Patriots

Chargers' 2012 towel violation similar to Patriots

san-diego-chargers-towels.jpg

Chargers' 2012 towel violation similar to Patriots

As we await word on possible discipline for Tom Brady and/or the Patriots in the ball deflation case, we can look back at a similar disciplinary situation from October of 2012 involving the San Diego Chargers.

In that instance, the Chargers were found to have been using a towel covered with an adhesive substance that aids in gripping the ball.

The league looked into the matter further. Without the aid of a $5M investigation and a corporate law firm, they league cleared the Chargers of violating a “a competitive rule.”

The league statement went on to say, "However, NFL game officials are charged with protecting the integrity and competitive fairness of the games and club staff members, like players and coaches, have a clear obligation to cooperate in this effort and comply with the direction of game officials. As a result of the failure of club staff to follow the directive of a game official to immediately surrender the towels when directed to do so, and to attempt to conceal the towels, the Chargers have been fined $20,000.

"In order to ensure that products that may have a possible competitive effect are given appropriate review and testing, our office -- after consultation with the Competition Committee -- has advised all clubs that the use of towels or other products that contain any type of adhesive substance is now prohibited on game days until further notice."

So they didn’t cough up towels when told to do so. They tried to hide them. The towels had sticky crap on them which – if they were being hidden – makes it more probable than not that an advantage was being gained that the Chargers wanted concealed. And the NFL’s Competition Committee laid down a new rile. No sticky towels.

No suspension. No specific discipline to any coach, GM or player. No demand for cell phones and emails. Just, “Don’t do it anymore. And, “Hey, give us $20K for being dinks about the towels when we asked for them.”

Simpler times, Danny. Simpler times.

AFC Playoff Picture: Patriots face uphill battle for home-field advantage

AFC Playoff Picture: Patriots face uphill battle for home-field advantage

The New England Patriots have won 70 percent of their games this season. They're still a very good football team. But their path to a third consecutive Super Bowl appearance looks much rockier than in years past.

After Sunday's 34-10 road loss to the Tennessee Titans, the Patriots sit third in the AFC's overall standings behind the Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers. If the season ended right now, they would need to play on Wild Card weekend, something they haven't done since 2009.

Of course, a lot can change over the final seven weeks of the NFL season. With the Patriots heading into their bye week, let's reset the AFC playoff picture, starting with a look at the overall standings. (An asterisk denotes a division leader.)

AFC Overall Standings

1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-1)*

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2-1)*

3. New England Patriots (7-3)*

4. Houston Texans (6-3)*

5. Los Angeles Chargers (7-2)

6. Cincinnati Bengals (5-4)

In the hunt: Tennessee Titans (5-4), Miami Dolphins (5-5), Baltimore Ravens (4-5), Indianapolis Colts (4-5)

AFC Wild-Card Round Matchups (as of Nov. 13)

No. 3 Patriots vs. No. 6 Bengals

No. 4 Texans vs. No. 5 Texans

So, how could the Patriots avoid a first-round matchup against the Bengals and possibly secure the AFC's top seed? Here's a look at the remaining schedules for Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and New England:

Kansas City: at Rams (in Mexico City), BYE, at Raiders, vs. Ravens, vs. Chargers, at Seahawks, vs. Raiders

Pittsburgh: at Jaguars, at Broncos, vs. Chargers, at Raiders, vs. Patriots, at Saints, vs. Bengals

Patriots: BYE, at Jets, vs. Vikings, at Dolphins, at Steelers, vs. Bills, vs. Jets

If the Patriots want the No. 1 seed, they'll likely need to win out -- and get some help. The Chiefs have just two games remaining against teams above .500 -- the 9-1 Rams and 7-2 Chargers -- and would need to drop two games or more to open the door for New England, which does hold the tie-breaker over Kansas City thanks to its Week 6 victory.

The Patriots have a decent shot at catching the Steelers for the No. 2 seed and at least getting a first-round bye. Pittsburgh has decently tough road matchups in Denver and Jacksonville, and a Week 15 NEw England victory over the Steelers could catapult them into the No. 2 spot.

This all assumes, of course, that the Patriots straighten out the issues that led to a 24-point loss to a middling Titans team. But as always in New England, the stakes are high: Bill Belichick's club is just 2-3 on the road this season and hasn't won an AFC Championship Game on the road since 2004.

Dwayne Allen suffers knee injury, will miss several weeks

Dwayne Allen suffers knee injury, will miss several weeks

This bye week couldn't come at a better time for the Patriots. 

Rob Gronkowski hasn't looked himself all season and has missed the last two games with ankle and back injuries. 

Marcus Cannon has been banged up all season. Trent Brown missed some snaps on Sunday because of an illness. Josh Gordon dislocated his finger against the Packers. Julian Edelman left Sunday's game with an ankle injury. 

The list goes on and on. Key contributors haven't been at full strength, and it's showed during games like the brutal Titan's loss on Sunday. 

Now we can add Dwayne Allen to the list. 

Allen suffered a knee injury on Sunday, and is projected to miss a few weeks, even with the upcoming bye. 

Allen doesn't contribute much in the passing game, but he's an excellent run blocker who has become important to the run game with Gronkowski clearly not at 100% this year. 

Behind Allen, the Patriots only have Jacob Hollister, who's missed most of the season with a nagging ankle injury. Even when he's healthy, he's much more of a receiver than a blocker.

Depending on how the team evaluates Gronkowski over the next week and a half, they may make a move to shore up their depth at the position. 

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