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Peter King on D&H: Patriots ‘far and away the best team in football’

12.17.10 at 1:10 pm ET
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Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports NFL expert Peter King made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Friday and talked about the Patriots’ resurgence and the team’s success in bad weather. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

“The Patriots just play, and they play football, despite whatever weather they’re in,” King said, adding: “They don’t hunker down and say, ‘OK, let’s get 10 points on the board and try to stop them.’ They keep attacking.

“They’re so far and away the best team in football right now, it isn’t even close. They’ve repelled every challenge from every good team, beaten two nine-win teams in a row, 81-10. They’re a phenomenal football team right now.”

Talking about comparisons between this team and the 2007 juggernaut that went undefeated in the regular season, King noted that the 2007 team started to dip toward the end of the season, while this team appears to be peaking in December. “I think they’re probably playing a little better late in the year than they were in 2007,” he said.

A number of NFL issues were discussed, including the sideline controversy in New York. Said King: “I think the NFL is probably not going to find anything. ‘€¦ The league doesn’t employ CIA agents. If they can’t find anything on the surface, usually the investigation dies. I think this investigation will die. I think Sal Alosi will be the lone perpetrator, exactly the same way Steve Scarnecchia was deemed the lone perpetrator in Denver.”

Asked if he believed Scarnecchia indeed acted alone in Denver, King said yes. “I believe Steve Scarnecchia was the lone perpetrator in Denver, yes,” he said.”I do not believe Josh McDaniels ordered the ‘code red.’ I don’t think so. And I’ll tell you why, in my opinion. Because Josh McDaniels knew that if he ever did something like that, there was a good chance his NFL career would be over. ‘€¦ I do not believe that Josh McDaniels influenced in any way Steve Scarnecchia to tape that practice.”

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Read More: Brett Favre, donovan mcnabb, Josh McDaniels, Mike Shanahan

Pats practice: Aaron Hernandez misses while Gerard Warren returns

12.17.10 at 12:08 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez was one of four players not spotted at the start of Patriots practice on Friday as the team worked out in sweats and shells on the main stadium field.

Also missing were defensive linemen Mike Wright, Ron Brace and Myron Pryor while Gerard Warren returned after missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday.

Hernandez was not listed on the injury report on Wednesday or Thursday. Wright and Brace are both dealing with concussions while Pryor is still slowed by a back injury. Warren was out with a knee injury before being cleared to return on Friday.

Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Gerard Warren, Green Bay Packers, Mike Wright

Fred Taylor on D&H: ‘I’m used to playing a lot’

12.17.10 at 11:48 am ET
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Running back Fred Taylor made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Friday morning and said he’s trying to be as patient as possible while he waits for his chance to see more action in the Patriots backfield. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

“It’s not the best situation that I’ve been in throughout my career,” he said. “I’m used to playing. I’m used to playing, and I’m used to playing a lot. Right now at this point, that’s not what’s happening for me for now. But there is a process, and I understand that. Like I tell [son Kelvin]: ‘Be patient and continue to chip away.’

“For me, it’s all in God’s plan. There’ll be a green light one day. And I’ll be ready. That’s my thing. Preparation is key for me. I’m ready to go. And as soon as the coaches decide to green-light me and let me go, I’ll be more than ready. But right now it’s a process and we’re going to keep chipping away.”

Kelvin Taylor, a highly-touted high school sophomore, rushed a state-record 44 times for 248 yards and five touchdowns and helped Belle Glade Glades Day rally from a 21-point first-quarter deficit to Warner Christian and win the Class 1B state championship game, 42-35, last Friday in Orlando.

“Man, they fought,” Fred said of his son’s team. “They showed a lot of resiliency. They stood in there, down 21-0, and it worked out for them.”

Kelvin was ejected from the game following his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the winning touchdown, when he was penalized for excessive celebration.

“The high-stepping and then the vintage Adrian Peterson is what he likes to call it,” Fred explained. “I’m like, ‘You’re going to do your dad’s celebration, but ‘€¦’ He’s like, ‘Dad, when’s the last time you scored a touchdown? He snuck one on on me. I told him he’d better watch out.”

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Jerod Mayo on D&H: Defense’s maturity key to turnaround

12.17.10 at 11:42 am ET
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Linebacker Jerod Mayo checked in with the Dale & Holley show Friday morning and talked about why the Patriots seem to be so far ahead of other teams when it comes to playing in inclement weather. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

“I think we play well in the snow and bad weather in general,” Mayo said. “Coach puts a lot of stress on it in practice, as far as the weather is concerned. He tells us in the morning: ‘Whatever the weather is, dress for it and we’ll deal with the elements.’ Sometimes you’ll see him pouring water on the ball to make it a wet ball for rainy games and things like that. He stresses it so much in practice and in the meeting rooms, I think when it actually does happen and the weather comes up, I think we’re well-prepared for it.”

The Patriots defense has had a dramatic reversal of late, going from one of the league’s worst defenses (at least statistically) to one that has allowed just 10 points in the last two games.

“I just think it’s the overall maturity of the guys,” Mayo said. “People already know I’m one of the old guys, and I’m only in my third year. I’m still really a young guy. But at the same time, some of these young guys like Devin McCourty, [Brandon] Spikes, Jermaine Cunningham, all those guys who have really taken on the roles that the coaches have put on them, they’re putting that extra time in the film room and things like that. I think the overall maturity of the defense is they key factor for us getting better.”

