Black Monday hits the NFL

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Black Monday hits the NFL

This afternoon, President Obama addressed the country with an update on the fiscal cliff, meanwhile across the NFL a collection of coaches have been thrown off a cliff.

Rim shot!

(Awkward silence.)

(Regret.)

As I type, seven head coaches have already been axed this afternoon Romeo Crennel, Chan Gailey, Andy Reid, Norv Turner, Lovie Smith, Ken Whisenhunt and Pat Shurmur while three others (Jim Schwartz, Ron Rivera and Mike Mularkey) cling for dear life. On top of the coaches, three GMs (Mike Tannenbaun, Tom Heckert and Gene Smith) are out of work and we can expect at least one more (old pal Scott Pioli) to join that club in the very near future.

Its a tough a day for a lot of people in NFL circles. Its really indicative of the cutthroat nature of the league and professional sports in general. And lets have a brief moment of silence . . .

OK.

Now on the other hand: Its not a bad day to be a Patriots fan.

Heading into Week 17, while there was always a possibility that they would sneak into one of the top two seeds, it was still unlikely. Houston was favored by a touchdown. The Colts had nothing to play for! But as always, the Texans only know one way to jump into the playoffs and thats ass-first. And thats perfect for the Patriots.

The question is: What do they do now? How do they treat this unexpected gift from the Bye Week Gods?

I have a friend who's adamant that Belichick should just move the team to Denver for three weeks. To live and train in that environment every day, only coming back for the Texans game on the 13th. And he may be on to something but I doubt Belichick will buy in.

After all, nothing screams looking past an opponent like moving your team to the presumed site of the AFC Championship a week before the wild card round.

But whatever, there are worst problems to have than how to spend a week off when you're two games away from the Super Bowl.

There are a lot of newly former NFL coaches out there who can certainly attest to that.

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

Whether Goodell visits Foxboro or not, Patriots players say they don't care

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Whether Goodell visits Foxboro or not, Patriots players say they don't care

FOXBORO -- Roger Goodell will reportedly be in Atlanta for the NFC Championship Game this weekend and therefore will miss the AFC title game between the Patriots and Steelers at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. His absence will mean he hasn't been to a Patriots game in more than two years, when he was present for the AFC title game in 2015 -- the birth of Deflategate. 

It's news that broke on Tuesday and sent some Patriots fans into an uproar. Patriots players, though, sound like they're having a hard time caring one way or the other.

"He’s the commissioner, so obviously whatever he wants to do, he can do," Tom Brady told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Monday. "If he wants to come, that would be -- yeah, he can come."

In the Patriots locker room on Tuesday, others struck a similar tone.

"I could care less," said Patriots receiver Chris Hogan. "I'm focused on Pittsburgh and their defense and studying them as much as I can this week, watching them as much as I can so that I can go out there on Sunday and be prepared."

Special teams captain Matthew Slater was similarly disinterested in the discussion.

"The game's going to be played," he said. "Whoever's in attendance is in attendance. We'll just worry about trying to play well."

Hogan 'feeling good' as he recovers from thigh injury

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Hogan 'feeling good' as he recovers from thigh injury

FOXBORO -- Patriots wideout Chris Hogan indicated after Saturday's divisional round win over the Texans that he'd be OK, and he doubled down on that stance when meeting with reporters Tuesday. 

The veteran receiver, whose first season with the Patriots has brought his first career postseason experience, injured his thigh against Houston. He left in the third quarter and did not return. 

"Feeling good," Hogan said. "Just had a little minor setback in the game. I'm working back every single day and feeling better every day."

Hogan had an awkward collision with Texans defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney at the end of the first half on a play at the goal line. To that point, he had reeled in four passes for 95 yards as the team's primary deep threat. With Hogan out, Brady relied upon Julian Edelman and Michael Floyd as wideouts.

Hogan explained that he was expecting to practice this week.

"I'm just gonna go day by day," he said. "Come in here tomorrow. Everything's been feeling better day by day. I'm looking forward to getting out there and practicing this week."