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Halftime analysis: Patriots 38, Bears 7

10.26.14 at 2:37 pm ET
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Tom Brady has four touchdown passes at halftime. (Getty Images)

Tom Brady has four touchdown passes at halftime. (Getty Images)

FOXBORO — The Patriots seized command early and added three rapid scores at the end of the second quarter to build a huge lead — 38-7 after two quarters here at Gillette Stadium.

Tom Brady had an incredibly sharp first half, finishing 18-for-21 for 203 yards with four touchdowns. It marked the fifth time in his career he finished with four or more TDs in one half, with the last time coming on Oct. 18, 2009. Meanwhile, Jay Cutler was 7-for-13 for 66 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Here are a few quick notes:

— With the exception of one Chicago drive midway through the second quarter, the Patriots dominated most of the first two quarters on both sides of the ball. On defense, they were able to minimize the damage inflicted by Matt Forte (10 rushes, 59 yards, as well as four catches for 46 yards and a touchdown), while the Bears had no answer for Rob Gronkowski (8 catches for 103 yards and 2 touchdowns), who went over 100 receiving yards for the 14th time in his career. Read the rest of this entry »

Aaron Dobson, Alfonzo Dennard inactive vs. Bears; Akeem Ayers to make Patriots debut

10.26.14 at 11:41 am ET
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FOXBORO — The following Patriots are inactive for Sunday’s game with the Bears: cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, offensive linemen Jordan Devey, Cameron Fleming, and Chris Barker, wide receiver Aaron Dobson, safety Nate Ebner and defensive end Chandler Jones.

Jones (hip) was the only player who was already ruled out, as it is reported his injury will keep him out for six weeks and possibly the reminder of the season.

This is the second straight week Dobson has been inactive and the fifth time out of eight games this season. Dennard started the last three games, but will be inactive for the fourth time this season — he was not listed on the injury report this week. With Dennard inactive, expect Brandon Browner and Logan Ryan to get the bulk of the plays on the other side of Darrelle Revis.

The offensive line also gets a boost with both Bryan Stork and Dan Connolly returning from concussions. Stork has missed two straight games, Connolly just last week.

Linebacker Akeem Ayers, who was traded to the Patriots officially on Wednesday, will make his debut with the team. Also, rookie running back James White is active for just the second time this season.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Patriots inactives,

Patriots vs. Bears live blog

10.26.14 at 11:12 am ET
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For all the latest news, analysis and updates as the Pats take on the Bears in Gillette Stadium, jump into the WEEI.com live blog below.

Live Blog Patriots vs. Bears Live Blog
 

Report: Patriots one of several teams ready to bid for Vincent Jackson at deadline

10.26.14 at 10:42 am ET
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Vincent Jackson is the biggest wide receiver name on the trade market before Tuesday's deadline. (Getty Images)

Vincent Jackson is the biggest wide receiver name on the trade market before Tuesday’s deadline. (Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Are the Patriots in the running for star wide receiver Vincent Jackson?

According to a report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the answer is yes. Rapoport reported Sunday morning that the Patriots are one of the teams considering making an offer to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the big play receiver.

According to Rapoport, Tampa Bay wants “real value” in return, said to be at least a second round pick for the 31-year-old receiver with 25 catches, 344 yards and two touchdowns this season for the 1-5 Bucs. Jackson would give the Patriots something critics and scouts alike have said has been desperately lacking in the passing game – a legitimate deep threat with size, as Jackson stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 230 pounds.

At the very least, the Patriots would have to make an offer better than what the Eagles and Seahawks are said to be considering offering the Bucs.

Jackson signed a five-year, $55 million contract with the Bucs in March 2012. Any team that trades for him would assume approximately a $5 million cap hit. According to the sports salary tracker Spotrac, the Patriots currently stand roughly $8.8 million under the cap.

The trade deadline is Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Read More: New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Setting the scene: Patriots battle Monsters of the Midway in pre-Halloween contest at Gillette

10.26.14 at 9:48 am ET
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Rob Gronkowski is the featured player on the cover of Patriots GAMEDAY Sunday. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Rob Gronkowski is the featured player on the cover of Patriots GAMEDAY Sunday. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-50s are expected for the 1 p.m. showdown between the Patriots and Bears in the last game before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. NFL trade deadline, and the last game before Halloween. Wind could be a factor as the forecast calls for a gust out of the north, northeast at 16 MPH.

