Tag Archives: Wes Welker

Take A Look Back On The 10 Year Anniversary Of The Patriots Blowout Win Of The Titans

Robert Alvarez
October 18, 2019 at 8:56 pm ET

Ten years ago today, football fans were treated to one of the most dominating wins of the Tom Brady era.

After missing all of the 2008 season with an ACL injury, Brady didn’t take long to return to his old self in 2009.

Check out his record setting day against the Tennessee Titans during an usually early Foxboro snowstorm courtesy of NFL Films.

Brady would finish the day with 29/34 passes for 380 yards and six touchdowns, while Wes Welker led all receivers with ten receptions for 150 yards and two touchdowns.

While we’re reflecting back on this day, can somebody please get the NFL to allow those red throwbacks again?

New England Patriots News 06-30, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
June 30, 2019 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 06-30 and AFC East notes this week. 

 Quick Hitters:

Jared Veldheer – retired shortly after signing with the Patriots on May 13. He recently came out and stated why in an interview he did earlier last week with MLive.

“It was easy (decision) because of knowing what my body was telling me, but it was hard because I was leaving a very good situation being with the Patriots,” Veldheer said. “(Belichick) understood, and everyone in the NFL building understands that the sport can do a number on your body and different guys have different timelines on how long they can make it through.”

Veldheer said that his hips, “Particularly my left one, was in pretty bad shape (after the season).”

DeAngelo Hall – former NFL DB was a guest on Good Morning Football and stated that Tom Brady was the best QB he ever faced and added that he didn’t have many regrets in his NFL career but one was not signing with the Patriots when they offered him a good deal but less money than he eventually signed for. The Patriots offered him 3 years and $27 million and the Redskins offered 3 years and $30 million. Hall said he now regrets not taking a little less and having a chance at a Super Bowl.

Isaiah Wynn – Is running at full speed and should be ready for training camp according to Jeff Howe of the Athletic. He reported that Wynn should be a full go at training camp which is a very good sign for the 23rd player selected in 2018 NFL Draft. And the Pats offensive line. 

Patriots Charitable Foundation – Patriot Place and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care are teaming up to build an adaptive home for an American veteran. Chelsea resident Brandon Korona lost a leg to an IED in Afghanistan. On Friday morning, the Patriots invited Korona and his family to Patriot Place to break the news that the three organizations will donate $50,000 to adapt his home for his needs. WCVB Channel 5 was the first to break the news.

Rob Gronkowski – has really trimmed down since announcing his retirement from the NFL. After seeing pictures of him recently, anyone harboring hopes of a comeback from the big guy and not being realistic. And any thoughts of him joining the WWE seem far-fetched as well.

Jonah Williams – Tough to see arguably, the best OL in this year’s draft go down with an injury before training camp starts and be lost for the season. Williams tore the labrum in his shoulder and required surgery which will sideline him for the entire 2019 season. The Bengals drafted Williams in the 1st round, 11th overall in the recent draft.

Julian Edelman’s Story Goes to Showtime:

The documentary “100% Julian Edelman” went live on Showtime on Friday night and was mostly filmed during the 2017-2018 timeframe when the Patriots WR was rehabbing from his ACL surgery.

There is a lot of humor in the hour-plus long video but some serious items as well. Edelman grew up terrified of his dad, who was a demanding taskmaster of a coach and demanded the best out of his son every day. The story goes over some of the drills that his father made him perform and they weren’t easy and were designed to make him tougher mentally. 

There is also a bit where Edelman talked about only being five feet tall until his senior year of high school, where he went thru a growth spurt where he grew eight inches and his football career, thanks to the hard work with his father paid off.

It delves into some interesting subjects like his PED suspension where he and his Dad didn’t speak for 81 days. Edelman says the pair speak every day and the two disagreed over how it was handled. 

Edelman – Welker, Is it Really Necessary to Compare?:

We realize that it is the summer doldrums where there isn’t much shaking…news-wise for the Patriots and these things are just exercises for discussion. We get it but there comes a time when it really doesn’t do either player justice when comparing players and their production to the team. 

