In the Red Zone

This Week

RIP Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims

San Francisco 49ers @ New England Patriots

The New England Patriots host the San Francisco 49ers at Gillette Stadium on Sunday at 8:20 p.m.

The Patriots will be honoring the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting by wearing the decal above on their helmets. They'll also be lighting 26 white flares during a moment of silence before the game.

The 49ers —- The Patriots
Overall 9-3-1 Overall  10-3
Road record 4-2 Home record 5-1
AFC East  3-0 NFC West  1-2
AFC  3-0 NFC 1-2

Ed Hochuli is the referee assigned to the game.

The Line/Prediction

As of Thursday the line on the game from via Yahoo Sports has the Patriots at MINUS 5.  The over under is 46.5.

My Prediction is Patriots 31, 49ers, 24.  Give the points (Patriots) and take the over.  I am 3-10 against the spread and 9 of 13 on calling the over/under in 2012.


The Patriots are reporting the game as a sell out. It is the 202nd consecutive sell out dating back to the 1994 season opener.  The record includes preseason, regular season and playoff games.

Tickets to the game, if available, can be purchased through Ticketmaster.  You can check the availability here.

After market tickets are available through the Official Patriots Ticket Exchange where season ticket holders can sell their unused seats to fans on the season ticket waiting list.

Getting to the Game

If you’re lucky enough to be going to the game in Foxboro make sure you check out the links.

Here is the up to date weather forecast from the Weather Channel for Foxboro MA.

Click for all the game day information including stadium directions, parking and information and map and a Gillette Stadium seating chart.


Here’s a bunch of different tailgating recipes from  There’s something there for everyone and every type of meal or snack.  I’ve tried some of the recipes and they’re very good. 

And with tailgating many people enjoy some adult beverages.  With that in mind check out Drink Nation for how to make all sorts of great drinks.  You can look things up by name, ingredient(s) or theme.

Whether it’s at the game, a bar or a friend’s house moderation is always the key to a great time.  Please don’t drink and drive and designate a sober driver.  Remember You Drink, You Drive, You Lose.



NBC in televising the game nationally and Al Michaels will do play by play while Cris Collinsworth will provide the game analysis.  You can look here for your local affiliate.

Here are all the rules on NFL TV broadcasts including explaining the blackout rules; flex scheduling and commercial breaks.


The Patriots Radio Network broadcasts the game from flagship station WBZ-FM, 98.5 the Sports Hub in Boston. Gil Santos handles the play-by-play and former Patriots QB Scott Zolak will do game analysis. It all starts with Gary Tanguay and Andy Gresh with the pregame show at 5:30 p.m. along the network. The post game starts after the final gun and continues for three hours along the network.

The Patriots radio network call is available on Sirius Channel 92, XM Channel 226 and on SiriusXM Internet Channel 818.

The 49ers Radio Network has Ted Robinson calling the game while former Niners All Pro DB Eric Davis provides the game analysis and Rod Brooks covers the sideline via their flagship stations KNBR and KSAN-FM.

Their call is available on Sirius Channel 92, XM Channel 225 and SiriusXM Internet Channel 827.

Dial Global Sports is carrying the game nationally via their affiliate network.  Dave Sims, James Lofton and Steve Tasker will call the game starting at 8 p.m.

Their call is available on Sirius Channel 94, XM Channel 227 and on SiriusXM Internet Channel 968.

Patriots All Access

Patriots All-Access features behind the scenes looks, interviews and breakdowns with head coach Bill Belichick and in depth features on the team.  It’s hosted by Steve Burton of WBZ-TV (Boston) and airs weekly in most New England television markets.

  • Boston MA on TV 38 Friday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 9 a.m.
  • Providence RI on WNAC Friday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 9 a.m.
  • Manchester NH on WMUR Saturday at midnight
  • Portland ME on WMTW Sunday at 5 a.m.
  • Hartford CT on WCTX Saturday at 5 p.m.
  • Springfield MA on WFXQ Saturday at 7 p.m.
  • Bangor ME on WVII Sunday at 11 a.m.

You can also watch it anytime on the teams website in the media section.

To continue reading the San Francisco 49ers @ New England Patriots Week 15 preview, please click on the continue reading button below if you're on the home page.

Last Week

The Patriots routed the AFC leading Texans, 42-14 at home.  The 49ers beat the Dolphins at home, 27-13.


