Big spread for Pats

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Big spread for Pats

I've spent the last hour looking for something interesting to say about the Jaguars and finally settled on this: They've got a thing for the No. 31.

Through 14 games, Jacksonville ranks 31st in the NFL in yards gained and 31st in yards allowed. They rank 31st in points scored, 31st in first downs gained and 31 in first downs allowed. They actually rank 29th in points allowed, so I guess that's an improvement, but it all adds up to the Jaguars being the 32nd best team in the league. Otherwise known as the worst.

Not that it would matter, but the Jaguars are probably best off rolling over for the Pats on Sunday. With two games left, they're tied with the Chiefs for the worst record in the NFL at 2-12. They're in a backwards race for the No. 1 pick! But like I said, they can give everything they have and the Pats should still win with ease.

New England's favored by 14.5 on Sunday, which the biggest spread they faced on the road since 2007, when they were favored by 19 points in Baltimore (Week 13), 16 points in Buffalo (Week 11) and 15.5 at Miami (Week 7).

For what it's worth, the Pats went 3-0 in those three and won by an average of 23 points a game. But knowing the Jaguars, Sunday's final spread will probably end up looking more like 31.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Hawks hold decisive edge on the boards

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Hawks hold decisive edge on the boards

BOSTON – The return of Avery Bradley was a good thing for the Boston Celtics, but it wasn’t enough for them to control the action in the first half of Monday’s game against the Hawks who took a 51-47 lead into the half.

Bradley, who had missed previous 18 games and 22 of 23, had six points in the first half on 2-for-4 shooting.

The Celtics opened the game with a 7-2 spurt and led by as many as eight points (15-7) in the first before the Hawks begin to cut into Boston’s lead and eventually take their first lead of the night following a 3-point play by Paul Millsap with 4:20 to play in the quarter which put them ahead 18-15 as part of an 11-0 run.

Boston would regain the lead before both teams went into the second quarter tied at 24.

The second quarter saw Boston hit one of those scoring lulls that they go through from time to time.

But unlike last night’s win at Detroit when they went nearly four minutes without scoring, Atlanta’s offense did a much better job of taking advantage of Boston’s struggles.

Atlanta went on a 9-2 spurt in the second quarter capped off by a Kent Bazemore lay-up that put the Hawks ahead 35-31.

Boston rallied soon after with Bradley leading the charge.

Bradley drained a 3-pointer that cut Atlanta’s lead to 35-34.

A defensive stop by Boston led the way for an Isaiah Thomas lay-up that put the Celtics back on top, leading to the Hawks calling a time-out with 6:18to play in the half.

Atlanta tightened up defensively, doing just enough to go into the half with a four-point lead.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of tonight’s game between the Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks.

 

STARS

Dennis Schroder

He really came out and set the tone for the Hawks, scoring eight of his 10 first-half points in the first quarter.

Isaiah Thomas

Atlanta did a nice job of blitzing Thomas and forcing him to pass the ball. But Thomas is a professional scorer so you knew it was a matter of time before he got going offensively. He led the Celtics with nine points at the half, in addition to dishing out five assists while also grabbing five rebounds.

Dwight Howard

The Celtics simply could not keep him from dominating play around the rim. He led all scorers at the half with 12 points while grabbing eight rebounds.

 

STUDS

Marcus Smart

When the offense seemed to stall, it was Smart who kept the Celtics within striking distance in the second quarter. He had seven points at the half along with three rebounds and an assist.

Paul Millsap

He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well (he missed six of his seven shots), but his presence was felt. He had five points at the half along with nine rebounds.

 

DUDS

Celtics rebounding

It really is an adventure when it comes to the Boston Celtics and rebounding the ball. Tonight, they have not been very good, with the Hawks holding a decisive 32-21 rebounding edge which has allowed them to hold a 28-14 advantage in points in the paint, an 8-2 edge on second-chance points in addition to leading the fast break points game, 7-4.

Mike Giardi: Don’t think Patriots will use franchise tag on Dont'a Hightower

Mike Giardi: Don’t think Patriots will use franchise tag on Dont'a Hightower

Mike Giardi discusses the odds that the New England Patriots franchise tag Dont'a Hightower and what he expects the Pats to get if they were to trade Jimmy Garoppolo.