

Kouandjio was taken by the Bills in the 2nd round (44th overall) in the 2014 NFL Draft. He was not present for the Bills voluntary strength and conditioning program on Thursday. The Bills have reported that they are monitoring his situation.

Miami Adds In-game Strategist to Bolster Analytics Staff:
The Miami Dolphins are continuing to buy into the value of analytics, hiring Matt Sheldon as their director of football research and strategy. He had the Bears job as the director of analytics and football research for the past two years.

Sheldon will work on in-game strategy with the coaching staff. Miami has already added a couple of coaches in the sports science and analytics department, with Wayne Diesel, the Dolphins’ sports performance director, and Dennis Lock, the team’s director of analytics.

Jets Limiting Media Access? Some Writers Think So:
The New York Jets had their share of off-field and on-field problems in 2016. There were altercations in the locker room, players missing or late for meetings, holdouts, unneeded drama and the team flat out stunk after being on the cusp of the playoffs the year before.

Now they’re taking steps to avoid at least some of the issues that plagued them a year ago. According to ESPN’s Rich Cimini, the Jets aren’t allowing the media to speak with newly signed free agents and were not allowed to speak with any players after they began their off-season conditioning program this week.

“While it’s unclear if this is a directive from [head coach Todd] Bowles, it sends a message,” Cimini said. “The team wants to eliminate potential distractions in the early, team-building stages of the offseason.”

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

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

Tom Brady’s TB Times: Winter Is Here

John Morgan
January 1, 2017 at 4:54 pm ET

As is always the case in the immediate aftermath of a New England Patriots’ victory, a new issue of the TB Times was published. The faux-newspaper headline is posted on to Tom Brady’s facebook page by a prompt executive assistant to celebrate each Pats win.

Today’s edition featured frozen Dolphins in a Game of Thrones theme, declaring that Winter Is Here.

Patriots wrap up top AFC seed and home field advantage with win at Miami

For those not familiar with GOT, the GOAT is depicted as the Night King. Behind TB12 are his army of White Walker zombies: eleven various New England Patriot players.

With three touchdown passes Brady added some very impressive milestones to his already legendary resume. The quarterback set an all-time NFL record for the best touchdown to interception ratio (14:1) in a single season with his 28th TD against just two picks. Brady also set an NFL record with 254 pass attempts on the road without an interception.

Early in the game the Patriot quarterback also passed Hall of Fame great Dan Marino for the third most career passing yards in NFL history. With the victory the Patriots also became just the seventh team in league history to go 8-0 on the road. This is the second time the Pats have accomplished that feat, with the other coming in 2007.

Tom Brady’s TB Times: TB12 Annihilates Jets In Snowball Fight

John Morgan
December 24, 2016 at 5:13 pm ET

After each Patriot victory another edition of the TB Times is published. The faux newspaper headline appears on a near-weekly basis on Tom Brady’s Facebook page.

Today’s front page story depicts the GOAT clobbering elves in dunce caps and Jet gear with snowballs.

 

Patriots advance to 13-2 with victory over Jets

 

Brady completed 17 of 27 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns in just three quarters before Jimmy Garoppolo got some needed live reps. The game was never in doubt, with the Patriots up 27-0 at halftime. In SOJ fashion Bryce Petty injured his shoulder attempting to make a tackle after a Jet fumble.

Most notably Bill Belichick recorded his 200th victory as head coach with the Patriots. Malcolm Butler will likely be named Defensive Player of the Week after compiling three turnovers (two picks and a fumble recovery). The league’s number one scoring defense excelled, dominating the Jets all day. The Patriot D limited the Jets to one third down conversion in 11 attempts, and held New York to no scores in two red zone visits.

Tom Brady’s TB Times: Pats Get Back On The Horse

John Morgan
December 18, 2016 at 8:27 pm ET

After every New England Patriots victory it is time for another edition of the TB Times on Tom Brady’s facebook page.

The Broncos had won each of the last three times the Patriots played in Denver. In a subtle reference to that stat the TB Times noted that the “Pats get back on the horse”. The picture has Dion Lewis (18 rushes for 95 yards, 5.3 yards per carry) holding the reigns of a none too happy horse.

 

Patriots clinch AFC East tile with 16-3 win at Denver

 

On Saturday the Patriots host the Jets, and then wrap up the regular season on New Year’s Day at Miami.

 

New England Patriots News 12-18, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here are Sunday’s Patriots news 12-18, and AFC East Notes for this week.

