Patriots

How the reported expanded NFL playoff proposal impacts the Patriots

How the reported expanded NFL playoff proposal impacts the Patriots

NFL owners are pushing for a big change that would be part of a new collective bargaining agreement with the players. The league reportedly will propose expanding the postseason to add a seventh playoff team in each conference.

As ESPN's Adam Schefter detailed, the league would now have six games on Wild Card weekend under the new proposal, three in each conference, and only the No. 1 seed in each conference will get a playoff bye.

Also in the proposal is a 17-game regular season with a preseason shortened to three games. The changes would be implemented for the 2020 season if the new CBA is ratified by the owners and NFL Players Association.

If adopted, this is certainly a massive change and one that could have a big impact on the New England Patriots. 

The Patriots have mastered the art of qualifying for a bye in their two-decade-long dynasty. In fact, this past postseason was the first time New England didn't have a first-round bye since the 2009-10 postseason. The Patriots finished as the No. 3 seed and promptly lost to the Tennessee Titans at home, marking their earliest playoff exit since the '10 postseason.

Thus, the elimination of one of the byes could have a significant impact on the Patriots. Since Bill Belichick took over as coach before the 2000 season, the Patriots have made it to the Super Bowl nine times. In each of those seasons, they've had a first-round bye.

In the Belichick Era, the Patriots have been the AFC's No. 2 seed on six occasions. They advanced to the Super Bowl and won three times in those six instances, and it's fair to wonder if they would've had a similar chance to advance had they needed to play another game, even if it was against a seventh-seeded team.

In the past seven Super Bowls overall, no team has made it to the big game without a first-round bye. The 2013 Ravens were the last team to play Wild Card weekend and make the Super Bowl.

So, needless to say, the No. 1 seed in each conference will now have a major advantage, and the Patriots are going to have to fight harder to earn it. They're certainly capable of earning the No. 1 seed. They were the No. 1 as recently as the 2017 and 2018 playoffs, when they beat the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51 and lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl 52.

The road to the Super Bowl will become a little more difficult without that No. 1 seed if the new format is approved. Only once in the Patriots history have they reached the Super Bowl as a Wild Card team and that was 35 years ago in the 1985 season. The No. 1 seed and home-field advantage will carry even more importance, but they'll have to outduel some powerful up-and-coming AFC teams if they want to earn it in the near future.

For a team with the NFL's toughest projected strength of schedule in 2020, that will be no easy task.

Rob Gronkowski, Camille Kostek donate 20,000 masks to Boston, New Jersey hospitals

Rob Gronkowski, Camille Kostek donate 20,000 masks to Boston, New Jersey hospitals

Former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and his girlfriend Camille Kostek are doing their part to help the community amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The pair have donated 10,000 medical-grade KN95 masks to Boston Medical Center and another 10,000 to St. Joseph's University Medical Center in New Jersey.

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Sports Illustrated swimsuit editor-in-chief MJ Day, whose husband is a physician at St. Joseph's, shared the note Gronkowski and Kostek included in their donation and thanked them for being so generous. 

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So when we all say we are a FAMILY at @si_swimsuit I mean it in the truest sense of the word. @camillekostek is a former #siswimsearch winner, SI Rookie and 2019 Cover Model. @gronk is her partner in life and @patriots legend and friend and supporter of this brand. They just donated 10,000 KN95 masks to both @sjhnj and @bostonmedicalcenter. And I am moved beyond words. But this type of generosity deserves words. On a personal note, I have been appealing to people to #stayinandsew #flattenthecurve and support their local hospitals and caregivers in need. My husband is a physician at @sjhnj and many of our friends and colleagues are on the front lines there fighting this pandemic. Like many of the hospitals in the epicenter of this war, they are critically short on supplies. Especially masks. What Camille and Rob have done for this hospital, the caregivers, the patients, and the community made me cry tears of joy. It’s been restorative to my faith that we can make a difference no matter how big or small. It shows me that the type of people that I get to work with care about me and you just as much as we care about them. And no matter what team they played for, we are all on the same team now. There is no way to quantify the gratitude I have for you both. Let’s motivate others to do the same, or what they can to help our hospitals and caregivers battle for us. Make a mask, stay home, donate, use your platform. Do what you can, because it all matters. These masks equate to lives saved. Period. Thank you. ❤️

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 “Rob and I doing everything we could to figure out how to source these masks properly and get them in the hands of people that need them was not an easy task,” Kostek, a model who was on the cover of the SI swimsuit issue last year, said Monday on her Instagram story, according to WEEI's Ryan Hannable. “Thank you to the heroes of this crisis for putting yourselves and your family — and everything that you do — on the line to help the wellbeing of the people in our nation. I have cried a lot today.”

Gronkowski and Kostek join the many celebrities who have tried to help during the crisis, and it won't be surprising if more follow in their footsteps.

NFL expects to open on time with full schedule; here's when it'll be revealed

NFL expects to open on time with full schedule; here's when it'll be revealed

With the NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball and MLS scrambling to figure out a way to salvage its seasons and crown champions in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, the NFL says as far as its season goes, it'll be business as usual in front of fans. 

Pash, the NFL's general counsel, told reporters, including Breer, on a conference call Tuesday of playing a full season, “That’s my expectation. Am I certain? I’m not certain I will be here tomorrow. But I’m planning on it, and I’m planning on a full season.”

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So, if Pash expectation becomes reality, on Thursday night, Sept. 10, the Kansas City Chiefs will hang their first Super Bowl championship banner since 1970 and host a team to be determined.

The full schedule - still 16 games, but with a third wild-card team in each conference; it won't be 17 games until at least 2021 - is expected to be released no later than May 9, according to Breer and others.

As for the draft, still set for April 23-25 in this era of social distancing, the "war rooms" of each team will reportedly be limited to 10 people in the room each six feet apart, with picks being made via video chat.