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Ten Final Thoughts on the Patriots and Raiders

10.02.11 at 8:40 am ET
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With kickoff looming, here are 10 final thoughts on the Patriots and the Raiders:

1. The Patriots announced Saturday night that defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth (back) and cornerbacks Leigh Bodden (groin) and Ras-I Dowling (hip) were officially been downgraded to out for Sunday’€™s game against the Raiders. (That trio joins tight end Aaron Hernandez, tackle Sebastian Vollmer, and defensive lineman Mike Wright, who were officially scratched from the lineup before the team took off Friday afternoon.)

The Haynesworth decision isn’€™t a surprise — he was slowed by a back problem, and the worst thing for a bad back is a cross-country flight — but the Bodden move was an eyebrow-raiser. As a result, the Patriots are now left thin at cornerback. Antuwan Molden is behind Kyle Arrington, and likely next up on the depth chart. If Arrington steps into Bodden’€™s role, that would leave Molden as the nickel corner.

2. As for those of you wondering about Haynesworth, it’€™s important to remember the words of NFL Network analyst Mike Lombardi, who told WEEI on Friday that Haynesworth’€™s true value really won’€™t be known until the end of the season.

‘€œLook, this game’€™s about November, December,’€ Lombardi told Dennis & Callahan. ‘€œAnd I think the key component for Albert Haynesworth isn’€™t whether he plays tremendously in the month of September, it’€™s ‘€˜Can he be a force in November and December when they have to win those games and win playoff games?’€™ And I think that’€™s really the goal for Albert Haynesworth. I’€™m not saying he should take time off now, but I think because of no offseason program, because of no real training camp, I think it’€™s most important to get him in shape, get him healthy, and then get him ready for November and December.’€

3. While the Patriots have to deactivate one more player, you have to feel pretty good about the possibility of wide receiver Taylor Price seeing his first action of the season. The youngster, who has been battling a hamstring issue, has been inactive for 18 of his first 19 games as a professional. Other possibilities to be left on the inactive list include offensive lineman Ryan Wendell, who has battled a calf injury since training camp, as well as running back Shane Vereen, quarterback Ryan Mallett and offensive lineman Donald Thomas.

4. Four links to get you ready for the game: ten matchups to keep an eye on, Nuggetpalooza’€™s exhaustive statistical breakdown, a look at how Tom Brady fares in games following four-pick outings, and a feature on how former Patriots’€™ defensive lineman Richard Seymour is helping reshape the culture in Oakland.

5. The decision to release Ross Ventrone (also known as Rusty Benson) in favor of Thomas Welch on Saturday likely means good things when it comes to trying to predict the status of Patrick Chung. Chung, who is questionable for tomorrow’€™s game with a hand injury, practiced every day this week after having missed last Sunday’€™s game in Buffalo. In that same vein, the addition of Welch gives the Patriots more depth at a position where they are a little thin. (Oh, and it’€™s a safe bet that Ventrone, who has now been released three times by the Patriots, will be back in some form or fashion.)

6. Our favorite two stats from this week’€™s edition of ‘€œNuggetpalooza’€ — one, the Patriots have been called for roughing the passer three times through the first three weeks of the season, tops in NFL. They had two roughing the passer flags all of last season. And two, Brady threw all four of his interceptions on first down last week. They were just the seventh team to do that since they began tracking the stat in 1991.

7. The latest edition of Sports Illustrated has an NFL Players Poll that asked 142 players: Who is the most underrated player in football? Patriots running back Danny Woodhead tied for first with Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman and Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson.

8. For what it’€™s worth, Chad Ochocinco has played in three career games against the Raiders and has 17 catches for 299 yards, an impressive average of six catches for 100 yards. Of his 17 catches against the Raiders, 15 of them have gone for a first down.

9. Brian Waters has played more games in Oakland than anyone on the New England roster — the longtime Chief played there once a year between 2000 and 2010 as part of the AFC West blood feud between the Raiders and Chiefs. What’€™s it like playing there?

‘€œIt’€™s first time I ever saw an old lady in wheelchair shooting you the bird with both fingers,’€ Waters said. ‘€œIt’€™s about as crazy as you can get.

‘€œI don’€™t care who it is,’€ he added. ‘€œWhen you walk in there, I don’€™t care who you are. They’€™re not going to like you. They’€™re not going to like you, your family, your friends. And they’€™re going to have no issues letting you know from the time the buses ride in.’€

10. Patriots, 38-35

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