Pats free-agent forecast: Defensive line

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Pats free-agent forecast: Defensive line

This is the third in a series of position-by-position looks at the Patriots heading into free agency. Today's position: Defensive line.
Wbo's on the roster?Ron Brace, Brandon Deaderick, Kyle Love, Alex Silvestro, Vince Wilfork, Aaron Lavarias, Myron Pryor.Patriots need level?A solid 8.Position overview?The Patriots had a good defensive line group in 2011. With a few moves and some health luck, they'll be fine again in 2012. The defensive tackle group of Vince Wilfork, Kyle Love and Brandon Deaderick stands out. Love is underrated and Deaderick's got nice versatility. Wilfork is still brilliant but it's not a bad thought for the Pats to eyeball his successor, either. The Patriots' struck gold on the edge of their 4-3 in free agency last year with Mark Anderson and Andre Carter. Both are now free agents. The team also cycled through veteran DTs Gerard Warren, Albert Haynesworth and Shaun Ellis. Only Warren was reliable. Who's out there?John Abraham, Falcons: Abraham will be 34 this season and what he's got left in the tank would make him merely a rotation guy. Mark Anderson, Patriots: Has to be a priority re-signing for the Patriots. There is the Leigh Bodden Effect to be concerned about -- re-signing your own free agent to a bigger deal then getting disappointing performance -- but the 29-year-old Anderson had 10 regular season sacks and two more in the playoffs. Brodrick Bunkley, Broncos: Excellent against the run but has been a bit of a disappointment over his career. Adam Carriker, Redskins: One-time 13th overall pick revived his career in Washington. Still just 28, has 3-4, 4-3 versatility and is a very intriguing player. Andre Carter, Patriots: Was just outstanding until tearing his quad in December. Consummate pro and a priority re-signing even if he's entering his 12th season. Luis Castillo, Chargers: He'd have to come in on an incentive-charged deal. Gets hurt a lot but is a pro and could be lured as a veteran in search of a championship. Derrick Harvey, Broncos: A first-round pick in 2008 who was a bust in Jacksonville, was as big a bust in Denver. But he's long and fast, fast and long. Kendall Langford, Dolphins: Solid young run-plugger. Miami won't let him go, one supposes. Amobi Okoye, Bears: This kid's still only 24. Went belly-up in Houston and is finding himself with Chicago which wants to re-sign him. Mario Williams, Texans: Too expensive.Other names of note?Dave Ball, Raheem Brock, Red Bryant, Jonathan Fanene, Jeremy Mincey, Sione Pouha, Paul Soliai. Free agent forecast?Re-signing Carter and Anderson should be high priorities. Real interesting names out there like Carriker who could fill the Mike Wright role (high energy, pasty white guy). Making a run at either Carriker or Castillo couldn't hurt. Gerard Warren is always ready to roll, it seems, so the Pats could wait until July on him. The draft is well-stocked with these guys as well so New England probably won't go high-end at all.

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Jared Goff, Todd Gurley explode in shootout win vs. 49ers

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THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Jared Goff, Todd Gurley explode in shootout win vs. 49ers

Jared Goff threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns and Todd Gurley ran for two TDs and caught another to help the Los Angeles Rams put up another big offensive performance with a 41-39 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night.

The NFL's lowest-scoring team last year looks like a completely different outfit this season under first-year coach Sean McVay thanks to vastly improved play by Goff after a rough rookie season as the No. 1 overall pick.

The Rams (2-1) have also been helped by the additions of receivers Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods and the play-calling of McVay as they have scored 107 points through three games. That's the second-most in franchise history, trailing only the 119 by "The Greatest Show on Turf" squad in 2000.

This win didn't come easy as the Rams nearly blew a 15-point lead, giving up two late touchdowns, fumbling a kickoff return and failing to recover an onside kick. But Los Angeles managed to stop a potential game-tying 2-point conversion and then used an offensive pass interference penalty against Trent Taylor and a fourth-down sack by Aaron Donald to stop the Niners after the onside kick.

The 49ers (0-3) scored five touchdowns after failing to get any the first two weeks but still came up short in part because a missed extra point by Robbie Gould forced them to try for 2 on their late touchdown.

This time it was a tired defense that hurt San Francisco. After facing 79 plays in a 12-9 loss at Seattle on Sunday, the 49ers appeared to run out of gas on the short week as Goff frequently had wide-open receivers, especially on third down.

All three of Goff's touchdown passes came on third down, including a 13-yard pass to Watkins early in the fourth quarter that gave Los Angeles a 41-26 lead.

The Rams needed all that offense on a night where Brian Hoyer threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score.

QUICK START: The Rams took just 12 seconds to get on the board as Nickell Robey-Coleman intercepted Hoyer on the first play from scrimmage and returned it to the 3-yard line. Gurley ran it in on the next play to give the Rams a 7-0 lead.

DROUGHT BUSTER: The 49ers came into the game without a touchdown on the season but broke through in the first quarter with some help from the Rams. After Blake Countess jumped offside on a punt, the Niners took advantage of the second opportunity and drove to score on Hoyer's 9-yard run 126:43 into the season. That was the longest it took a team to score its first TD since 2006 when both Tampa Bay (143:03) and Oakland (127:10) took more time.

FOURTH DOWN CALLS: Both teams drove to the opposing 1 on their opening drives of the second half with help from a Willie Mays-style basket catch by Watkins and a perfect toe drag on the sideline by San Francisco's Pierre Garcon. But the Rams opted to kick a short field goal, while the 49ers went for it and converted on Carlos Hyde's 1-yard run that cut Los Angeles' lead to 27-20. Hyde added a second 1-yard run on fourth down in the fourth quarter.

INJURIES: Rams S Lamarcus Joyner left the game in the first half with a hamstring injury. ... Los Angeles C John Sullivan injured his groin in the second half and Watkins and Tavon Austin left with concussions. ... 49ers S Jaquiski Tartt (concussion), FB Kyle Juszczyk (neck), DL Tank Carradine (ankle) and LB Brock Coyle (concussion) all left with injuries in the second half.

UP NEXT: The Rams travel to Dallas on Oct. 1. The 49ers visit Arizona.

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Boston Sports Tonight Podcast: Is there a blueprint to beat the Patriots?

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Boston Sports Tonight Podcast: Is there a blueprint to beat the Patriots?

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST.

0:41 - Tom E. Curran breaks down the ‘blueprint’ to beat the Patriots and if the Texans have the talent to do it.

5:27 - Michael Holley and Kayce Smith discuss Kyrie Irving’s comments that he made on Early Edition about going back to Cleveland for the opening game. 

9:52 - We take a listen to what Malcolm Butler had to say about his role on the team and discuss how the cornerback keeps saying all the right things. 

15:18 - Michael McCann, Legal Analyst for Sports Illustrated joins BST to talk about Aaron Hernandez’s brain found to have CTE and his family now suing the NFL and the Patriots.