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Analysis of Patriots’ inactives

12.06.10 at 7:19 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” The Patriots announced that the following players are inactive for Monday night’€™s game: running back Thomas Clayton, offensive lineman Mark LeVoir, defensive end/outside linebacker Eric Moore, offensive lineman Mark Ohrnberger, wide receiver Taylor Price, defensive lineman Myron Pryor, cornerback Jonathan Wilhite and defensive lineman Mike Wright.

No real surprises, especially when it comes to Clayton and Moore ‘€” even thought Clayton is rejoining the Patriots, it’€™s no shock to see the two as inactive. Price, LeVoir and Ohrnberger have been inactive far more than active this year (the foursome have been active for a combined four games this season), and so from a personnel perspective, they figured to be on the outside looking in for this one as well.

As for the other three, no Wright for the New England means that for the second consecutive week, the Patriots will be missing their best interior pass rusher ‘€” he leads the team in sacks with 5.5. In addition, the absences of both Wright and Pryor leaves the Patriots’€™ defensive line a little thin against a New York running game that is one of the best in the league.

And the fact that Wilhite isn’€™t over the hip problem that has nagged him over the last few weeks means that the Patriots will head into the game with three available corners in Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington and Darius Butler. Look for Butler to see some time on the outside, while Arrington will probably jump back and forth between cornerback and the outside linebacker/defensive end spot he’€™s occasionally occupied over the last few weeks.

Read More: inactive analysis, Patriots,

Pats-Jets inactives: Mike Wright, Myron Pryor and Jonathan Wilhite among the 8

12.06.10 at 7:16 pm ET
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FOXBORO — All three questionable players on the Patriots injury list have been placed on the inactive list tonight and will not play against the Jets.

Mike Wright (neck/concussion), Myron Pryor (back) and Jonathan Wilhite (hip) will miss the game as will RB Thomas Clayton, OL Mark LeVoir, DE Eric Moore, OL Rich Ohrnberger and WR Taylor Price. Wright is missing his second straight game while Pryor – injured against the Browns on Nov. 7 – will miss his fourth straight game.

The Jets inactives are: OLB J. Westerman, OL V. Ducasse, TE M. Mulligan, TE J. Cumberland, WR L. Coles, DT M. Dixon, DL M. Kroul and Kellen Clemens will be the third quarterback.

The biggest injury loss for the Jets isn’t even on the inactive list as safety and punt returner Jim Leonhard was placed on season-ending injured reserve with surgery on his broken right shin on Friday night.

Read More: Jim Leonhard, Jonathan Wilhite, Mike Wright, Myron Pryor

Final thoughts on Pats-Jets: The perfect night for Tedy Bruschi

12.06.10 at 6:52 pm ET
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FOXBORO — It’s appropriate that Tedy Bruschi is the coverboy tonight for Patriots GameDay as he is being honored at halftime in a special ceremony.

It was Dec. 2003 when Bruschi returned a Jay Fiedler interception for a clinching touchdown in New England’s 12-0 win over the Miami Dolphins in the south end zone of Gillette Stadium. That victory also clinched the AFC East title for the Patriots, on their way to their second Super Bowl title in three years and first of two straight.

The game was played just hours after a snowstorm dumped nearly a foot of snow on Boston and Foxboro, causing officials to give serious consideration to postponing the game because of safety concerns. It was after that touchdown, by the way, that fans spontaneously celebrated by throwing snow SAFELY up in the air as Gary Glitter’s Rock n’Roll Part 2.

Tonight, the temps will be in the upper 20s while the wind chill is expected to dip to around 17 – but who’s counting. There is also the chance of  a flurry or two.

The temperature won’t be nearly the factor the wind and dry air figure to be. The passing game will be tricky to say the least and the balls figure to be very dry and could be slippery. In this way, it’s nearly as problematic when it’s raining heavily.

The Patriots head into December with the NFL’s best record in the 12th month, dating back to 2002. They are 16-1 at home in the month since 2002. Their only setback was to … yep, the New York Jets on Dec. 22, 2002. Overall, the Patriots have won 15-of-16 in the month of December.

Tom Brady will also try to set a new NFL record with his 26th consecutive home victory as starting quarterback, surpassing the 25 straight that Brett Favre had in the 1990s.

The other big milestone that could fall tonight is not on the field but through the air – or satellites to be specific.

Tonight’s game between the Boston and New York TV markets could be the highest rated cable TV show in history. Ironically, the record-holder is another ESPN Monday night extravaganza – Oct. 5,2009 when Minnesota’s Brett Favre played against his former Green Bay team for the first time.

