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Posts of category  "Patriots"

The Los Angeles Rams (3-1) have to be considered the biggest early-season surprise in the NFL so far considering they lead the NFC West by one game over the Seattle Seahawks (2-2) and Arizona Cardinals (2-2), the preseason favorites to win the division.

This Sunday, the Rams will host the Seahawks as small home betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com and try to make a serious statement with another victory.

Los Angeles has split its first two home games, routing the Indianapolis Colts 46-9 as 3.5-point favorites in the season opener and then dropping a 27-20 decision to the Washington Redskins the following week as 3-point chalk. The Rams are coming off an impressive 35-30 win over the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday as 5-point road underdogs.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks woke up in the second half last week in the Sunday Night Football matchup to blow out the Indianapolis Colts 46-18 after trailing 15-10 at halftime.

Seattle improved to 2-0 at home but has gone 0-2 on the road both straight up and against the spread. Seattle has won 18 of the past 24 meetings with the Rams but has failed to cover three of the last four, according to the OddsShark NFL Database.

A bit later on Sunday, the Cowboys (2-2) will be looking to rebound from their loss to the Rams when they host the Green Bay Packers (3-1) as small home favorites in a rematch of last year’s Divisional Round playoff game. The Packers won the last meeting 34-31 in overtime as 5-point road dogs, and they are hoping to win their third in a row following their lone loss of the season to the Atlanta Falcons back in Week 2.

The Dallas defense was disappointing in the loss to Los Angeles and will need to improve quickly in order to hold Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense in check. Rodgers carved up the Cowboys in their playoff win with 355 passing yards and two touchdowns.

Rodgers threw for a season-low 179 yards but a season-high four touchdowns last Thursday in a 35-14 victory against the Chicago Bears. The Packers have won six of the past seven meetings with the Cowboys SU, going 5-2 ATS at sports betting sites in those games.

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The new left side of the Packers’ O-line executed cleanly, and selling the run caught the Bears flat-footed

GREEN BAY – With Lane Taylor making the first appearance of his life at left tackle and Lucas Patrick making his first NFL start at left guard – on a short week, no less – rough spots were almost to be expected.

Except Taylor and Patrick looked like they’d been playing next to each other all along, as a couple of snaps in this edition of WYMM will show.

Also, never underestimate the power of play-action. Behind their revamped offensive line, the Packers established the run early, and it paid dividends on a couple of big plays.

Play No. 1: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 24, first quarter, 5:45 left

Result: Incomplete pass

QB Aaron Rodgers isn’t able to connect deep with WR Davante Adams here, but the success Taylor (65) and Patrick (62) have picking up a stunt by the Bears’ pass rushers is a good example of how well they worked in tandem all night. Bears DL Mitch Unrein (98) charges straight ahead trying to occupy both blockers while LB Sam Acho (93) loops around him from the outside. But Patrick smoothly adjusts to Acho’s path while Taylor loses no ground on Unrein, and neither rusher gets close to Rodgers.

***

Play No. 2: First-and-10 from the Chicago 28, third quarter, 8:12 left

Result: 6-yard run by RB Aaron Jones

Perfect execution here of a pulling guard working around his tackle partner. As Taylor turns inside to stymie DL Eddie Goldman (91), Patrick pulls to the outside and runs pretty effective interference on LB Christian Jones (52) as the Packers pick up a solid gain on first down.

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Foxborough, Mass. –After leading the Lynn Classical Rams to a perfect 4-0 start to begin the season, first-year head coach Brian Vaughan has been named this week’s New England Patriots High School Coach of the Week.

Coach Vaughan, a former standout running back from league rival Lynn English, led the Rams to an impressive start with back-to-back victories over Medford High and Malden High by a combined score of 79-7, before notching their third victory; a 12-6 overtime thriller against the Revere Patriots. Last week, Coach Vaughan’s team was able to pull off a 21-19 victory over the Gloucester Fishermen in a nail biter between the two undefeated squads. The Rams jumped out to an early lead behind two touchdown passes from junior quarterback Keith Ridley, while Ridley added another score on a 13-yard run to give the Rams a 21-0 advantage at the half. Despite a late push from Gloucester, the Rams were able to remain unbeaten and atop the Northeastern Conference’s Central Division standings. Next up for the Rams is a date with undefeated Danvers High School this Friday, Oct. 6, at 7 p.m.

Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Andre Tippett, now the team’s executive director of community affairs, visited the Rams players and coaching staff Tuesday afternoon to present Lynn Classical High School’s football program with a $1,000 donation on behalf of the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, in honor of Coach Vaughan. The visit and check presentation will be featured on the Patriots weekly television show, “Patriots All Access,” which airs on Friday night at 7 p.m. on WBZ-TV in Boston and will be available immediately after on Patriots.com.

This is the 22nd year in which the Patriots joined the National Football League in conducting the High School Coach of the Week program, which recognizes outstanding high school coaches and promotes youth football throughout New England. The 2017 season marks the seventh year that Tippett has taken the award on the road to visit the schools that benefit from the program.

“What an impressive start for Lynn Classical and Coach Vaughan,” Tippett said. “Jumping out to a 4-0 start under a new head coach shows the Rams have bought into Coach Vaughan’s leadership. We wish them the best in 2017.”

At the conclusion of the fall, one of the weekly winners will be named the New England Patriots High School Coach of the Year and will receive a $2,000 contribution towards the school’s football program.

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For good teams, point spreads are friendlier when playing on the road. Take the New England Patriots, who not only own a nine-game road winning streak, they’re 8-1 against the spread over that span. Coming off a surprising home loss, New England is on the road this week, favored by less than a touchdown at Tampa Bay for Thursday night.

NFL point spread: The Patriots opened as five-point favorites; the total was 53.5 early in the week, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark (line updates and matchup report).

NFL betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 29.1-25.8 Buccaneers (NFL picks on every game).

Why the Patriots can cover the spread

The Super Bowl champs are playing for the bounce-back this week, after falling at home to Carolina on Sunday 33-30. The Patriots led for most of the first half, fell down 30-16 early in the fourth quarter, rallied to tie the score at 30-30 with three minutes to go but lost on a 48-yard field goal the last play of the game.

On the day, quarterback Tom Brady hit on 32 of 45 throws for 307 yards and two touchdowns, the last one on a fourth-and-goal from the Panthers one-yard line to tie the game. But two defensive penalties on Carolina’s last drive, including one that negated a third-down sack, basically cost New England a chance at winning the game.

Despite the loss, the Patriots lead the league in total offense, averaging 424 yards per game, 27 more than second-ranked Kansas City.

Why the Buccaneers can cover the spread

The Bucs just pulled a bounce-back of their own, a week after a poor showing at Minnesota, beating the Giants on Sunday 25-23. Tampa Bay took an early 13-0 lead on a pair of Jameis Winston scoring passes, fell down 23-22 with only three minutes to go, but drove 59 yards and won it on a Nick Folk field goal.

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The 2014 Patriots won the Super Bowl, so why can’t this version?

The New England Patriots are 2-2, they’ve lost an embarrassing game against the Kansas City Chiefs, and there are problems on the roster that seem unfixable in the middle of the season. Many are wondering if this era of Patriots football might be over.

Sound familiar?

What the Patriots are going through right now is eerily similar to what happened in 2014. The Patriots were also 2-2 after four games then, with the Chiefs loss coming on Monday Night Football during Week 4 and the fan base spinning into a frenzy.

Things worked out pretty well that season. The team went on to win the Super Bowl, and it all started when the team went “on to Cincinnati” a week later. That is the situation that this current team is in now, and some players see it as motivating. According to Jim McBride of The Boston GlobeJames White sees plenty of similarities between that team and this one.

“Guys took it as a challenge. We came out the next week against the Bengals and guys were just flying around, making plays, and just trying to improve off the Kansas City game,’’ White said Monday afternoon. “That’s all it really is. That’s the approach we really take every week whether you’re coming off a loss or a win. You try to find things you can improve on and come out flying around that next week.”

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In that sense, these early losses could prove to be beneficial to the Patriots this season. It’d be easy for a team that has had as much success as New England to get complacent.

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Sometimes 2-2 is a reason to celebrate (see: Jets, New York), other times it’s a potential disaster.

The Patriots fell to .500 on Sunday, falling 33-30 on a last-second field goal against a Panthers team that had scored 45 points combined in their first three games.

“Disappointed, 2-2 is just a record, but just in terms of how we played and what we need to do in order to play better and win,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said on WEEI on Monday morning.

“Hopefully, we can figure out a way to play consistently over an entire game.”

The Patriots just as easily could be 1-3, with Texans safety Corey Moore dropping an interception that would have sealed a Houston Week 3 victory, instead turning into a 36-33 Pats win thanks to some Brady magic.

We’ve been here before. We’ve buried the Patriots before.

In 2014, after getting pummeled 41-14 by the Chiefs on Monday night with Brady playing dreadful, the New England dynasty was declared dead. Brady was washed up. Bill Belichick had lost his magic touch.

