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Fantasy Football: Week 15 starts, sits

12.13.13 at 10:35 am ET
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Welcome to the Week 15 starts and sits! If you are reading this, then congratulations are probably in order. It’€™s semifinal week in most leagues, so you are one win away from a bowl appearance and a shot at glory. Hopefully these recommendations will help you maximize your lineup, but if you need more, then head over to Rotobahn and check out our full lineup rankings. Additionally, you can attend our weekly Sunday chat right here at WEEI. You’€™ll find a link to the chat Sunday on the home page under ‘€œThis Just In.’€ I hope to see you all there.



Matt Stafford, Lions vs. Ravens

Stafford had a rough Week 14 due to the weather, but if you survived the storm, you should stick with him. He’€™ll be much better at home, even in a tough matchup. The Lions probably will lose, but Stafford will get his stats.

Andrew Luck, Colts vs. Texans

He’€™ll be solid this week at home vs. a pretty good defense. Luck now has enough weapons to get the job done. Da’€™Rick Rogers is a big upgrade over Darrius Heyward-Bey. Luck may not give you a big number, but he’€™ll produce like a top-10 quarterback.

Tom Brady, Patriots at Dolphins

Brady owners must feel cursed at this point. The rug got pulled out from under them this past Sunday when Rob Gronkowski was lost again, with perhaps his worst injury so far, and that is saying something. Giving up on Brady is a logical move, but I think even with significant missing parts, the Patriots offense as a unit is clicking now. Brady should be good for a few scores and 250-plus yards.

Jay Cutler, Bears at Browns

He should be the starter, but just to be clear, this recommendation goes for whomever starts for the Bears this week. If Cutler has another setback, go ahead and start Josh McCown, who has been astoundingly good this year in Marc Trestman‘€™s offense.

Matt Ryan, Falcons vs. Redskins

Yes, the Falcons already are toast, but they have most of their offense back on the field and probably will cut through the Washington defense like a hot knife through butter. Ryan is a viable option this week in any format.

Jason Campbell, Browns vs. Bears

The one thing to keep on top of here is the weather. There is some snow in the forecast, and if it gets really ugly, you’€™ll want to have a backup plan. Still, Campbell can help you if you are in a jam. The Bears have few answers for what the Browns will be throwing at them, namely Josh Gordon. The second-year receiver has been a one-man wrecking crew lately.

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Read More: Andrew Luck, Eli Manning, Jason Campbell, Jay Cutler

Broncos’ loss provides Patriots with chance to land No. 1 seed in AFC

12.13.13 at 12:53 am ET
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The Chargers’ win over the Broncos on Thursday night in Denver has opened the door for the Patriots in the AFC.

The Broncos drop to 11-3 with the defeat, and with the Patriots sitting a half-game back at 10-3 — and the tiebreaker in hand because of the victory over Denver last month — New England now controls its own destiny. If the Patriots are able to win all three of their remaining games, then they will secure the top seed in the AFC playoff picture.

It won’t necessarily be an easy road for New England, which has two games on the road (against Miami and Baltimore), but if the Patriots can pull it off, they will have home field as far as they advance through the AFC playoff chase.

Here’s a look at the latest AFC playoff standings:

Division leaders
1. Denver: 11-3 (clinched playoff berth)
2. Patriots: 10-3
3. Cincinnati: 9-4
4. Indianapolis: 8-5 (clinched AFC South)

Wild card
5. Kansas City: 10-3
6. Baltimore: 7-6

Still in the hunt
7. Miami: 7-6
8. San Diego: 7-7
9. NY Jets 6-7

Read More: Philip Rivers,

Report: Tony Corrente will serve as referee for Patriots-Dolphins

12.12.13 at 4:27 pm ET
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Tony Corrente will work as the lead official for Sunday’s game between the Patriots and Dolphins in South Florida, according to our friends at Football Zebras.

It will mark the second New England game of the season for Corrente, who also served as the referee for the Oct. 13 contest against the Saints. Prior to this year, he’€™s worked one New England game per season since 2009, all of them wins for the Patriots. That includes a 17-10 win over the Bills in 2009, a 23-20 victory over the Chargers in 2010, a 31-19 triumph against the Raiders in 2011 and New England’€™s 41-28 divisional playoff win over the Texans this past January at Gillette Stadium.

Corrente is regarded as one of the more well respected officials in the game, and served as the lead official for Super Bowl XLI.

