With the Patriots clinching the No. 1 seed going into Sunday's game, Jimmy Garoppolo likely will see some playing time Sunday vs. Bills. (Getty Images)

With the Patriots clinching the No. 1 seed going into Sunday’s game, Jimmy Garoppolo likely will see some playing time Sunday vs. Bills. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Although rookie backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has only thrown 10 passes, appearing in mop-up duty in five games, coach Bill Belichick has noticed a steady improvement throughout the course of the season, now heading into Week 17 and the final week of the regular-season.

With the Patriots already clinching the AFC’s No. 1 seed for the playoffs and home field advantage, Sunday’s game against the Bills is essentially meaningless when it comes to the standings. As for how Belichick might manage his players, particularly his quarterbacks, 2010 is the best season to look back to, as like this year, the team clinched the No. 1 seed in Week 16.

Tom Brady started Week 17, but then left the game briefly in the second quarter for Brian Hoyer, like Belichick typically does in the preseason to simulate the quarterback potentially getting hurt in the middle of a game. Brady then went back in and played until there was 10:15 left in the third quarter and the Patriots leading the Bills 31-0.

With what has taken place in past history, it’s likely Garoppolo will at least see some time on the field Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

“I think Jimmy’s worked hard,” Belichick said Friday. “I’d say similar to [Bryan] Stork. He’s been consistent, he’s improved every week. Running different offenses for the scout team and having to keep up what we’re doing and our installation and our game plans on a weekly basis, but he’s been durable, healthy, out there everyday. He keeps getting better. He’s worked on a lot of things that we’ve identified for him to do. He’s gotten better and certainly has a much better understanding of the league.”

In the five games Garoppolo has seen the field, he’s actually performed at a pretty high level, throwing passes in two of the five games — the Chiefs blowout loss and the Bears’ blowout win. He’s a combined 9-for-10 with 92 yards, a touchdowns and not throwing an interception.

With facing AFC East teams for a second time each of the past three weeks (Dolphins, Jets and Bills), Belichick has especially noticed the progression of Garoppolo and the other rookies from the first time they played the teams.

“These last three weeks have been good for [Garoppolo] and probably a lot of the other rookies too, just in terms of the second time around [in the AFC East],” said Belichick. “So kind of where we were the first time we played Buffalo to where we are now in terms of a better familiarity not only with the league, but this team in particular since we’ve already been through it once. As a coach you can start to see there is a growth of understanding and the ability to process a lot of information. The same thing with the Jets last week and Miami the week before we got them the second time around. It’s not that same unfamiliarity it was the first time. It’s been good.”

As for just how much Garoppolo might play Sunday with giving the team’s starters some rest before the postseason, Belichick wouldn’t get deep into that discussion when asked earlier in the week, sticking to the standard “we’ll do what we feel is best for our football team.”

‘€œWe’€™ll do the same thing we always do so it won’€™t be any different this week than it’€™s been any other week,” Belichick said on Tuesday. “It won’€™t be any different this year than it’€™s been any other year. We’€™ll do what we feel is best for our football team, period. Whatever is best for our team then that’€™s what we’€™ll try to do.’€

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Rodney Harrison of NBC Sports previews Pats-Bills and the rest of the NFL.

[0:00:00] ... The talk more about that now we bring in Rodney Harrison joins us in the AT&T. Hotline with. Broadcom assays were Rodney Harrison brought to you by Cumberland farms wake up with Cumberland farms farm house like coffee. And with football legend Rodney Harrison Cumberland farms bomb out like coffee is so delicious. It's too good to put boundaries 99 cents Eddie size and only at ...
[0:03:32] ... in that last game with the potential to injured. Talk over the Rodney Harrison air under the eyes and Rodney we are to see the patriots kind of roll through the AFC this year they beat ...
[0:05:00] ... and beat the COLT birdie and in their history the Broncos and Peyton Manning on the soak it. You know the one team we don't know if they're in the playoffs yet I think the one team that would concern me a little bit would be the ravens but he got John Harbaugh and Joseph Joseph Flacco who have commented elect and pull off an upset all right Al think they'd be. Based by the stage we don't know much about the ravens as the patriots and played in the Euro what are your thoughts on them and how good of a shot that you're the pats. What I think familiarity with asking p.s are and you know am nor Tom Brady and Belichick are still struck. The front seven is outstanding. Even without the com will be not a those pass rusher is the biggest part with that is that back in that secondary effect of they've got a lot of injuries they move out or out and they just. Another group they're young actor Tom Brady could potentially about. But you know just before setting an outstanding this year in the run game they ever play well on the rape and they didn't play well and she develops Joseph Flacco threw an interception. But you know potentially this team that could give them sit there they've always creature. Speaking with Rodney Harrison. Rodney. One last one fully we've talked a lot of other on the show today. You know potential plays the patriots cannot afford to lose. My guy is Darrelle Revis I think he's the team MVP. I have seen this patriots team the last couple years when they lost did their top dog you know. Not cornerback in Aqib Talib and host conference championships and and that's whip things fell apart this patriots team. I'd agree this is the god this team just cannot lose outside of Tom Brady of course I think that's a given but. Revis is the guy you lose Revis did not what not when in this thing. Is is do you agree with that it you have another guy in the same. His idol I don't put the onus on just one player. Record your quarterback position as such we gonna get. You know like clear Denver Broncos team that has multiple weapons OK but he takes away watered the great player like you go Thomas. But they have so many other weapons I don't put all its all just one player are the media I've never been all that what cleared that Ford you know other than quarterback. I would always straight contrary you know out to Tom Brady at quarterback and greater real read mystery is. You know you still have also asking things that you can do the part ...
[0:07:47] ... your time today on the yeah our reality by happy holidays on Rodney Harrison not conversational Ronnie. Brought to you by unload bombs almost one coffee cup Lansky insurance and omni Keyon. Jewelers. So he's stick ...