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Adam Schefter on D&C: Pats’ dominance no guarantee of postseason success

12.17.10 at 9:48 am ET
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ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning and talked about the Patriots’ incredible success of late. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

“You can’t watch them and not be impressed,” he said, noting: “They’ve scored in their last five games 196 points, which is 32 more than the Panthers have scored in 13 games this season.”

However, Schefter cautioned not to get carried away. “The team looks incredible, but the one thing that I would say ‘€¦ is that these things go in cycles,” he said. “And just because in Weeks 12 and 13 you look dominant does not ensure postseason success. I was talking to a head coach yesterday and we were talking about the Patriots and their dominance. And he goes, ‘They’re not as good as people are making them out to be.’ I go, ‘No?’ And he goes, ‘Every team has flaws, and they show up at different times.’ The Patriots’ flaws have not shown up the last few weeks. They have not turned over the football in five weeks, which is an NFL record. At some point, the secondary is going to get beat, Brady’s going to get intercepted, there’s going to be a fumble from a running back. These things have not happened to them lately, and they will happen.”

Added Schefter: “All I’m saying is, because they’ve been so dominant the last two weeks, they’re not that good. Not that good. Not dominant.”

Schefter predicted the Bears would knock off the Patriots last Sunday in Chicago. After the Patriots rolled to a 36-7 victory, Schefter said he’s learned his lesson. “I may not pick against the Patriots from here through the Super Bowl,” he said. “So, there’s going to be one week ‘€” maybe, maybe ‘€” when I’m wrong. Otherwise, I’ll be right every single week with this team.”

Logan Mankins has been a boost to the Patriots offensive line since returning from his holdout midseason. Looking at what might happen in the offseason, Schefter said: “My guess is Mankins is back in New England. I think that the two sides sit down and get something worked out, because they love him as a player. And I think that these hard feelings fade over time. They’re not forgotten, but they fade a little bit to the point where you can justify the deal if someone’s going to pay you, ‘OK, I feel a lot better about things.’ ”

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Read More: adam schefter, Logan Mankins, Michael Vick, Nils Lofgren

Nuggetpalooza’s Patriots-Packers preview!

12.17.10 at 8:39 am ET
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Following the Patriots’ thrashing of the Bears in last Sunday’s snowstorm, the desperate Packers come calling for a big Sunday night game in Foxboro. As of this writing, the forecast calls for a 50/50 chance of snow and a game-time temperature in the upper 20s. Should be fun … especially if Green Bay quarterback (and Nuggetpalooza’s lone fantasy stud) Aaron Rodgers is able to play.

Note that I’ve included a lot of “last five weeks” stat splits, which coincides with the Patriots’ current hot streak since putting the loss to Cleveland behind them.

Enjoy your football weekend!

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* – New England’s 12 third-down conversions last Sunday was the most by the Patriots in a game since they began tracking the stat in 1991. Here’s how they broke down based on yards needed for the first down:

11+: 2-for-4
8-10: 3-for-3
3-7: 3-for-6
1-2: 4-for-4

Note this: In their previous six road games this season, the Pats had averaged just 3.8 third down conversions per game.

And this: The Patriots went 5-for-7 (71 percent) on third-and-8+, becoming just the second team since the start of 2009 to have at least six of those tries and convert at least 70 percent.

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* – Overall this season, New England’s defense has allowed  48.5 percent third down conversions, the worst mark in the league not only this season, but it would be the worst in the NFL since 2000:

48.5% – Patriots, 2010
47.4% – Chiefs, 2008
47.4% – Colts, 2008
47.4% – Raiders, 2004

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* – The Pats have allowed their opponents to convert 35 percent of third-and-10+ this season (14-of-40), not only is that the highest/worst such percentage in the NFL this season, but it would be the second worst since 2000:

38.8% – Lions, 2007 (19-of-49)
35.0% – Patriots, 2010 (14-of-40)
34.0% – Seahawks, 2000 (18-of-53)

Note this: The Patriots’ worst such mark since 2000 prior to this season was 26.7 percent in 2008. They were the league’s worst that year as well.

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* – The Patriots have now allowed fewer than 10 points in two consecutive games. The only longer streak in the NFL this season is three straight games, by the Packers.

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* – New England outgained Chicago by 290 yards on Sunday. It was the third biggest positive yardage difference on the road by the Pats since 1991:

+311 – at Buffalo in 2005
+303 – at Houston in 2003
+290 – at Chicago in 2010

The Patriots entered the game having been outgained by 53 yards over their last 21 games.

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Read More: aaron rodgers, Nuggetpalooza, Patriots, Tom Brady

Aaron Rodgers sits out Thursday practice for Packers

12.16.10 at 4:11 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” The Packers had two key players ‘€” quarterback Aaron Rodgers and linebacker Frank Zombo ‘€” miss Thursday practice. Here’s the complete injury report:

Out
DE Cullen Jenkins (calf)

Did Not Participate
QB Aaron Rodgers (concussion)
LB Frank Zombo (knee)

Limited Participation
G Darryn Colledge (knee)
LB Clay Mattews (shin)
DE Ryan Pickett (ankle)
S Anthony Smith (ankle)
CB Charles Woodson (toe/ankle)

Full Participation
S Atari Bigby (hamstring)
T Chad Clifton (knees)
FB Korey Hall (knee)
CB Pat Lee (ankle)
G Josh Sitton (knee)

Read More: injury report, Packers,
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