Patriots

Preparing the gameplan for the undefeated Chiefs; Sunday Night Football crew joins to debate Gronk vs. Kelce

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NBC Sports Boston Photo

Preparing the gameplan for the undefeated Chiefs; Sunday Night Football crew joins to debate Gronk vs. Kelce

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In this episode of Quick Slants the Podcast, Tom Curran and Jerod Mayo break down the matchup between the undefeated Chiefs and the Patriots...

2:12 - Big primetime game vs. Chiefs. How is it different playing night games vs. normal afternoon games?

4:48 - What is the Patriots identity? "We don’t know who this team really is."

6:05 - Andy Reid so far is coach of the year. Patriots still playing around with roles.

7:16 - As a player, do you ever get tired hearing about players, i.e. Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill.

9:06 - Energy and focus will be at the max level playing the Chiefs in primetime.

9:42 - Trying to mess up the offensive script as a defense. Forcing 2nd & 3rd and longs force the offense to change on the fly.

11:10 - Scouting report on Patrick Mahomes. How do you stop the young QB?

13:19 - The NBC Sunday Night Football crew Rodney Harrison, Tony Dungy, and Chris Collinsworth join the podcast to debate who the better tight end is right now at this time, Rob Gronkowski or Travis Kelce.

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Chargers' wild win shakes up AFC playoff picture; No. 1 seed back in play for Pats?

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AP Photo

Chargers' wild win shakes up AFC playoff picture; No. 1 seed back in play for Pats?

Anthony Lynn's gutsy call to go for two with four seconds left, and Mike Williams' subsequent catch all by his lonesome self, delivered one of the biggest prime-time stunners of the 2018 season, a 29-28 thriller by the Los Angeles Chargers over the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. And with it, the AFC playoff picture just got a whole lot more interesting.

With the win, the Chargers became the second AFC team to lock up a playoff spot, joining their rivals they just beat on Thursday Night Football. Whether Philip Rivers and Co. will be playing their first playoff game at home or on the road is another matter, however.

Both the Chargers and Chiefs are tied for the AFC West lead with 11-3 records, but Kansas City holds on to the No. 1 seed in the conference overall based on tiebreaking procedures. The Chiefs and Chargers split the regular-season head-to-head matchups, but Kansas City has a 4-1 record in the division, while LA is 3-2.

Meanwhile, with the Chiefs' loss, theoretically New England is still very much in play for home-field advantage at just a game and half behind KC for the top seed. The Patriots would have to win Sunday against the Steelers, and then their final two games against Buffalo and the New York Jets (a combined 8-18 headed into this weekend) to finish 12-4.

That's certainly a more favorable schedule than the Chargers, who still have to face the Ravens at home, and then a hungry 6-7 Denver at hallowed Mile High. The Chiefs, meanwhile, still have to head to Seattle on Dec. 23 for Sunday Night Football, before finishing with a visit from the Raiders. The Texans, currently the No. 3 seed at 9-4, have a somewhat easier three-game slate in the Jets, the Eagles, and Jaguars.

It's possible 12-4 gets the No. 1 seed in the AFC this season.

Or, in a potentially weird scenario, it's possible the road to Super Bowl LIII ends up going through a 27,000-seat MLS stadium.

Or, in a potentially even weirder twist of fate, a doomsday scenario is still in play where the Steelers drop their final three games, the Ravens two of their final three, and the Browns -- yes, those Browns -- win their final three games to claim the NFC North.

Here's how the AFC playoff picture looks after Thursday night's wild finish:

PLAYOFFS
*1. Chiefs 11-3
2. Patriots 9-4
3. Texans 9-4
4. Steelers 7-5-1
*5. Chargers 11-3
6. Ravens 7-6
*Clinched postseason berth

IN THE HUNT
Colts 7-6
Dolphins 7-6
Titans 7-6
Broncos 6-7
Browns 5-7-1
Bengals 5-8

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Gillette Stadium ranked among best, Yankee Stadium among worst, for food safety

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File Photo

Gillette Stadium ranked among best, Yankee Stadium among worst, for food safety

On Thursday, ESPN Outside The Lines released a comprehensive review of the food-safety inspections for all 107 North American pro sports venues, with some favorable findings for Boston's three major sports venues.

Of the 107 venues, Foxborough's Gillette Stadium ranked as the fifth-best overall, while Boston's TD Garden (25) and Fenway Park (31) came in pretty favorably. NBA venues took up three of the top five spots, led by Oakland's Oracle Arena at No. 1.

For some of New York's most pristine venues, however, the results are not flattering. Queens' Citi Field (home of the Mets) and Brooklyn's Barclays Center (home of the Nets and Islanders) ranked Nos. 86 and 93, respectively, on the list. But most indicting of all, perhaps, was Yankee Stadium, which the report ranked as sixth-worst of all North American sports venues.

Among the most alarming findings, this one about the Legends level of seating -- some of the most expensive seats in the park -- sticks out:

Inspectors found hot food at improper temperatures (below 140 degrees) and "filth, flies or food/refuse/sewage-associated flies" in food and/or non-food areas at a Legends level location on July 25, 2017.

Imagine shelling out a couple thousand bucks for seats after reading that?

This all made for some spirited debate on Arbella Early Edition, where hosts Rich Keefe, Gary Tanguay and Trenni Kusnierek talked about their best and worst ballpark food experiences -- and, well, are we really going to the games for the food anyways?

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