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Pressure Points: Which New England defenders have done best job getting after QB in 2013?

12.24.13 at 10:15 am ET
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Every week over the course of the 2013 season, we’€™ll provide a look at the Patriots pass rush numbers. 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. Through 15 games, the Patriots have 44 sacks (tied for sixth in the league), 85 quarterback hits and 163 quarterback hurries. Based on the official NFL game books and PFF, here’€™s a quick look at some pass-rush numbers for the Patriots to this point in the 2013 season:

Quarterback sacks
DL Chandler Jones: 11.5 (74 yards)
DE Rob Ninkovich: 7 (34 yards)
DL Chris Jones: 5 (36 yards)
DL Tommy Kelly: 2.5 (15 yards)
LB Dane Fletcher: 2 (19 yards)
DL Joe Vellano: 2 (18 yards)
DE Michael Buchanan: 2 (15 yards)
DL Sealver Siliga: 2 (13 yards)
DE Andre Carter: 2 (12 yards)
CB Kyle Arrington: 2 (11 yards)
CB Logan Ryan: 1.5 (14 yards)
LB Jerod Mayo: 1.5 (5 yards)
LB Dont’€™a Hightower: 1 (9 yards)
DL Isaac Sopoaga: 1 (8 yards)

‘€¨’€¨Quarterback hits (per NFL game books)
DE Chandler Jones: 22
DE Rob Ninkovich: 16
DE Andre Carter: 7
DL Chris Jones: 7
DL Tommy Kelly: 6
DE Michael Buchanan: 5
LB Dont’€™a Hightower: 5
DL Joe Vellano: 4
LB: Dane Fletcher: 3
CB Kyle Arrington: 2
DL Sealver Siliga: 2
LB Jerod Mayo: 2
DL Vince Wilfork: 1
DE Jake Bequette: 1
CB Logan Ryan: 1
S Steve Gregory: 1
DL Issac Sopoaga: 1
LB Jamie Collins: 1

Quarterback hurries (per PFF)
DE Rob Ninkovich: 42
DE Chandler Jones: 33
LB Dont’€™a Hightower: 13
DL Joe Vellano: 11
DL Chris Jones: 12
DL Tommy Kelly: 6
LB Brandon Spikes: 6
DE Michael Buchanan: 6
LB Jamie Collins: 6
DE Andre Carter: 4
DL Sealver Siliga: 5
LB Dane Fletcher: 4
DL Vince Wilfork: 3
DL Isaac Sopoaga: 3
LB Jerod Mayo: 2
CB Devin McCourty: 2
CB Marquice Cole: 1
CB Kyle Arrington: 1
DE Jake Bequette: 1
CB Alfonzo Dennard: 1

By way of comparison, here’s a look at the pass rush numbers through 15 games last year.

Read More: pressure points,

In Focus: Charting offensive opportunities for Patriots skill position players

12.24.13 at 9:00 am ET
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Every week over the course of the regular season, we’€™ll present a list of the Patriots’€™ ‘€œoffensive touches,’€ a running tally of which one of the offensive skill position players is getting the most looks. Like our weekly look at targets, it can occasionally be an inexact stat, but it remains a good barometer of how confident the coaches (and quarterback) are when it comes to the skill position players at their disposal. Fifteen games into the regular season, here’€™s a breakdown of the New England offense for 2013:

RB Stevan Ridley: 176 (166 rushes, 10 catches), 15 negative rushes, 1 negative reception, 4 fumbles lost
RB LeGarrette Blount: 131 (129 rushes, 2 catches), 9 negative runs, 2 fumbles lost
WR Julian Edelman: 98 (2 rushes, 96 catches), 6 dropped passes
RB Shane Vereen: 86 (42 rushes, 44 catches), 2 negative runs, 6 dropped passes
RB Brandon Bolden: 76 (55 rushes, 21 catches), 4 negative runs, 1 negative reception
WR Danny Amendola: 54 (1 rush, 53 catches), 1 negative reception
TE Rob Gronkowski: 39 (0 rushes, 39 catches)
WR Aaron Dobson: 36 (0 rushes, 36 catches), 1 negative reception, 7 dropped passes
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 32 (0 rushes, 32 catches), 7 dropped passes
QB Tom Brady: 27 (27 rushes, 0 catches), 36 sacks, 16 kneeldowns, 3 fumbles lost
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: 12 (0 rushes, 12 catches)
WR Josh Boyce: 9 (0 rushes, 9 catches), 2 dropped passes
FB James Develin: 6 (2 rushes, 4 catches)
WR Austin Collie: 6 (0 rushes, 6 catches)
TE Matthew Mulligan: 2 (0 rushes, 2 catches)
RB Leon Washington: 1 (1 rush, 0 catches)

Some offensive notes: The Patriots ran 62 plays on Sunday against the Ravens and 23 of them were in the shotgun, 37 percent. To this point in the season, the Patriots have been in shotgun formation on 466 of their 1,070 offensive snaps, a rate of 44 percent. (Last year through 15 games, the Patriots were in the shotgun for 554 of their 1,164 plays, a rate of 48 percent.) ‘€¦ Against the Ravens, the Patriots were in no-huddle for two of their 62 snaps. On the year, the Patriots have operated in a no-huddle on 117 of their 1,070 plays from scrimmage ‘€” 11 percent of the time. ‘€¦ New England has run 1,070 offensive plays this year in 15 games. Not counting kneeldowns, 74 have been for negative yardage. Of the 62 plays against the Ravens, four went for negative yardage ‘€” two sacks of Brady and negative runs from Ridley and Blount.