Ever Wonder What It is Like to be a Part of the End Zone Militia?
Everyone who has ever been to or watched a Patriots game on television knows who the Patriots End Zone Militia is. Every time LeGarrette Blount scores a touchdown at home, he rushes to take a photo with the group. They are instantly recognizable in their Colonial garb but much of the background information on them is still cloaked in the shadows.

We were able to sit down with one of the senior members of the militia, Bob Elliott this week. Bob and his wife Katherine are a wonderful couple who are actively involved in Millbury’s Asa Waters Mansion. Not surprisingly, it is a Colonial-era mansion that maintains the look and feel of that era. Katherine, until recently was the Executive Director there until retiring. Bob and members of the militia have appeared at events there as well.

I asked Bob how the militia got started and was surprised to learn it wasn’t with the Pats. “No, it wasn’t,” he said. “The group originally got started with the New England Revolution (soccer team). It wasn’t until later the group starting attending Patriots games in the old stadium.”

Bob has been with the group since 1998 and has seen plenty of Patriots games with the best standing spot (they don’t sit) in the stadium. So…I asked, ‘How does one become a member of the Militia?’ Bob laughed, “it is a question we get asked a lot,” he said. “You have to be a regular Revolutionary War reenactor for about 5-years, and have to own all of your own gear.”

“And if there is an opening, we’ll bring someone on board.”  But don’t hold your breath. Bob has seen only about 3-4 additions in his 18 years there as some members move away or retire. There are 37 members of the End Zone Militia but only 20 work each game, 10 in each end zone. When members have family or other commitments, they’ll pass off a certain game to the backups. The senior members, like Elliott, get to pick which games they can work.

They were strictly unpaid volunteers until the 2012 season. “The NFL was cracking down on the number of volunteers on the field, so Mr. Kraft immediately put us on the payroll.” Is it a lot I asked? He laughed again, “no it isn’t a Tom Brady type contract. But it does cover the cost of our black powder but not much else.” But to a man or woman, that isn’t why they are here.

What was the most magical or special moment in your 18 years here I asked him? He didn’t hesitate. “The final game in the old stadium, the Snow-Bowl, Tuck Rule Game. It was really special. The near blizzard conditions, fans throwing snow in the air, I will never forget that night,” he said.

“It was so dramatic and then we fired a shot after the Patriots won and a few days later a friend of mine called my wife and said, ‘did you know that your husband is in Sports Illustrated?’ What a great time that was.”

Finally, I asked him if the End Zone Militia would travel to Houston this year if the Patriots make the trip. “We’ve never been asked,” he said. “But we’d all go in a heartbeat.” You get that Mr. Kraft?

Patriots End Zone Militia, Bob Elliott, third from the left. (Bob Elliott Facebook page)

Goodell and the NFL Show Their Bias with the Deflategate II and Walkie-Talkie Issue with the Giants:
Just when you thought that the Deflategate sorry saga was finally over and done with, it raises its ugly head and more questions about the NFL and Roger Goodell. Jay Glazer broke this story on Fox’s pregame show last week.

Two weeks ago, the Giants were playing the Steelers and intercepted two of Ben Roethlisberger’s passes. When the footballs were on the sidelines, the Giants thought that the footballs were feeling soft and measured them on the sidelines. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported that the two footballs in question measured 11.4 and 11.8 PSI which is below the league mandated 12.5 PSI. The Giants alerted league officials about it but did not make a formal complaint. Ben McAdoo the Giants coach admitted, that this is how they found out about the air pressure. There were two things that needed to be addressed about this incident by the league.

First, why were the Giants in possession of a gauge or measuring device on the sideline when those are expressly forbidden by the NFL? Second, where was the leaks of this information by the league office to selected media members. Where was Mike Kensil rushing to the Pittsburgh sideline and yelling at the Steelers’ coaches that “you’re in big f**king trouble.” Where was Ted Wells hiring a junk science firm that will say whatever you want them to, so long as you’re the one footing the bill?

After all, this Commissioner stated that air deflated from a football was akin to performance enhancing drugs. And the rules would be applied EVENLY and enforced as such across the board. And where the hell was that dreaded word that Goodell shoved down New England’s collective throats for 15 months? What about the “Integrity of the Game” Roger?

The league would have never mentioned it, had not Glazer done so in the pregame of last week’s games. But did the NFL leak out erroneous BS data to media members to enrage the populace? Nope…silence. For a week. And then about an hour after Glazer’s report, they released a statement that effectively ended any further discussion.

