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Ask PFW: Planting the seeds

With the playoffs right around the corner, Patriots fans are focused on potential opponents and finding the easiest road to Detroit for Super Bowl XL. Cincinnati's loss to Buffalo last week has opened the door for the Patriots to grab the No.

If Cincinnati loses next week to Kansas City and the Patriots end up with the same record (11-5) as Cincinnati, will the Patriots be the No. 3 seed for the AFC playoffs?
Ed Parent

If the Pats win out and the Bungles lose next week vs. K.C. do they steal the 3 seed from Cincy, thereby avoiding Indy in the second round (should they get through round 1)?
P.J. Drying

What would you think would be easier for the Pats, become the 3rd seed and play Pittsburgh or Kansas City in the wild card and then go on to play the Broncos in Denver for the divisional game, or to be the 4th seed and play the Jags in the wild card and go on to play the Colts in Indy in the divisional
Nate Graf

If the Patriots win and Cincy loses, the Patriots will be No. 3 and the Bengals will be 4. That means Pittsburgh (or Kansas City) will come to Gillette while Jacksonville goes to Cincinnati. Regardless of what happens in Cincy, if the Patriots win they'll then go to Denver. As for my preference, I think Jacksonville is an easier opponent than Pittsburgh and thus would rather get the 4 seed. Whatever happens after that is irrelevant because you want to put yourself in the best possible position to advance and I believe the 4 seed does that.
Paul Perillo

Hey guys, as always doing a bang up job! One question hope it's not too confusing. If Pittsburgh wins its last game and we lose our last game they will have a better overall record than us. So if Pittsburgh beats Cincinnati in playoffs and when we defeat the Jags, who would be the higher seed for the next game? Pittsburgh with its record or New England because they were division champs? I know there are a lot of variables for this to materialize but if it did who would it be?
Greg Mulby

The Patriots would be the home team against any wild card team regardless of record. So if the Patriots lose and finish 10-6 and the Steelers win to finish 11-5, any matchup between them in the playoffs, regardless of round, would still take place in Foxborough. However, for that to happen, Pittsburgh would have to beat the No. 3 Cincinnati and then No. 1 Indianapolis before potentially playing the Patriots.
Paul Perillo

How many more sacks does Willie McGinest need to break the Pats sack record? Is it held by Julius Adams or Andre Tippet?

McGinest currently ranks third on the Patriots all-time sack list with 78.5. He entered the season fourth but passed Tony McGee with his first sacks of the season in Pittsburgh in Week 3. He needs just one more to pass Julius Adams for second place, but he won't likely be catching Tippett as the team's No. 1 all-time sack man. Tippett recorded exactly 100 quarterback sacks during his 11 seasons.
Paul Perillo

Hi, I was wondering if there was a player in 1978 named Thomas Wilson. I have looked, but cannot find him. I am pretty sure he played for the Patriots.Allie Calvin

Sorry Allie, there's no Thomas Wilson listed on the all-time roster in the Patriots media guide. Perhaps he was with the team during training camp but never made the active roster. The list only includes players that were on the team during the regular season.
Paul Perillo

Dear Tom Casale: I was surprised you completely missed the point about Doug Flutie taking a knee at the end of the Bucs game. You seemed to think that people were making the case that Flutie should be playing instead of Brady. No one is that stupid. The point is that it's just ridiculous to send Flutie in to take a knee. Tom Brady could have done that. The only reason to take Brady out would be if he was injured, he needed the rest, or to prevent him from being injured. Taking Brady out at the end of the Bucs games doesn't satisfy any of these conditions. He wasn't hurt, resting him for 45 seconds is meaningless and, last I checked, not a lot of quarterbacks get injured when they take a knee. It's just embarrassing to send Flutie in to take a knee. It serves no purpose and just makes Flutie look like the janitor cleaning up at the end of the night.
Bruce Mount

While I can't say for sure whether Tom believed people were suggesting that Flutie should play over Brady, I really don't understand why it's "embarrassing" for the backup quarterback to finish off the game by taking a knee. What's the difference between doing that and handing the ball off for a couple of plays before taking the knee? Is there somehow more prestige involved in handing off rather than taking a knee? Doug Flutie is the backup quarterback. He's no different than a backup lineman or cornerback who goes in for the final play. What this comes down to is for some reason people believe it was embarrassing to Flutie to have him simply take a knee. If Matt Cassel went in and took a knee, my guess is we wouldn't have received any emails suggesting that Belichick's actions were embarrassing to Cassel. I don't care if the backup is 23 or 43, when the coach puts him in it shouldn't be considered embarrassing to the player. I don't know why Belichick decided to wait so long to take Brady out, but I see nothing wrong with the coach's actions.
Paul Perillo

What's the deal with Patrick Pass being "pass"ed over for the Pro Bowl? I actually have mixed feelings on this because I've always felt that fan voting for all-star teams amounts to only slightly more than a popularity contest. Having said that though, don't you feel that the leading fan vote getter should automatically make the team? I know the knock is that he's not a "prototypical" fullback, but more of a reserve running back. Oh, I see...does that mean that Mike Vrabel's touchdown passes don't count because he's not a tight end? The bottom line is that Pass has been playing the fullback position, and he's been doing a great job at it! What's PFW's view on this?
Paul Bissonnette

