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Patriots still prefer to defer when it comes to coin toss

12.02.14 at 12:03 pm ET
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Last Sunday’s game against the Packers marked the first time this season either the Patriots or an opponent have won the opening toss and elected to receive. (All eight of the times New England has won the toss this season, they have decided to defer.) Here’€™s a look at how the coin toss has broken down for each game this season, and what has happened:

vs. Green Bay: Packers win the toss, receive
vs. Detroit: Patriots win the toss, defer
vs. Indy: Patriots win the toss, defer
vs. Denver: Patriots win the toss, defer
vs. Chicago: Patriots win the toss, defer
vs. New York Jets: Jets win the toss, defer
vs. Buffalo: Patriots win the toss, defer
vs. Cincinnati: Bengals win the toss, defer
vs. Kansas City: Patriots win the toss, defer
vs. Oakland: Patriots win the toss, defer
vs. Minnesota: Patriots win the toss, defer
vs. Miami: Dolphins win the toss, defer

Fantasy Football: Week 14 waiver wire

12.02.14 at 10:23 am ET
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Welcome to the Week 14 waiver wire! If you are here reading this then congratulations are probably in order. The playoffs start in most leagues this week, which means it’€™s win-or-go-home time. Rather than list every player worthy of consideration as I do on most weeks, I’€™m more focused on players who can actually move the needle for you. This is because after the thinning of the herd, we are dealing mostly with strong rosters. These are the options that even good teams should consider.

For those of you in really deep leagues or who just happen to have a hurting roster that snuck into the playoffs, I will be posting my usual expanded waiver wire over at Rotobahn this afternoon. It’€™s free, so head on over if you want more options.

As always, the ownership percentages are listed for each player. These rates of ownership are based on Yahoo! leagues, which tend to be smaller and more representative of the 10-team leagues most of us play in. Obviously, these numbers are mostly for perspective. What really matters is which players are available in your particular league, and you’€™ll need to do the legwork on that.

To keep pace with all WEEI and Rotobahn fantasy football content, including Sunday chats and The Fantasy Football Hour with my co-host Jim Hackett, follow me on Twitter.

QUARTERBACK

Mark Sanchez, Eagles — 53 percent

He’€™s got a tough home matchup this week against Seattle, but he closes things out with Dallas and Washington, so he has value if you are streaming your quarterback position, or if you are mixing and matching. The ex-Jet is posting solid numbers as an Eagle and is a good pickup in any league.

Johnny Manziel, Browns — 12 percent

This one is still a bit speculative, but I expect head coach Mike Pettine to make the switch to Manziel this week. Without starting center Alex Mack, the offense is in need of a spark. The Browns host the Colts this week and have no more bad matchups on their schedule. As with Sanchez, Manziel can be an asset if you are streaming or playing matchups at quarterback.

Colt McCoy, Washington — 6 percent

He may be able to help you in bigger formats. McCoy is performing well in head coach Jay Gruden’€™s offense. He’€™s playable this week against the visiting Rams, but is more appealing in Weeks 15 and 16 against the Giants and Eagles.

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Read More: colt mccoy, Johnny Manziel, Mark Sanchez,

Tom Brady on D&C, still frustrated by Sunday’s loss: ‘I felt like we should have won’

12.02.14 at 9:30 am ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance with Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning and talked about last Sunday’s game against the Packers, how much he hates losing and looked ahead to this week’s game against the Chargers. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Patriots lost Sunday’s game against the Packers 26-21, a game in which they had the ball on the Packers‘ 20-yard line with under four minutes remaining and a chance to take the lead. A sack on third-down forced a field goal attempt by Stephen Gostkowski, which was missed, and then the Packers picked up a first down and ran out the clock.

After trailing 13-0 and coming all the way back against a team as good as the Packers, and then not being able to come away with a win, was tough for the quarterback to take.

“I think you have some defining moments in your season and you have some defining moments in what could be people’s careers and you have a lot of things … a great streak of wins going and the other team had a great streak of wins going, especially at home, was really dominant, and we said we can’t get behind early,” Brady said. “We got behind early, but we fought back and we hung in there all game. Finally, we had the opportunity to go ahead and we just couldn’t do it. We were kind of trying to climb the mountain all day and we were right at the top, and we had an opportunity to get there, and we kind of let it flounder away. I think that was the real frustrating thing for all of us. … These sit with you for a little bit and you have to move on and move past them. You have to focus your energy on the next opponent because it doesn’t get any easier for us.”

Some have compared Sunday’s loss to a game in 2001, when the Patriots lost to the Rams, 24-17, in a highly competitive game, before the Patriots eventually beat the Rams in the Super Bowl. Brady isn’t making such comparison since he feels the current team is different than the one back then.