“The officiating game ball procedures were followed and there was no chain of command (sic… custody) issues,” the league’s statement read. “All footballs were in compliance and no formal complaint was filed by the Giants with our office.” No, they weren’t because no one is supposed to have a gauge on the sideline. But Goodell pooh-poohed that off as well, “You have to go by the league’s gauges? Really?

What does this tell you? That the league’s little data collection exercise of 2015 with the air pressure in the footballs showed what any smart sixth grader already knew. That the Ideal Gas Law, which the blowhards on Park Avenue never heard of before the 2014 AFC Championship, showed that air pressure will drop in footballs in cold weather.

Did we want Ben Roethlisberger punished with a suspension and the Steelers to lose a million bucks and multiple draft picks? No, because the air deflation happens naturally in every football in cold weather.

Except if your name is Tom Brady and you play for the Patriots. It shows that this was a set-up from the jump and Goodell caved to teams and owners that were sick of seeing the Patriots win too consistently. Not even the most die-hard fan would expect to ever see the league recompense the Pats the draft picks, but this latest NFL fiasco should clear the Patriots name in this bogus generated mess. Not that they’d ever say so.

But one has to consider this… if the Giants were playing New England two weeks ago, would the Mara Family, the owners of the Giants have made a complaint?

The second issue also had to do with McAdoo and the Giants. During Sunday night’s game in the Meadowlands against Dallas, Eli Manning was having consistent problems hearing the play call from the sidelines. During the 4th quarter, it stopped completely.

But in plain view of the television audience, McAdoo was calling the plays to Manning on a walkie-talkie which is expressly verboten by the league as well. As I watched this unfold, I grabbed my phone and was monitoring Twitter as I assumed (you know what happens there) that the national media would be screaming for a pound of flesh from the Giants. Nada, nicht, nothing.

Peter King in his MMQB, didn’t even mention it although he talked about the game at length. From the league? Deafening silence. On Friday, the NFL issued a statement that they were “looking into the Giants use of a walkie talkie,” McAdoo mentioned in his Friday presser that he and the team were cooperating with the league’s investigation. The Cowboys, it has been reported had NOT made a formal complaint. Now imagine this was Belichick. Would the media be so quiet? Would the Jones? Or the league?

Floyd Signing Draws the Ire of Two Former Colts:
After a disappointing season with rumors of a work ethic problem, the Arizona Cardinals released wide receiver Michael Floyd after being arrested for DUI on Monday morning. After passing thru waivers, the Patriots claimed him on Thursday.

He practiced on Friday and traveled with the team to Denver although it is unsure whether he’ll be active. It was a low-cost, possible high reward move as the Pats are only on the hook for Floyd’s remaining salary, about $1.2 million dollars.

But two former members of the Colts organization, General Manager Bill Polian, and C Jeff Saturday, lambasted the move. Polian, stated that Colts fans would never approve of such a move and Saturday, went even further stating, “What is this? A win at all costs mentality?

I’ll admit, I’m not a fan of this signing either, but for different reasons and these two ring of sour grapes. Please don’t throw stones at a guy who, no doubt was driving intoxicated but you were strangely silent when the owner of the Colts was arrested with cocaine and a load of cash in the trunk.

Nobody from the Colts talked about winning at all costs when WR Marvin Harrison shot a man in 2010. And the same man was later found shot to death just blocks from a bar Harrison owned. The only surveillance video of the shooting death was ironically from Harrison’s own bar, but….had three minutes of video erased when the shooter approached the man’s car and could have been identified.

Who Do You Like This Week:
Last week’s picks were 8-8 putting me at 112-84-2 on the year. So, who do you like today?

I am going with Seattle (Thursday Night Football picked last Sunday), Miami on Saturday night and for the games today, GB, Buffalo, Baltimore, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, NYG, Minnesota, Houston, Arizona, Atlanta, Oakland, NE, Dallas, and Washington.

Early pick for Thursday Night Football, NYG over the Philly. Saturday’s Christmas Eve slate …Buffalo, NE, Tenn, GB, Cleveland, Washington, Atlanta, Oakland, TB, Seattle, LA, and the Texans.

Eastbound and Down, AFC East Notes:

Bills Offer $10 an hour and a free ticket for shoveling snow:
The Buffalo Bills’ playoff hopes are barely hanging on but today, they face the Cleveland Browns and a chance to get untracked, both offensively and defensively. With the snow that fell over the stadium this weekend, the Bills were making an attractive offer to those who would help with the snow removal.

