Patriots

Patriots-Eagles pregame notes

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Patriots-Eagles pregame notes

The Patriots face the Eagles tonight at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis in Super Bowl 52. The game begins at 6:30 p.m.

  • Watch Patriots Pregame Live from 3-5 p.m. with Michael Felger, Charlie Weis, Bert Breer, Troy Brown, Mike Giardi, Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry in Minneapolis,  and DJ Bean in Burlington.
  • From 5-6 p.m., watch 'Philly vs. Boston', produced in conjunction with our friends from NBC Sports Philadelphia, with Felger and Michael Barkann hosting and featuring Curran, Brown, Seth Joyner, Barrett Brooks and Ray Didinger.
  • At halftime, tune for in for Halftime Live with Felger, Weis, Breer and Brown.
  • When the game ends, watch Patriots Postgame Live.

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch, or click here for the livestream of the shows (and all NBC Sports Boston programming).

Here's what you need to know about the game . . .

 

FACTS AND FIGURES

GAME TIME: 6:30 p.m. 

SITE: U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis

TEAM RECORDS: Patriots 15-3, Eagles 15-3

ON TV: NBC

TV ANNOUNCERS: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michelle Tafoya

ON LOCAL RADIO: 98.5 The Sports Hub Patriots Radio Network

LOCAL RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Bob Socci and Scott Zolak

NATIONAL RADIO: Westwood One

NATIONAL RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Kevin Harlan, Boomer Esiason, Tony Boselli and Ed Werder

ALL-TIME SERIES BETWEEN THE TEAMS: Eagles lead, 7-6

LAST MEETING: Eagles 35, Patriots 28 on Dec. 6, 2015 at Gillette Stadium

 

ABOUT THE TEAMS

-- If the Patriots win today, they will tie the Steelers for most Super Bowl victories (six).

-- The Patriots are playing in their 10th Super Bowl, extending the record for most appearances they set last year. (Prior to Super Bowl 51, they had been tied with the Steelers with eight). They are 5-4 in Super Bowls.

-- The Eagles are playing in their third Super Bowl. They are 0-2, having lost to the Raiders in Super Bowl 15 and to the Patriots in Super Bowl 39.

-- This game is a rematch of Super Bowl 39, which was won by the Patriots, 24-21, at ALLTEL Stadium in Jacksonville. L.J. Smith opened the scoring with a six-yard touchdown catch from Donovan McNabb in the second quarter, but New England outscored Philadelphia 24-14 in the last 16-plus minutes of the game, earning Bill Belichick his third NFL title as Patriots' head coach.



ABOUT THE TEAMS

-- The Patriots have trailed by at least seven points in each of their last three postseason contests, and came back to win all three.

-- The last two teams to win the Super Bowl with a different starting QB in Week 1 than in the Super Bowl were the 2001 Patriots (Drew Bledsoe/Tom Brady) and 2016 Patriots (Jimmy Garoppolo/Tom Brady). The Eagles will attempt to do the same on Sunday (Carson Wentz/Nick Foles).

-- Philadelphia has outscored its opponents 113-58 (+55) in the first quarter this year -- the best point differential in the NFL (including postseason).

ABOUT THE PLAYERS

-- Zach Ertz and Rob Gronkowski both led their teams in receptions and receiving yards during the 2017 regular season. This will be the first Super Bowl matchup all-time in which both clubs' leading receivers during the regular season were tight ends.

-- Nick Foles has 24 combined regular and postseason victories as an NFL starting quarterback (24-18 record). Tom Brady has an NFL-record 27 career postseason wins (27-9 record).

TOM BRADY

-- In the fourth quarter/overtime of his last two Super Bowls, Tom Brady has completed 81.0 percent of his passes for 370 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions, a 127.2 passer rating and a game-winning drive for the Patriots in each game. In each of the Patriots' five Super Bowl wins to date, Brady led the team on a drive that culminated with the decisive points being scored in the fourth quarter or OT.

-- Brady has 15 career touchdown passes in his seven previous Super Bowls, while all other active NFL quarterbacks have combined for 20 touchdown passes in the Super Bowl. 

-- At 40 years and 185 days old on Sunday, Brady will be the oldest non-kicker/punter to ever participate in the Super Bowl.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Butler's departure inevitable, Patriots' corner search is on

With Butler's departure inevitable, Patriots' corner search is on

Before free agency kicks off, and before we dissect the top college prospects entering this year's draft, we're taking a look at the Patriots on a position-by-position basis to provide you with an offseason primer of sorts. We'll be analyzing how the Patriots performed in 2017 at the position in question, who's under contract, how badly the team needs to add talent at that spot, and how exactly Bill Belichick might go about adding that talent. Today, we're looking at the position group that received more attention than any other during Super Bowl 52: Cornerback. 