NBC Sports NFL analyst Rodney Harrison made his weekly Friday appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show to talk about the Patriots’ regular-season finale against the Bills and if the starters should play.

NBC Sports NFL analyst Rodney Harrison made his weekly Friday appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show to talk about the Patriots’ regular-season finale against the Bills and if the starters should play. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Most of the discussion in New England this week centers around which players should or should not play against Buffalo — whether it’s better to rest players and keep them healthy or get them on the field so that they don’t end up sitting a week before their first-round playoff bye.

“Being in that situation before, coach had always basically instilled in us to get ready to play the entire game,” Harrison told D&C guest hosts Danny Picard and Ben Volin. “So I think most of those players, they’re wired to play.

“Regardless of the situation, I would want to play, to be honest with you, at least a half. You want to go out there and make sure that your timing is on. You don’t want to have two weeks off. You want to go out there and play and make sure that you can just compete and click with your teammates and make sure your communication is there, and play football. You just don’t want to have two weeks off. That’s a long time to have off.”

Asked specifically about oft-injured Rob Gronkowski, Harrison said he’d like to see the tight end make at least a brief appearance.

“I think he’s part of the crew,” Harrison said. “I think if you allow the team, most of the starters, to play a half or so, I think he has to be part of that. I understand people, they get nervous and they get scared because of Rob’s history of injuries, but I think you have to approach it the same way. At least give him a couple of series. Even if you decide not to play him that half. But that’s something that coach [Bill Belichick] has to work out with his coaching staff and see exactly what their goal is with the starters.”

Harrison said if there’s one player the team should protect, it’s Tom Brady.

“I don’t put the onus on just one player,” Harrison said after talking about cornerback Darrelle Revis. “I’ve never been taught that one player is that important, other than the quarterback. I would always say Tom Brady. You cannot lose Tom Brady. The cornerback, as great as Darrelle Revis is, you still have some schemes and some things you can do to potentially cover it up. But you can’t lose Tom Brady.”

Added Harrison: “Those guys will be fine, man. It’s football. You could go out there on that football field, there’s a chance for you to get hurt. Go out there and play, don’t worry about injuries. If something were to happen, you just have to deal with it. It’s all part of the game.”

For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar

Tight end Rob Gronkowski made this terrific catch earlier in the year against the Bills. Will he play Sunday in the regular-season finale against Buffalo?</p>
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Even though the Patriots didn’t practice on Christmas, the team still put out an injury report. It is the same as it was on Wednesday, with 15 players limited as a projection if they were to have held practice Thursday.

Here is the complete report as the team gets set for Sunday’s season finale at home against the Bills:

Limited participation

LS Danny Aiken (finger)
CB Kyle Arrington (hamstring)
RB LeGarrette Blount (shoulder)
CB Brandon Browner (groin)
LB Jamie Collins (hip)
OL Dan Connolly (ankle)
WR Julian Edelman (thigh/concussion)
OL Cameron Fleming (ankle)
RB Jonas Gray (ankle)
LB Dont’€™€™a Hightower (shoulder)
DE Chandler Jones (hip)
WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder)
DE Rob Ninkovich (heel)
RB Shane Vereen (ankle)
LB Chris White (ankle)

Full participation

QB Tom Brady (ankle)

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Tom Brady took to social media again Thursday to express some holiday cheer.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Every week, we list the Patriots’ “offensive touches,” a running tally of which one of the offensive skill position players is getting the most looks. Like our weekly look at targets, it can occasionally be an inexact stat, but it remains a good barometer of how confident the coaches (and quarterback) are when it comes to the skill position players at their disposal. Here’s a breakdown of the 2014 New England offense after 15 games:

