Pinning down the Patriots in prime time


Pinning down the Patriots in prime time

Another national holiday for the NFL, "Schedule Release Tuesday!"

Yes, we all know who the opponents are for every team, but the order in which those opponents will be played matters.

How's the early schedule? Who's playing in cold-weather cities late? Which games are in prime-time? Can I sell my tickets to the Jaguars game to some sap?

Some swaths of the media sneer at the excitement over the schedule release. Those would be people who don't plan their yearly entertainment around the NFL team they root for, the people whose fall and winter recreational schedule is unveiled today.

Eight of the Patriots 16 games are against opponents that finished with records of .500 or better. The fact the Pats play the 2-14 Rams (in London) and the 2-14 Colts (in Foxboro) drags their opponents combined winning percentage down to .453, lowest in the NFL.

The Patriots will be loaded up with prime-time games. Teams can play in prime time a maximum of five times and you have to figure they'll hit the max.

The Patriots will almost definitely play the Peyton Manning-led Broncos and the Jets in prime time.

Other strong possibilities are the 49ers, Texans and Ravens. The Bills, who have added Mario Williams, are also in the mix there.

The NFL last year made it a priority to have teams play divisional opponents early in the season and in the closing weeks.

The Patriots played three of their first five last year against AFC opponents (opening in Miami on Monday night). They closed with two AFC East games (Dolphins, Bills), both at home.

There's a good chance the Patriots will have to close on the road this year. Since the Patriots are playing in London against the Bucs in October, they will have their bye week after that game.

Here's a list of the Patriots 2012 opponents.



Wright-Phillips scores 16th goal, Red Bulls beat Revs 1-0

Wright-Phillips scores 16th goal, Red Bulls beat Revs 1-0

HARRISON, N.J. - Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his 16th goal of the season in the 55th minute and the New York Red Bulls beat the New England Revolution 1-0 on Sunday.

Revs goalkeeper Brad Knighton saved Alex Muyl's shot and Wright-Phillips put back the deflection with a half-volley into the right corner. Wright-Phillips has 61 goals in 100 career MLS games.

The Red Bulls (11-9-7) extended their undefeated streak to nine games and moved into a third-place tie in the East with the Philadelphia Union. The Revolution (6-12-9) are winless in their last six.

Has Brissett removed Patriots' need for veteran quarterback help?

Has Brissett removed Patriots' need for veteran quarterback help?

FOXBORO – Talked to Jacoby Brissett on Sunday. His session with the media was as efficient and frills-free as his Friday night performance against the Carolina Panthers.

Brissett, the third-rounder From NC State, keeps improving. From 7-for-13 for 63 yards in the first game of the preseason to 9-for-13 for 87 yards Week 2 to a 9-for-9, 85-yard, one touchdown performance against Carolina.

He’s completed all manner of passes – inside, outside, checkdowns, tight windows – and looked preternaturally comfortable doing so.

Maybe I have a little recency bias working, but I don’t recall a drafted quarterback looking as poised and in command in his rookie preseason as Brissett has so far. Jimmy Garoppolo may have had more impressive game-by-game numbers, but Brissett oozes composure that that I don’t think Garoppolo matched.

Encircled by a media horde Sunday, Brissett was pleasant and perfunctory when asked about his performance.

“Definitely it was progress,” he said, adding that he’s, "still learning. I’m sure I’ll be learning until I leave here."

 Even though he was 9-for-9, Brissett said that watching film he could see “things you messed up on and could have done better.”

Asked for an example, Brissett talk about speed. At the line of scrimmage, going through progressions and delivering the ball, Brissett said all of it can improve.

The interesting question the Patriots face now is whether they are prepared to allow Brissett to be the lone backup to the still relatively green Garoppolo. Or does the team need an experienced backup to call on if Jimmy melts down?

Thursday night could be a telling evening for that. With Garoppolo unlikely to play a ton so the team can make sure he’s good to go for the opener, it comes down to who benefits more from reps against the Giants, Tom Brady or Brissett?

It shouldn’t be close. Brissett needs the reps.

Meanwhile, we made mention of Brissett’s relationship with Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells after he was drafted and I figured revisiting that on Sunday wouldn’t hurt.

Brissett said he’s circled up with Parcells “here and there” but smiled knowingly and said, “He’s not the head coach here so you kinda need to listen to what your coach here is saying.”