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Sunday NFL Thoughts: Playoff elimination, draft prospects, and Patriots cheating in 1961

1. 33 years ago, almost to the exact day, the infamous Snowplow game took place. The head coach on the opposite sideline was Don Shula of the Miami Dolphins, which is probably the root of his ohmygoshPatriotsCheaters obsession, and you can watch the video of the snowplow moment here.

There's also the following video of a Patriots fan rushing on the field to help out on a goal line stand back in 1961:

My question to you: what would you do to help the Patriots win? You call yourself a fan? You think giving opponents warm Gatorade is going to get you on the Crazy Sports Fan Hall of Fame? These people think you're a disappointment and you aren't going to get a participation ribbon.

If only someone could construct the stadium to give the Patriots access to the big screen in the parking lot...that person would get my nomination.

2. Former New England Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner has been flagged for a whopping 19 penalties this season, not including two declined. He's the only player in the league that's averaging more than one penalty per game. Browner also led the league in penalties last season (15), even though he was suspended to start the year.

The Patriots let both Browner and Darrelle Revis walk for contract price reasons, but it's also apparent that this is just Browner's style of play. New England is doing well with their current tandem of Malcolm Butler (5 penalties) and Logan Ryan (2 penalties).

3. The Cleveland Browns are the first team eliminated from the 2015 NFL playoff picture, and it seems extremely late in the year for this to be happening. But actually, it's kind of par for the course. The 2014 Raiders were the first team eliminated from the playoff picture and they were knocked out in week 11, which was the earliest mark in the past decade.

Two more teams (Jaguars and Titans) were eliminated after week 12 in 2014, so a week 13 elimination isn't that crazy. It's more insane that the Browns weren't eliminated at 2-9 (prior to the loss) and that Cleveland is on track for another fantastic draft pick. I wonder how they'll mess this one up.

4. I'm finding draft research to be a little more tedious this year as the Patriots don't have a first round pick. We'll start picking up our draft work after January 1st, but until then I'll be watching tapes of mid-round draft prospects. Here are some names that have caught my eye:

Oklahoma WR Sterling Shepard, LSU LB Deion Jones, Louisiana Tech RB Kenneth Dixon, Notre Dame CB KeiVarae Russell

5. I'm still deciding how I feel about the idea of tight end Rob Gronkowski playing this week against the Texans. On one hand, if he's healthy he should be out there. On the other, how healthy is "healthy" really at this point in the year?

If the doctors say that Gronkowski is fully back and ready to play, then I absolutely want him out there, bubble wrap jokes and all. But if the idea is that the tight end is 80% ready or even 90% (for whatever value a percentage holds), and that he could play, but he's not at full strength, then I think they should hold him out for another week, or at least keep him on a snap count.