Offensive line changes

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Offensive line changes

As Tom E. Curran reported yesterday, Dan Koppen's scheduled to visit the Titans this week, a move that only adds to the speculation that Koppen won't return to the Pats next season.

This, combined with rumors that Matt Light and Brian Waters are both considering retirement, leaves the Pats with some pretty serious turnover on the offensive line. And at a time when you'd hope for a little more stability for your all-time, Hall of Fame QB.

If Light and Waters both walk away, and Koppen presumably heads elsewhere, that's three starters from the Pats Week 1 line-up, and while Koppen barely played at all, it's still an interesting number.

But even more interesting than that? The fact that somehow, this isn't a major problem. That we're not sitting here all winter freaking out about what's going to become of this offensive line, and fearing for Tom Brady's life. That's a testament to Bill Belichick and his scouting department.

Over the last seven years, the Pats have drafted only three offensive lineman in the first two rounds of the draft, and they're three for three: Logan Mankins, Sebastian Vollmer and Nate Solder. All three figure to anchor what will still be a very effective in reliable O-line next season. Throw in the rescue of centerkick return extraordinaire Dan Connolly off the scrap heap from Jacksonville, and a could-be, 5th round steal in RG Marcus Cannon, and the Pats are still looking all right, no matter what happens with some of today's question marks.

Not sure how many teams would be prepared to deal with that kind of turnover, but not surpsied that Bill Belichick was.

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

Raiders creep past Patriots in race for top seed in AFC

Raiders creep past Patriots in race for top seed in AFC

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

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.