Here’€™s a look at each lead official assigned to work Patriots games to this point in the 2013 season:

Sept. 9 vs. Buffalo: Walt Anderson
Sept. 12 vs. NY Jets: Carl Cheffers
Sept. 22 vs. Tampa Bay: Jeff Triplette
Sept. 29 vs. Atlanta: Walt Coleman
Oct. 6 vs. Cincinnati: Gene Steratore
Oct. 13 vs. New Orleans: Tony Corrente
Oct. 20 vs. NY Jets: Jerome Boger
Oct. 27 vs. Miami: Walt Anderson
Nov. 3 vs. Pittsburgh: Walt Coleman
Nov. 18 vs. Carolina: Clete Blakeman
Nov. 24 vs. Denver: Gene Steratore
Dec. 8 vs. Cleveland: Jerome Boger
Dec. 15 vs. Miami: Tony Corrente

For more on Corrente’s work as an official, check out his page at Pro Football Reference. For a complete look at the officiating crews for the week, click through to Football Zebras.

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Phil Simms: Patriots ‘an amazing story’

12.12.13 at 4:04 pm ET
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CBS analyst Phil Simms will work the Patriots-Dolphins game this Sunday, and offered his take on the state of both teams Thursday.

On New England: “The amazing thing about the New England Patriots is that they basically had to reshape the team on the fly after losing both tight ends from last year, and of course Wes Welker. They have had injuries everywhere on the football team and here they are at 10-3. It shows you they always have a plan in place and ready to activate. It’€™s an amazing story in the NFL to continue to do what they have done. Now we are seeing Shane Vereen catching passes, so they continuously find ways to keep weapons around Tom Brady so he can still be a productive quarterback.”

On Miami: “Everyone always wants to know about their quarterback. We are getting to see Ryan Tannehill late in his second year and see the improvement in his play. He shows the difference on the field physically with his throws and how he plays the game. There is a little bit of an aura around him, which you always want for your quarterback.  You can tell he’€™s the man. I think he thinks he’€™s the man and it really shows. It’€™s a hard line to cross as a quarterback and a football team but they are getting close to it. These last three games will show us where they are. If they are able to make that first step and become a playoff team, then go from there.”

Read More: Phil Simms,

Nate Solder among 11 limited for Patriots at Thursday practice

12.12.13 at 3:50 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Left tackle Nate Solder returned to Patriots practice but was limited, while Aaron Dobson was the only player missing from Thursday’s session, as New England continued to prepare for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins in Miami.

Solder is one of 11 players who were limited on Thursday, a group that includes quarterback Tom Brady (right shoulder), Aqib Talib (hip) and right tackle Marcus Cannon (ankle).

Here is Thursday’s complete report:

Did Not Practice
WR Aaron Dobson (foot)

Limited Participation
CB Kyle Arrington (groin)
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder)
RT Marcus Cannon (ankle)
CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee)
S Steve Gregory (finger)
TE Michael Hoomanawanui (knee)
LT Nate Solder (concussion)
LB Brandon Spikes (knee)
OT Will Svitek (ankle)
CB Aqib Talib (hip)
WR Kenbrell Thompkins (hip)

Full Participation
WR Danny Amendola (groin)
WR Matthew Slater (wrist)
RB Shane Vereen (wrist)

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Read More: Aaron Dobson, Nate Solder,

Nate Solder back at practice, while Aaron Dobson still absent

12.12.13 at 12:52 pm ET
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Tackle Nate Solder was back on the field for practice Thursday morning, while wide receiver Aaron Dobson was the only one absent as the Patriots continue preparation for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins in Miami.

Solder, who was listed on the Patriots practice report Wednesday with a concussion, is part of a relatively thin group of players New England have at the tackle position — with starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer on IR, the team has pressed Marcus Cannon into a starting role, but Cannon has been hobbled as of late because of an ankle issue. In addition, veteran tackle Will Svitek has seen lots of time at tackle with the recent run of injury.

The team was in sweats and shells for the session, which was held inside the practice bubble.

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Read More: Aaron Dobson, Nate Solder,

Dolphins’ Mike Pouncey reportedly testifies before grand jury in Aaron Hernandez case

12.12.13 at 9:21 am ET
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Dolphins center Mike Pouncey missed practice Wednesday, reportedly because he was in Boston to appear before a grand jury in the Aaron Hernandez case.

Pouncey, who played with Hernandez at the University of Florida and remained close friends with the former Patriots tight end, was issued a subpoena at Gillette Stadium when the Dolphins played the Patriots on Oct. 27.

Authorities are believed to have interest in Pouncey’s knowledge about Hernandez’s alleged involvement in interstate gun trafficking.

Pouncey is expected to play Sunday when the Patriots visit Miami.

Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Mike Pouncey,



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