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Patriots- Vikings: Favre will start 10.31.10 at 3:02 pm ET
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Word has come from Foxboro that Brett Favre will start against the Patriots after testing out his injured foot and ankle before the game. Favre had been expected to play after indicating that his injuries were healing quickly, although it’s not that much of a surprise that the veteran will be on the field for his start streak to 292 games.

Favre has struggled this season after posting his greatest statistical season in 2009. The veteran QB has thrown for 1191 yards, seven touchdowns, and ten interceptions while posting a completion percentage of 58.1%. His passer rating of 68 is below most starting quarterbacks in the league after posting a rating of 107.2 last season.

Read More: brett favre, New England Patriots, Rumor Mill, Vikings
Ravens’ Heap will start against Bills 10.24.10 at 12:51 pm ET
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Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap, who was on the receiving end of a helmet-to-helmet hit from Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather last Sunday, will start for the Ravens on Sunday against the Bills. Heap had been listed as questionable in Baltimore’s final injury report. For the full list of inactives in the Ravens-Bills game, click here.

Read More: Baltimore Ravens, Brandon Meriweather, New England Patriots, Rumor Mill
Twitter helps sell out Patriots-Chargers game 10.23.10 at 9:31 am ET
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It was widely assumed that the San Diego Chargers would not sell out Sunday’s game against the Patriots due to recent struggles by the Chargers. Fanhouse reports that the Chargers’ team Twitter account asked fans to buy tickets to avoid a local television blackout. The Patriots responded with their own account. “Hey Patriots fans on the West Coast, if you want to see the Pats play the Chargers, go to Chargers.com to buy tickets,” the tweet read.

After the tweet, all remaining tickets were purchased within a couple hours, with half of them purchased by Patriots fans. The game will be played in San Diego at 4:15 ET.

Read More: New England Patriots, Rumor Mill, San Diego Chargers, Twitter
Quick Fixes for Patriots Pass Rush 12.08.09 at 6:06 pm ET
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The Patriots lost a tough one on Sunday ‘€” the defeat to Miami marked their first back-to-back losses in three seasons. When you lose a close game, it’s usually because something wasn’t clicking. For the Pats, it appeared that their pass rush had stayed out too late, enjoying South Beach. Their sluggish effort netted one sack on the day — Tully Banta-Cain and Jerod Mayo shared the action.

It’s become evident the loss of Mike Vrabel (48 sacks in eight seasons) and Richard Seymour (39 sacks in eight seasons) has hurt the Pats ability to rush the passer and create pressure without blitzing. While this is far from great, it is possible to fix. If the Patriots follow the suggestions below, they can turn around their pass rushing woes. The best part, all they have to do is sign these guys off the street.

Andre Tippett
Tippett holds the Patriots franchise record for most sacks with 100. He knows how to play in a 3-4 and could bring some good pressure off the corner on third down situations. Plus, he’s currently the Pats’ Executive Director of Community Affairs, so really, he’s already signed. A quick in-house memo is all that’s required to get him on the field. Plus he can mentor Mayo.

Deacon Jones
Why not hire the person who invented the sack to help the pass rush? Jones played during an era when the sack wasn’t a recorded stat. However, in 1967, according to Jones, he recorded 26 sacks in 14 games.

Jones is a little older, and maybe not able to play, but as a defensive line coach, if nothing else, he can inspire Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork and Mike Wright to get after it.

Howie Long

Sure, he’s on TV now, but look at him. He can strap on a helmet Thursday and be effective. Long might not have as many sacks as others on this list, but his ability to play any defensive line position would be crucial to get other members of the the D-line some much needed rest during games. Plus he’s from Charlestown. Can’t the Pats get a hometown guy?

Bruce Smith
Smith is barely six years out of the league. He has to be itching to get back on the field. Not only that, he’s the official all-time sack leader in the NFL. The Patriots couldn’t use that? Plus he doesn’t have a ring. Picture it: “Bruce, come back for four games, add a few more sacks to your total, win a Super Bowl ring.” Sounds like the perfect pitch. Check out his highlight reel.

Reggie White
The “Minister of Defense” died in 2005. Still, film sessions focusing on his work could be used to motivate the defensive line.

With four games left, the Pats have a chance to turn their lackluster pass rush around. They have the talent to be productive, so perhaps some inspiration by these all-time greats is all that is needed.