Which brings us to the Julian Edelman – Wes Welker debate that is all over social media.  Edelman, is an icon in New England now, after playing a huge roll in the last three Super Bowl wins, including Super Bowl MVP honors for SB LIII. He’s Tom Brady’s best friend and most trusted receiver. 

Welker is now, unfairly remembered mostly for the one that got away. The SB XLVI catch that could have closed out the Giants. And the fact that the Patriots didn’t re-sign him in 2013 and he bolted for Denver to play for the Broncos and Peyton Manning while wearing that ginormous “Dark Helmet” piece of headgear. 

But in his six years in New England, Welker was beyond productive catching 112, 111, 123, 86, 122, and 118 passes. The only season he didn’t catch over 100 passes was the 2010 season, where after tearing his ACL in January in a game against the Texans, he returned in September and still put up very good numbers; 86 passes, 848 yards with seven touchdowns. 

If there was a knock on Welker, it is that his post-season numbers didn’t quite match up to his regular season excellence. But make no mistake, the numbers were still very good. But if one cares to recall, the Patriots were perhaps, too reliant on Welker, something Bill Belichick himself was recorded as saying on the sidelines. Welker in reality, despite the one pass in Super Bowl XLVI, had better hands than Edelman.

Edelman has upped his game in the post-season, especially in the Super Bowl. His three games, 9-109 and the game-winning touchdown against Seattle, in addition to that mammoth hit he took from Kam Chancellor down the middle, was the stuff of legend. 

Against the Falcons, he had five catches for 87 yards, including that incredible catch in traffic at crunch time where he snagged the ball just before it hit the turf. It is one of the more iconic Super Bowl catches ever, up there with the Lynn Swann catch of the 70s.

And of course, the SB MVP game against the Rams (10 catches, 141 yards) where he was basically uncoverable the entire game. The Rams tried everyone to slow him down and no one could. For a guy who doesn’t fit the poster image as a dominant wide receiver, it was one of the most dominant wide receiver performances in the history of the Super Bowl. 

Welker should receive his red jacket and his rightful place in the Hall soon. If you don’t remember how good he was, play back his very first game in a Patriots uniform. Belichick was called out by the bobos on talk radio for giving up multiple draft picks for a guy who couldn’t hack it with the Dolphins and Bolts. That first game against the Jets answered all of those questions. You could see it happening right before your eyes. 

Do we really have to go thru these mental gymnastics that are all the rage over, “Is so-and-so the best ever?” Be thankful we had both, and a seamless transition between when Welker left and Edelman truly took over. The offense was different then, it evolved and has become even better than it was then. In a big game, give me either in his prime and I’m confident that I’ll win.

Attention Belichick GM Haters…PFF Has the Patriots With the Best Roster in the NFL:

The site Pro Football Focus (PFF) is bound to be taking heat amongst the Bill Belichick haters, especially among the ones that are always beating the drum that “GM Bill is hurting, Coach Bill” and that “Belichick can’t draft.” Sound familiar?

PFF put together a piece for ESPN where they compared every roster in the NFL and despite losing Trey Flowers, Trent Brown, and Adrian Clayborn in free agency and Rob Gronkowski to retirement, the Patriots still have the best roster in the league. 

PFF cited the Pats strength down the middle and it begins with QB Tom Brady. Brady, according to PFF had his fourth “elite” season in a row, (oopsie to the Simms, Kellerman trolls).

Despite always picking at the bottom of every round in the NFL Draft, Belichick has put together the top roster of the league. The Rams, Saints, and Eagles round out the Top 4. PFF listed, not tight end but the pass rush as a potential weak spot…more below.

Is the Patriots Pass Rush a Worrisome Spot? Not Presently: 

In the ESPN piece that was referenced above, as we said the Patriots pass rush was listed as a potential problem spot. After losing Trey Flowers and Adrian Clayborn during free agency, the Patriots who finished 31st in sacks in 2018 could be conceivably on the short end of the pass rush totals again this season. 