“Truthfully, I felt like we should have won,” said Brady. “I don’t think there’s a lot of consolation. I feel like we are capable of winning every time we take the field. Maybe back in 2001 we didn’t feel like that all the time because we didn’t really prove that. I think what we’ve seen over the course of this season is — we’ve seen the best teams in the AFC certainly, with the three division leaders at this point and we’ve played some other pretty good teams, teams that will likely make the playoffs. Now to see a team in the NFC, and to think we beat the Lions and they were tied for first when we played them and then Green Bay was first in their division.

“I just felt like we were going to win that game. We went into the game realizing how important of a game it was and what we needed to do to rise to the occasion. I don’t think you could have asked for anything more — having a chance to go ahead with three and a half minutes to go in the game. If someone said you have a chance at the 20-yard line with three and a half minutes, you like your chances. I think everyone in our locker room would have loved them. We just couldn’t get it done.”

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Read More: Green Bay Packers, Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady,

Patriots offensive line sees sack-free streak come to an end against Packers

12.02.14 at 9:00 am ET
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Dan Connolly and the rest of the Patriots offensive line saw their sack-free streak broken Sunday against the Packers. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Dan Connolly and the rest of the Patriots offensive line saw their sack-free streak broken Sunday against the Packers. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

For a Patriots’ offensive line that was riding a sack-free streak, Sunday afternoon against the Packers represented a bit of a letdown.

The New England offensive entered its contest against Green Bay with an impressive string of sack-free football: Quarterback Tom Brady had not been brought down for two-plus games, a streak of 165 minutes and 35 seconds of game action that dated all the way back to the first half of the Nov. 2 win over the Broncos in Foxboro. (Brady was not sacked in the wins over Indy or Detroit.)

But the Packers got to Brady down in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game when, on a third and 9, the quarterback was sandwiched by Green Bay’s Mike Neal and Mike Daniels. It was a sizable turning point in the contest, as the lost yardage not only forced a field-goal attempt by the Patriots, it also was enough to push kicker Stephen Gostkowski just out of range, as he missed a 47-yarder. With a five-point lead, the Packers got the ball back and didn’t relinquish it.

“It’€™s our job to make sure [Brady] stays upright,” said guard Dan Connolly on a conference call with the New England media Monday afternoon. “Especially being the last [offensive] play of the game, that’€™s not how we wanted to end our game. Obviously, we’€™ve got some work to do and we’€™re going to try to move forward and make sure he’€™s upright as much as we can.”

Brady is on pace to have one of the lowest sack totals for his career — the quarterback has been sacked 15 times through 12 games. (By way of comparison, he was sacked a whopping 32 times through 12 games last season.) If that rate holds over the final four games of the season, that would leave him with 20 sacks on the year, the second-lowest total of his career. (He was sacked 16 times in 2009.)

Connolly and the rest of the New England offensive line will get a chance to start another positive streak Sunday night in San Diego. While they do have some interesting pass-rushing possibilities with the likes of Cory Liuget (3.5 sacks) and Dwight Freeney (2 sacks), the Chargers are still just 29th in the league in sacks with 18.

“I know this is a good defense, and they’€™ve had a lot of success so far this year,” Connolly said when asked about the Chargers. “They’€™ve got good guys on their front, good pass rushers: Dwight Freeney and guys like that, so it’€™s going to be really important for us this week to really focus who we’€™re playing against and just get to know those players. We haven’€™t played them in a while, so we have to get familiar with that team again and get to know the players we’€™ll be facing.”

Read More: Corey Liuget, Dan Connolly, dwight freeney, Tom Brady

Pressure Points: Which Patriots defenders have done best job getting after QB?

12.02.14 at 8:00 am ET
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Every week over the course of the 2014 season, we’€™€™ll provide a look at the Patriots pass rush numbers. Like all stats, the numbers have to be placed on context of game-situations and personnel. And while sacks can be overrated, when evaluated as part of a bigger picture that includes quarterback hits and quarterback pressures (the latter courtesy of Pro Football Focus), it should provide a good picture as to which defenders are consistently able to get after the quarterback. Currently, the Patriots are tied for 13th in the league in sacks with 28. Based on the official NFL game books and PFF, here’€™€™s a look at the pass-rush numbers for the Patriots after 12 games for the 2014 regular season:

