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Live Chat: Helping set fantasy football lineups for Week 15, 11 a.m.

12.15.13 at 8:22 am ET
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Join and fantasy football expert Pete Davidson for a live chat, starting at 11 a.m. Sunday. Let Davidson help you set your lineup in one of the most important fantasy weeks of the season. Get your questions in now …


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Final Thoughts on Patriots-Dolphins

12.15.13 at 5:30 am ET
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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — 1. There was an interesting statistical breakdown of the Patriots and their run of regular-season success this week in the Wall Street Journal. While pointing out that New England has been ‘€œamazing at the regular season’€ over the course of the last decade, the contrast between their regular season success and Super Bowl drought is an interesting statistical oddity. The Patriots have posted a 108-33 mark over the last nine seasons, a winning percentage of .766, but have not won it all in that span. Only one team during the Super Bowl era has had a better record for that long without winning a championship — the 1967-75 Raiders, who were 95-24-7, a winning percentage of .782. (The Raiders were the only top-10 best without a title over a nine-season span that would go on to win a championship. Led by quarterback Ken Stabler and coach John Madden, they finally broke through in the 1976 season.)

2. One other by-the-numbers note we discovered this week that sticks out about the 2013 Patriots: For the last several seasons, the Patriots were among the league leaders when it came to turnover ratio. And while they remain on the plus side of the ledger entering Sunday’€™s game against the Dolphins — plus-six, tied for ninth in the league, a total that two-thirds of the league would love to have — the numbers are down from previous seasons. A closer look at the number reveals that while New England is taking the ball away at pretty much the same rate it has over the last decade or so, the difference is in their own giveaways. The nine fumbles through the first 13 games are one of the higher numbers for the Patriots over the last seven-plus seasons. (The recent franchise mark — 15 fumbles in 2006 — is likely out of reach.) The following numbers are through the first 13 games of their respective seasons, while the fumble information is for the duration of the regular-season:

2013: plus-six (nine fumbles through 13 games)
2012: plus-24, best in the NFL (seven fumbles on the season)
2011: plus-nine (five fumbles)
2010: plus-18, best in the NFL (five fumbles)
2009: plus-six (nine fumbles)
2008: minus-2 (10 fumbles)
2007: plus-18 (six fumbles)
2006: even (15 fumbles)

3. The Patriots have played in a wide variety of conditions to this point in the season. But with temperatures slated to be in the 70s and 80s this weekend in Miami — and with wintry conditions expected for next week in Baltimore, as well as the regular-season finale at home against the Bills — it appears that Sunday’€™s game against the Dolphins in South Florida will be the warmest one of the season for New England. (According to NFL gamebooks, the previous high for the Patriots this season was 72 degrees, which was the temperature at kickoff in a Sept. 12 win over the Jets in Foxboro.)

According to the NFL gamebooks, here’€™s a look at the temperatures for each of New England’€™s 13 games to this point in the season:

Sept: 8 at Buffalo: 65 degrees
Sept. 12 vs. Jets: 72 degrees, rain
Sept. 22 vs. Tampa: 65 degrees
Sept. 29 at Atlanta: Dome
Oct. 6 at Cincinnati: 68 degrees, rain
Oct. 13 vs. New Orleans: 59 degrees
Oct. 20 at Jets: 63 degrees
Oct. 27 vs. Miami: 53 degrees
Nov. 3 vs. Steelers: 44 degrees
Nov. 18 at Carolina: 59 degrees
Nov. 24 vs. Denver: 22 degrees
Dec. 1 at Houston: 64 degrees
Dec. 8 vs. Cleveland: 30 degrees

One other logistical note: If the Patriots are able to run the table the rest of the way and clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC, it would guarantee them of playing all their postseason games at home. With the Super Bowl slated for North Jersey, that would mean New England could go the duration of the 2013 regular season and postseason with just one game outside the Eastern Time Zone. (Dec. 1st at Houston.)

4. Former Patriots receiver Donald Jones spoke publicly for the first time this week about his recent kidney surgery, and it’€™s a remarkable story. Jones, who was signed in the offseason by New England after three seasons and 82 catches with the Bills, had struggled with kidney problems since he was a collegian. But a visit with kidney specialist Gerald Appel last summer revealed the severity of Jones’€™ condition — his kidney functions had deteriorated to a level where the only options were a transplant or dialysis. The Patriots ultimately released him in early August, and he announced his retirement. Earlier this month, he underwent a transplant, and Jones, who will turn 27 on Tuesday, is on the road to recovery. In fact, he’€™s doing so well, he’€™s going to try and give professional baseball a try. ‘€œGoing through all of that is like, man, I’€™ve got nothing to lose. I’€™ve persevered through the worst,’€ Jones told The Associated Press by phone this week from his hospital room at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. ‘€œIt’€™s really a blessing.’€ For more on Jones and his recovery, check out the story here.

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Video: ‘4th & Goal’ breaks down Patriots-Dolphins

12.14.13 at 10:08 pm ET
By   |   Comments’s Chris Price previews this week’s matchup between the Patriots and the Dolphins. Find out the keys to the game as well as Chris’ prediction.

