Adam Schefter

Adam Schefter

ESPN’s Adam Schefter checked in with Middays with MFB on Friday to talk about Patriots and NFL news heading into the final Sunday of the regular season. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Asked which team the Patriots would least want to face in their first playoff game, Schefter said it’s more about the Patriots than the team they’re playing.

“It’s really about them, not about the opponent. If they’re going to play the way that they have, I don’t think anybody’s going to beat them in Foxboro if they play their brand of football,” Schefter said. “But what team is most likely to take them out of that realm? I think we’ve seen the Ravens do that before. I don’t know if the Ravens are going to make the playoffs at all. Obviously they’re on the outside looking in right now. It’s going to be tough. But a lot of funky things can happen.”

Darrelle Revis‘ future in New England is uncertain, as he signed a two-year deal last offseason that is backloaded, leaving the team in a situation where it’s unlikely to keep him on that pact.

“I think the Revis story is still playing out,” Schefter said. “Darrelle Revis has been a great player for a long time. I’ve always look at him as a businessman — that he’s going to go where the best deal is. If the best deal is in New England, then fine. Does he like it there enough? If they win a Super Bowl, where he gets a Super Bowl on his resume, and he says, ‘Now I can just go for the best deal truly.’ Or is it worth it to compromise a little bit there to continue playing on in New England where you’ve got a shot to win the Super Bowl? That’s possible, too. The Darrelle Revis story obviously has yet to be written. I think he’d be open to going back to New England. But when I think of Darrelle Revis I think business first, always.”

Added Schefter: “The circumstances were such last year that it just played perfectly for both sides. And I’m sure that they both would like to be together next year in a perfect world. But again, we’ll see how Darrelle approaches that and what his thoughts are there. I’m sure he’s been very happy playing there this year, but again, it’s going to come down to money.”

Looking around the league, Schefter said that the Lions-Packers game that will decide the NFC North winner is the most intriguing game of the weekend.

“The fact that the Lions have not won in Green Bay since 1992 — 23 straight games, 22 regular season, one in the postseason, I mean, really, it’s hard to imagine that,” Schefter said, adding: “It’s the longest streak in NFL history, longest losing streak of one team to another in NFL history. You don’t see that. It’s very unusual.

“At some point the Lions are going to snap it, and I think they’re good enough to do it this weekend. But to go into Green Bay and win there now is a tall, tall order.”

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

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar

FOXBORO — Running back Jonas Gray was the lone Patriots player not spotted at the start of practice Friday afternoon held on the lower grass field behind Gillette Stadium.

Jonas Gray

Jonas Gray

FOXBORO — Running back Jonas Gray was the lone Patriots player not spotted at the start of practice Friday afternoon held on the lower grass field behind Gillette Stadium.

This wasn’t the only Friday practice Gray has missed this year, but this time might be different as the running back has been on the injury report with an ankle injury he suffered in the first half of Sunday’s win in New York.

Gray has been listed as limited in practice this week. He left Sunday’s game, but did return, although was very limited and Brandon Bolden received the majority of the carries in the fourth quarter.

Stay tuned for the injury report, which will be posted later in the afternoon.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Terry McAulay will work as the referee for Sunday’s Bills-Patriots game at Gillette Stadium, according to FootballZebras.com.

Terry McAulay talks with Phil Simms and Joe Namath prior to last year's Super Bowl. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Terry McAulay talks with Phil Simms and Joe Namath prior to last year’s Super Bowl. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Terry McAulay will work as the referee for Sunday’s Bills-Patriots game at Gillette Stadium, according to FootballZebras.com.

This is McAulay’s first Patriots game of the season, and first since he served as the lead official for a New England-Houston game at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 10, 2012. A veteran official, he’s worked several big games over the last decade-plus, including Super Bowl XLVIII.

Here’s a look at who has worked as the lead official for each New England game this year, and the corresponding penalties for each game, not counting the flags that were offset or declined.

Sept. 7 at Miami: Walt Anderson — 9 penalties, 100 yards (Dolphins — 4 penalties, 26 yards)
Sept. 14 at Minnesota: Tony Corrente — 15 penalties, 163 yards (Vikings — 7 penalties, 58 yards)
Sept. 21 vs. Oakland: Pete Morelli — 6 penalties, 59 yards (Raiders — 6 penalties, 49 yards)
Sept. 29 at Kansas City: John Parry — 3 penalties, 30 yards (Chiefs — 4 penalties, 35 yards)
Oct. 5 vs. Cincinnati: Jerome Boger — 12 penalties, 114 yards (Bengals — 4 penalties, 37 yards)
Oct. 12 at Buffalo: Walt Coleman — 9 penalties, 60 yards (Bills — 8 penalties, 107 yards)
Oct. 16 vs. Jets: Bill Leavy — 9 penalties, 64 yards (Jets — 7 penalties, 70 yards)
Oct. 23 vs. Chicago: Brad Allen — 7 penalties, 38 yards (Bears — 5 penalties, 41 yards)
Nov. 2 vs. Denver: Walt Anderson — 9 penalties, 71 yards (Broncos — 10 penalties, 72 yards)
Nov. 16 at Indy: Pete Morelli — 5 penalties, 53 yards (Colts — 4 penalties, 27 yards)
Nov. 23 vs. Detroit: Tony Corrente — 11 penalties, 89 yards (Lions — 9 penalties, 54 yards)
Nov. 30 at Green Bay: Ed Hochuli — 4 penalties, 25 yards (Packers — 4 penalties, 22 yards)
Dec. 7 at San Diego: Bill Leavy — 6 penalties, 70 yards (Chargers — 8 penalties, 61 yards)
Dec. 14 vs. Miami: Bill Vinovich — 5 penalties, 51 yards (Dolphins — 5 penalties, 35 yards)
Dec. 21 at Jets: Brad Allen — 5 penalties, 38 yards (Jets — 2 penalties, 14 yards)
Dec. 28 vs. Bills: Terry McAulay

For more on McAulay’s work as a referee, check out his page at Pro Football Reference. For more information on this week’s assignments, click through to the always reliable Football Zebras. And for more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Brandon Spikes will return to Gillette Stadium for the first time since signing with the Bills on Sunday. (Getty Images)

Brandon Spikes will return to Gillette Stadium for the first time since signing with the Bills on Sunday. (Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — In what hasn’t been talked much about this week, Sunday will be a homecoming for Bills linebacker Brandon Spikes — his first game back at Gillette Stadium since signing with the Bills this past offseason.

The fiery, emotional 27-year-old played four seasons in New England before not being re-signed last offseason and signing with the Bills in March. Spikes has played in all 15 games so far this season, totaling 54 tackles and a sack. In the team’s first meeting this season in Buffalo, Spikes had eight tackles, a season-high, and was a game he clearly was pumped up for — he was jumping up-and-down from the second he stepped on the field for pregame warmups.

Bills coach Doug Marrone had nothing but praise for his linebacker when asked about the former Patriot on a conference call earlier this week.

“He’€™s really done a great job for us — in the locker room, on the field, helping some of our longer guys like Preston Brown and Nigel Bradham,” he said. “With Kiko Alonso being out, he’€™s helped them learn how to be pros, watching film and doing those things. He had an outstanding offseason. He was here throughout the entire offseason. I think that was important. He’€™s been everything that we expected him to be.”

Spikes’ departure in New England didn’t go smoothly. The linebacker was placed on season-ending injured reserve late in the regular-season last year with a knee injury and thus missed the postseason. Earlier this season, Spikes told the Boston Herald he believed the injured reserve designation was a suspension by coach Bill Belichick.

“Absolutely, absolutely, but you know what I’€™€™m saying, I ain’€™€™t going to go — what’€™€™s done is done,”€ Spikes told the Herald. “€œWe can’€™€™t change it. It is what it is. Everything happens for a reason. Whatever, man, I’€™€™m here with the Bills now. I’€™€™m happy. I’€™€™m loving the game. I’€™€™m loving my teammates, the entire organization, the city, your fans. It’€™€™s all great, man. It just reminds me of when I was in Gainesville with the Bills Mafia and the Gator Nation. It’€™€™s kind of the same, honestly.”

Belichick and Spikes did hug on the field following the Oct. 12 game and appeared to put what happened in the past behind them.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

WEEI_FantasyFootball_2014_hdr

Welcome to the Week 17 starts and sits! It’s a tough week to predict when you look at the teams with nothing to play for, so when given the choice, you want to focus on players who are in need-to-win situations. Using Patriots players this week is inherently risky, and the same goes for the Broncos, Colts and Cowboys.

I’ve isolated some players in good situations for your consideration. Don’t forget to tune in Sunday morning for another episode of the Fantasy Football Hour with my co-host Jim Hackett. If you have last-minute lineup concerns, you should check out my Sunday chat. It takes place right here at WEEI.com and it runs from 11 a.m. to noon.

If you want to keep track of all our fantasy football content, both here and at Rotobahn, follow me on Twitter. I send out links to all fresh articles and chats as well, including our full Week 17 lineup rankings. I’ll be back next week with playoff pool cheat sheets and strategies.

QUARTERBACK

Start

Cam Newton, Panthers at Falcons

He got his feet wet last week, but I expect the Panthers to unleash Newton in this game because there is a playoff berth at stake.

Eli Manning, Giants vs. Eagles

He has a receiver who tilts the field in Odell Beckham, and it’s made a big difference lately. Manning should finish 2015 strong, and I like his chances of being a QB1 next season if the Giants address the offensive line better than they did in 2014.

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers vs. Bengals

He has a lot to play for here with the division title in the balance, so expect four quarters of action and QB1 results when all is said and done.

Sit

Andrew Luck, Colts at Titans

They went to backup Matt Hasselbeck early last week, and I am not betting on a longer outing for Luck this week — not with so much at stake. The Colts are locked into the fourth seed no matter what happens this week.

RUNNING BACK

Start

Matt Asiata, Vikings vs. Bears

It’s a very good matchup, and he owns the goal line right now. Start him as an RB2 in all formats.

Jonathan Stewart, Panthers at Falcons

Do not worry about DeAngelo Williams‘ return. Stewart has been too good in recent weeks to give up half of his carries. I see a 2-to-1 split at worst in his favor, and that’s going to give him RB2 value at worst.

Devonta Freeman, Falcons vs. Panthers

He should be the main back this week, and we’ve liked him going back to our pre-draft analysis. Freeman is a very nice RB2 play in any league size or scoring format.

Sit

Tre Mason, Rams at Seahawks

Play him if you need him, but lower expectations considerably in this nasty matchup. Seattle’s defense is simply dominant when playing behind the home crowd.

WIDE RECEIVER

Jarvis Landry, Dolphins vs. Jets

The Jets gave it all they had last week in Rex Ryan‘s final game against New England and in front of the home fans. I do not expect to see that kind of spirited effort this week, and the Jets have nobody to contain Landry out of the slot. He is a nice WR3 play, especially in PPR formats.

DeSean Jackson, Washington vs. Cowboys

He went off last week, and he should close out the season strong this week as Washington tries desperately to send a positive message to a beleaguered fan base. He has WR1 upside this week.

Charles Johnson, Vikings vs. Bears

I’m a big fan of this kid, and he should be very active in his final game this season. Johnson has emerged as Teddy Bridgewater’s top target and that could continue into 2015. For this week, consider Johnson as a WR3 with plenty of upside.

Sit

Julian Edelman, Patriots vs. Bills

I think you are better off starting Danny Amendola, who should continue to see plenty of action in this meaningless game. The Patriots would be crazy to let Edelman get beat up for no reason given how important he is from scrimmage and in the return game. They are locked into the No. 1 seed, as I am sure you all know.

TIGHT END

Rob Gronkowski, Patriots vs. Bills

This one is tricky, but I think it makes sense. It’s the exception to the rule. Basically, a few series of Gronkowski is worth more than four quarters of most non-top 10 options. So unless you have a stud in reserve, you can and probably should play Gronk and hope for a quick score. Just realize that a big day is not happening.

Travis Kelce, Chiefs vs. Chargers

He was a disappointment last week, but he still was heavily involved. The Chargers do not tackle well, and Kelce relies on making the first man miss in the screen game. It’s a better matchup than it looks like on paper. Use him as a top-10 option.

Charles Clay, Dolphins vs. Jets

The Jets routinely get beaten up by tight ends, so Clay is a good bet to have a second straight big game. Play him in all formats against the woeful Jets.

Sit

Jason Witten, Cowboys at Washington

He is a very good bet to rest for most of this game. He is too important to the Cowboys’ long-term goals, and they have a few young tight ends who could use extra snaps. This one seems like a no-brainer.

Blog Author: 
Peter Davidson

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 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.

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[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 ...