Colts quarterback Luck wary of Patriots front four

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Colts quarterback Luck wary of Patriots front four

FOXBORO -- As of Week 11, no team in the NFL has a better turnover ratio than the Patriots.

New England sits atop the heap with a plus-16 differential. That's a solid 13 spots higher than this Sunday's opponent, Indianapolis, who is at minus-9.

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has noticed.

"I think they do a great job of creating turnovers at inopportune times for the offense, very opportunistic times for themselves . . . usually in the red zone, backed up, or when teams are on big drives," the rookie said Wednesday. "They do a great job of that and I think they're just a solid defense all the way around."

There's a tendency in analysis to separate the Patriots front seven from its secondary. How could there not be? The statistics sit almost a league apart.

Total defense: New England ranks 25th with 382.1 yards surrendered per game.

Passing defense: New England is 29th with 285.3 average yards given up.

Rushing defense: New England is No. 9 with 96.8 average yards.

Not like the secondary's struggles have been a secret.

But Luck was largely complimentary on his conference call. He pulled his punch only slightly by mentioning the unit's injury issues.

"I think they do a great job of mixing up coverages and disguising coverages," Luck said. "It's hard to get a beat on what they're doing. They're banged up here and there, but they do a great job of getting the job done, so it'll be a very tough test for us."

As for New England's defensive line, Luck sounded like he's in deep with doing homework.

"Their front four is incredibly stout," he said. "Vince Wilfork is one of the best nose tackles in the league. They have very good edge rushers on the sides. They do get to the quarterback, and even if it's not a sack, it's to harass or force an early throw, force a quarterback out of the pocket, so that'll be a focus all week. I'm sure our line will do a great job and it'll be a great test for them."

Cassidy switches up Bruins lines tonight against Lightning

Cassidy switches up Bruins lines tonight against Lightning

BRIGHTON, Mass. – After his Bruins scored just two goals in each of the past two games with a distinct lack of finish around the net, Bruce Cassidy has made some slight tweaks up front with his wingers. 

Drew Stafford has been bumped up to the left wing with David Krejci and Matt Beleskey has been dropped to a new fourth line with Dominic Moore and Riley Nash.

The hope would be that Krejci and Pastrnak could help get Stafford going after he’s gone scoreless in his past three games, with just two shots on net, and been pretty quiet since a couple of strong games right after the trade.

After a couple of active games for Noel Acciari, the gritty Rhode Island kid was skating on the third line with Frank Vatrano and Ryan Spooner in an interesting combination of players. Tuukka Rask was the first goalie off the ice at Warrior Ice Arena on Thursday morning, so it looks like he’ll be starting his third game in four days tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning at a time of year when bubble teams can’t afford to rest anybody.  

Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings based on morning skate:

 
Marchand-Bergeron-Backes

Stafford-Krejci-Pastrnak

Vatrano-Spooner-Acciari

Beleskey-Moore-Nash

 
Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

C. Miller-K. Miller

 
Rask

According to Fortune, Theo's the greatest . . . in the world, not just baseball

According to Fortune, Theo's the greatest . . . in the world, not just baseball

Apparently, the Red Sox couldn’t hold onto the best leader in the world. And the best leader in the world has no idea how to housebreak his puppy.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein was given the top spot on a list of “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders," published by Fortune on Thursday morning.

The potential for silly takeaways from Epstein’s placement on the list -- and his response to it in a text to ESPN’s Buster Olney -- are amusing, if not astounding.

Wait, Epstein doesn’t think baseball is the most important thing in the world?

"Um, I can't even get my dog to stop peeing in the house," Epstein told Olney. "That is ridiculous. The whole thing is patently ridiculous. It's baseball -- a pastime involving a lot of chance. If [Ben] Zobrist’s ball is three inches farther off the line, I'm on the hot seat for a failed five-year plan. And I'm not even the best leader in our organization; our players are."

Zobrist, of course, had the go-ahead hit in the 10th inning of Game 7 of the World Series against the Indians.

As Fortune described it, the list of leaders is meant to include those “transforming the world and inspiring others to do the same” across business, government, philanthropy and the arts.

Epstein certainly did help transform the baseball world.

“In the fall of 2016, as partisan distrust and division reached abysmal depths, fascination with the Chicago Cubs became that all-too-rare phenomenon that united America,” his blurb on the list begins.

That’s fair. But, if you scroll down the list: Pope Francis is No. 3. Angela Merkel is No. 10 and LeBron James is No. 11.