That season ended with a Super Bowl.

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The Patriots expected to be at a bit of a disadvantage.

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots are not going to blame their loss at the hands of the officials. They know they didn’t accomplish what they needed to in order to avoid letting one or two calls affect the outcome of the game. They also knew that head referee Jerome Boger was going to flag the Patriots whenever he could.

“From previous [games], that crew has called much more penalties on us than the other team,” Patriots QB Tom Brady said on WEEI. “We have to figure out how to play and tighten it up. If we don’t get the calls, we don’t get them. We still have to go out and play better than we played.”

And if you look at the past two games, that Boger has called with the Patriots, Brady’s not wrong. In 2014, Boger was the referee for the famous “We’re on to Cincinnati” game where he flagged the Patriots 12 times for 114 yards and the Bengals just 4 times for 37 yards. Boger also called the game between the Patriots and Rams in 2016 and called 8 penalties against the Patriots versus just 4 for Los Angeles. On Sunday, Boger flagged the Patriots 7 times and the Panthers only once.

So over the past three games with Boger, the Patriots have been penalized three-times more than their opponent (27 to 9). Boger is actually responsible for penalizing the home team at a rate far above the league average and calling multiple penalties more than average per game.

There were five big penalties against the Patriots that really shifted the course of the game and some were much more valid than others.

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Cincinnati looks to break into the win column in the unfriendly confines of Lambeau Field.

A.J. Green
 Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

Traveling to Lambeau Field for a game against the Green Bay Packers is never an easy proposition. But the task becomes even more daunting when you are a Cincinnati Bengalsteam that has dropped its first two games of the season on its own turf.

Cincinnati will try to find the formula for success that has eluded so many others when traveling to Green Bay on Sunday, September 24, 2017 for a 4:25 p.m. showdown.

Green Bay comes into the contest fresh off a 34-23 road dismantling by the Atlanta Falconsthat saw its record drop to 1-1. It also put an end to the initial optimism generated by its 17-9 win over Seattle in the Packers’ home opener.

Cincinnati, with a record of 0-2, tries to join a list of 27 other teams since 1990 who began the season at 0-2 and went on to make the playoffs. The 2003 Philadelphia Eagles are the only team in NFL history to do so after losing its first two games at home.

Sunday will mark the 13th meeting between the two teams, with the Bengals claiming victories the last three times the teams have met. All three games have been close, with the Bengals winning in Cincinnati by a 34-30 score in 2013, the last time these two teams played. The Bengals prevailed in Green Bay by a 31-24 margin in 2009 and won in Cincinnati in 2005, 21-14.

Probably the most memorable of those affairs was the 2013 contest, a game that saw the Bengals offense overcome a sloppy performance that included four turnovers and the failure to record a first down from the three-minute mark of the first quarter until early in the fourth.

Cincinnati’s defense, meanwhile, led by Vontaze Burfict, held Green Bay to 100 yards of total offense in the first half, including one of seven on third down. The Packers still managed to lead by a 30-14 margin midway through the third quarter before interceptions by Terence Newmanand Leon Hall and an A.J. Green touchdown reception helped close the gap to 30-27.

The Packers, attempting to run out the clock, faced a 3rd-and-12 from the Bengals 41-yard-line with just over four minutes remaining. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers hit Randall Cobb for what appeared to be a first down, but a Marvin Lewis challenge left Green Bay facing fourth-and-one with four minutes left.

Green Bay went for it, and running back Johnathan Franklin fumbled short of the sticks. Cincinnati’s Reggie Nelson recovered and lost the ball six yards into his return. The Bengals’ Terence Newman scooped up the loose ball up in stride and returned it 58 yards for the deciding touchdown.

Struggle has been the word of the day for the Bengals’ offense in 2017. Against the Baltimore Ravens on opening day, Cincinnati turned the ball over five times, including four interceptions, and quarterback Andy Dalton was sacked five times. Dalton had a little more success against Houston and committed no turnovers. But he was still sacked three times in the first half, and the result was another loss.

The Bengals now have a new offensive coordinator in Bill Lazor and hope to be able to get A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert more involved. Those two, along with the addition of John Ross and more consistency in a running game led by Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard, hope to get Cincinnati into the win column for the first time.

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Minnesota Vikings quarterback Taylor Heinicke throws a pass during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Miami Dolphins, Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots announced today that they have signed QB Taylor Heinicke to the practice squad and released WR Demarcus Ayers from the practice squad.