Patriots rule out Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins for Sunday vs. Dolphins

12.14.13 at 8:40 pm ET
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Despite returning to practice on Friday after missing the last two games with a sore left foot, rookie receiver Aaron Dobson was one of two players the Patriots ruled out on Saturday night for Sunday afternoon’s game in South Florida. Also ruled out Sunday is fellow rookie receiver Kenbrell Thompkins with a hip injury.

Dobson injured his left foot in the game against the Broncos and played just 36 of 87 snaps. After catching six passes for 56 yards against Denver on Nov. 24, Thompkins was held to just one catch for 16 yards against Houston on Dec. 1 and injured his hip.

Both Thompkins and Hobson watched last Sunday’s come-from-behind win over the Browns from the press box. Dobson was wearing a boot on his left foot before discarding it for Friday’s practice.

Dobson and Thompkins were among the nine listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report, but the only two ruled out by the team Saturday after the team arrived in South Florida. It is standard procedure for road teams not to travel players who are ruled out the night before the game.

For more, including coverage from Chris Price in South Florida, visit the Patriots team page at

Read More: Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots

Ten things you have to know about Patriots-Dolphins

12.14.13 at 12:24 am ET
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Here’€™s everything you need to know about Sunday’€™s Patriots-Dolphins game:

Our three favorite matchups on the afternoon:

1. Running back Shane Vereen against the Miami defense:
With Rob Gronkowski now out for the rest of the season, Vereen is New England’s most dynamic offensive option, a multidimensional threat who can be a handful for opposing defenses to contain. Vereen, who averages 7.2 yards every time he touches the ball this season, is a threat on the ground, but can do some serious damage through the air. Last week against the Browns, he had 12 catches for 153 yards (franchise marks for a running back) and a touchdown.

2. The Patriots offensive line against the Dolphins defensive front:
The New England offensive line has struggled at times over the last month-plus as Tom Brady has been knocked around pretty good. Despite a repeated emphasis on getting the ball out as fast as possible — which will almost certainly be a priority this week for several reasons against some very good pass rushers — the New England front will be asked to keep Brady clean in a the face of an very good group of pass rushers. Keep an eye on the edges, as Patriots left tackle Nate Solder missed one day of practice with a concussion he suffered against the Browns, while Marcus Cannon and Will Svitek has combined to hold down the right side with Sebastian Vollmer on injured reserve. Olivier Vernon (11.5 sacks) Randy Starks (3 sacks), Jared Odrick (4.5 sacks), Paul Soliai (2 sacks) and Cameron Wake (7.5 sacks) are all impressive in their own right, both against the run and the pass, and will provide the Patriots with another stern test.

3. Defensive end Chandler Jones against left tackle Bryant McKinnie:
Jones was on a streak of five sacks in six games entering the Dec. 1 contest against the Texans — since then, he’s been held sackless. The New England defensive end was stymied by McKinnie when these two teams met in Week 8, just eight days after McKinnie was acquired by the Dolphins in a trade. With the New England defensive front struggling the last few weeks, a jolt from Jones on the outside would go a long way toward shaking up the Miami offense.

4. Under the radar opponent who Patriots’€™ fans need to know: Charles Clay.
“The Claymaker” has become an absolutely vital piece of the Miami offense. The Tulsa product — who checks in at 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds — caught 34 passes in his first two seasons with the Dolphins, but has really clicked with quarterback Ryan Tannehill this year, hauling in 60 passes for 678 yards and six touchdowns. He’s not just a pass catcher, but Bill Belichick went out of his way to praise his work as a blocker who has been able to nullify some pretty good defensive ends over the course of the year, including Carolina’s Charles Johnson. Considering that the Patriots have struggled at times when it comes to containing relatively anonymous tight ends (Jordan Cameron had nine catches for 121 yards and a touchdown last Sunday), New England needs to make containing Clay a priority.

5. By the numbers:
Per Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders, the Patriots have four wins after trailing by nine-plus points in the second half since Week 8. By way of comparison, the Packers have one (Sunday) since 2005.

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Video: NWOA Injury Report takes a look at Rob Gronkowski’s torn ACL and MCL

12.13.13 at 9:54 pm ET
By   |   Comments’s Chris Price is joined by Dr. Matthew Messina, D.O. of Newton Wellesley Orthopedic Associates to talk about the torn ACL and MCL suffered by Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.

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T.J. Ward not fined for season-ending hit on Rob Gronkowski

12.13.13 at 5:07 pm ET
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There will be no financial penalty or other discipline levied against Browns safety T.J. Ward for his season-ending hit on the right knee of Rob Gronkowski.

The key, in the eyes of the NFL’s disciplinary panel, was that Gronkowski was not a defenseless receiver. He had the ball following a seam pass from Tom Brady so the hit was technically legal. Ward, at 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, dove into Gronkowski’s right leg as his foot was planting, which forced his knee to bend while simultaneously lifting the tight end into the air. Gronkowski, at 6-foot-6, 265 pounds, somersaulted sideways and suffered a torn ACL and MCL.

He was placed on injured reserve Monday, ending his season.

After Sunday’s game, Ward, who has been fined multiple times in his career for high hits, lamented that he has to go low to avoid another more serious fine.

Read More: Cleveland Browns, Gronk, New England Patriots, nfl
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