Trey Flowers had 7.5 sacks but was very versatile, fulfilling a variety of roles for the defense. Clayborn had just 2.5 sacks during the regular season but upped his play in the post-season. 

The post-season was a different story. The Patriots were much more aggressive and after logging just 30 sacks in 16 regular season games, they logged 10 in just three playoff tilts. And it wasn’t from one player, they got contributions from everyone. Kyle Van Noy led the team with three, while Dont’a Hightower and Flowers each had two apiece. 

In the Super Bowl, quite a difference from the year before, the pass rush hounded Jared Goff all game long. The defense had 13 QB hurries, eight QB hits, and four sacks. One of the pressures on Goff resulted in Stephon Gillmore’s interception at the end of the game.

But the team didn’t stand pat and signed free agent Michael Bennett from the Eagles and then drafted Chase Winovich in the 3rd round. And if the spring workouts with the unpadded workouts and no contact are any indication, LB Jamie Collins should be in-line for some quality playing time.  

Bennett, despite being 33 is still a quality pass rusher and like Flowers, has the ability to move inside and bring pressure up the middle. Winovich was somewhat of a steal, with the Patriots snagging him with the 77th overall pick. While neither has played a snap with pads on yet, this isn’t to suggest that either is a cure-all but the cupboard isn’t bare either. 

Deatrich Wise can kick inside and will have to up his play this season, while John Simon, Hightower, and Van Noy all have shown the ability to rush the QB on occasion. Collins is the wild card, having had a very good spring. Will the Patriots ever reap any reward out of Derek Rivers? He lost his rookie year to a torn ACL. Last year, he didn’t show much and will be under the microscope in Year 3. 

So, this will be an area to watch for sure during training camp, especially when the one-on-one battles take place between the OL and the DL. But the scheme will play a huge role as well. Will the defense continue their aggressive ways after a very successful playoff run in 2018-19? 

We aren’t predicting a Top 5 sack season, but we aren’t looking for them being near the bottom either. As always, the defense will no doubt start off slowly.  Bill Belichick, as always, adds elements to it as the year progresses. A weakness? Not right now it isn’t. But like every year, we’ll have to watch for injuries and players to step up first. Our view here is that the 2019 version of the defense should be much better in the pass rush department….we’ll see.

AFC East Notes will return soon….


Julian Edelman’s motto for 2019? “Just got to keep it going.” That is a good motto for the team as they try to keep “Knockin’ on Seven’s Door.”

“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 blog talk radio as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

Former Patriots Head Coach Ron Meyer Passes Away

Robert Alvarez
December 7, 2017 at 8:01 pm ET

On Wednesday, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay shared sad news on Twitter that former Colts and New England Patriots head coach Ron Meyer passed away at the age of 76.

According to the Patriots offical press release; “Meyer was named the eighth head coach of the Patriots on Jan. 15, 1982, and served as head coach for two-and-a-half seasons (1982-84). He came to New England after a successful six-year stint as head coach of Southern Methodist University.”

“Meyer took over a Patriots team that finished with a league worst 2-14 record and led the team to a 5-4 record and the team’s first playoff appearance since 1978 in the strike-shortened 1982 season. He earned AFC Coach of the Year honors for his efforts. In two-and-a-half seasons, Meyer finished with an 18-15 regular season record (.545 winning pct.).”

New England Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft released the following statement;

“I am sad to hear of Ron Meyer’s passing, He was a colorful head coach who was very entertaining for fans during his tenure. One of the greatest things Ron did when he was hired in 1982 was to bring us a young coach from his staff at Southern Methodist University named Dante Scarnecchia. Thirty-five years later, that hire has proven to be a lasting legacy. On behalf of the entire Patriots organization, we send our thoughts and prayers to the Meyer family and the many friends who are mourning his loss.”

To Patriots fans, Meyer is best remembered for his role during the infamous “Snow Plow Game” against the Miami Dolphins in 1982 when he called a timeout during wintry conditions, called for a stadium worker to clear a spot on the field for placekicker John Smith to attempt a go-ahead field goal in the fourth quarter.

The kick was successful and the Patriots went on to beat the Dolphins, 3-0. The win was considered an upset as the Dolphins would go on to play in Super Bowl XVII, beating the Patriots in a grudge match along the way, but lose to the Washington Redskins in the final. 

Meyer also had success after leaving New England, as he went on to coach the Indianapolis Colts from 1986-91, where he earned another AFC Coach of the Year honor in 1987, after helping turn around a 3-13 Colts team to finish 9-6 that year and win an AFC East division title.

PHOTO: Bill Belichick Enjoying Training Camp In West Virginia

Robert Alvarez
August 16, 2017 at 8:35 pm ET

Over the course of Bill Belichick’s tenure in New England, it’s a common public perception thatt he future Hall of Fame head coach is often times viewed as a guy who’s “always serious” with a “business first” attitude, especially during the grind of training camp.

However this week the Patriots have been participating in joint practices with the Houston Texans in a far more relaxed setting at The Greenbrier luxury resort in rural West Virgina and with it came some rare smiles from the coach alongside his girlfriend Linda Holliday.


Belichick and Holliday also posed for a happy group photo with former Major League Baseball Manager Tony LaRussa, a close friend of the Belichick family.


As with other recent meetings with the Texans, the matchup also provided the Patriots with a reunion of many former players and coaches that previously worked in New England.

Some ex Patriots include Head Coach Bill O’Brien, Assistant Head Coach Romeo Crennel, Defensive Coordinator Mike Vrabel, Special Teams Coordinator Larry Izzo, and Special Teams Assistant Wes Welker.

Julian Edelman Named AFC Offensive Player of the Week

Robert Alvarez
January 4, 2017 at 10:51 pm ET

On Wednesday, the New England Patriots announced that wide receiver Julian Edelman has been named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week following the teams 35-14 victory over the Miami Dolphins. The honor marks the first time in Edelman’s career he has earned a weekly award.

Edelman caught eight passes for a career high 151 yards against the Dolphins. It was his second 100-yard receiving game of the season and the 11th of his career (nine regular season, two postseason). In the third quarter Sunday, Edelman scored on a 77-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady, a career long. His previous best was a 69-yard touchdown at San Diego back on December 7th, 2014.

Entering the game versus Miami, Edelman needed just 45 yards to gain 1,000 for the season. He finished 2016 with a career high 1,106 and joins Wes Welker (5), Rob Gronkowski (3), Randy Moss (3), Stanley Morgan (3), and Terry Glenn (2) as the only Patriots with at least two 1,000-yard seasons per the Patriots press release.

Edelman’s selection marks the ninth time a Patriots player has earned an NFL honor in 2016.

Quarterback Tom Brady was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week following his Week 5 return at the Cleveland Browns along with Week 11 at the San Francisco 49ers. He was also named AFC Offensive Player of the Month for October.

Other Patriots to earn honors in 2016 included punter Ryan Allen as AFC Special Teams Player of the Week in Week 3 versus the Houston Texans, LeGarrette Blount was named AFC Offensive Player of the Month for September, kicker Stephen Gostkowski was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week following Week 1 versus the Arizona Cardinals and Week 13 versus the Los Angeles Rams . Lastly, linebacker Dont’a Hightower earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 6.

Wes Welker Revealed As “Fake Brady” During Home Opener

Robert Alvarez
September 18, 2016 at 8:47 pm ET

For the second week in a row, Bleacher Report’s “Fake Tom Brady” appeared at a Patriots game, but in the home opener tailgates in the Gillette Stadium parking lots.

This time around, there was a plot twist, the man behind the mask was somebody known quite well in Patriots Nation.

Former wide receiver Wes Welker, who played in New England from 2007-2012 was revealed as the true identity, shocking many fans.

It was later revealed during the game that Wes was in attendance to see the Patriots victory.

Earlier in the week, during a special hosting of a morning sports talk show in Miami on WQAM, Welker hinted at his Sunday plans stating he was coming to Foxborough to “do a little spoof deal.”