OTHER ENTRIES IN THE SERIES

HOW THEY PERFORMED


No single position group experienced as many dips, climbs and dives as Patriots corners did during their rollercoaster season. In September alone, the communication was a mess, Malcolm Butler got benched, Stephon Gilmore got benched, and Eric Rowe suffered a serious groin injury that allowed Gilmore to quickly get his job back. Second-year special teams standout Jonathan Jones might've been the team's best cover man at that juncture. Then, as soon as Gilmore started to find his footing, he was diagnosed with a concussion. The group started to put it together in the second half with solid performances against the Raiders in Mexico City and the Bills in Buffalo. Gilmore was particularly strong as the season wore on, showing the man-to-man cover skills and the knack for getting his hands on footballs that made him one of the highest-paid players at his position last offseason. But in the end, in the Super Bowl, with Butler benched again, the group (outside of Gilmore, who played well against Philly) had too many letdowns in what was arguably the team's worst defensive performance of the season.

WHO IS UNDER CONTRACT FOR 2018?
Gilmore, Rowe, Jones, Cyrus Jones, Ryan Lewis, Jomal Wiltz

WHO ISN'T?
Butler, Johnson Bademosi

HOW DIRE IS THE NEED?

The Patriots played Rowe in prominent roles in each of the past two Super Bowls and he seems to be first in line to take over No. 2 duties with Butler certainly headed on to a new chapter in his career. Jonathan Jones showed in spurts that he could be an effective slot corner, but he suffered a season-ending injury in the Divisional Round and it's unclear what the Patriots will be expecting from him in 2018. Cyrus Jones is coming off of a torn ACL, and even before his injury, it looked like he may have a hard time cracking the regular rotation. This is one position -  like tackle  - that the Patriots don't want to be left thin. If we had to rank it, the need for another capable body would probably come in at about a 7 out of 10. 

WHAT'S AVAILABLE IN FREE AGENCY?


There are a handful of relatively big names who will be on the market come March, including Butler. Trumaine Johnson of the Rams figures to be at the top of the class. Vontae Davis of the Colts is 29 and often injured, but in a corner-needy league, he shouldn't have much trouble finding a team. EJ Gains of the Bills could leverage his inside-out versatility to come away with a deal worth almost $10 million per year. Aaron Colvin of the Jaguars, Patrick Robinson of the Eagles, Nickell Robey-Coleman of the Rams and Leonard Johnson of the Bills give teams in need of slot help some options. Kyle Fuller of the Bears and Morris Claiborne of the Jets are two former first-rounders who've had up-and-down careers but showed last season they have still value on the outside. 

WHAT'S AVAILABLE IN THE DRAFT?

It feels like the best athletes at the high school and college levels are getting smarter. Or their coaches are. Once again, there's a deep group of athletes peppering the incoming draft class at corner, which is, of course, one of the highest-paying positions in football. (Why so many top-tier athletes are still playing running back, on the other hand, is beyond me.) Alabama's hybrid star in the secondary Minkah Fitzpatrick will be long gone by the time the Patriots pick. Same goes for Ohio State's undersized burner Denzel Ward and Iowa's ball-hawking 6-foot-1 cover man Josh Jackson, in all likelihood. At the bottom of the first round, though, players like Auburn's Carlton Davis (who has drawn comparisons to Richard Sherman because of his length and ball skills) and Colorado's Isaiah Oliver (a one-time Pac-12 decathlete with a 6-foot-1 frame) could be available. Would the Patriots want to invest a first-round pick at that spot? If they feel like they have good depth at the position already on the roster but want to take a flier on a mid-round selection, they could hope Louisville's Jaire Alexander (who dealt with injuries in 2017 that will probably hurt his draft stock) lasts into the third round. 

HOW CAN THE PATRIOTS ADDRESS IT?


One name that's sort of intriguing on the free-agency market is Davis'. You've heard tales similar players ending up in New England before. He's spent the majority of his career without much of a shot at a title - though his Colts made the AFC Championship Game in the 2014 season. He should be low-cost. He had season-ending groin surgery last year, was released in November and went unclaimed. He'll be 30 before the start of next season, but he may be worth a roll of the dice to help a relatively young Patriots secondary. If he doesn't pan out, no harm done. Hard to envision Belichick and Nick Caserio investing big money into this position with Gilmore on the roster, but maybe they'll deem one of the free-agent slot options worth a shot if he's cost-effective. Otherwise, the Patriots may try to take advantage of a draft that seems - at least right now - as if it's deeper at corner than it is at some other spots on the defensive side of the ball, like on the edge.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

 

Report: James Harrison could return to Patriots

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Report: James Harrison could return to Patriots

James Harrison was a larger than life figure during his time in Pittsburgh. 

It was as if God molded him to be a member of the Steelers: massive, physical, and an absolute bruiser.

But at the end of the day he is a football player. And athletes in this sport don't particuarly like time on the bench.

Mike Tomlin and the rest of the Steelers organization were reminded of this fact in a very harsh manner.

At the end of the December, Harrison made a late season move to sign with the Patriots. It left his former teammates in Pittsburgh frustrated, and his former fans confused.

But at the end of the day he just wanted to be on the football field again. And that's exactly where Belichick put him.

Harrison had the opportunity to appear in many more situations, and had several sacks at the end of the season.

Now there is a new report from Christopher Price of the Boston Sports Journal that he could re-sign with the Patriots in 2018.

A source close to Price and Harrison said "there's a reasonable chance" that he could be on the roster next year.

He will be playing this upcoming season at age 40, and has previously stated he'd like to play one or two more seasons.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE