Dane Cook Significantly Devalues Tom Brady Jersey and 19 Other Patriots Thoughts


Dane Cook Significantly Devalues Tom Brady Jersey and 19 Other Patriots Thoughts FOXBORO, Mass. — It's a simple formula for the Patriots from this point forward. With one win or one Jets loss, the Pats will lock up home field throughout the playoffs.

There are plenty of other things going on this week, though, as the Patriots prepare for the Bills. Here are 20 thoughts in this week's Two-Minute Drill.

1. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's two most significant stats, in order, are wins and points. The latter is why Belichick continuously called the Packers the best defense in the league last week, and the Patriots struggled offensively against Green Bay like they did against San Diego, which had the top-ranked scoring defense when they met in Week 7. New England's biggest offensive mistakes against both teams — sacks, penalties and dropped passes — were too much to overcome later in the drive. That's why New England's efficiency, particularly against disciplined defenses, is so important.

2. When you watch Dan Connolly's 71-yard kickoff return again — it's not like this video will disappear anytime soon — pay close attention to the Patriots on the sideline. Once Connolly turns the corner, the field camera shows his teammates celebrating, laughing and jumping all over the place in the bench area. Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork's expression was especially funny.

3. The Patriots forced two turnovers Sunday, one of which turned into a touchdown and another that ended the game. The Pats have forced 29 turnovers this season, and they've turned 19 of them into 113 points, including five defensive touchdowns. In the 10 possessions the Patriots didn?t score off of a turnover, they've run out the game clock five times, including Sunday's game-ending fumble recovery, and they had another possession in which they erased six minutes of clock in the fourth quarter in Chicago. That means there's only been four times all season when the Patriots' offense hasn?t done something productive after a turnover.

4. A handful of Patriots mentioned Sunday night in the locker room that Green Bay was a team that had its season on the line, and the Packers fought hard on every play. That can be a great equalizer this time of the year.

5. Still, the Patriots have to be disappointed that the Packers ran the ball on them in that game. Green Bay's rushing offense was ranked 24th in the NFL, and it eclipsed 100 yards for the fifth time all season. The Patriots were undermanned in run defense without linebacker Brandon Spikes and defensive linemen Myron Pryor, Ron Brace and Mike Wright, but the Packers' offensive balance was a major contributor to quarterback Matt Flynn's success throwing the ball.

6. What-if games can be tricky, but read this explanation for why the Patriots should really hope the Chiefs hold off the Chargers in the AFC West. If the Chargers win that division, it could have a major trickle-down effect on the Patriots' path to the Super Bowl.

7. I mentioned this stat over the weekend, but I think it's worth repeating because it provides a decent gauge on the likelihood that an injured Patriot will play, based on that week's final injury report. This season, 17 of the 42 Patriots (40.5 percent) who have been listed as questionable have been active for the game. And 28 of 30 players (93.3 percent) listed as probable have been active. I'll continue to update this statistic on a weekly basis, either in the live blog or the inactive post.

8. The two exceptions on the probable list were defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick (toe) in Week 1 against Cincinnati and cornerback Terrence Wheatley (foot) in Week 6 against Baltimore. Wheatley's instance, in all likelihood, was more about his place on the depth chart than his injury. It's also possible that Deaderick was kept out due to his spot on the depth chart because he was the only defensive lineman who was inactive in the opener. Therefore, if a really significant member of the Patriots is listed as probable, you can be completely assured he'll be healthy enough to play.

9. Surprisingly, the Patriots have not listed a single player as doubtful on their final injury report during any week this season. However, they've ruled 21 players as out on their final injury report of the week.

10. Also, in a stat that means oh so very little, the Patriots have listed a total of 93 players on their final injury report of the week, which is an average of 6.6 players per game. They had a season-high 13 players on their Week 1 report, and they had season lows of four in Week 4 against the Dolphins, Week 6 against the Ravens, Week 13 against the Jets and Week 14 against the Bears.

11. This was forwarded in my direction this week. Someone on eBay paid $18.45 for a Tom Brady jersey that was autographed by comedian Dane Cook, and the bidding actually started at 99 cents. Now, a Brady replica jersey costs $79.99 at the NFL Shop, which means Dane Cook's signature devalued that jersey by $61.54 or about 77 percent.

12. The Packers clearly tried to beat New England's cornerbacks with short slants and crossing patterns, and they got beat their fair share of times Sunday. But, Kyle Arrington's third-quarter interception was a result of him anticipating that pattern, and he sat on James Jones' route and took advantage of the throw.

13. When Arrington was asked if he needed to show Connolly the tape on how to finish a return, Arrington, who plays on special teams coverage units, said, "I give him credit, man, for being that big and running away from guys like me. What more can you ask for? He deserves to be on SportsCenter before I do."

14. Rookie linebacker Dane Fletcher saw some of his most extended playing time against the Packers, and he recorded his first career sack while he was on the field for the last defensive drive due to an injury to Gary Guyton. Fletcher had two solo tackles and two quarterback hits to go with the sack, and he was asked if that was the best game of his short pro career. "Yeah, that was my first sack. I had a couple hurries. Individually, I feel like it was my best game, yeah."

15. Defensive end/outside linebacker Eric Moore took over former Patriots linebacker Pierre Woods' locker last week, but there was some sort of utility problem. The decal in Moore's name plate was about half the size that it was supposed to be, so it looked pretty awkward. It was fixed by Thursday, though.

16. Moore, who has a sack in back-to-back games, is one of the many players who have made the jump from the UFL to the NFL this season, and he was very grateful of the opportunity he received in the UFL. "I think it is a blessing, a blessing in disguise, Moore said. "It gives you another league in the States instead of going to Canada and playing Canadian Football. But at the end of the day, no matter where you go, [it's advantageous] as long as you can get film."

17. There was a funny scene at Gillette Stadium at about 7 p.m. Sunday. The video boards were showing the end of the Jets-Steelers game, and everyone in the stadium was watching, including the Patriots and Packers who had been warming up on the field. Somehow, the channel got changed during the Steelers' final drive, and there was a huge groan throughout the stadium. A few of the Packers had their arms up in the air, wondering where the feed went. Eventually, the channel got changed back, and order was restored.

18. Prior to last Friday's practice, Belichick said the Patriots had conducted 96 practices since training camp. We'll need a more definitive answer this week, but if I've counted correctly, that will line them up for their 100th practice this Friday, which is Christmas Eve.

19. The Patriots haven?t released their schedule yet for Friday, which might mean Belichick could give his players a shortened day to be with their families before they depart for Buffalo on Christmas. Belichick was asked about the importance of staying focused this week when there's so much going on for the players outside of football.

"It?s important for every person, every member of the organization — not just a young player, but all of us — to maintain our focus, keep our eye on the target, not worry about anything but Buffalo. That?s really all there is right now, and just take everything else and push it to the side a little bit and try to make sure that we did a good job on our preparations and make sure that we don?t take anything for granted, do all the little things that we need to do and put all our energy and emphasis in that. It?s not just about the players. We all could potentially be distracted and everyone?s job is important. So, I think that?s the message for everybody this week."

20. The Patriots are 7-2 in nine games this season against teams that are currently in the top 10 in points allowed, including two games against the Jets. In the seven victories, the Patriots scored more points than their opponent's average points allowed. The two exceptions were the two losses — at New York and Cleveland — and there have been four games when the Patriots have scored at least 20 more points than their opponent's average points allowed.

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