The game between the Packers and Vikings at the Metrodome was the most-watched program in cable history, drawing in 21.8 million viewers, good for a 15.3 rating.

Boston and New York might also match the respective ratings for each market that night. The rating in Green Bay was a 49.7. The rating in Minneapolis was 58.3. Both of those numbers are what advertisers expect for the Super Bowl.

Read More: Jay Fiedler, New England Patriots, New York Jets, nfl

Setting the scene here at Gillette Stadium

12.06.10 at 5:21 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” We are on the scene here at Gillette in advance of the much-anticipated Monday night kickoff between the Patriots and the Jets.

‘€¢First place in the AFC East is on the line tonight, as New England and New York are tied at 9-2. Both teams are coming off Thanksgiving Day victories ‘€” the Patriots over the Lions and the Jets over the Bengals. It marks the first time division opponents that are tied for the best record met in the 12th game of the season or later since Dec. 9, 2001. It is the 100th meeting between the two teams, and New England will be looking to average a Sept. 19 loss to New York at the New Meadowlands Stadium, a 28-14 defeat where the Patriots turned the ball over three times on the way to their first loss of the season.

‘€¢New England quarterback Tom Brady is coming off a three-game stretch where he’s played some of the finest football of his career, a 70-for-95 effort with 877 yards, nine touchdowns and no interceptions. In addition, in his last time out, Brady registered just the second perfect passer rating of his career, a 158.3 in the win over Detroit on Thanksgiving.

‘€¢On the other side of the ball, the Jets bring the fourth-ranked scoring defense in the league to face the NFL’s highest-scoring offense. Last week, the Jets held the Bengals to 34 yards on 28 second-half plays on the way to the 26-10 victory. For the season, the Jets allow 269.9 yards per game, third-best in the NFL, and 5.97 yards per pass play, fifth-best in the league.

‘€¢It should be a cold one this evening ‘€” is calling for a low of 26 degrees with a chance of scattered flurries. (Chance of precipitation is at 30 percent.)

‘€¢The Patriots will honor former linebacker Tedy Bruschi with a special halftime ceremony. Bruschi, who spent his entire 13-year career in New England with the Patriots, was an essential part of three Super Bowl champions, eight division championships and five conference championships.

Read More: Jets, nfl, Patriots, Tom Brady

Tedy Bruschi on D&H: Improved Mark Sanchez ‘proved me wrong’

12.06.10 at 11:21 am ET
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ESPN NFL analyst and former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who will be honored Monday night at halftime of the Patriots-Jets game, checked in with the Dale & Holley show Monday morning. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Bruschi said the Patriots defense concerns him, although the big plays of the last few weeks have offered some hope.

“They’re still giving up a lot of yards,” Bruschi said. “At times, they just don’t look very good, to tell you the truth. The one thing that’s changed maybe that we’ve seen the last few weeks is they’ve made the big play. That’s a step they needed to take. Because when you give up yards, and offenses are able to drive the length of the field on you and put up such big numbers, the only way to stop the bleeding is to force the turnover. ‘€¦ That’s what they need to remedy that situation.”

Added Bruschi: “To put banners up in that Gillette Stadium, this defense is going to have to continue to make those big plays. Because I know Tom Brady‘s been playing like perfect football the past few weeks, but it’s almost like he’s had to. He’s had to because that defense has given up that yardage. But with the defense making those plays, I think they really got a shot to be in that final four [conference championship].”

Bruschi was critical of Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez at the start of the season, but he said the young QB has earned his respect since then. “I think I was little early on that, to tell you the truth,” Bruschi said. “I think the kid’s done a great job. To tell you the truth, he’s proved me wrong. I’ve watched him really closely, especially after I called him a front-runner and thought that he tanked it at times early on in his career. And you know what, a lot of people agreed with me.

“But I’ve been watching him closely,” Bruschi continued. “He really sold me in the Cleveland game, when he twisted his knee a little bit. He went to the sideline, and I’m thinking, ‘OK, what is this kid going to do?’ And he went back out there the next series, took the ball, and he led that team to victory in a very tough game vs. a tough Browns team. And that wasn’t the only instance. I thought this Jet team was going to be a legitimate contender because of their defense and their ability to run the ball. But now they have this extra added element.”

As for Monday’s ceremony, Bruschi said he’s looking forward to being recognized. “It’s going to give me an opportunity I’ve been wanting for a little while to just get there and thank the fans in the stadium about the support that they’ve given me throughout my career,” Bruschi said. “I’m very excited about it.”