Sacks (via gamebooks)
DE Rob Ninkovich: 6 (38 yards)
LB Dont’€™€™a Hightower: 4.5 (34.5 yards)
DE Chandler Jones: 4.5 (28 yards)
LB Akeem Ayers: 3 (29 yards)
DL Chris Jones: 2.5 (17 yards)
LB Deontae Skinner: 1 (10 yards)
LB Jerod Mayo: 1 (9 yards)
LB Jamie Collins: 1 (6 yards)
DL Casey Walker: 1 (5 yards)
DL Joe Vellano: 1 (4 yards)
DB Kyle Arrington: 1 (0 yards)
DE Zach Moore: 0.5 (2.5 yards)
DL Dominique Easley: 0.5 (2 yards)
DL Vince Wilfork: 0.5 (2 yards)

Quarterback Hits (via gamebooks)
DE Rob Ninkovich: 12
LB Dont’€™€™a Hightower: 9
DE Chandler Jones: 8
DL Chris Jones: 5
LB Jamie Collins: 3
LB Akeem Ayers: 3
LB Jerod Mayo: 2
DL Vince Wilfork: 2
LB Jonathan Casillas: 1
DL Joe Vellano: 1
CB Brandon Browner: 1
LB Deontae Skinner: 1
DB Patrick Chung: 1
DL Casey Walker: 1
DL Dominique Easley: 1
DL Alan Branch: 1
DB Tavon Wilson: 1

Quarterback Hurries (via PFF)
DE Rob Ninkovich: 25
DE Chandler Jones: 15
LB Dont’€™€™a Hightower: 15
LB Akeem Ayers: 15
DL Vince Wilfork: 12
LB Jamie Collins: 11
DL Dominique Easley: 7
DL Chris Jones: 6
LB Jerod Mayo: 5
DE Zach Moore: 4
DL Casey Walker: 3
DL Alan Branch: 2
DL Sealver Siliga: 2
DL Joe Vellano: 2
S Devin McCourty: 1
CB Alfonzo Dennard: 1
S Patrick Chung: 1

Read More: pressure points,

Target Practice: Tracking opportunities in Patriots passing game

12.02.14 at 7:00 am ET
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Targets have been compiled by the NFL since the start of the 2009 season, and while it remains a vaguely imperfect stat — a badly thrown ball from a quarterback can often go against the record of the receiver as opposed to the quarterback –€” it remains a good indication of the confidence level a passer might have in his pass catcher. Here’€™€™s a look at the target breakdown after 12 regular-season games this year

WR Julian Edelman: 77 catches on 112 targets
TE Rob Gronkowski: 65 catches on 100 targets
WR Brandon LaFell: 53 catches on 86 targets
RB Shane Vereen: 44 catches on 64 targets
TE Tim Wright: 24 catches on 27 targets
WR Danny Amendola: 11 catches on 22 targets
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 6 catches on 10 targets
FB James Develin: 6 catches on 7 targets
RB Stevan Ridley: 4 catches on 5 targets
TE Michael Hoomananwanui: 3 catches on 4 targets
RB James White: 3 catches on 3 targets
WR Aaron Dobson: 3 catches on 5 targets
RB Brandon Bolden: 2 catches on 4 targets
WR Brian Tyms: 1 catch on 4 targets
RB Jonas Gray: 0 catches on 1 target

Read More: targets,

Patriots making themselves at home in San Diego leading up to Sunday’s game

12.02.14 at 6:00 am ET
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The upcoming week will be anything but ordinary for the Patriots as they traveled directly to San Diego from Green Bay following Sunday’s game and will hold a week of practice in warm, sunny California — over 2,500 miles away from their Gillette Stadium home — as they get ready for Sunday’s matchup with the Chargers.

But, according to the Patriots it is just another week, only in a different location.

“I don’€™t think there’€™s going to be very much different,” special teams captain Matthew Slater said on a conference call Monday. “We’€™re going to put the same effort and time and preparation into that we normally would. The coaches are going to be doing everything that they normally do. The only thing that’€™s different is the location that we’€™re doing it in. Other than that, there’€™s no difference. We’€™re all professionals. We understand what we have to do and we’€™re going to do it.”

The Patriots will be spending 10 days on the road as they left for Green Bay last Saturday, and won’t return to New England until early Monday morning following Sunday’s night game. With the team spending almost every waking minute together, it has a training camp like feel.

“There’€™s definitely a feeling of training camp where we’€™re all together,” offensive lineman Dan Connolly said. “But it’€™s important for us to not be distracted by nice weather and things that are going on out here and realize that we have a job to do this week and we have to treat it as much like a regular week as we can and still prepare for the game that we have on Sunday.”

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Read More: Dan Connolly, Green Bay Packers, Matthew Slater, Miami Dolphins
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