The Patriots have been Jekyll and Hyde this season, showing their typical scary potential on offense in wins over the Bengals and Bills. They have also looked ghoulish in near-home losses to arguably the two worst teams in football, the Raiders and Jets.

Still, the Patriots are riding a three-game winning streak entering their match against the “Monsters of the Midway,” who have been hit-and-miss themselves this season.

The Bears enter the game with a 3-4 record and are coming off a hideous 27-14 home loss to the Dolphins last Sunday in Chicago. The Bears, when they don’t shoot themselves in the foot and turn the ball over, are one of the most explosive teams in the league, featuring Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey and the NFL’s leading receiver Matt Forte. And, of course, they have one of the most unpredictable quarterbacks in the game in Jay Cutler.

Their defense still has the ability to rush the passer, with names like Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston.

The Patriots will be without their leading pass rusher Chandler Jones, who is out with a hip injury for at least six weeks and could be gone for the season. Shane Vereen is officially questionable after missing Friday’s practice with an illness.

Tom Brady is facing the Bears for the fourth time in his career, having won the previous three meetings.

Of all the impressive statistics the Patriots have compiled in their time at Gillette Stadium, their record in their last 43 games might be most impressive. New England is 40-3 in their last 43 games in Foxboro. They also own the NFL’s longest home winning streak at 12 games. They also have won 70 straight home games when leading at the half. The last time the Patriots lost a game when leading at halftime was in Bill Belichick‘s first season in New England, a 27-24 loss to the Dolphins on Christmas Eve 2000 at old Foxboro Stadium.

New England’s 84-15 record in 99 regular season games at Gillette is the highest win percentage in the NFL since the 1970 merger.

Read More: Chicago Bears, New England Patriots,

Fantasy Football: Week 8 Live Chat, 11 a.m.

10.25.14 at 10:11 pm ET
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Join Pete Davidson of WEEI.com and Rotobahn.com for a live chat to help you set your fantasy football lineups for Week 8. The fun begins at 11 a.m. so get your questions in now …

Live Blog Week 8 Fantasy Football Live Chat
 

Can Dominique Easley, Casey Walker and Zach Moore give Vince Wilfork more of a breather?

10.25.14 at 3:10 pm ET
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Dominique Easley

Dominique Easley

FOXBORO — Vince Wilfork can’t play every down anymore. Nor do the Patriots want him playing all the time anymore.

After playing 64 of 69 snaps in Buffalo against the Bills, Wilfork’s snaps fell to 78 percent (68 of 87 snaps) against the Jets. Still, Wilfork is certainly on pace to earn his 70 percent participation clause that will kick in his $3 million guarantee. He has already played 78.9 percent of his snaps this season. His 377 snaps is 162 more than Chris Jones, the next closest on the line.

But with injuries to Sealver Siliga and Chandler Jones and the departure of Tommy Kelly, there’s a need to make sure there’s insurance behind Wilfork.

This is what the Patriots had in mind when they drafted Dominique Easley and Zach Moore and signed Casey Walker off the Carolina Panthers practice squad in late September. It’s why they have brought in Alan Branch to see if they can resurrect his career after some off-the-field transgressions.

But most of the focus now is on Easley, a player like Wilfork who could make the transition from inside to outside on the defensive line.

“Easley has really played all those spots across the board from college and even back from when we had him here in the spring and then when he was able to practice in training camp,” coach Bill Belichick said Friday. “He’€™s worked all the way from outside the tight end to on the center’€™s nose, so everywhere in between: zero to two-I, three, four, five, six, seven, nine. He’€™s been at every spot.

“That is unusual. He’€™s got a unique set of skills that allow him to do that. [He’€™s] quick enough to play outside, enough playing strength to play inside, to a degree. Good instinctiveness in terms of recognizing blocking schemes. There are a lot of different things that can happen when you’€™re in there between a guard and a center or a guard and tackle compared to when you’€™re outside of a tight end. You’€™re seeing the game kind of from the inside out as opposed from the outside in. it’€™s different. I’€™d say there aren’€™t a lot of guys that comes real easy to. There are a few, but not a lot.”

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Read More: Casey Walker, Dominique Easley, New England Patriots, Vince Wilfork
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