Bills management made an offer of $10 and hour to anyone 18-years old or older who agreed to shovel snow out of the stadium, but there were perks. If you shoveled for four hours or more, you got a free ticket to the game. Or if you couldn’t make four hours, you could purchase a ticket to the game for just $8.

Granted the Browns are winless but the Bills are still in the hunt for a playoff spot. That is a pretty cheap ticket. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. and the temps are scheduled to be around 30 degrees with scattered snow showers.

Moore, Maxwell Are the Focus Players for Saturday Night Game:
The Miami Dolphins will have completed their Saturday night game against the Jets when this hits the airwaves. But the story of the game going into the Meadowlands this week center around QB Matt Moore and CB Byron Maxwell.

Moore is getting the start, his first in five years and will have to play well if the Dolphins want to keep their playoff hopes alive with Ryan Tannehill out with a knee injury. How will the perennial backup fare against their hated rivals? Fair or not, he’ll be judged by how well the offense played in a cold, stadium, something that they’re not accustomed to.

Maxwell is a great story himself, after a disastrous campaign in Philly in 2015, he ended up with Miami and his season didn’t exactly light the world on fire. He was benched briefly but since returning to the starting lineup, he’s performed excellently and now is one of the bright spots for the Miami defense.

In a hidden chess match of this game, Jets WR Brandon Marshall has been involved in a war of words with Maxwell all season, prior to the November meeting, he claimed that Maxwell held on every play, back in 2015 and this week said he was bringing his own flag to the game …ostensibly to help the referees out.

Are Petty and Hackenberg the Future for the Jets? They Better Be:
The New York Jets have had a nightmarish 2016 after Coach Todd Bowles first year had them filled with such hope. Injuries, poor play, and some questionable decisions have derailed the year that the team hoped would result in a playoff spot. But the most glaring position this year was one, they’d hoped they were prepared for. The quarterback position.

The team went out and signed Ryan Fitzpatrick to a big one-year deal with options and the hope was that Fitzy could recreate more of the magic from 2015 where he led the Jets to an improbable 10-6 record. But that hasn’t materialized. Fitzpatrick has been a turnover machine throwing14 interceptions against just 10 touchdowns this season. He was benched for Bryce Petty.

Petty was drafted in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft and in a perfect world, would become the Jets backup quarterback. The team may let him finish out this season to see what they have in him but here lies the crux of the matter. Many Jets fans and some media think the team will jump into the 2017 NFL Draft for the fifth straight season looking for a franchise quarterback. That would be a big mistake.

The Jets spent a 2nd round pick this season on Christian Hackenberg. He hasn’t even taken the field yet. Washing your hands from this young QB this soon would be disastrous for Gang Green. But we’ve seen this before and there are some who are clamoring for the Jets to draft either DeShone Kizer from Notre Dame or DeShaun Watson from Clemson.

Will they do it again and go high for another young QB? Smart money says no because none of the QBs in this draft stand out so far. But time will tell.

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

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

Tom Brady’s TB Times: Game Over For Rams

John Morgan
December 4, 2016 at 7:00 pm ET

In today’s edition of the TB Times Tom Brady takes on the persona of a video gamer. At times it seemed as if the Patriots were were indeed the veteran video player, taking on a novice. The Patriots cruised to a 26-10 victory with the outcome seemingly never in doubt. New England out-gained LA 402 yards to 162. The Rams were limited to three points and 96 yards of offense until their final drive of the game in garbage time in the final two minutes. The Patriot defense stopped the Rams on their first seven third down opportunities. LA finished a meager 1-12 on third down.

The big story of course was that Brady won his 201st game at quarterback, to set an NFL all-time record. The Patriots advanced to 10-2 to remain in the top slot in the AFC playoff picture. With Miami losing at Baltimore the Pats are now up three games in the AFC East with only four games remaining in the regular season.

New England has won the AFC East title seven years in a row and 12 of the last 13 years, a number unmatched in the salary cap/free agency era. Only once has a Brady-led Patriot team not won the division. That occurred in 2002, in Brady’s second season as an NFL starting quarterback.

 

Tom Brady sets an NFL record with his 201st win at quarterback

 

Tom Brady’s TB Times: “Wait… Voldemort is a Jets Fan?”

John Morgan
November 28, 2016 at 8:56 pm ET

After every New England Patriots game the TB Times publishes a front page story on Tom Brady’s facebook page. The latest includes a picture of well, a not untypical Jets fan I suppose.