Read More: Andre Tippett, Bruce Smith, Deacon Jones, Howie Long
The Pursuit of Perfection, Part 2 11.27.09 at 9:25 pm ET
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Earlier this week, we talked about the Colts as they work towards a perfect regular season. The New Orleans Saints is the other undefeated team in the league, and they face off against the Patriots on Monday. You’re probably asking “Who Dat?” So, it only seems fair to do a comparison between the 2009 Saints and the 2007 Patriots, so let’s have at it.

The Streak

Obviously, the Saints are undefeated through 10 games, just like the Patriots were in 2007. The Saints have 369 points for, with 204 points against. Despite having more points for, they are in second place in the league because the Colts have less points scored against them (157). (As we previously mentioned, the Pats had 411 points for with 157 points against after Week 10.) While not the same as the Pats in 2007, the Saints are clearly on pace to shatter all the scoring records set by that year by New England. Hear them talk about it, the Saints hit many of the same notes as the Pats did that year. But before we write the Saints off as some upstart super-offense let’s not forget that in ’91 they went 7-0 to start the season. Maybe the players on this team haven’t been there, but the franchise has a winning history.

Games Played

This is where the Saints come up short as it pertains to perfection. The last few weeks have provided real tests for the vaunted offense. At the end of October, they played Miami and came back from a 21-point deficit to win, so kudos. They outlasted the Falcons a week later despite coughing the ball up four times. Well played. However, they only beat the St. Louis Rams by five two weeks later. The Rams are not good. (Sure, the Saints beat up Tampa Bay, but everyone beats up Tampa Bay.) What is interesting is that four out of their last five games have been closer than expected. We see that, the Saints offense can put up points, but how well can their defense hold up? That leads us to the next segment.

Players

We can go down the line for either team on this one. In 2007 the Pats lined up Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Laurence Maroney and Ben Watson to name a few. That year, they led the league with 411.2 yards per game. The 2009 Saints have Drew Brees, Marques Colston, Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas and Jeremy Shockey. It’s no wonder they lead the league in average yards per game (420.5). But the focus has to be on the defense. With guys like Tracy Porter out of practice or Jabari Greer and Randall Gay, there will be pressure on the defense to stop Brady who, this year, have the second most yards per game at 416.1.

Like the Patriots of 2007, the Saints are dealing with key injuries that could hamper them down the stretch. At quick glance, the rest of their schedule, after the Patriots, may seem light, but Atlanta did play them close and there is no reason to suspect they won’t do it again.

On Monday, the Patriots get a second chance to play spoilers. They may have struck out the first time around, but hope springs eternal.

Still, I know you wonder!

Read More: Ben Watson, Drew Brees, Jabari Greer, Jeremy Shockey
Pursuit of Perfection, Part 1: Mercury (Morris) Rising? 11.25.09 at 12:57 pm ET
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OK, I’ll just say it, since it’s on everyone’s mind. The Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints might go undefeated in the regular season. There, now it’s out in the open. At 10-0, both the Saints and the Colts look like they could make a run for 16-0 and beyond. With that in mind, these teams bear comparison to the Patriots of 2007 and the Dolphins of 1972. Starting with the Colts, let’s see how they stack up.

The Streak

The Pats ended up going 18-1 in the 2007-08 season. Obviously, they missed perfection, but we don’t need to get into that just yet. Through the regular season, the Pats triumphed over everyone they faced. Thus far, the Colts have done the same. Through 10 games, the Colts are undefeated, with 269 points for vs. 157 points against. It’s the best differential in the league. After 10 games in 2007, the Patriots had 411 points for and 157 points against. The fact that over the same span of games, the Pats were significantly more prolific on offense doesn’t bode well for the Colts even though they have been here before.

Games Played

Besides the Week 9 game against the Colts, it was in the 11th contest that the Patriots began to play close games. An Eagles team, sans Donovan McNabb, played them like it was Super Bowl XXXIX and almost came away with a win. This season, the Colts have played four close games, decided by three points or less. With six games left, this is the point in the season that the Colts have to focus, because in 2005 they went 13-0 and inspired talk of a perfect season before dropping two in a row.

