By Tom E. CurranFOXBORO - Since the beginning of training camp, the Patriots have toldabout 50 players they couldn't play for them this year. The last cut is the hardest cut, though. The veterans who've been embraced after championships. The rookies whose life perspective is still forming.The guys who see it cming and the ones who are shocked by the news. Bill Belichick broke it to many on Friday and Saturday. Sunday, he spoke eloquently about the difficulty of making those moves. "It's the hardest part of the job to take players that have played for you, won for you, and players that have been here since the spring, the whole offseason, done everything we asked them to do, worked hard, sweated, been banged up, kept going out there, kept playing, kept trying to do everything they could to make the team, to do everything we asked them to do, to do it with a team-first attitude and fashion. To tell those players that they can't be part of the team, that's very difficult," Belichick said. "On the other hand, we all know when we get into this business that that's the way it's gonna be."There's a fair amount of hand-wringing by fans and media when cuts come. This guy should have been cut sooner. That guy was disrespected. And maybe the player feels that way too. But if he's realistic and pragmatic,even if he's done dirty, he knew when he signed on that it could end with hurt. "As Jerry Glanville said, 'Not for long,' " Belichick noted, citing the famed NFL Films quote Glanville uttered to official Jim Daopoulos when Glanville coached the Falcons. "A lot of coaches, including myself have been through that. A lot of players have been through that. It's a production business and there's not too many of us that have been in the game very long and not experienced that in some form or fashion. It's part of the business."But it's not a real happy day as a head coach to give that news to any player," Belichick added. "You're affecting somebody's life and somebody's career. Somebody that's worked hard and given everything they can to earn a spot on your team. It's disappointing for them and it's not fun to deliver that news."
Our Postgame live crew discusses the report that Martellus Bennet turned down a contract offer from the New England Patriots, and debate whether getting him for the long term is the right move.
The Patriots and Raiders and neck-and-neck as the race for home field in the AFC turns for home. And, with four games left, the Raiders are ahead by a nose. The tiebreakers between the 10-2 teams in play currently? Common games followed by strength of victory.
The first tiebreaker – conference record – is a deadlock as both teams are 7-1 in the AFC (the Brady-less Patriots lost to the Bills back in Week 4.
After conference record, it's the teams record in common games.
PATRIOTS 26, RAMS 10
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So far in common games with the Texans and Bills, the Patriots have gone 2-1 and the Raiders have gone 2-0. The Patriots play the Ravens next week. Oakland beat them. The Patriots play Denver after that. Oakland beat them as well but have one more game against Denver in Week 17.
So if it comes down to common games the Patriots really need to win these next two games.
Or hope the Raiders stub their toe a time or two in their final four games which are at the Chiefs, Chargers and Broncos with a home game against Indy in Week 16.
As for strength of victory, that too goes to Oakland at this point. The Raiders’ strength of victory is at .471. The Patriots’ is at .370.
But the tiebreaker that kicks in after conference record and before strength of victory – common games – is very much unresolved.The remaining picture as it stands right now? The Ravens are the No. 3 seed with a 7-5 record that leads the AFC North. The Texans’ 6-6 record is good enough to lead the AFC South. The 9-3 Chiefs are the top Wild Card. The 8-4 Broncos are the No. 6 seed.
The Patriots play the Ravens and Broncos over the next two weeks. Currently, the Dolphins (7-5) and Steelers (7-5) are on the outside looking in.
The Titans (6-6) will have a chance to get even with the Texans in Week 17 in head-to-head matchups but they host Denver and play at Kansas City the next two weeks so they have obstacles to clear before they get there.