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Setting the scene from MetLife: Patriots look stay on track against Jets

12.21.14 at 10:09 am ET
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MetLife Stadium will be the scene of what could be New England's final road game of the season. (Mike Petraglia/

MetLife Stadium will be the scene of what could be New England’s final road game of the season. (Mike Petraglia/

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 40s are expected for what could be the final road game of the year for the Patriots until the Super Bowl. There is no significant precipitation in the forecast and winds should be light out of the northwest at 8 MPH.

The 11-3 Patriots are 10.5-point favorites against the 3-11 Jets in what many expect to be the home farewell for Rex Ryan in the Meadowlands.

But the Patriots will not be in a sentimental mood, realizing they need a win to cement their place atop the AFC as the No. 1 seed, which carries home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Patriots will clinch the No. 1 seed With a win over the Jets and a Broncos‘ loss in Cincinnati Monday night to the Bengals. The Patriots and Broncos enter their Week 16 games with identical 11-3 records, with the Patriots holding the tiebreaker by virtue of their win on Nov. 2 at Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots clinch at least a first-round bye with a win.

For the first time since 2012, the Patriots will play a game without Julian Edelman. He did not make the trip due to a concussion. Tim Wright, Brian Tyms and Danny Amendola are expected to see more reps. Also out are LeGarrette Blount with a shoulder injury and Kyle Arrington with a hamstring injury. Jonas Gray figures to see a heavier load in the run game. If rookie running back James White is activated, it would mark just the third game this season he’s been active, and the first time since Oct. 26 against the Bears.

The Patriots are no doubt aware of what the Redskins accomplished on Saturday against the Eagles at FedEx Field. The Eagles entered the game with a 9-5 mark and with hopes of winning the NFC East. The Redskins were 3-11 and finishing out the string on another miserable season.

This game has significance for Patriots owner Robert Kraft. With a win, he would earn his 250th win in his 368th game as owner. According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, that would tie Chicago Bears‘ legend George Halas for the fastest to 250 wins as an NFL owner.

The Patriots are naturally looking to extend their dominance of the AFC East as well. The Patriots are 66-18 (.786) in the division since 2001, the best intra-divisional record of any team in the NFL over that period. The Colts are second at 62-23 (.729).

This is the 108th matchup between the two old AFL rivals, with the Patriots holding a 54-52-1 win. The Patriots have dominated the rivalry of late, winning 21 of the last 29 games.

Chris Price has a complete breakdown of what to look for in today’s positional matchups.

It figures to be a somber pregame, with a moment of silence expected for the two Brooklyn police officers murdered while in their patrol cars Saturday.

Read More: Bill Belichick, George Halas, New England Patriots, New York Jets

Week 16 Fantasy Football live chat, 11 a.m.

12.21.14 at 9:46 am ET
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Join Pete Davidson of and in a live chat, starting at 11 a.m. Sunday. Let Davidson get you ready to set all your Week 16 lineups. Get your questions in now …

Live Blog Week 16 Fantasy Football Chat

Patriots downgrade Julian Edelman, LeGarrette Blount, Kyle Arrington to out vs. Jets

12.20.14 at 9:02 pm ET
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Patriots have downgraded three players to out for Sunday’s game against the Jets. Julian Edelman, LeGarrette Blount and Kyle Arrington did not make the trip and will not play Sunday.

Edelman (concussion/thigh) was listed as questionable Friday and practiced on a limited basis all week, but will miss his first game of the season. Blount (shoulder) was the same as Edelman, practicing all week on a limited basis and being listed as questionable, but he will miss his first game since joining the Patriots a few weeks ago. Arrington (hamstring) left last week’s game, but spoke during the week and said he felt like he wouldn’t miss anytime, but he too will miss his first game of the season. He was also limited in practice all week and listed as questionable.

It is worth noting on Arrington, he will snap a streak of 83 straight games played.

Look for Danny Amendola to take a lot of Edelman reps, while Jonas Gray, Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden should expect more carries without Blount. Defensively, Logan Ryan, Malcolm Butler and possibly Alfonzo Dennard will get the snaps in place of Arrington.