Players

It is rare that a single player can alter the outcome of a game or change how well a team plays, but it’s clear that the loss of Bob Sanders makes the Colts defense much weaker. We all recall how, in 2006, the Texans’ Ron Dayne (remember him?) ripped off 153 yards on the ground and two TDs, all while Sanders watched from the sideline with an injury.

Around the same time of the year in 2007, the Patriots suffered the loss of Rosevelt Colvin, which forced Tedy Bruschi and Junior Seau to play at the same time, which, later in the season, hurt the team because Bruschi and Seau are older players and the standard wear and tear of the season got to them.

The question becomes, can the Colts hold opposing running backs down, especially with Tennessee’s Chris Johnson coming to Lucas Oil in two weeks? Even though the Pats smoked the Steelers in 2007, Willie Parker still had 124 yards rushing, and in the final game of the regular season, against the Giants, Eli Manning looked like a rock star, throwing for 251 yards and four TDs.

However, what we all really want to know is why hasn’t anyone from the only undefeated team said anything? Why hasn’t Mercury Morris voiced his opinion about the Colts? It was around this time that he became the mouthpiece of the ’72 Dolphins, making sure any and all media outlets recognized the ’72 Dolphins as the original perfect team.

Read More: 1972 dolphins, Indianapolis Colts, mercury morris, New England Patriots
Larry, spend some time in NE, fix you right up! 11.10.09 at 5:16 pm ET
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On Monday, the Kansas City Chiefs released running back Larry Johnson, the day he was scheduled to return to the field after serving a two-week suspension for inappropriate comments he made on his Twitter feed and in the locker room.

Despite Johnson’s declining numbers in recent years, it is widely held that present-day LJ is still solid, or behind a good guard and tackle, can be the LJ of 2006, when he rushed for more than 1,700 yards on 416 carries. The question now: What team will take a chance on him? In recent history, the New England has become a place where players can spend some time competing for championship rings as well as rehabilitating their image. Since Bill Belichick took over the reins, several players have benefited from spending time at the “New England Patriots Image and Career Rehabilitation Center.”

Randy Moss is a player that immediately comes to mind. Moss’ issues began in college when a full scholarship to Notre Dame was rescinded when he got into a fight and ruptured the spleen of a student. Then coach of Notre Dame, Lou Holtz recommended Moss to Florida State, but he was kicked out of FSU for violating the terms of his work-release probation. Despite putting up school-record numbers at Marshall, Moss was drafted late in the first round because of the character issues he exhibited in his college career.

Let’s not forget the “Straight cash, homey” incident either ‘€” Moss’ refusal to obey traffic laws led to that memorable line and a few others. It was only a matter of time before he was traded to the Raiders from the Vikings in 2005. At the time, Minnesota appeared to be fed up with his antics, which included pretending to moon Green Bay fans and walking off the field with two seconds left in a regular season game loss against the Redskins. In Oakland, he was remembered for letting people know when he’ll play.

Yet when he came to New England, suddenly we saw a Randy Moss that reminded us of the player from the Vikings. He and Tom Brady not only torched opposing defenses but also set the record for most touchdown receptions in a season. You remember the catch in the regular-season game against the Giants, right?

At this point, not only is Moss considered one of the better wide receivers playing the game, but he also has the reputation of being a team player, something he was cultivating in Minnesota and never had in Oakland.

How about Brandon Meriweather? Here’s a player who had much potential coming out of the University of Miami. Then there was that on-field brawl with Florida International.

Meriweather is No. 19, prominently seen stomping a FIU player who is on the ground. While the incident hurt his draft stock, it wasn’t enough to deter the Patriots from picking him as the 24th overall selection. Obviously, the Pats know what they’re doing. Meriweather has been an excellent addition to the secondary and worth the accolades he has received.

While Moss and Meriweather generally benefited from playing in New England, Corey Dillon had a career resurgence upon arriving in Foxboro. The definition of a disgruntled player, Dillon is (in)famous for demanding to be traded to Dallas during a media session in the Bengals locker room. The beauty here, is that once he got to New England, he was no longer the petulant star but the hard-working team player, devoid of all the ego seen in Cincy.

Perhaps LJ can have the same type of resurgence as Dillon. With injuries to Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris, a tough-running, punishing back could be the perfect balance to Laurence Maroney’s scat-back style and Kevin Faulk’s third-down consistency.

As for the Patriots, why not turn another malcontent into a happy camper by putting him on a team with realistic Super Bowl aspirations? It’s not like Belichick is opposed to the idea, right?

Read More: Brandon Meriweather, Corey Dillon, Larry Johnson, New England Patriots
Rodney Harrison, we hardly knew ye! 06.03.09 at 10:40 am ET
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Today marks the end of an era in the National Football League, as Rodney Harrison closed the curtain on an illustrious 15-year career.

Harrison was taken by the San Diego Chargers in the 5th round of the 1994 NFL draft out of Western Illinois. The career that the hard-hitting safety had wasn’t exactly expected on that April afternoon over a decade ago.

Harrison leaves the gridiron for the bright lights of broadcasting with NBC Sports, most likely as a member of the peacock’s Football Night in America. NBC auditioned Harrison for a future job during this year’s Super Bowl pre-game coverage.

Check out the stats on Harrison. Despite contact with certain pharmaceutical products, this strong safety should be in line for a bust in Canton, Ohio. Harrison twice played in the Pro Bowl, in 1998 and 2003.

Just ask former Ravens head coach Brian Billick about his feelings on Rodney Harrison. Actually, Billick’s affection for the former Patriot was caught on tape by ESPN, so no need to ask the question.

The HGH suspension, aside, Harrison certainly found himself some controversy during his 15 years in professional football. After then-Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt said that the Patriots were “ripe for the picking”during the 2005 playoffs, Harrison gave Vanderjagt a new nickname.

Harrison was also named the NFL’s dirtiest player in a 2004 player’s poll. In this interview with SI, the title doesn’t seem to affect him much.

After being given such a dubious distinction, Harrison tried his hand at officiating. The results of this experiment were captured in this story for ESPN.

Rodney Harrison’s career will be judged not by his refereeing skills or his Chris Berman-esque nicknames, but it will be judged on how he performed on the game’s biggest stage, the Super Bowl.

Harrison ends his career with a pair of Super Bowl rings with the Patriots, including an interception in Super Bowl XXXIX against the Eagles. However, when the words Super Bowl and Rodney Harrison will be paired together, this infamous moment will almost certainly come to mind.

Considering the outcry by sportswriters about pro athlete’s and their use of steroids, will Rodney Harrison ultimately end up in Canton? He certainly has the numbers to warrant a bronze bust and yellow jacket.

To quote mathmaticians the world over, the numbers don’t lie. And for No. 37, the chapter on playing football closes, and the chapter on retirement and broadcasting begins.

Read More: New England Patriots, NFL, Rodney Harrison, Super Bowl XXXIX
On second thought… 01.12.09 at 10:00 am ET
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The developments are coming fast and furious out in Mile High city. Josh McDaniels, according to both ESPN.com and The NFL Network, will be named the new head coach of the Denver Broncos today. The hiring of a 32-year-old former Patriots offensive coordinator makes sense in one key area, McDaniels has worked with Tom Brady and the great Patriots offense of 2007 and this season, worked with Matt Cassel and oversaw a surprisingly powerful offense. Now McDaniels will get the chance to work with the talented signal-caller Jay Cutler. Receiver Brandon Marshall certainly seems stoked about McDaniels. On the defensive side, it was reported by the Denver Post that Dom Capers would leave the Patriots to take the reigns as the defensive coordinator. But now, the NFL Network’s Adam Schefter reports that former 49ers head coach Mike Nolan will get that gig. Stay tuned.

Read More: Denver Broncos, Josh McDaniels, New England Patriots,
Tackling a tough issue… 12.23.08 at 10:55 am ET
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The Sun Chronicle of Attleboro has an indepth look at local Todd Kobus, the Iraqi war veteran who was arraigned and charged on Monday with jumping out of the stands and tackling Junior Seau in the fourth quarter of the Patriots win over Arizona on Sunday. Meanwhile, Pro Football Weekly has the low-down on the snow-throwing, hot-air blowing Shaun Ellis incident in Seattle following the Jets’ debacle. And despite all the rumors and assumptions that Romeo Crennel is done in Cleveland following a 14-0 loss at home to Cincinnati, he may have one final chance to save his job in Pittsburgh this weekend.

Read More: fan tackle, Junior Seau, New England Patriots, Todd Kobus