Tom Brady To Practice With Wes Welker During Suspension

Robert Alvarez
September 16, 2016 at 4:47 pm ET

On Thursday morning, former New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker appeared as a guest host on Miami sports radio station WQAM’s “The Joe Rose Show”  and revealed that he had reached out to Tom Brady originally just on dinner plans as he will be in the Boston area this weekend to do an undisclosed “spoof deal.”

Brady had other ideas in mind.

“I hit him up to do dinner Saturday night. He’s like, ‘I’m going to be flying in from Ann Arbor later, but how about that morning we go throw?’ And I’m just sitting there, I’m like, ‘I was just thinking about dinner. But yeah, sure. I’ll get over there early and we can throw a little bit. Thats the only thing we really have planned.”

“It’s just funny.” Welker said. “I’m sitting there trying to have dinner and ‘Hey, get your ass up here and let’s go throw.’ I’m like, ‘Aw, jeez, man.’ He’s going to have me running like 2-minute drill in his backyard or something.”

Brady himself has not publicly stated what he’s doing to keep himself in shape for his week 5 return against the Browns other than a little backyard catch with his wife Gisele Bundchen courtesy of her Instagram account.

In other ventures, Brady will be an honorary team captain at his alma mater University of Michgan’s game against the University of Colorado on Saturday.


PHOTO: The Time Tom Brady Took In The Preakness Stakes

Robert Alvarez
May 22, 2016 at 8:16 am ET

On Saturday afternoon the 141st running of the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore is taking place and to honor the occasion,New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady posted the following photo from his time at the event back in 2014.

The picture below contains a rather fascinating pairing of Brady with ex teammates Wes Welker and Kliff Kingsbury along with boxer Mike Tyson at an Under Armour raceday event.

I think this is what the kids call 'turning up'!

Posted by Tom Brady on Saturday, May 21, 2016

NFL Week 16 Predictions and Picks Against the Spread

John Morgan
December 26, 2015 at 7:00 pm ET

NFL Week 16 Previews, Predictions, TV Info, Odds and Picks Against the Spread

The next to last week of the 2015 NFL regular season began with a meaningless game between two franchises with a Christmas wish to never play in front of their own fans again, desperately wanting to relocate for greener pa$tures. AFC West division rivals San Diego and Oakland met on Thursday night in Charles Woodson’s next to last game.


While there are several games of high importance for determining this season’s playoff picture, the two most relevant matchups are Cincinnati at Denver in the AFC and Washington at Philadelphia in the NFC. The Bengals-Broncos tilt is in all likelihood a determination of which team will receive a much coveted first round bye, while the latter is an elimination game for Philly, and a chance for the Skins to mercifully end the NFC East division race – and avoid a situation where an NFL team with a losing record would be rewarded with a first round playoff game at home.


As has been the case nearly all season, this week there is a paucity of games between teams that both have winning records. There are only three games that fit in that category this week (and just two for the entire day Sunday): the Patriots at Jets in an early game, Green Bay at Arizona late, and then Cincinnati at Denver on Monday night. No wonder the NFL pushes fantasy football and jumps in bed with weekly fantasy/gambling sites to maintain fan interest; 21 franchises have not at this point produced a winning record for their consumers, the fan bases for their respective teams.


NFL Week 16 Playoff Picture with Clinching and Elimination Scenarios

NFL Week 16 TV Info: Patriots-Jets, Panthers-Falcons Receive Primary Early Game Broadcast Distribution

NFL Week 16 Television Maps


★★★★ 7-7 Washington Redskins at 6-8 Philadelphia Eagles
Saturday, December 26 at 8:25 pm ET on NFLN; Ian Eagle, Trent Green, Evan Washburn
Eagles -3 (opened at -4) . . . . over/under 48 . . . . Phi -150, Was +130