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Report: Julian Edelman (concussion) stays at home, won’t play Sunday vs. Jets

12.20.14 at 5:20 pm ET
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Julian Edelman. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Julian Edelman. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — After being limited all week in practice with a concussion, the Patriots have decided to let Julian Edelman stay home and watch the team’s game against the Jets.

In a move first reported by Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, the Patriots made the decision to leave for their short trip to New York without their leading receiver in tow.

Edelman played the final minutes of last Sunday’s game against the Dolphins and spoke to reporters after the game, showing no indication of a possible head injury. Edelman’s name appeared on the injury list as limited with a concussion after Wednesday’s practice, leading to speculation that he suffered the injury during practice on Wednesday.

Edelman, who has also been dealing with a thigh injury suffered in the win over the Colts Nov. 16, was limited in practice on Thursday and Friday before Saturday’s decision by the team.

Edelman has 92 catches for 972 yards and four touchdowns. His 92 catches are 16 better than Rob Gronkowski.

With Edelman sidelined, Danny Amendola figures to step up his role from returning kicks. Brian Tyms could get more reps as well as tight end Tim Wright.

Read More: Julian Edelman, New England Patriots, New York Jets,

Scouting Report: What you have to know about Patriots-Jets

12.19.14 at 10:18 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady combo will provide a test for the Jets Sunday in North Jersey. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady combo will provide a test for the Jets Sunday in North Jersey. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Here’s what you have to know when it comes to Sunday’s Patriots-Jets game at MetLife Stadium:


Don’t expect New England to run the ball that much, as the Jets are still one of the better run defenses in the NFL. New York is fourth in the league when it comes to stopping the run, yielding a stingy 87.5 rushing yards per game. The Jets have allowed more than 100 rushing yards on just five occasions this season, and the Patriots had just 63 when they first met back in October, with Shane Vereen leading the way with 11 carries for 43 yards. (For what it’s worth, that was in the relatively brief window following Stevan Ridley‘s season-ending knee injury against the Bills and the return of LeGarrette Blount from his nine-month odyssey in Western Pennsylvania.) It’s always dangerous to try and predict what the Patriots are going to do when it comes to utilizing their backs. But given the fact that they settled for less than 100 yards on the ground against the Bills, Broncos, Lions and Jets (all top 10 run defenses) and came away with wins in all four of those games, it wouldn’t be a shock to see them run the ball just enough to keep the New York defense honest, but throw to win.


Not breaking any major news here, but expect tight end Rob Gronkowski to be a sizable part of the game plan. His past career numbers against the Jets (in his last four games against Jets, the big fella has 27 catches on 47 targets for 373 yards and four touchdowns), combined with the fact that New York has struggled mightily to contain tight ends over the course of the season (Football Outsiders ranks them 32nd when it comes to defending tight ends in the passing game this season), certainly are good enough reasons to think that he will play a major role this week against New York. In the last few games where Gronkowski has been good to go, he’s seen a lot of 6-foot-1, 210-pound safety Antonio Allen, and while Allen has done a relatively good job against him — Allen picked off a ball intended for Gronkowski in the first game back for the tight end in 2013, taking it to the house for a pick-six — he still faces a massive challenge in trying to slow Gronkowski, who is the most unguardable option in the league.

If the Jets are going to have a hope of pulling off the upset, they’ll have to demonstrate an ability to get to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on a consistent basis with their pass rush. Given New York’s ability to pressure the passer over the course of the season — and the occasional struggles of the New England offensive line — this is a possibility. The New York pass rush is led by Sheldon Richardson (6.5 sacks) and Muhammad Wilkerson (4.5 sacks). In the first game of the season between the two teams, the Jets were able to sack Brady once (veteran linebacker David Harris got to him) and hit him seven times, with Wilkerson delivering three of those shots on the quarterback. They need to get to him as fast as possible because, as our scout friend noted here, the Jets secondary has struggled throughout the season, and don’t figure to have much of an answer when it comes to slowing Gronkowski. Look for the tight end to have a particular impact in two areas: that classic seam route down the field is always a favorite against the Jets, while he will also have his usual opportunities in the red zone.

