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Ask PFW: Postseason seeding talk

The Patriots can clinch the AFC East title on Sunday in Miami and fans are already putting plenty of thought into postseason seeding based on the questions in this week’s Ask PFW mailbag.


Hi guys, love reading the column every week. I was wondering how the playoff seeding would look come end of the season if 1. The Patriots win out and 2. The Chargers beat the Chiefs? All 3 teams would have the same record. We beat the Chiefs earlier this season so would win the tie breaker for a higher seed there but would the Chargers seed higher than the Chiefs and win their division? And if that's the case who would have the higher seeding the Pats or the Chargers? Thanks in advance!

Simon Davies

If both the Pats and Chargers win out and surpass the Chiefs which team will get home field advantage and why?

Dave Brown

So, if the Patriots and Chargers win out, with L.A. beating K.C. to give all three teams a 13-3 record, the Chiefs would still win the AFC West based on division record. The Patriots and Chiefs would go to a tie-breaker for the No. 1 seed, with New England getting the nod thanks to its head-to-head victory earlier this season. At least that's how I understand it as of now. Of course, the Texans could also be in the mix at 13-3 if they continue their winning streak through the end of the season. And, it seems pretty unlikely all the teams involved take care of their business. So, really, it's a little early to start predicting postseason seeding, although the Patriots have put themselves in a nice position for a bye and, maybe, the No. 1 seed.

Andy Hart

I have a question that is really important. I do not understand how anybody in the NFL says they want to effect change when, owners hire players are convicted of beating women and put in the Hall of Fame. NFLPA supports players charged for beating women until a video shows up. They are all telling the young of the world that is OK to do as you will if you have talent. We will pay you millions. It never stops once these people have kids they move on to them.

Greg Findlay

This is obviously a much bigger issue and topic than is going to be solved in a blog mailbag. That said, it's also a much bigger issue than just the NFL. Domestic violence and violence against woman is a problem throughout all businesses and the entirety of our society, sadly. The NFL is far from the only place where those with domestic violence issues or violent issues of other kinds are employed. Clearly, though, the league does indeed have a platform to effect change and has voiced a desire to utilize it in the past, including after the Ray Rice incident. The issues of the last week, most notably with Kareem Hunt, offer another opportunity to do that. I will be watching with great interest to see how it is handled. All that being understood, there is a strong argument in this world for second-chances. Balancing the need to effect change with the rights of businesses (or teams) to offer second-chances is the crux of a debate that's far from a simple one.

Andy Hart

Following the release of Kareem Hunt this week, I wonder whether this practice of releasing players after offenses like that is the best. I can understand the Chiefs as Hunt apparently lied to them. And don't get me wrong, I think domestic violence must be met with severe consequences. It is good the legal system and the NFL sanction this. My point is, after these young men serve their suspension/sentence, shouldn't they get a second chance like other offenders in society? Would it be out of line if the Patriots, in a similar situation, kept the player or picked one off the waivers?

Trygve Johannes Lereim Sævareid

As I said in the previous answer, second-chances are something most deserve. But when and how that second-chance comes about is the question. The answer to that varies from person to person, business to business and in this case, team to team. The decision can be based on morality or money. Or a combination of both. That's the reality of the world. Hunt clearly has issues with violent outbursts, against both women and men. He deserves to be punished for his violence and needs to get some help. But he's also a talented, 23-year-old player who'll get consideration for a return to the league. While I tend to doubt that would be in New England, I think each of the 31 other teams will have internal discussions about Hunt's future just like they do with every available player. Only the Patriots, including the Kraft family, can decide if it would be "out of line" for the team to bring on a player like Hunt in the future.

Andy Hart

Chiefs cut Hunt and Steelers lost two winnable games, but are Patriots getting the top seed or even a bye? Next two games should tell us more. One loss, and either Chargers or Texans who have an easy schedule, can leapfrog the Pats in the seeding, is that right?

Mark S.

As I wrote above, with a quarter of the season left to play it's a little early to really break down the postseason seeding. One simple part of it, though, is that New England's best, most likely route to a bye and the No. 1 seed is to win out, including wins in Miami and Pittsburgh over the next two weeks. A loss by the Patriots anywhere along the line will very much muddy the water, but I'm not sold that any team in the hunt is going to win out. There is a lot of football left to be played. Yes, a loss and winning out by Los Angeles or Houston would put those teams ahead of the Patriots.

Andy Hart

On the last play of the Vikings game when Brady took a knee it seemed like Brady stepped forward before kneeling. Then Brady got up and was talking to the ref pointing to where he knelt. Usually the quarterback kneels straight down or steps back before doing so. That got me wondering. If Brady had not stepped forward and simply took a knee would that then deduct yardage from Brady's run total? I believe Brady had exactly 1,000 career yards rushing. Could taking a knee to end a game have dropped his run total back below 1,000 yards? If so does that mean Brady was well aware of and wanted to keep his 1,000-yard achievement? Also kuddos to the network for airing the tribute about Brady hitting the 1,000-yard mark. It was wicked funny.

Dave DeLuca

I don't see any other way to interpret it other than to say Brady was aware of his 1,000-yard accomplishment. Generally, you are right, a kneel-down is a 1-yard loss. It happens all the time. It's happened to Brady endlessly over the years as he closed out Patriots victories. Here's what Brady had to say when asked if he was mindful of not losing yards on his kneel-down to end the Vikings game: "not trying to go backwards. So, I don't want us to go backwards anymore – try to inch up on those kneel-downs a little bit."

Andy Hart

I respect the Patriots 9-3 record, but Vikings Cousins is not a very good QB and with their two starting CBs Xavier Rhodes playing on a pitch and Trae Waynes gone early with concussion, Patriots pulled away from a 10-10 tie. My question is about Gronk. He seems to get hurt every time he catches the ball. Was BB onto something when he was looking to trade his TE back in the spring?

Eugene Lavrentis

This is arguably the wet blanket email of the week. Even if what you said is true, I thought New England's win over Minnesota was the team's best game of the season, all things considered. It continued the trend of impressive home wins balanced out this fall by bad road losses. Still, I give them credit for the effort, execution and result. Certainly Gronkowski was banged up on his catch in the third quarter. He left the game shortly thereafter, missed a play and then returned to finish the game. Still, he was limping a bit later and appeared to be in some discomfort. Clearly he's an aging tight end who has been through a lot in his career, including injuries and surgeries that go beyond the usual tough wear and tear of the tight end position. He has not been dominant by any measure this season, even if he has made some key plays over the course of the fall. All things considered – health, retirement considerations, salary, etc. – I don't think it's crazy to say Belichick was right in considering moving on from Gronk, especially given his coaching/GM track record of getting rid of players a year too early rather than a year too late.

Andy Hart

Do you believe that Hollister can be a starter if Gronk decides to stop playing? He looks like a great pass catcher, but he already has missed a few games early in his career. I'm not sure what happened with Dwayne Allen. This is two years now where he hasn't been used in the red zone. We know how good he was in Indy. I think we need to see Hollister in the lineup as the second TE.

Wayne Simmons

Hollister has played a bit since he got healthy, but he's not yet proven he can be an impact player. I don't think he's a starter or really even a true tight end. I think he's really only an option in the passing game, at best an H-back. Allen is the far better blocker, but even after looking much healthier and active this summer he's not been able to add much of a contribution to the passing game. He's obviously also dealt with a knee injury the last couple weeks. Given Gronkowski's decreased impact, the tight end position has not carried its usual share of the load in the offense. While the team must really like Hollister after keeping him around for two years with minimal contributions, I'm not sure I ever see him becoming a major factor. Maybe that will change down the stretch. Maybe.

Andy Hart

What happened to Jacob Hollister and Danny Shelton this year? Both looked good (or better) in training camp and they are both largely invisible to this point in the season. It's particularly noticeable at TE because of injuries to both Gronk and Dwayne Allen at various points this year when the opportunity has been there for Hollister. Another one is John Simon, the edge rusher brought in mid-season. Should we expect anything out of him? He showed up in one game but has been MIA since. The last one on the list is Derek Rivers. He's been a healthy scratch for most of the season. Is he a 3rd-round bust or is he still recovering from last year's injury that put him on IR? It would be nice to see more out of the above group since they are not living up to the expectations placed on them.

Alan Bernstein

Another email with a pretty negative tone coming off New England's biggest, most impressive win of the season, but I'll run with it! As I said above, Hollister's first issue was being unable to stay on the field. He was inactive for six of the first nine games. He hasn't shown up a ton in the games that he's played, though. But, he's also a second-year former undrafted player with limited experience and, I'd argue, expectation. Sounds like you may have expected too much from him. I know I probably had too high an expectation for Shelton. I love him coming out of college as a first-round pick. He looked great in shorts and t-shirts in the spring. And has done pretty much nothing in game action, right up until he was a healthy scratch. Somehow the front seems better against the run without its biggest guy. Simon has had some flashes of impact and chances to play on the edge, but again I'm not sure exactly what you expected from a guy signed off the street in the middle of the season. Lastly, Rivers has not done much coming off the torn ACL that sidelined him for the entirety of his rookie season. That he has been a healthy scratch seven times is disappointing. I thought he might add an athletic rotational option on the edge, but coming off the injury and still making the jump from Youngstown State as a third-round pick I'm not sure what we all expected. I do agree it would be nice to get a few more contributions out of these complementary players down the stretch, but I'm not sure how much they'll be leaned on outside of injury situations.

Andy Hart

Would you please tell me what players on the IR list are allowed to do with the team? For example, are players like McCarron, Berrios, Bentley allowed to practice with the team? Are they allowed to use the weight room? Are they allowed to attend meetings? If they are not allowed to participate in any of the aforementioned activities, what do they do for the remainder of the season?

Ralph Guarnieri

Players are on injured reserve are allowed to do pretty much everything other players do except practice. They can attend meetings and learn schemes. They can watch video. They can work out. They just can't take part in organized practice sessions. So while it's not ideal, young players such as the ones you listed can learn and grow as professionals while on IR.

Andy Hart

In the game against the Jets Brady threw poorly when throwing to his left 4 times with 3 going into the ground. Any physical problems there?

Robert Upton

While I have certainly noticed Brady making some suspect, problematic throws to his left, I don't know what is causing it or if it is truly really an issue. Many were short throws that he, as you said, put in the ground. Some have sailed. The numbers – completion percentage and passer rating -- would tell you that he's thrown the ball as well or better to the left than the middle or right. But my eyes are with you and tell me otherwise. I am not aware, though, of any injury that might be causing the issues other than the knee problem listed on the Patriots injury report. And I don't think that is responsible because I recall noting these suspect throws prior to those injuries.

Andy Hart

Should the Pats find a way to reacquire D Amendola from the Fins...?

Ron Mahler

No. He's dealt with some injuries of late and Amendola isn't getting any younger or more durable. While I would have been open to his return this past offseason and think he could have helped this team with his clutch catches and reliability, I think his time in New England has passed. But I never say never. Never.

Andy Hart

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