By way of comparison, here’s a look at the offensive breakdown through 15 games last year.

Read More: offensive opportunities,

Fantasy Football: Week 17 waiver wire

12.24.13 at 8:57 am ET
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Welcome to the Week 17 waiver wire. I know it’€™s championship week for those of you left out there and it’€™s a really tough way to play your biggest game, because we’€™ll have a lot of players taking this week off or at least playing under very limited snap counts. So I’€™ll do my best to find you a few good options. One good idea is to come back later this week for the starts and sits, where I will try to find some of the key sits based on playing time or a predictable lack thereof. As always, I will be expanding the waiver wire for those of you in deeper formats, so head over to Rotobahn if you are a deep leaguer in need of even more ideas. I will also be doing our usual Rotobahn lineup rankings for Week 17, so check back later this week for that.

QUARTERBACKS

Jay Cutler, Bears

He was mediocre last week, but he is one of the more talented options out there, so he is very worthy of a plug-n-play this weekend at home against the Packers. Green Bay has been suspect defending the pass and the Bears have incredible talent at all of the receiving spots.

Kirk Cousins, Redskins

He’€™s a viable play at the Giants in a game that is meaningless for both teams. Washington is not going to play conservative when it is trying to increase Cousins’€™ market value. The ball is going to be in the air. Cousins is not a QB1, but he can help you if you need an option.

Terrelle Pryor, Raiders

Pryor will start in place of Matt McGloin this week and he’€™s an very interesting option. The Broncos are locked in and they will be playing without stud pass rusher Von Miller. Pryor may not be the long-term answer for Oakland, but he has fantasy upside this week because he makes plays with his arm and with his legs. If you are hurting in a deep league, he’€™s a viable option.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: James Starks, Jay Cutler, Kirk Cousins, Knile Davis

WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 17: Seahawks still No. 1 despite loss

12.24.13 at 8:48 am ET
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The Seahawks stumbled but didn’t fall in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. Despite suffering a setback in Week 16, Seattle stands pat because of its overall dominance. The 49ers, Panthers, Broncos and Patriots, who all have secured playoff spots, round out the top five.

As we head into the last week of the season, division titles and playoff spots still are up for grabs. Four teams are fighting for one spot in the AFC: the Chargers (11), Ravens (13), Dolphins (15) and Steelers (17). The NFC is wide open, with three divisions and a wild card spot on the line. The Eagles (12) will look to become the 11th consecutive team in the NFL to finish in last place and then go on to win the division the very next year, and it will take a win over the Cowboys (19) on Sunday to accomplish that feat. Philadelphia’s odds of winning the NFC East improved dramatically on Monday after it was reported that Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo will be sidelined due to a back problem.

The conclusion of the 2013 regular season promises to be a wild one. Be sure to check in next week after all is decided for the playoff edition of the Power Rankings.

1. (1) Seahawks (12-3) — The NFC took notice that the Seahawks are vulnerable in Seattle. They lost at home for the first time in two years. Penalties and a struggling passing attack hurt Pete Carroll‘s team Sunday. 

 2. (2) 49ers (11-4) — They’ve clinched and now have won five straight. The Niners are the type of seasoned, well-balanced team that is capable of going into Seattle and winning if the situation were to arise.

3. (3) Panthers (11-4) — The Panthers have the tools to reach the Super Bowl. Cam Newton has proven this year that the big moment doesn’t negatively affect him. Carolina’s defense forces turnovers, rushes the passer well and allows the fewest points per game in the league.

 4. (4) Broncos (11-3) — Much is being made about the loss of Von Miller, but the Broncos won their first six games this season when the Pro Bowl linebacker was suspended. If Denver doesn’t reach the Super Bowl, it won’t be because Miller is out.