I don't think Pass belonged in the Pro Bowl because I don't think he was the best fullback in the AFC. Period. Most of his work came as a backup running back when Corey Dillon was hurt. You compare this to Mike Vrabel's work as a tight end. Of course Vrabel's touchdowns count, but that doesn't mean I feel he belonged in the Pro Bowl at tight end over Antonio Gates. And it doesn't mean he should have been a Pro Bowl linebacker because he caught three touchdown passes, either. Pass is a solid contributor on special teams and has done a nice job filling in at running back, but he hasn't really played a lot of fullback this year. There are more deserving players that have – and Lorenzo Neal, who made the Pro Bowl, is definitely one of them.
Paul Perillo

In my opinion, Wilfork or Colvin should have made the Pro Bowl instead of Seymour because he has been out most of the year. What is your opinion for this?
Jason Downs

How can anyone justify Richard Seymour as a Pro Bowler? How could they vote him on the Pro Bowl team? I have made comments about him all year long and the hype that Tom made about him is all wrong. First Tom wanted to tell me how much his presence on the field was more important than his stats. Yeah, I guess play half a year and in the games you did play you performed average to other players. Sometimes being pushed around and other times trying to tackle like it is touch football. Result, trip to the Pro Bowl. What a shame a real player like Rosevelt Colvin did not make it. Oh, I know he only did his job, didn't hold out and played most of this season. Doesn't he know you can't make the Pro Bowl that way? Tom, you tell me how it is justified for Richard Seymour to make it? I can't wait.
Bruce Wadleigh

I totally disagree with both Jason and Bruce. First, Seymour was not out for most of the year as you both claim. He missed four out of 15 games (and it would be 16 unless Bill decides to rest him against Miami). He also missed part of the San Diego game when he originally suffered his knee injury. But when he's been on the field, he's been dominant. Go back and watch a tape of the Pittsburgh game if you want to see what I'm talking about. I don't want to criticize Colvin because I think he's played really well lately, but over the first half of the season he was non-existent. I don't think there's any coincidence that Wilfork and Colvin have played much better over the last month-plus since Seymour returned. Both of those players were very quiet during the first half of the season. What I think this criticism of Seymour comes down to is Bruce's point about the holdout. Fans don't like holdouts. But that fact is, since Seymour returned, the Patriots defense is starting to resemble its old self. Since then, the Patriots run defense has gone from 27th in the league to fourth. Seymour is the best defensive lineman in football and he belongs in the Pro Bowl.
Paul Perillo

Hey there, PFW folks. I have a general question about how the location of the Super Bowl is chosen. I started wondering about what would happen if, say, the Lions made it to the Super Bowl in 2006 (speaking hypothetically, of course). Talk about home field advantage, eh? The second part of my question is, has any team ever had home field advantage in the Super Bowl, and if so, what was the outcome of the game?

Derek Ladd

The Super Bowl site selection process is done on a proposal basis. Potential host cities submit their proposals to the league and one is selected. Oftentimes the league "rewards" cities that are in the process of building new stadiums by putting a Super there, as was the case with Detroit this year. Surprisingly, there has never been a team that played the Super in its home stadium. The closest came in 1979 when the Los Angeles Rams lost to Pittsburgh in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, which is not far from the LA Coliseum where they played their home games. Miami hosted three Super Bowls at the Orange Bowl in the '70s and the Dolphins appeared in three Super Bowls during that decade, but none of them ever matched up.
Paul Perillo

Hi - Great column. I love the fact that you guys don't feed us the company line. Two questions for the experts: 1. What will the Patriots do to retain Vinatieri after this season? I believe he'll be an UFA and the Patriots have already applied the franchise tag on him once. 2. Has Vinatieri ever missed a game winning field goal, or a kick that would have tied a game in the closing minutes?

Thanks for the kind words, Ken. By the way, some people don't like us for the same reason you do. Anyway, my guess is that Vinatieri will eventually be re-signed to a long-term deal at some point after the season. But to be truthful, I thought that last year too and it never happened. If things don't work out this year, then my guess is that Belichick will use the franchise tag on him once again. There's no limit to the amount of times a team can franchise a player, although at some point it wouldn't be the most cost effective way to deal with the situation. Either way, I'd be surprised if Vinatieri wasn't part of the Patriots next year. As for Vinatieri's past with the game on the line, believe it or not he has indeed missed potential game-winners. In 1999, he hit the upright with a 32-yarder on the final play of a 16-14 loss at Kansas City. Later that season, he actually missed two game-winners at home against Buffalo. On the final play of regulation, he missed from 33 yards and then in overtime he missed a 44-yarder. The following year, he missed a 27-yarder on the final play of regulation during a blizzard in Buffalo but the Patriots won in overtime. In 2003 in Houston, he had a 37-yard attempt blocked in overtime, again the Patriots eventually won.
Paul Perillo

