A positive sign for Pats

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A positive sign for Pats

I know it's hard to focus on this Sunday's game when there's so much quality ref bashing to be had, but I figured I'd interrupt the national crisis with a bit of good news about the Pats' Week 4 opponent.

First of all, it's the Buffalo Bills. And while I know that the Bills are currently 2-1, and thus ahead of New England in the standings, let's not forget that those two wins came against the Chiefs and Browns. In the same breath, we can't forget that this will be a road game for the Pats. A road game within the division. A road game within the division that they lost last year. Obviously, it won't be easy.

But it could be a lot worse.

Especially since the Bills will likely be short their two most dynamic players.

I say "likely" because neither CJ Spiller nor Fred Jackson has been officially ruled out, but both are a long shot to play. Spiller a former first round pick who's blown up this season sprained his shoulder on Sunday against the Browns, and was initially pegged to miss 1-2 weeks. Jackson explosive in his own right hurt his knee in Week 1 and was initially expected to miss at least a month. Both will try to practice, but both will be fighting an uphill battle.

So, there's the good news.

The bad news? Well, the Bills still have a quarterback and a competent fleet of receivers.

And the Pats still have Devin McCourty.

Now, back to killing the replacement refs.

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

Patriots officially side with Brady vs. NFL by filing amicus brief

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Patriots officially side with Brady vs. NFL by filing amicus brief

Robert Kraft and the Patriots organization have been saying for a long time that they hope Tom Brady prevails in his fight with the league over Deflategate. Kraft reiterated that stance on Tuesday at the NFL's annual spring meetings.

But on Wednesday, the Patriots took their support for Brady to a different platform. The team has filed an amicus brief stating that it supports Brady and the NFLPA now that the union has filed a petition to be granted a rehearing by the Second Circuit. 

Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, it is a noteworthy move because the last time an NFL team took legal action against league was when late Raiders owner Al Davis sued the NFL. It is important to note, though, as SI.com's Michael McCann explains, that the Patriots have not actually "switched sides" in this instance. As one of 32 teams in the league, they are technically still a part of the NFL Management Council et al. v. NFL Players Association et al. With its amicus brief, however, the team is advocating for a rehearing of a case that the NFL recently won. 

Filing the brief may not necessarily have any legal impact on the case -- judges can ignore the team's opinion in its amicus brief if they so choose -- but its value may be more than simply symbolic in nature. Attorney Daniel Wallach notes that the team's amicus brief covers ground that Brady's petition for rehearing couldn't cover due to page limits. 

On the first page of the amicus brief, in the document's second footnote, the language is strong: "From the outset of this matter, the League's conduct reflects less a search for the truth than pursuit of a pre-determined result and defense of a report which, despite no direct evidence of tampering or Mr. Brady's involvement, was reiled on to impose penalties with no precedent or correlation to the alleged offense."

The Patriots have continued to update The Wells Report in Context, a website that argues the findings of the NFL's investigation into Brady that has also accumulated various reports and scientific studies that support Brady's innocence. But this amicus brief is another way for the team to show that it has its quarterback's back. 

The NFLPA filed its petition for a rehearing on Monday and now awaits a decision from the 13 judges of the Second Circuit as to whether or not they will grant Brady a rehearing.

Statistically speaking, Brady is facing long odds to be given a rehearing, but his legal team believes there's reason for optimism