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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

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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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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The Arizona Cardinals have run into a depth issue at tight end to start the season

All seemed fine in training camp and the preseason for the Arizona Cardinals at the tight end position.  That feeling didn’t last more than one game into the new season.

Jermaine Gresham got injured against the Detroit Lions.  On Thursday he did not practice.  Then Troy Niklas all a sudden came down with an injury.  He too did not practice.

DETROIT, MI – SEPTEMBER 10: Jermaine Gresham #84 of the Arizona Cardinals tries to break the tackle of Tavon Wilson #32 of the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on September 10, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit won the game 35-23. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

There was hope that the Cardinals would use the tight end more in the passing game this season with the questionable depth at receiver.  Gresham was re-signed in the offseason in the hopes of building on what he accomplished in 2016.

Gresham had 37 receptions for 391-yards and two touchdowns.  It was an improvement over his 18 receptions for 223-yards and a touchdown in his first season in Arizona in 2015.

Niklas has battled the injury bug pretty much since the time he arrived in Arizona.  Now he’s hurt again and you have to wonder about him going forward.

The Cardinals generally look for blocking first from their tight ends but they could become a huge part of the offense and the short passing game with the absence of running back David Johnson. After Gresham and Niklas is Ifeanyi Momah.They have Ricky Seals-Jones on the practice squad.  It sure seems like however that the Cardinals are not only worried about Gresham and Niklas this weekend but with what Momah and Seals-Jones can provide.

With that in mind, the Cardinals are reportedly bringing back Jim Dray.  You remember Dray. He caught all of seven passes in his first three seasons in Arizona.

In 2013, coach Bruce Arians’ first season in Arizona, Dray was a little more involved in the offense. He caught 26 passes for 215-yards and two touchdowns.  After that he moved on to Cleveland for two seasons.

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Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers Antonio Brown (84) and Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver DeMarcus Ayers (15) in an NFL preseason football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Fred Vuich)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers Antonio Brown (84) and Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver DeMarcus Ayers (15) in an NFL preseason football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Fred Vuich)(Fred Vuich)

FOXBOROUGH — Down to three healthy wide receivers, and without a reliable punt returner, the Patriots could turn to undrafted rookie DeMarcus Ayers in Week 2 versus the Saints.

Ayers, who signed with the Patriots practice squad after he was cut by the Steelers earlier this month, is one of the few players on the roster with punt return experience.

If he gets promoted, the transaction will likely happen on Saturday.

“DeMarcus has played inside and outside, and he has returned punts,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Friday. “We’ve looked at him doing all of those things as a practice squad player. Definitely making progress. They’re never really ready to go into the game when they come in this late, but a lot of times they do and will based on circumstances or need or whatever. We’re just trying to get him ready. He’s certainly a lot more ready this week than he was last week. If he keeps progressing, he’ll push for an opportunity to play.”

A seventh-round pick in 2016, Ayers played toward the end of the season for Pittsburgh once the Steelers had sewn up their playoff spot. He caught five passes for 44 yards in Week 17 versus Cleveland. Ayers, who attended the University of Houston with Patriots linebacker Elandon Roberts, also played in the postseason, catching three passes for 21 yards.

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The annual Patriots Cheerleaders Swimsuit Calendar Launch Party took place on Monday, September 11 at The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon.

The 2018 Swimsuit Calendar is now available and the Patriots Cheerleaders hosted an event at the Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon to celebrate the launch.  The night included autographs, photos and meeting some amazing Patriots fans!  The cheerleaders also performed on stage outside at Patriot Place, overlooking Gillette Stadium.  Our friends at the Divi & Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusives, the location of the calendar shoot, were also in attendance and gave away an all-inclusive trip to one lucky fan!  The event was a great way to kick off the start of football season.

Weren’t able to attend?  Patriots Cheerleaders Swimsuit Calendars are available online here and also in store at the Patriots Pro Shop.

Check out photos from the night here:

The Patriots don’t just rule the AFC East, they own it. They’ve won the last eight titles by an average of 3.4 games, an awesome margin in a sport with a 16-game season.

With the Bills and Jets meeting in Western New York and the Dolphins idle because of Hurricane Irma on Sunday, the Patriots are guaranteed to end Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season tied for last place in the AFC East.

That is highly unlikely to be where the defending Super Bowl champions will find themselves at season’s end, no matter how ugly they looked in that 42-27 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday.

The Patriots have won eight straight division titles and 14 of the last 16, coming up short only in 2002 and ’08 when they lost out on tiebreakers to the Jets and Dolphins, respectively.

The Patriots don’t just rule the AFC East, they own it. They’ve won the last eight titles by an average of 3.4 games, an awesome margin in a sport with a 16-game season.

No reason to see any changes there. Still, here’s a look at where the AFC East contenders/pretenders stand and what’s in store for them:

Miami Dolphins

The Overview: The Dolphins started 1-4 last season before winning nine of their final 11 games to finish 10-6 and reach the playoffs for the first time since 2008. They apparently bought into what they had because their main offseason moves were re-signing or extending contracts of their own players with a heavy emphasis on keeping intact a defense that finished 18th in points allowed and 29th in yards allowed. The return on those investments is likely to determine the Fins’ fate.

The Quarterback: Ryan Tannehill is out for the year with a torn ACL, which led the Dolphins to lure Jay Cutler out of retirement. Call it an exchange of mediocrity. Cutler has a career record of 68-71, isn’t a leader, is frequently sacked, and has averaged an interception per game in his 11-year career.

The Player: The Dolphins’ surprising surge last season can be traced to the offense, which increased its scoring from 17.6 to 25 points per game after Week 5. Credit that to an expanded role for running back Jay Ajayi, who rushed for 1,155 yards and six touchdowns on 229 carries in the final 11 games.

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That’s at least the belief within the Patriots organization, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Rapoport reported prior to Thursday night’s game that the Patriots just don’t foresee a long-term future with the cornerback they found out of the University of West Alabama in 2014.

“My understanding is it is expected to be his final season in New England,” Rapoport said. “The reason is they invested a lot in Stephon Gilmore. They are not going to franchise-tag Butler if he goes out and has another Pro Bowl season.”

According to Rapoport, the Patriots and Butler’s camp never really came close to reaching a contract agreement.

“They made a slew of offers for him over the last couple of years, none recently,” Rapoport said. “They really are done negotiating.”

The Patriots are so far down the road with their Butler plan that, according to Rapoport, they’re already factoring him in to the compensatory pick formula next offseason.

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Potentially a huge year for Arizona Cardinals tight end Jermaine Gresham

With the NFL kicking off this Thursday night, you can feel the excitement in the air. From this week on there will be football on every Sunday until February. With that being said, the Arizona Cardinals play the Detroit Lions this Sunday in Detroit at 1pm EST.

There’s a lot to be excited about this season. Something that I’m excited for this year is to see how Jermaine Gresham performs. Gresham played in all 16 games last year and played well towards the end of the season. Specifically in a four game stretch last year in weeks 11 through 14.

I feel like there’s potential for him to have a somewhat bigger role this year than the previous two he’s been a Cardinal. Gresham has been in a sense underwhelming since coming to Arizona. It’s easy to just write him off as peaked and in a regression of his career, but Bruce and Kiem resigned him to a new contract for a reason.

Last year the Cardinals were looked at as Super Bowl contenders. We were heavily favored to win the NFC after retaining the same roster from 2015 and added pieces to be better in 2016. As you saw last year, that didn’t end up being the case.

The Cardinals started off slow at the start of the season and took themselves out of playoff contention by mid-season. It was around mid-season when something however did change, the offense began to get going in a more effective manner.

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