RB Shane Vereen: 143 (94 carries, 49 catches) 3 negative catches, 7 negative runs
WR Julian Edelman: 102 (10 carries, 92 catches)
RB Stevan Ridley: 98 (94 carries, 4 catches), 8 negative runs
RB Jonas Gray: 91 (90 carries, 1 catch), 3 negative runs
TE Rob Gronkowski: 82 (82 catches), 1 negative catch
WR Brandon LaFell: 70 (70 catches)
RB LeGarrette Blount: 54 (50 carries, 4 catches), 7 negative runs
QB Tom Brady: 34 (34 carries), 20 sacks, 11 kneeldowns
TE Tim Wright: 26 (1 carry, 25 catches), 6 negative rush
RB Brandon Bolden: 25 (24 carries, 1 catch), 3 negative runs
WR Danny Amendola: 23 (23 catches), 1 negative catch
RB James White: 12 (9 carries, 3 catches)
FB James Develin: 7 (1 carry, 6 catches)
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 6 (6 catches)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo: 6 (6 carries) 2 sacks, 6 kneeldowns
WR Aaron Dobson: 3 (3 catches)
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: 3 (3 catches)
WR Brian Tyms: 1 (1 catch)

Notes: Not including the season-high four kneeldowns from Brady, the Patriots had six negative plays from scrimmage on Sunday against the Jets — four sacks of Brady and two negative runs from Gray. … On the season, New England has run 1,011 plays from scrimmage, and 57 of them have gone for negative yardage (6 percent), not including kneeldowns. … Against the Jets, the Patriots ran 63 plays, with 28 of them in shotgun (44 percent). … In addition, the game-book lists them as having run zero plays in no huddle. … Against the Jets, New England passed the 1,000-play mark for the 2014 season — the Patriots 1,000th offensive play from scrimmage on the season came in the fourth quarter on Brady’s fourth-quarter interception. (A ball intended for LaFell was tipped, and cornerback Marcus Williams came away with the pick.) … Talk about saving your best for last — against New York, the Patriots longest play from scrimmage was the key fourth-quarter pickup from Bolden where the running back was able to reach the sticks and get 17 big yards on a 3rd and one. … On the season, the Patriots have run 72 of their 1,011 plays out of no-huddle (7 percent) and 386 snaps in shotgun (38 percent). … By way of comparison, over the course of the 2013 regular season, the Patriots were in shotgun for 42 percent of their offensive snaps and they ran no-huddle on 11 percent of their snaps. … We’ve been following Vereen’s quest for 50 catches and 50 carries, and at this point, he’s only one of five backs with at least 90 carries and 49 catches. If he gets to the 50-50 mark, he’d be the first New England running back to do it since Kevin Faulk had 83 carries and 58 catches in 2008. … One other note: Edelman has 10 rushing attempts on the season, and is nearing a franchise record — the franchise mark for most carries by a wide receiver in a single season is Troy Brown, who had 11 in 2001.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Via his wife’s Instagram account, here’s a Christmas picture of quarterback Tom Brady.

All I want for Christmas … ‘¤Ã¯¸’¤Ã¯¸’¤Ã¯¸’¤Ã¯¸ Tudo que eu quero no Natal …

A photo posted by Gisele Bündchen (@giseleofficial) on

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO — No matter what is said this week praising the Bills and how much of a threat they could pose Sunday, historically Tom Brady and the Patriots have dominated the Bills.

For starters, the Patriots have 67 wins against the Bills, the most against any other opponent in the NFL. In their last 28 games against the Bills, the Patriots are 26-2, and furthermore the Patriots have won 13 straight home games against the Bills, including a perfect 12-0 at Gillette Stadium.

“It will be a big challenge for us there Sunday all the way across the board,” Bill Belichick said Tuesday. “Obviously, they beat the Jets handily in both games, beat Green Bay, played very competitively in the Denver game on the road a few weeks back. Good football team, well coached, tough, physical. We had our hands full with them up there and I’€™m sure we will on Sunday, too.”

Brady had his best game statistically of the season Oct. 12 in Buffalo when he was 27-for-37 with 361 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. The 361 yards were a season-high, and the four touchdowns were second to his five touchdown game against the Bears.

Overall, Brady is 23-2 against the Bills and the 23 wins are tied for the second-most wins by a quarterback against an opponent — Brett Favre has 26 wins against the Lions.

“They’€™ve got a great defense. They challenge you,” Brady said of the Bills. “They’€™ve got good coverage. They’€™ve got 50 sacks, 30 turnovers. So, when you get two a game sacking the quarterback that means you’€™re forcing them into long-yardage situations and punting. So, between the turnovers and the punts, you just don’€™t score many points. They really have a lot of good players at every level of the defense, a very mentally and physically tough team. We’€™re going to have to match that, we’€™re going to have to bring our own intensity, bring some emotion and try to go out there and execute really well.”

Another thing going against the Bills, is the Patriots’ dominance at home. They’ve won 16 straight games at Gillette Stadium, and have won 17 straight home games against the AFC East. A win Sunday would tie Green Bay (18) for the most consecutive wins against division opponents since 1970.

“We’€™ve always played pretty well at home,” Brady said. “Certainly, we’€™ve got great fans who support us. We’€™ve got the weather elements, conditions ‘€“ the wind always comes into play. Because we practice in that, I always feel like that’€™s a great advantage for us, too. I think trying to get ahead of these teams and staying ahead and playing from ahead is really important to get the crowd into it.

“It’€™s going to be important this week to do that, for us to have a lot of urgency and to go out there and make as many good plays as possible.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable