Patriots

Patriots still have something to play for

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Patriots still have something to play for

FOXBORO -- With just Jacksonville and Miami remaining on the Patriots' regular-season schedule, has their attention turned to the playoffs yet?

The Pats, as expected, say no but not just because they're the Patriots. It's also because there's still a chance they can get a first-round bye. They'll need help, of course. But if Houston (currently at No. 1) and Denver (No. 2) stumble, the Pats definitely won't have a shot at a first-round bye if they lose one of their last two games.

But it's not out of the realm of possibility, which is why these Patriots aren't going to take the 2-12 Jaguars lightly . . . even if you don't believe New England's usual praise of their next opponent.

"With this team, a lot of people might look at their record, but, you can just tell, they just line up and they play football," said Vince Wilfork after Thursday's practice. "They're old school. They line up, they try to do things right, and you can just tell that when they do things right they move the ball, they make plays. They have guys in skill positions that can make some good plays. They have a bunch of backs that carry the ball this year.

"So, like I said, it's going to be challenging for us. We're not going into this thinking about any record. We're going out and just trying to put together a good game plan and execute well. Hopefully that's good enough for us."

The offensive players feel the same way.

"We can't worry about Jacksonville's record," said wide receiver Deion Branch on Thursday. "Overall, we've got a lot of stuff that we need to straighten out, in all three phases of the game. So we can't worry about who we're playing."

"I think we've taken the whole season one game at a time, and we're going to continue to do that and get ready for Jacksonville," said wide receiver Wes Welker. "They present some real problems, and we've just got to go out there and play well."

The Patriots say they aren't just trying to win these next two games. They also believe they can use it as an opportunity to improve before the playoffs begin.

But improve on what, against a team with just two wins?

"Playing a little bit more consistent, working on our third down. Trust me, we can improve, scoring in the red area," said Branch. "I think most of the stuff just goes back to being a little bit more consistent."

Patriots players are at least being consistent with praising their opponent, even if they are a 15-point favorite on the road.

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Wentz tosses 4 TDs, Eagles beat Redskins, 34-24

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MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Wentz tosses 4 TDs, Eagles beat Redskins, 34-24

PHILADELPHIA - Carson Wentz tossed four touchdown passes, and the Philadelphia Eagles overcame losing nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters in a 34-24 win over the Washington Redskins on Monday night.

Wentz threw for 268 yards and ran for a career-best 63 after a shaky start to lead the NFL-best Eagles (6-1) to their fifth straight win. But the victory was costly because Peters was carted off the field with a knee injury in the third quarter.

Kirk Cousins had 303 yards passing and three TDs for the Redskins (3-3).

The Eagles went three-and-out three times in their first four drives and had only 57 total yards before Wentz hit Mack Hollins in stride with a perfect 64-yard TD pass to tie it at 10.

That got the offense rolling.

Wentz connected with Zach Ertz for 46 yards on the next series and found him again for a 4-yard TD pass to make it 17-10.

After getting the second-half kickoff, the Eagles drove 86 yards for another touchdown. Peters was injured during the series, and fans chanted his name while teammates surrounded the cart.

Wentz finished the drive off with a play that Peters would appreciate.

While being hit by two defenders and falling forward, Wentz lofted a 9-yard TD pass to Corey Clement.

Wentz fired a 10-yard TD pass to Nelson Agholor to expand the lead to 31-17. Wentz kept that drive alive by escaping a sack and running 17 yards on third-and-8.

Cousins tossed a 7-yard touchdown pass to Chris Thompson to give the Redskins a 10-3 lead. He connected with Jordan Reed on a 5-yard TD to cut the deficit to 24-17 and threw a 12-yard pass to Reed to cap the scoring.

The Eagles were penalized on four straight plays to start their first possession before Wentz was intercepted by Quinton Dunbar on a deep pass to Torrey Smith on second-and-31.

Philadelphia swept Washington for the first time since 2013 and has a commanding lead in the NFC East. The Cowboys and Redskins are tied for second place.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Are Patriots' defensive problems solved?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Are Patriots' defensive problems solved?

0:41 - Tom Giles, Michael Holley, and Tom Curran react to the Patriots’ 23-7 win over the Falcons on Sunday night and whether the Patriots deserve to be considered Super Bowl favorites.

6:09 - Is Johnson Bademosi an upgrade over Stephon Gilmore at cornerback for the Patriots? Michael Hurley joins BST to debate with Tom Curran, Michael Holley, and Kayce Smith. They also discuss the defense’s overall improvement in Sunday night’s win.

14:37 - NBC Sports Boston’s Red Sox insider Evan Drellich joins the show to talk about the Red Sox hiring Alex Cora to be their new manager, whether it was the right choice, and how his presence will affect the Red Sox clubhouse.

22:14 - Kayce Smith and Tom Curran discuss Kyrie Irving’s vulgar response to a Philadelphia fan yelling “Where’s LeBron?” at him on Friday night.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE