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Patriots to honor 3-time Super Bowl champions during Sunday’s game

10.28.14 at 2:09 pm ET
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During the Patriots’ three Super Bowl titles in four years during the mid-2000’s, 22 players were on the team for all three. 18 of those 22 players will be honored Sunday during halftime of the Patriots’ matchup with the Broncos, as it is the 10th anniversary season of the accomplishment.

“€œCollectively, these 22 players will always share a special bond,” said Robert Kraft in a press release. “While individual Super Bowl teams will certainly be celebrated in the future, these 22 players represent the greatest era in franchise history and one of the greatest accomplishments in NFL history. It is always fun to participate in reunions with former players. The stories they share from their playing days are always entertaining and it is always fun to see the ovations the players get from our fans. I look forward to seeing them and sharing those experiences with them.”

The 18 players who will be honored at halftime are: Joe Andruzzi, Tom Ashworth, Troy Brown, Tedy Bruschi, Matt Chatham, Je’€™Rod Cherry, Kevin Faulk, Ted Johnson, Ty Law, Matt Light, Willie McGinest, Stephen Neal, Patrick Pass, David Patten, Lonie Paxton, Roman Phifer and Richard Seymour.

Tom Brady and Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri are still playing, while Larry Izzo (New York Giants), Mike Vrabel (Houston Texans) and Adrian Klemm (UCLA) are currently on active coaching staffs and will not be able to attend.

Read More: Robert Kraft, Super Bowl, Troy Brown, Ty Law

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

10.28.14 at 12:55 pm 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 ninth in the league in sacks with 21. Based on the official NFL game books and PFF, here’€™s a look at the pass-rush numbers for the Patriots after eight games for the 2014 regular season:

Sacks (via gamebooks)
DE Chandler Jones: 4.5 (28 yards)
DE Rob Ninkovich: 4 (29 yards)
LB Dont’€™a Hightower: 3.5 (25.5 yards)
DL Chris Jones: 1.5 (12 yards)
LB Deontae Skinner: 1 (10 yards)
LB Akeem Ayers: 1 (9 yards)
LB Jerod Mayo: 1 (9 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 Chandler Jones: 8
DE Rob Ninkovich: 8
LB Dont’€™a Hightower: 5
DL Chris Jones: 3
LB Jerod Mayo: 2
LB Jamie Collins: 2
DL Joe Vellano: 1
LB Akeem Ayers: 1
CB Brandon Browner: 1
LB Deontae Skinner: 1
DB Patrick Chung: 1
DL Casey Walker: 1
DL Vince Wilfork: 1

Quarterback Hurries (via PFF)
DE Rob Ninkovich: 18
DE Chandler Jones: 15
DL Vince Wilfork: 7
LB Dont’€™a Hightower: 6
LB Jerod Mayo: 5
DL Chris Jones: 5
DL Dominique Easley: 4
LB Jamie Collins: 4
DL Casey Walker: 3
DE Zach Moore: 3
DL Sealver Siliga: 2
DL Joe Vellano: 2
CB Alfonzo Dennard: 1
LB Akeem Ayers: 1
S Patrick Chung: 1
CB Logan Ryan: 1

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Target Practice: Tracking opportunities in Patriots passing game

10.28.14 at 12:41 pm ET
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Tim Wright

Tim Wright

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 eight regular-season games this year.

WR Julian Edelman: 45 catches on 69 targets
TE Rob Gronkowski: 40 catches on 65 targets
WR Brandon LaFell: 30 catches on 50 targets
RB Shane Vereen: 27 catches on 40 targets
TE Tim Wright: 17 catches on 18 targets
WR Danny Amendola: 7 catches on 13 targets
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 6 catches on 11 targets
RB Stevan Ridley: 4 catches on 5 targets
FB James Develin: 4 catches on 4 targets
RB James White: 3 catches on 3 targets
WR Aaron Dobson: 3 catches on 4 targets
RB Brandon Bolden: 2 catches on 4 targets
TE Michael Hoomananwanui: 2 catches on 2 targets
WR Brian Tyms: 1 catch on 2 targets

Read More: targets,

Rodney Harrison on MFB: Next month will show how ‘fierce’ Patriots are

10.28.14 at 12:37 pm ET
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NBC Sports NFL analyst Rodney Harrison made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Tuesday to discuss the Patriots’€™ upcoming game against the Broncos and also Tuesday’s trade deadline. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Patriots will have their toughest test of the season in Peyton Manning and the Broncos Sunday afternoon. It will also give their second-ranked pass defense a chance to go against an above average quarterback for arguably the first time this season.

“When I look at this team, they’€™ve played against Ryan Tannehill, the Oakland Raiders and Derek Carr –€“ I mean they haven’€™t played against a lot of great quarterbacks,” Harrison said. “I look at this next month in the season and they are going to play against some pretty quality quarterbacks so we’€™ll see how fierce the Patriots are, but if they want to get to the Super Bowl — I know that is their goal and aspirations, obviously they are not looking at it right now, but long-term that is your goal — you’€™re going to have to beat Peyton Manning. Not just compete with him, but you’€™re going to have to beat Denver.”

As for Tuesday’s trade deadline, there has been speculation the Patriots have expressed interest in wide receiver Vincent Jackson, but Harrison doesn’t see that as a fit.

“I wouldn’€™t say they have to go out and panic and get a guy like Vincent Jackson or someone like that because he still has to come in, learn the offense — and then who knows what kind of chemistry that messes up with Brandon LaFell,” said Harrison. “I think they are OK at the wide receiver spot. If they can stay healthy and have that offensive line protection — and Tom, he looks like he’€™s getting better. He looks like he’€™s getting more confident behind that offensive line, but I don’€™t think they need to panic and spend that type of money on Vincent Jackson.”

Harrison has been impressed with LaFell of late as he has 19 catches and three touchdowns in his last three games, including catching 11 passes on 11 targets in Sunday’s win over the Bears.

“I just love what Brandon LaFell has done,” Harrison said. “I love the confidence they are putting in him and it seems like each and every week the energy level, the route running, just the confidence and catching the ball — he looks like he is a legit wide receiver now.”

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Read More: Brandon LaFell, Peyton Manning, Rob Gronkowski, Rodney Harrison

Fantasy Football: Week 9 waiver wire

10.28.14 at 11:33 am ET
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WEEI_FantasyFootball_2014_hdr

In last week’s waiver wire, I told you to be aggressive because there was a lot of talent out there and the bye weeks were going to get here real soon. Well, soon is now. There are six teams on their byes in Week 9, and that will lead to a very active waiver process in most leagues. The good news is that there still are plenty of options, it’s just going to be tougher to win bids.

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.

If you play in really big leagues, as I tend to do, you should head on over to Rotobahn Tuesday afternoon and check out my expanded waiver wire. The expanded edition gives you about twice as many options. To keep pace with all WEEI and Rotobahn fantasy football content, including Sunday chats and The Fantasy Football Hour with my good buddy Jim Hackett, follow me on Twitter.

QUARTERBACKS

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers — 74 percent

The most obvious recommendation of the week, but I’m throwing him out there because he is available in more than one out of four leagues. Ride the hot streak if he’s available. The Steelers host the Ravens this week and Baltimore will be without its top cornerback, Jimmy Smith.

Carson Palmer, Cardinals — 50 percent

Palmer is rounding back into shape and can play for you on most weeks. Arizona’s offense is deep and well run by HC Bruce Arians. Add Palmer as a strong QB2 or bye week option. Arizona visits the Cowboys this week.

Eli Manning, Giants — 58 percent

Manning has been dumped by a lot of owners after a dud in Philadelphia and the season-ending injury to Victor Cruz. While the Cruz injury is significant, it is more than made up for by the addition of Odell Beckham Jr. — a receiver who can pretty much do it all. Manning can help you as a matchup play or bye week option. He has an appealing home matchup with the Colts this week.

Robert Griffin III, Washington — 36 percent

This is not a move for this week, because Griffin may not return until Week 11. Having said that, he could return if he shows his coaches that he’s ready for contact. The reason to go after Griffin is because his upside is so high. The Washington offense is mostly healthy, and with Griffin’s mobility there’s a lot of fantasy potential. If your quarterback spot lacks upside, Griffin is a worthwhile investment.

Blake Bortles, Jaguars — 10 percent

It may not be pretty — in fact, at times Bortles is tough to watch. He’s definitely taking his lumps as he learns on the job — making choices that veterans would never make. On the upside, he adds foot points to the box score with regularity and his team generally is trailing down the stretch of games, so you’ll get volume on most weeks. Consider Bortles as a potential add if you have a Week 9 storm at the position.

Michael Vick, Jets — 3 percent

Vick is the starter now. He can still take chunks of yardage with his feet and that helps. Vick will also have the benefit of having Percy Harvin as he gets more acclimated with the Jets’ offensive system. Vick is definitely worth an add in 12-team leagues. He has more fantasy potential than Geno Smith did. He can help you this week if you are hurting — even in smaller formats.

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Read More: Ben Roethlisberger, Blake Bortles, Carson Palmer, Eli Manning

Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson on D&C: Tom Brady in October ‘possibly the best quarterback in the NFL’

10.28.14 at 10:26 am ET
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Tom Brady had an impressive month of October throwing for 14 touchdowns. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tom Brady had an impressive month of October, throwing for 14 touchdowns. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus joined the Dennis & Callahan show on Tuesday to give his evaluation of Tom Brady so far this season after writing in June he was on the decline and no longer a top-five quarterback. He also touched on the play of Darrelle Revis. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

In June Monson wrote that Brady has been on a significant decline in recent years and no longer belongs in the upper echelon of elite quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. Following Brady’s impressive month of October — based on the month alone — Monson acknowledged the veteran is playing at an elite level.

“I think it depends by what you mean by current. The Tom Brady of October is possibly the best quarterback in the NFL,” said Monson. “I’m not sure there is anyone that has played better than him the last three or four weeks, but the Tom Brady of September was a totally different guy. That was a guy who wasn’t anywhere near that top-four list, so the question is going to be what is the Tom Brady we are going to get in November, December and maybe January.”

With Brady’s struggles in the first four weeks of the season many blamed the poor play of the offensive line as well as the quarterback still building chemistry with his receivers. Monson said that wasn’t everything and Brady still shared some of the blame.

“I don’t think it’s true to say it had nothing to do with Brady,” Monson said. “There hasn’t been that much of a change between the supporting cast around Brady in September and the supporting cast around him in October. The bottom line is he is just playing an awful lot better. I’m sure obviously more familiarity with those receivers is going to play into that, [Rob] Gronkowski getting healthier is obviously a big factor and the offensive line has definitely improved certainly from the first game. It hasn’t become a fantastic line — it’s certainly given him problems. Brady is overcoming them way better than he did in September.”

Monson also touched on the play of Revis, as he included him in a piece that called him a player who has regressed this season. Monson doesn’t believe the “real Revis” has been showcased so far this season.

“[Revis] is another guy who had a great game against the Bears, but that is a case of who didn’t?” said Monson. “Before that, again, he hasn’t really done an awful lot to suggest that was wrong. I don’t think we’ve seen the real Revis so far this season, except against the Bears.”

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Read More: Darrelle Revis, Sam Monson, Tom Brady,

Bill Belichick on D&H: End of half was ‘big turning point in the game’ against Bears

10.27.14 at 6:37 pm ET
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick joined the Dale & Holley show on Monday to discuss his team’€™s 51-23 win over the Bears. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

During the victory, New England played a well-balanced game that saw the team get positive play in all areas of the game. From Tom Brady to the defensive line, the team’€™s overall effort made Sunday’€™s game a blowout.

Said Belichick: “I thought we had our moments. But we did get contributions in all three phases. The sequence at the end of the first half where we were able to score, have good kickoff coverage, have a good punt return, score, turnover on defense. That was obviously a big turning point in the game after they’€™d cut it to 17-7. You get something that skews the game a little bit, I think it was more competitive game that that. But I think our guys, we had a lot of energy. We were able to score first, get it back, get some points on the board early, score on eight of nine possessions offensively, had couple of turnovers on defense. There were good contributions everywhere.”

Brady had one of his best offensive performances this season Sunday when he completed 30-of-35 passes for 354 yards and five touchdowns. He spread the ball around, as six players had at least one catch. Belichick said he doesn’t look as much at what his quarterback does, but rather how the team as a whole performs.

“In evaluating how our team does, it’€™s points is the name of the game — scoring and giving them up,”  Belichick said. “Nothing more important than that. … Move the ball between the 20s, and then not be able to convert in the red area. It’€™s good, but it’€™s not good versus being able to get the ball in the end zone, and finish the drive and complete it. Whether that’€™s on a big play or whether it’€™s on a conversion in the red area, low red area, whatever it happens to be, those are the plays that end up resulting in points and make a difference.”

Continued Belichick: “I’€™d say Tom made a big jump from ’01 to ’03 in that two years. I think he’€™s continued to make jumps. I think he continues to improve, he works hard. He’€™s always working on little things, situational things, technique things, reading defenses, finding matchups, all of those things. He works very hard at it. I don’€™t think that’€™s ever been a weak point, but it continues to get stronger.”

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Read More: Akeem Ayers, Bill Belichick, Jonas Gray, Peyton Manning
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