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New England Patriots links 1/04/18 - Branch, Burkhead practice; Pats focus on self-scouting

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Daily news and links for Thursday

NFL: DEC 24 Jets at Patriots
Return of big man Alan Branch will help on run defense
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

TEAM TALK

LOCAL LINKS

  • Mike Reiss reports that instead of focusing this week on one of their three potential opponents -- the Chiefs, Titans or Bills -- the Patriots will focus on themselves.
  • Karen Guregian points out the flaws in the Patriots’ 20th-ranked rush defense.
  • Jeff Howe catches up with Stephon Gilmore, who is excited for his long-awaited playoff debut.
  • Jeff Howe Patriots Notebook: Defense finds comfort zone inside own 20-yard line.
  • Jeff Howe has the Wednesday practice update: The Patriots are getting healthier during their playoff bye week; Rex Burkhead, Alan Branch and Tom Brady on field; Mike Gillislee (knee) and Eric Lee (ankle) were the only players missing.
  • Adam Kurkjian points out there’s no such thing as a snow day for Bill Belichick’s Patriots.
  • Doug Kyed reports the Patriots move practice to the Field House ‘bubble’ because of the blizzard. /Wimps.
  • Mike Reiss gives us 10 things to watch for as the Patriots host a divisional-round playoff game for a record eighth straight season: Bill Belichick to set NFL coaching record by coaching in his 37th playoff game.
  • Mike Reiss takes a look at potential playoff opponents, Chiefs, Titans and Bills and the pros and cons of facing each one.
  • Phil Perry tells us who would be next up if the Pats lost McDaniels, Patricia or Caserio.
  • Mike Giardi gives us an idea of what kind of a head coach Matt Patricia will be.
  • D.J. Bean says the Patriots’ history with quarterbacks suggests they won’t go for Baker Mayfield. Size matters.

NATIONAL NEWS

  • Kalyn Kahler (SI) For Nate, Lexi and Hudson Solder, a Patriots’ off-day means facing their biggest challenge.
  • Tom Schad (USA Today) Bill Belichick to Patriots players: Snow is no excuse for being late.
  • Nick Wagoner (ESPN) Final NFL stats leaders in every major category for 2017 season.
  • Albert Breer (SI) Game Plan: Sean McDermott has Buffalo Bills in playoffs now, pointing in right direction for future.
  • Matt Harmon (NFL.com) Strengths and weaknesses of each AFC playoff team.
  • Nate Davis (USA Today) NFL MVP tracker: Rams’ Todd Gurley overtakes Patriots’ Tom Brady in final poll.
  • John Breech (CBS Sports) Here are the NFL’s five longest playoff droughts now that the Bills are in.
  • Adam Rank (NFL.com) Ranking the top 10 games of the 2017 NFL regular season. 9. Chiefs-Patriots (Week 1) and 1. Patriots-Steelers (Week 15).
  • Brad Gagnon (Bleacher Report) NFL Time Machine: Imagining the best do-over for every team this year. Patriots: With better timing, the Pats could have gotten far more than a mid-second-round pick for Jimmy Garoppolo.
  • Andy Benoit (SI) Ranking the NFL’s five head coach openings, and identifying who should fill them.
  • Jenny Vrentas (SI) Josh McDaniels: Ready for round 2.
  • Conor Orr (SI) Did Jon Gruden’s time as ESPN analyst provide an advantage?
  • A.J. Perez (USA Today) NFL TV viewership takes heavy hit again in 2017.
  • Christie Aschwanden (FiveThirtyEight) Tom Brady is drowning in his own pseudoscience.