This could be a game where DeMarco Murray returns to his 2014 self, if only he could get on the field. Washington is allowing 130 rushing yards per game (28th) and 4.9 yards per carry (31st). However, the Eagles need to finish drives better on both sides of the ball. Philly’s offense ranks 26th in red zone touchdowns (1.3 per game) and hits pay dirt on only 50% of their trips to the red zone (26th). Chip Kelly‘s D isn’t much better, allowing 2.5 red zone touchdowns per game (30th) and their 68.6 RZ percentage is last in the NFL. On the other hand Washington scores touchdowns 64.1% of the time in the red zone, while the defense is limiting opponents to touchdowns 51.2% of the time (8th) and 1.5 RZ touchdowns per game (9th). A win would give the Skins a division title for only the second time in 16 seasons – and insure the NFC East will not send a team with a losing record to the playoffs. Philly has been blown out in three of their last five games, and Kirk Cousins is playing noticeably better with DeSean Jackson back in the lineup.

Prediction: Skins 28, Eagles 27
Skins +3 . . . . . over 48 (one unit) . . . . . Washington +130


★★★ 5-9 Chicago Bears at 6-8 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sunday, December 27 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Sam Rosen, Matt Millen, Peter Schrager
Bucs -3 (opened at -2½) . . . . over/under 46 . . . . TB -160, Chi +140

Both teams have lost three of their last four games, but there is a sense that the Bucs are heading in the right direction while Chicago is going the opposite way. Doug Martin quietly ranks second in the NFL with 1,305 yards rushing (just nine yards behind Adrian Peterson) leads the NFL with 13 carries of 20+ yards, and his 5.1 yards per rush is best among all players with at least 150 attempts. The Bears have played much better (4-3) on the road than at home (1-6), but their defense nneds to come up with some big plays: Chicago’s 14 takeaways rank 28th in the NFL. The Bears have been guilty of playing to the level of their competition, with wins at Green Bay, at Kansas City, at St. Louis and a two-point loss versus Denver – while playing poorly in home losses to the Niners and Washington. WR Alshon Jeffery will miss his sixth game with a hamstring injury; the Bears will need to make tough decisions on him and RB Matt Forte as both are set to become free agents in March.

Prediction: Bucs 27, Bears 20
Bucs -3 . . . . . over 46 . . . . . Tampa -160


★★★★ 14-0 Carolina Panthers at 7-7 Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, December 27 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch, Pam Oliver
Panthers -6½ (opened at -6½) . . . . over/under 47½ . . . . Car -300, Atl +250

Remember in mid-October when people debated which of these two NFC South teams would lose first? How about back in August, when nobody doubted that the Falcons possessed the superior offense? Fast forward to late December and the Panthers are averaging an NFL-best 32.1 points per game while Atlanta is tied for 19th at 21.6 ppg. Matt Ryan has not thrown more touchdown passes than interceptions in a game since Week 9 when he had one TD and no picks against San Francisco. Fun fact: Carolina has only played one team with a winning record at the time the two met this year (Green Bay, Week 9).

Prediction: Panthers 31, Falcons 20
Panthers -6½ . . . . . over 47½ . . . . . Carolina -300


★★ 4-10 Dallas Cowboys at 6-8 Buffalo Bills
Sunday, December 27 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin
Bills -6½ (opened at -5½) . . . . over/under 42½ . . . . Buf -270, Dal +230

Why has there been such a precipitous drop off in production for the Bills, when the hiring of Rex Ryan was supposed to improve performance for an already good Buffalo defense? It is quite simple, really. Rex prefers to blitz and confuse opponents, rather than rush four linemen and drop seven defenders in coverage. Ryan’s philosophy does not mesh well at all with a great (or at least very effective) defensive line. His downfall as a coach is his stubborn inability to adapt to the strengths and weaknesses of the players on his roster.

Prediction: Bills 20, Cowboys 17
Cowboys +6½ . . . . . under 42½ . . . . . Dallas +230


4-10 San Francisco 49ers at 5-9 Detroit Lions
Sunday, December 27 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Thom Brennaman, Charles Davis, Tony Siragusa
Lions -10 (opened at -8½) . . . . over/under 42½ . . . . Det -600, SF +450

San Francisco has scored more than 17 points just once since Week 6, and Detroit has won four of their last six games to remove themselves from contention for the top overall draft pick.

Prediction: Lions 24, Niners 16
Niners +10 . . . . . under 42½ . . . . . San Francisco +450


★★★ 3-11 Cleveland Browns at 9-5 Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, December 27 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon, Chris Fischer
Chiefs -11 (opened at -12½) . . . . over/under 42½ . . . . KC -600, Cle +450

Say what you want about Alex Smith, but the Chiefs rank second in the NFL with only twelve turnovers – and five of those came way back in Week 2 when KC fumbled the game away to Denver. That formula should work fine against a team like the Browns, but I can’t help but wonder if that is a sustainable recipe for success come playoff time when facing the league’s elite squads.

Prediction: Chiefs 24, Browns 14
Browns +11 . . . . . under 42½ (one unit) . . . . . Kansas City -600


★★★ 6-8 Indianapolis Colts at 5-9 Miami Dolphins
Sunday, December 27 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Dick Stockton, David Diehl, Kristina Pink
Dolphins -2½ (opened at -1) . . . . over/under 44 . . . . Mia -140, Ind +120

Indy takes a page out of their Suck for Luck campaign and loses a game they could and should win.

Prediction: Dolphins 24, Colts 20
Dolphins -2½ . . . . . under 44 . . . . . Miami -140


★★★★★ 12-2 New England Patriots at 9-5 New York Jets
Sunday, December 27 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn
Patriots -3 (opened at -3) . . . . over/under 45½ . . . . NEP -155, NYJ +135

Did you know that according to ESPN, Ryan Fitzpatrick is having a better season than Tom Brady, and that the greatest game a quarterback has ever had was when Charlie Batch threw two picks and passed for 186 yards?

Podcast: Patriots vs Jets Preview
Patriots 2015 Opponents: Five Impressions of the Jets
Patriots-Jets Key Matchups
Key Players to Watch, Patriots at Jets

Prediction: Patriots 20, Jets 16
Patriots -3 . . . . . under 45½ (one unit) . . . . . New England -155


★★★ 7-7 Houston Texans at 3-11 Tennessee Titans
Sunday, December 27 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcotts
Texans -3½ (opened w/Titans -4½) . . . . over/under 40½ . . . . Hou -170, Ten +150

I could not for the life of me understand why Tennessee opened as favorites by more than a field goal. Had Houston already clinched? No; had Brian Hoyer suddenly turned into a combination of Otto Graham, Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana and Tom Brady? No, the dropoff from Hoyer to Brandon Weeden was not quite that monumental; if nothing else, Hoyer and Marcus Mariota both being out is a wash. Hopefully you all jumped on that line when it was available early in the week.

Prediction: Texans 27, Titans 17
Texans -3½ . . . . . over 40½ . . . . . Houston -170


★★★ 9-5 Pittsburgh Steelers at 4-10 Baltimore Ravens
Sunday, December 27 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Jamie Erdahl
Steelers -10 (opened at -9½) . . . . over/under 47 . . . . Pit -600, Bal +400

Perhaps with this being a division rivalry the score will remain close, but Baltimore has more starters on injured reserve than they have able to suit up and play at this point – though they have plenty of other problems as well. Thankfully this game was flexed out of the Sunday night prime time slot.

Prediction: Steelers 27, Ravens 13
Steelers -10 . . . . . under 47 . . . . . Pittsburgh -600


★★★★ 5-9 Jacksonville Jaguars at 5-9 New Orleans Saints
Sunday, December 27 at 4:05 pm ET on CBS; Andrew Catalon, Steve Beuerlein, Steve Tasker
Saints -3 (opened at -3½) . . . . over/under 51½ . . . . NO -175, Jax +155

I realize that part of the job of television announcers is to promote the game in order to maintain viewer interest, but sometimes these people just go completely off the rails. Last week on Sunday Night Football, Jon Gruden said that he “really liked the Saints’ defense“. Memo to Chucky: so does every single offense in the NFL.

Prediction: Jaguars 31, Saints 28
Jaguars +3 . . . . . over 51½ (one unit) . . . . . Jacksonville +155


★★★★★ 10-4 Green Bay Packers at 12-2 Arizona Cardinals
Sunday, December 27 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX; Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews
Cardinals -4½ (opened at -4) . . . . over/under 50½ . . . . Ariz -220, GB +190

Two weeks ago Minnesota nearly beat Arizona, but lost due to three turnovers. Green Bay is the best in the league at not giving the ball away (only 11 all season), but will be without CB Sam Shields and LT David Bakhtiari. It’s too bad that FOX was able to protect this game; it should be the league’s showcase contest on Sunday night.

Prediction: Cardinals 27, Packers 24
Packers +4½ . . . . . over 50½ . . . . . Green Bay +190


★★★ 6-8 St. Louis Rams at 9-5 Seattle Seahawks
Sunday, December 27 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX; Chris Myers, Ronde Barber, Jennifer Hale
Seahawks -12½ (opened at -14) . . . . over/under 40½ . . . . Sea -950, StL +650

I feel bad for Wes Welker for not only having to play for Jeff Fisher, but also because his only job opportunity in the NFL was on such a putrid offense.

Prediction: Seahawks 24, Rams 13
Rams +12½ . . . . . under 40½ . . . . . St. Louis +650


★★★ 6-8 New York Giants at 9-5 Minnesota Vikings
Sunday, December 27 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya
Vikings -6½ (opened at -4) . . . . over/under 45 . . . . Min -270, NYG +230

I wonder how many fantasy football championships will be won or lost due to Odell Beckham’s suspension? This is a difficult game to handicap because when the game kicks off the Giants could either be eliminated from the post-season, or have the potential to put themselves in a three-way tie for first place with a win; similarly the Vikings could be locked in to the sixth seed depending on the outcome of earlier games.

Prediction: Vikings 24, Giants 20
Giants +6½ . . . . . under 45 . . . . . Minnesota -270


★★★★★ 11-3 Cincinnat Bengals at 10-4 Denver Broncos
Monday, December 28 at 8:30 pm ET on ESPN; Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters
Bengals -3½ (opened at -3½) . . . . over/under 39½ . . . . Den -180, Cin +160

Battle of the backup quarterbacks to determine a first round bye. This is a rarity: a genuinely competitive game between two of the league’s best teams on a Monday night.

Prediction: Broncos 23, Bengals 20
Bengals +3½ . . . . . over 39½ . . . . . Cincinnati +160


★★ San Diego Chargers (4-11) at Oakland Raiders (7-8)
Thursday, December 24 at 8:25 pm ET on NFLN; Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson
Raiders -4 (opened at -6) . . . . over/under 45 . . . . Oak -200, SD +170

Prediction: Raiders 24, Chargers 17
Raiders -4 X . . . . . under 45 . . . . . Oakland -200
Final Score: Raiders 23, Chargers 20 (OT)

Considering the two team’s records, the game was far more entertaining than I had anticipated even though both defenses dominated the second half and the two clubs combined for 25 penalties worth 196 yards. San Diego led by seven at halftime but the Raider defense was stout, and sacked Philip Rivers for a safety late in the third quarter. Oakland finally took a three-point lead with less than five minutes to play when they recovered a fumble on the three, scored on the next play, and then converted on the two-point conversion. Josh Lambo hit a 45-yard field goal in the final minute to send it to overtime, and after an eight-minute drive on the first possession of OT Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 31-yard field goal. The Raiders stopped Danny Woodhead for a two-yard gain on third down on San Diego’s ensuing possession, and then a pass to Dontrelle Inman – who had to play defense as a nickel back late in the game due to injuries – fell incomplete to end the game. Oakland WR Seth Roberts – a teammate of Malcolm Butler at West Alabama – made two big plays late: scoring on that two-point conversion, and then holding on for a key 33-yard juggling catch and run to set up the game-winning field goal.