 

The Patriots are now 9-2; the Jets are 3-8.

 

And in case you missed it, be sure to check out the video of Brady as a lead blocker for LeGarrette Blount on Sunday.

 

After two weeks on the road the Pats return home to Foxborough to take on the Los Angeles Rams. For those of you that will not be at Gillette Stadium the game will be on FOX rather than CBS, announced by Kevin Burhardt and John Lynch. For Pats fans enduring far too many games listening to Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts this will be a treat. We rarely hear Lynch since he works for FOX and does NFC games. In my opinion the former safety – who ended his pro football career as a Patriot in the 2008 preseason – is now the best commentator/analyst for the four networks broadcasting NFL games live.

 

For those that may have forgotten or not known about Lynch as a football player, here you go. It’s too bad the Patriots couldn’t have signed him a few years earlier.

 

Tom Brady’s TB Times: Patriots Strike Gold in SF

John Morgan
November 20, 2016 at 9:00 pm ET

The latest post on Tom Brady’s Facebook page celebrates a happy TB12 – and some sad 1849ers – in the aftermath of the New England Patriots 30-17 victory over San Francisco.

The 8-2 Patriots face the Jets next week.

Brady spread the ball around to all of his offensive weapons to confound the Niners, connecting on 24 pass attempts and four touchdowns. Malcolm Mitchell caught four passes on five targets for 98 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown reception. LeGarrette Blount rushed for 124 yards on 19 carries and James White caught all six passes thrown his way for 63 yards and a TD.

In a heavy downpour the Patriots only led by 13-10 at the half, but outscored San Fran 17-7 in the second half. The Patriots sacked Colin Kaepernick five times and limited the maligned quarterback to just 53% completions. The Pats forced the Niners to punt eight times, including six consecutive possessions from the end of the first half until a garbage time score with two minutes left to play.

Next week the Patriots travel to New Jersey to take on the Jets in a late Sunday afternoon game.

Patriots 2016 Opponents, 5 First Impressions of Seattle

Steve Balestrieri
November 8, 2016 at 7:43 am ET

Seahawks Need Wilson and Graham to Be Healthy

The Patriots return home this week for a primetime matchup against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday Night Football. This week’s game rekindles the 2014 Super Bowl rivals as they enter the second half of the season. It also could be a preview of a possible February matchup between two of the more talented NFL teams.

The Patriots (7-1), are just getting off their bye week. It came smack in the middle of the season and finds the Patriots on a four-game winning streak and in good shape health wise. The have a three-game lead in the division over Miami, four games on the Bills in the loss column and five on the Jets.

The Seahawks (5-2-1) defeated the Bills on Monday Night Football 31-25. The biggest issue with Seattle has been inconsistency and much of that has to do with their health. Seattle has been banged up physically on both sides of the ball. The defense hasn’t been as stout and the offense has struggled to run the ball.

Here are our Five First Impressions of the Seahawks:

No Beast Mode in the Running Game: The Seahawks running game has been mired in neutral for much of this season. Seattle is averaging only 82.1 yards per game entering their MNF game with Buffalo, and added just 33 yards on 12 attempts.

Christine Michael was ineffective against the Bills and had just one yard on five carries. He was replaced in the third quarter by rookie running back C.J. Prosise. The big, (6’1, 220-pound) rookie may see some extended looks this week as they search for a spark in the running game. But the two backs combined for just 10 yards on eight carries. They’ll need more from these two moving forward.

They miss RB Thomas Rawls who has been injured and isn’t expected back until November 20. Of course, the most dangerous runner may end up being the elusive and talented Wilson. When he’s healthy he can make plays with his feet and pressure the defense.

Wilson and Graham are a Potent Duo: The Seahawks got a healthy Jimmy Graham back this season and he’s heating up. Monday night against the Bills, Graham caught 8 passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns. That is his third 100-yard game of the season, which is two more than he had in 2014 and 2015 combined. Both of his scores were of the incredible variety, one-handed grabs (17 and 18 yards), in the end zone. He’ll provide a very tough matchup for the Patriots defense.

Wilson is probably healthier than he’s been all season and on Monday night, it showed. Coach Pete Carroll stated earlier that with Wilson rounding back into the form that they’d allow Wilson to open things up more offensively.