(One more thing worth noting — Vereen has almost always managed to pick up at least one sizable gain in the passing game against the Jets each time there’s a New York-New England matchup. He had five catches for 71 yards and a pair of touchdowns as a receiver the first time these two teams matched up earlier in the year.)

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Why stopping the Jets on third down means everything to Patriots

12.19.14 at 8:02 pm ET
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Devin McCourty and the Patriots defense must find a way to stop Jets on third down. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Devin McCourty and the Patriots defense must find a way to stop Jets on third down. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Before Chris Jones saved the day with a blocked field goal attempt by Nick Folk on the game’s last play, Bill Belichick remembers exactly how the Patriots found themselves in such a precarious position with the lowly Jets on Oct. 16 at Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots allowed Geno Smith and the Jets to convert 9-of-16 third down chances to extend drives.

“Yeah, killed us,” Belichick recalled Friday morning.

Devin McCourty was a bit more expansive.

“Big point [of emphasis],” McCourty said. “They dominated third down and that gave the ability to dominate the time of possession and keep our offense off the field, keep them in long drive, help them really be able to pound the ball against us. We’ve got to play better on third down.

“Every week, we talk about third down and red area being a lot of times the determining factor in a game. I think it’s no different this week and now, coming up to a game where we’ve already played them, they were over 50 percent on third. It was evidence in watching that film, that third down really killed us.”

If there’s one sure way to keep the 3-11 Jets hanging around on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, it’s allowing them to convert 56 percent of their chances on third down, keeping the Patriots’ defense on the field for extended period.

“Third down was a big problem for us in that game on both sides of the ball,” Belichick said. “It’€™s been a problem for us with them. We don’€™t have the ball very long on offense and we’€™re out there on the field too long on defense. It’€™s us converting them and it’€™s us, well, it’€™s converting them on both sides.”

By contrast, the Patriots converted just 6-of-13 chances (46 percent) on that soggy Thursday night. That night in October, the Jets found a way to convert nine third downs, outrush the Patriots 218-63, outdistance the Patriots in first downs (28-16) and outlast New England in time of possession (40:54-19:06). The Patriots somehow found a way to win.

“It’€™s us converting them offensively to stay on the field and it’€™s us converting them defensively to get off the field and get the ball back for our offense and with good field position,” Belichick added. “We haven’€™t made them punt very much. We just have too many, they have too many extended drives and we’€™ve had too many short ones.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Devin McCourty, New England Patriots, New York Jets

Devin McCourty isn’t buying disrespect card played by Jets: ‘There’s no difference between these 2 teams’

12.19.14 at 7:31 pm ET
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FOXBORO — There was a ton of commotion when the reporters were allowed in the Patriots locker room early Friday afternoon. There was Devin McCourty in the middle of everything, yelling and screaming.

He wasn’t trying to fire his team up about finishing the season strong or warning them about the perils of taking the 3-11 Jets lightly Sunday.

No, he was telling everyone within earshot that he leads the fastest group of Patriots on the field. He was willing to race anyone willing, including Jonas Gray, Matthew Slater or even Aaron Dobson.

“It’s matters what we run,” McCourty laughed. “We’re onto the Jets. We’re onto the Jets. You’re going to get me in trouble.”

Once the yelling the settled down, McCourty was asked about the noise coming from New York that some Jets players like Willie Colon and Jeremy Kerley feel disrespected by Patriots players and the entire organization.

“It’d be hard for us to say we don’t respect a team [when] the last three or four games have been decided three points or so and one of them last year, they won. So, I really don’t see how that’s possible. You’ve got two teams that like playing each other,” McCourty said. “You watch the film, you can tell that right away. There was a fight here, scuffle here last year. There’s no love lost between the two teams but I think there’s definitely a good amount of respect definitely coming from our side and I think they respect us, too. And I think that’s why we go out there and we play each other tough and have competitive games. We know how they want to play us, they know how we want to play them and I think that’s why there are so many good games between the two teams.”

To McCourty’s point, the last three games have been decided by three or fewer points. In New England’s 13-10 win in the 2013 home opener, there was a brawl as the Patriots hung on for the win. The Jets got a measure of revenge five weeks later in a 30-27 overtime decision at MetLife Stadium.
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Read More: Devin McCourty, New England Patriots, New York Jets,
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