Bruschi said he’s pleased that the team will not retire his number. “I would love to see another linebacker wear No. 54 in the future,” he said. “I think all numbers should be unretired. Let the kids wear the numbers and realize who wore those numbers before them, and the great play and championships that were won [by] the players who [wore] those jerseys. I think that would be a great bit of history to pass on to younger players.”

Read More: Mark Sanchez, Tedy Bruschi, Tom Brady,

Boomer Esiason on D&C: ‘Tom Brady will have major success down the middle of the field’

12.06.10 at 10:03 am ET
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Boomer Esiason of CBS Sports made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to dissect the Patriots-Jets showdown. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

“My sense is that the Patriots will win the game,” Esiason said. “It’s not going to be an easy game, by any stretch of the imagination.”

Esiason said despite the Jets’ dominating defense, there should be plenty of offense. “I think we’re going to see a lot of points tonight,” he said, adding: “I think we’re going to see both teams in the 20s. I think that the team that has the ball last in the fourth quarter is going to have a chance to win the game. And I really think it’s going to be the Patriots.”

The loss of safety Jim Leonhard ‘€” “I can’t even begin to tell you how big a loss Jim Leonhard is. He is literally their quarterback on defense,” Esiason said ‘€” gives Jets a huge concern. “You have a vulnerability down deep in the middle of the defense for the New York Jets, they’re missing Jim Leonhard now,” Esiason said. “What do the Patriots really do well? Well, Tom Brady throws about as good a ball as there is in between the numbers. That’s where the Jet weakness has been, even with Jim Leonhard in the lineup. So, now you have Eric Smith, you have Brodney Pool, who are just average players, playing and covering the middle of the field. So, I’ve got to believe that the trend tells me that Tom Brady will have major success down the middle of the field.

“On the other side, where are the Jets really good on offense? Well, they’re good on offense in the fourth quarter when they throw the ball down the field,” Esiason continued. “I have to believe that Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards are a matchup that the Jets think they can win. That’s what I’m looking for.”

Esiason said he’s eager to see the Jets’ plan of attack. Said the former NFL quarterback: “My thought process is they should be throwing, and they should be throwing early. ‘€¦ The vulnerabilities against the Patriots defense lie on the outside, and you should be able to throw on them. The pass rush is very pedestrian, to say the least.”

Read More: boomer esiason, Jim Leonhard, Tom Brady,

Nuggetpalooza’s Patriots-Jets Preview!

12.06.10 at 8:39 am ET
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Let’s get right to it:


* – The Pats are -33 in net first downs through 11 games (-3.0 per game). At that pace, they would end the season at -48. Since 1993, only three teams with a -48 or worse have won more games than they lost:

10-6 – New England, 1997 (-55)
9-7 – Chicago, 2008 (-50)
9-7 – Washington, 1996 (-51)

Six teams have gone 8-8.

Of the 82 teams since 1993 that have finished with a -48 or worse first down margin, the average number of wins was 4.96. That’s closer to getting the first pick in the draft than it is to getting the first seed in the playoffs.

Note this: The Patriots have had fewer first downs than their opponent in their last six consecutive games, their longest such streak since they went 10 in a row spanning the 1997-1998 seasons.


* – New England’s 63 “opening possession” points lead the league (first/second half combined):

63 – Patriots
61 – Saints
60 – Dolphins


* – Jets opponents have attempted 67 passes over 20 yards downfield this season, the most in the league. However, they’ve completed just EIGHT of those throws, just 12 percent completions! That includes 0-for-22 over the last five games and 2-for-46 over the last eight games.

Note this: Believe it or not, the Jets were EVEN BETTER last season at defending those passes, allowing just 7 completions in 65 attempts (11 percent). So let’s do the math: Over their last 27 games, opponents are 15-for-132 on passes thrown 21+ yards downfield (11 percent).


* – The Patriots lead the league in scoring efficiency, putting up points on 44 percent of their possessions this season, while the Jets rank second in DEFENSIVE scoring efficiency (25 percent).


* – New England has allowed 400 or more yards in their last five straight games, the first five game streak in the NFL since the 2008 Chiefs went six in a row and the longest such streak by the Patriots since at least 1990.


* – Over their first six games, the Jets allowed four or more yards on first down 47.6 percent of the time (81-of-170). Over the last five games? Just 47-of-139 (33.8 percent), the lowest/best percentage in that span. What’s more, the Patriots offense gained 4+ yards on first down almost 59 percent of the time in their first six games, but just 46 percent over their last five, ranked just 20th in that span.

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