It seems to me that the 2005 Patriots team isn't the only ones who have done an about face. I was extremely surprised by the doom and gloom articles that appeared in the PFW rag just three weeks ago by Perillo and others. It left us Patriot fans with the distinct impression that you guys saw our team as being washed up for this year and if we held up hope we were fools. What gives? When I subscribed to PFW it was to get a jolt of positive press, something that I lack living in California. Why is a mag/rag devoted to Patriot Nation printing such tripe about our team, I can read that crap anywhere. A first and probably last time subscriber.* *


Sorry to disappoint you Raj, but if your reason for subscribing in the first place was "to get a jolt of positive press" then I guess you were going to be inevitably disappointed because that's not out job. Our job is to cover the Patriots just like any other newspaper. That means winning Super Bowls will generate an awful lot of positive stories while alternating wins and losses – as the Patriots did over the first half of the season – will generate many stories about an inconsistent football team. Lately, the Patriots have played great therefore it should come as no surprise that many of our stories have accentuated the positive. And as the editor I can assure you that we've never called any Patriots fans a fool for believing in the team. We've never tried to take away anyone's hope and we've never criticized anyone for thinking the Patriots could and would win any game. We offer our opinions on what we think will happen. I wrote a column a few weeks ago stating the facts about how difficult it is for teams without a first-round bye to win the Super Bowl. The facts show that it is very difficult to win four straight games and that was the basis for my piece. Nowhere in that story did I ever write that the Patriots winning would be impossible and that the team was washed up. Sorry you feel that we shouldn't deal with the truth when things aren't going as well for the team. Maybe I should have written a piece about something positive (like Lonie Paxton executing all of his long snaps flawlessly during the Indianapolis loss) instead.
Paul Perillo

You guys can't deny it anymore... after watching Flutie last night all I can say is, "How does he not get in the game more?!?!" Think about it - BC '84... need I say more??? Sure, Brady is good, but he can't do what Flutie can! What would happen if we needed a miracle Hail Mary to win a game over Miami? OK, OK, I'm kidding... hopefully last night will shut some people up about how Flutie's playing time is handled. All I can say is, Brady stay healthy! More seriously, this is just a curiosity question... why were Dan Graham, Tully Banta-Cain and Dan Klecko all inactive? I know it's a coaching decision and all that, but they obviously weren't on the injury report and they typically all play an important role(s) on game day. Particularly Graham on a day when 3 TE sets were so heavily utilized and the running game was obviously a priority. Any insight?... I hope Tedy is OK and my prayers are with the Dungy family.

Belichick has denied this, but since Graham was banged up with a shoulder problem recently my guess is he wasn't quite 100 percent even though he wasn't on the injury list. If the Jets game was in the postseason, I'd be willing to bet (for entertainment purposes only, of course) that Graham would have played. As for Banta-Cain and Klecko, I don't agree that either has much of a key role on game day. Klecko in particular has quite often been a healthy scratch. Banta-Cain does play on most special teams but with everyone relatively healthy, I guess Belichick felt there were some better options.
Paul Perillo

I'm going to refrain from asking you whether or not you think Bill Belichick will rest some or all of his starters next Sunday for all or part of the game. Instead, I'm going to pepper you with an array of questions regarding the general utility of resting starters. Here we go: How much is there to gain from resting starters a week? Can it approximate the advantage gained from a 1st round bye, in terms of player fatigue? Are there certain positions that in general could use a week off more than others? Do you feel that resting players can hamper a team's momentum or throw it off rhythm somehow? Finally, and most importantly, are there players on the New England Patriots whom you think could really use a breather in particular? I'm interested in hearing your take on the whole debate.
Jamie Hammond

That's an interesting post. I guess this is all pretty subjective so I'll just offer you my opinions. I think some rest at this time of year can do wonders. Coaches always stress the importance of a first-round bye so there must be some positives gained from it other than simply avoiding the possibility of losing. I don't believe resting players this week is the same as having a bye. Even for guys who don't play, they still will be at the stadium for practice and meetings and will have to prepare for the game because there's no way of knowing for sure (other than for the inactive players) whether or not they'll have to play. During a bye week, they wouldn't physically be forced to prepare over the weekend. I've seen teams handle the resting dilemma both ways and both have worked and failed. Philadelphia rested everyone over the final month last year and still made it to the Super Bowl. The Patriots didn't really rest anyone and still made it to the Super Bowl. I don't think one looked sharp for continuing to play while the other was rusty coming off the layoff. Of course, by the time both got to the Super Bowl, how they handled the final regular-season games was irrelevant. I think linebackers and linemen on both sides could use some rest at this time of the year. Running backs also could use rest but since Dillon has missed so much time he probably could use the work. I'd personally like to rest Bruschi, Seymour, Colvin, McGinest, Vrabel, Warren, Wilfork and maybe Neal and Mankins. I'd also like to see Brady next to Belichick on the sideline, not necessarily for rest purposes. I just want him in one piece next week.
Paul Perillo

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