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Patriots.com News Blitz - 12/10/2008

Matt Cassel's father has died, according to several published reports today, including one from the Boston Herald.

It's unclear at this point how long the Patriots' starting QB will be away from the team, or how this will affect his participation, if at all, in Sunday's game against Oakland.

Check back here at Patriots.com later today for updates.

Meanwhile, as New England gets back to the practice field today out here in California, the Patriots will start preparing for the Raiders and their man-to-man defense.

New England is facing some daunting playoff possibilities, as detailed in today's Providence Journal.

And the Patriots may not own the tie-breakers against their AFC East rivals, New York and Miami, but the Patriots are ahead of both in ESPN.com's latest NFL Power Rankings.

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