He was the key in the 28-point first half, running for a three-yard score, his first of the year and completing 14 of 17 passes for 229 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Graham. His passer rating for the first half was a near perfect 158.0. He finished with good numbers, 20-26 for 282 yards and two touchdowns for a passer rating of 137. The Patriots are aware of how difficult he is to defend when he’s able to move around and break containment. That will be a primary focus this week.

Seattle’s Defensive Dominance Continues: Granted the Seahawks defense is a bit banged up right now with the absence of Michael Bennett and Kam Chancellor, but this unit has been the gold standard for the past several years.

Since 2012, Seattle is head and shoulders above everyone else in the most important defensive metric….points allowed. The Hawks defense has allowed just 15.6 points per game and is far ahead of their closest competitor, the Patriots at 19.8. The NFL average is 22.9 points per game.

They’re fantastic at generating turnovers and since 2012 are second in the league with a +51 in the turnover ratio department. The Patriots are the top team with a +56 margin. The next closest team? The Cardinals at +27.

Seattle has been the top team the past several years in pass yards allowed and have the second highest QB pressure percentage. And they do so without having to blitz much. The Seahawks blitz on just 25 percent of opponents drop backs, but when they do, they’re very effective. Seattle gets pressure on 38.7 percent of their blitzes, tops in the NFL.

Seattle Getting Healthier for Second Half Push: The Seahawks have been a banged-up unit this season. We mentioned above how Wilson is just starting to round into form after suffering from a couple of different injuries. But he isn’t the only one who is getting healthy.

Chancellor, the Seahawks starting safety and emotional fireplug has missed four games with a groin injury but is expected back this week against the Pats. There’s no doubt that they missed his veteran presence as well as his physicality in the secondary.

Rawls is expected back in the Hawks November 20 game against the Eagles and Bennett and tight end Luke Wilson are expected to return to practice this week. Their availability for the Pats is still up in the air, however.

Tyler Lockett who got hurt in the Rams game back in Week 2, seems fully healthy for the first time since. He was a big factor against Buffalo, notching a 13-yard end around, a 43-yard kickoff, a 22-yard punt return, and a 17-yard reception.

Sherman Front and Center for Two Critical Plays: Not surprisingly, whenever the Seahawks play, CB Richard Sherman always plays a critical role for the Seahawks. He has against the Patriots in the past and no doubt will again this week. Last night at home against the Bills, he was involved in two plays that drew the ire of many people during the action.

During the Bills’ final play on offense, Sherman flattened Bills receiver Walt Powell in the end zone. Deadspin tweeted a picture of it out and ask “Wonder why this guy wasn’t open?” But looking at the play again on the tape, once QB Tyrod Taylor scrambles out of the pocket, that play was legal, so long as the ball wasn’t in the air. Sherman did the smart move and didn’t allow the receiver to get open.

He took a page out of Tom Brady’s book and quickly tweeted to Deadspin to “check the rule book.” And he was right.

He was also in the center of a bizarre sequence at the end of the first half. The Bills lined up for a field goal. Sherman, attempting to block it, rushed offside. He dove at the ball and took out Bills kicker Dan Carpenter as he skidded down on the field.

In retrospect, he should have been flagged twice, for the offside and the roughing the kicker penalty which would have set the Bills up for a very makeable kick at the end of the half. The officials compounded the problem with a serious screw up of not resetting the game clock after a spike which cost Buffalo five yards. Rex Ryan was justifiably furious after the game. One thing is for certain, Seattle is always the home of some crazy plays either at the end of halves or the game.

Sherman defended his actions after the game, stating, “I went straight for the ball. I didn’t go for the kicker. I slid for the ball,” Sherman said. “He should not have kicked it. Maybe he wanted to. I went for the ball. That’s where I went. So, if the ball gets tipped on the play, the rule is if it’s tipped there’s no flag.”

Check back with us later in the week as we’ll break down the key matchups for the game right here on PatsFans.com.

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Pittsburgh Dad Reacts to Steelers loss to Patriots

John Morgan
October 24, 2016 at 6:30 pm ET

Patriot Super Fan Paul ‘Fitzy’ Fitzgerald has not yet released a Steelers post-game video, but he did provide a link to his (wannabe) counterpart in Pittsburgh. The Braintree Massachusetts native formerly known as Nick Stevens nailed his FitzyGFY parody of the Boston sports fan long ago. Here his western Pennsylvania counterpart known as ‘Pittsburgh Dad‘ attempts to do the same as a Yinzer after the Steelers’ 27-16 home loss to the Patriots.