5. (6) Patriots (11-4) — You can’t count this team out as long as Tom Brady is behind center and Bill Belichick is on the sideline. They’ve proven that this year more than ever.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Bills, Chris Johnson, NFL Power Rankings

Target Practice: Tracking opportunities in Patriots passing game

12.24.13 at 7:00 am ET
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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 for the New England passing game after the first 15 games of the 2013 season:

WR Julian Edelman: 96 catches on 140 targets
WR Danny Amendola: 53 catches on 80 targets
RB Shane Vereen: 44 catches on 64 targets
TE Rob Gronkowski: 39 catches on 66 targets
WR Aaron Dobson: 36 catches on 76 targets
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 32 catches on 69 targets
RB Brandon Bolden: 21 catches on 29 targets
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: 12 catches on 18 targets
RB Stevan Ridley: 10 catches on 12 targets
WR Josh Boyce: 9 catches on 19 targets
WR Austin Collie: 6 catches on 11 targets
FB James Develin: 4 catches on 4 targets
TE Matthew Mulligan: 2 catches on 3 targets
RB LeGarrette Blount: 2 catches on 5 targets
TE Zach Sudfeld: 0 catches on 3 targets
RB Leon Washington: 0 catches on 1 target
TE/OL Nate Solder: 0 catches on 1 target

By position
Wide receiver: 232 catches on 395 targets
Running back/fullback: 81 catches on 115 targets
Tight end: 53 catches on 90 targets
Other: 0 catches on 1 target

By way of comparison, here’s a look at the target breakdown through 15 games in 2012.

Read More: targets,

Snapshot of AFC playoff picture: Top five seeds locked into postseason, but ultimate seeding still to be determined

12.23.13 at 5:10 pm ET
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With one week to go in the regular season, the top five seeds are locked into the playoffs, but there are still plenty of questions about who might end up where. In addition, there’s a race between four teams for the final playoff spot. Here’s a breakdown of what lies ahead, as well as the odds of who is mostly likely to finish where, per Playoff Status:

1. Broncos (12-3): Clinched first-round bye. Sunday at Raiders (4-11). Denver can clinch the No. 1 seed and home-fleld advantage throughout the playoffs with a win in Oakland or a Patriots’ loss or tie. Playoff Status says the Broncos have an 88 percent chance of taking the top seed, and 12 percent at No. 2.

2. Patriots. (11-4): Clinched AFC East. Sunday vs. Bills (6-9). New England can clinch a first-round bye with a win or a tie against Buffalo; or a Cincinnati loss or a tie or an Indianapolis loss or a tie. The Patriots can clinch the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs if they win and the Broncos lose. Playoff Status gives the Patriots a 12 percent chance at landing the top spot, a 73 percent chance at No. 2 and a 5 percent chance at the third seed.

3. Bengals (10-5): Clinched AFC North: Sunday vs. Ravens (8-7). Cincinnati can clinch a first-round bye with a win over the Ravens and a New England loss to Buffalo. Playoff Status has the Bengals at 11 percent for No. 2, 65 percent for No. 3 and 24 percent for No. 4.

4. Colts (10-5): Clinched AFC South: Sunday at Jaguars (4-11). Indy can clinch a first-round bye with a win over the Jaguars, combined with a Patriots loss to the Bills and a Bengals loss or tie against the Ravens. Playoff Status says it’s likely the Colts end up with the four spot (66 percent), while they still have a shot to either go up to No. 2 (4 percent) or No. 3 (31 percent).

5. Chiefs (11-4): Clinched playoff berth: Sunday at Chargers (8-7). Regardless of what happens around them, Kansas City is locked into the five spot as the lead wild card entry.

6. Dolphins (8-7): Currently sixth seed: Sunday vs. Jets (7-8). Miami can clinch a playoff spot with one of the following four scenarios: a win and Baltimore loss or a tie; a win and a San Diego win; a tie, a Baltimore loss and a San Diego loss or tie; or a tie, Baltimore tie and San Diego tie. Playoff Status likes the Dolphins as the best bet to land the final playoff spot, giving them a 58 percent chance at the No. 6 seed.

7. Ravens (8-7): Currently seventh seed: Sunday at Bengals (10-5). Baltimore can clinch a playoff spot with one of the following five scenarios: a win and a San Diego loss or tie; a win and a Miami loss or tie; a tie, Miami loss or San Diego loss or tie; a tie, Miami tie and San Diego loss; or a Miami loss, San Diego loss and Pittsburgh loss or tie. Playoff Status has them at 22 percent to reach the postseason.

8. Chargers (8-7): Currently eighth seed: Sunday vs. Chiefs (11-4). San Diego can clinch a playoff spot with one of the following two scenarios: a win, Miami loss or tie and Baltimore loss or tie; or a tie, Miami loss and Baltimore loss. A ten percent chance at the playoffs, per Playoff Status.

9. Steelers (7-8): Currently ninth seed: Sunday vs. Browns (4-11). Pittsburgh can clinch a playoff spot with the following scenario: a win, Miami loss, Baltimore loss and San Diego loss. Playoff Status has them at 9 percent.

Read More: AFC playoff picture,

Poll: How far can Patriots go?

12.23.13 at 3:07 pm ET
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FOXBORO — With Sunday’s 41-7 blowout of the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens, the Patriots are 11-4 and positioned for a first-round playoff bye.

Does Sunday’s win make you feel these Patriots are more capable than ever of reaching another Super Bowl?

How much does Sunday's win over the Ravens change your expectations for Patriots?

View Results

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