Heinicke, 24, was originally signed by the Minnesota Vikings as a rookie free agent out of Old Dominion on May 6, 2015. The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder, made the Minnesota 53-man roster as a rookie in 2015 but was inactive for all 16 games. He began the 2016 season on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list before being elevated to the 53-man roster on Nov. 8, where he was inactive for the last seven weeks of the season. Heincke was released by Minnesota on Sept. 11, 2017.

Ayers, 23, was signed by the New England Patriots to the practice squad on September 4. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the seventh round (229th overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft out of Houston. Ayers spent time on the active roster and practice squad for the Steelers as a rookie, seeing action in two regular season games with one start and finishing with six receptions for 53 yards and one touchdown. He played in two postseason games and caught three passes for 27 yards. He was released by Pittsburgh on Sept. 2.

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The Patriots have been battling with injuries they didn’t have to face in 2016.

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

1. In 2016, the Patriots finished the season with just three players on the injured reserve: LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulders), TE Rob Gronkowski (back), and TE Greg Scruggs (knee). Two other players were on the PUP list and did not play all season: OG Tre Jackson (knee) and OT Sebastian Vollmer (everything).

This year, the Patriots are in much worse shape. WR Julian Edelman (ACL), CB Cyrus Jones(ACL), EDGE Derek Rivers (ACL), EDGE Caleb Kidder, and TE Matt Lengel were all placed on the injured reserve prior to the start of the season and cannot return this year, while EDGE Shea McClellin, WR Malcolm Mitchell, and DT Vincent Valentine were placed on the injured reserve after week 1 and are eligible to return.

This does not include the non-football injury players in EDGE Keionta Davis, OG Chase Farris, OT Antonio Garcia, and OT Andrew Jelks.

The Patriots are able to bring two players back from the injured reserve this year, so two of McClellin, Mitchell, and Valentine will return based upon team need. My guess would be on the first two.

2. As MassLive’s Kevin Duffy highlighted, the Patriots have made eight draft selections in the first four rounds of the past two drafts. Just two remain on the Patriots active roster in 2016 third round OG Joe Thuney and 2017 EDGE Deatrich Wise.

2016 2nd round CB Cyrus Jones is out for the year with a torn ACL, 2016 third round QB Jacoby Brissett is now with the Indianapolis Colts, and 2016 third round DT Vincent Valentine and 2016 fourth round WR Malcolm Mitchell are on the injured reserve with knee injuries. 2017 third round EDGE Derek Rivers tore his ACL in camp, while 2017 third round OT Tony Garcia wasn’t able to participate due to his limitations.

The Patriots really need to figure out what went wrong with all of these injuries and if they can fix the problem moving forward. It’s hard to blame all of this on the turf.

3. The Herald’s Jeff Howe did a nice job highlighting why Rob Gronkowski wants to play so badly against the Texans. The Patriots and Gronkowski added new incentives into the tight end’s contract and he’s not on pace to reach the highest level at this point in time- and missing any more time could cost him the second-tier of incentives.

Gronkowski has the opportunity to produce in the Patriots offense and it would be fantastic if he could provide the same offense every week that he did against the New Orleans Saints, but he can’t do that from the sideline.

4. RB Dion Lewis and RB James White join Gronkowski as offensive players with playing time incentives, while LB Dont’a Hightower, DT Lawrence Guy, DT Alan Branch, SS Patrick Chung, FS Duron Harmon, and LB David Harris all have playing time incentives on defense. The Patriots aren’t the type of team to sit players for the sake of reducing their annual earnings, but that’s certainly something that the players are thinking about.

Lewis, Branch, and Harris are three players that aren’t seeing the necessary playing time to come close to their incentives because there are better (and younger and cheaper) alternatives on the roster. Hopefully Branch can find his 2015-16 form and regain his role, but Lewis and Harris are unlikely to see the needed time without more injuries.

The other players are on the bubble of reaching their incentives and need to keep playing at a high level to achieve them.

5. The Patriots have intentionally brought players back from injury at a slower rate than their competitors because they would rather them be as close to 100% as possible. New England is able to do that because the Patriots have done such a strong job of building the depth of the roster- and part of building this depth is giving younger players an opportunity to play early in the regular season, as an extension of sorts for the preseason.

Don’t be surprised if a lot of the players that were listed as limited on the injury report this week are eased back on the field to give younger players an opportunity.

6. I spoke with Kenneth Levy of BattleRedBlog.com to see if there were any Texans that the Patriots might be able to acquire in the middle of the season as reinforcements.

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