  • This is the 12th meeting between the Patriots and the 49ers since the merger in 1970.
  • The two franchises have combined to win 8 Super Bowls between them in 12 appearances.
  • After a six game losing streak in the series, the Patriots have won the last three meetings.
  • This is the second meeting between the teams at Gillette Stadium and 7th overall in Foxboro
  • The Niners lead the overall series 7-4.
  • The Patriots won the last meeting in 2008, 30-21 in San Francisco.

Patriots Team Notes

Here is the Patriots roster, depth chart and injury report for the game.

2012 Patriots Schedule/Results

The Patriots overall franchise record is 424-368-9.  They have won three Super Bowls (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX) in seven appearances.  Overall they are 23-16 in the post season.

They last appeared in the playoffs in 2011 when they beat Denver home in the AFC Divisional Playoff, 45-10 and defeated Baltimore 23-20 in Foxboro in the AFC Championship Game.  They lost Super Bowl XLVI to the New York Giants 21-17. 

The Patriots were 13-3 (2-1 in playoffs) in 2011 and are the defending four-time AFC East Champions as well as the defending AFC Conference Champions.  They have won the division 10 times and the conference 5 times since 2000.

This is the second year in a row the Patriots have back-to-back prime time games.  In 2011 they beat the Jets on SNF 37-16 on November 13 followed by a MNF win over the Chiefs, 34-3 on November 21.

Patriots have won 10 games for the 10th consecutive season only San Francisco has more consecutive 10 win seasons when they did it for 16 consecutive years from 1983-1998.

The Patriots are 18-15 all-time on Sunday Night Football, 11-5 as the home team and 6-3 at Gillette Stadium.

New England is 3-3 as the home team in the series.

Since 1999 the Patriots have the best record in the NFL at 157-64.

New England now has a 7-game winning streak after starting the season 3-3.

Since 2001 the Patriots are 72-16 in games played on Thanksgiving or later.

Since 2001 New England is 43-5 in December games.

The Patriots have not lost a December home game since December 22, 2002 to the New York Jets, 30-17.

They are 21-1 at home in December since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002.

The Patriots have won 13 consecutive December games dating back to 2009.  They are the fourth team to have won at least 12 consecutive December games.  San Diego won 18 (2006-09); Dallas 13 (1968-72) and New England 12 (2006-08).

Since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002, the Patriots are 72-14 at home in the regular season.

They are 18-3 vs. the NFC at Gillette Stadium.  The Packers (2002), Giants (2011) and Cardinals (2012) from the only NFC teams to have beaten the Patriots at home since 2002.

The Patriots are now a combined 21-0 in the second half of the season since 2010.  Their last loss in the second half was in 2009 in the season finale at Houston.

The New England defense has forced a turnover in 24 consecutive games dating back to Week 6 in 2011.

The Patriots have seven non-offensive touchdowns in 2012. The 2010 Patriots and 1961 Patriots teams own the team record with nine non-offensive touchdowns. The NFL record for most non-offensive touchdowns is 13 by Seattle in 1998.

Date             Game                     Touchdown

9/9/12          at Tennessee           Dont’a Hightower 6-yd. Fumble Return

10/21/12       vs. N.Y. Jets            Devin McCourty 104-yd. Kickoff Return

11/18/12       vs. Indianapolis        Julian Edelman 68-yd. Punt Return

11/18/12       vs. Indianapolis        Aqib Talib 59-yd. Int. Return

11/18/12       vs. Indianapolis        Alfonzo Dennard 87-yd. Int. return

11/22/12       at N.Y. Jets             Steve Gregory 32-yd. Fumble Return

11/22/12       at N.Y. Jets             Julian Edelman 22-yd. Fumble Return

The Patriots are 1st in the NFL in points per game with 36.3.  While they allow 21.0 points per game good for 11th in the NFL.

The New England defense has sacked the opponents quarterback 28 times this season while their quarterbacks have been sacked 20 times.

New England is PLUS 24 in turnover differential, 1st in the NFL. The offense has given up 3 INT and 5 fumbles, while the defense has 14 INTs and 18 fumble recoveries. 

The Patriots are 96 for 183 (52.5%) in 3rd down efficiency and 1 for 3 (33.3%) on fourth down attempts.  Opponents are 68 for 163 (41.7%) in 3rd down efficiency and 7 for 18 (38.9%) on 4th down attempts.

New England is 40 of 59 (67.8%) in the red zone while opponents are 22 for 35 (62.9%) in the red zone in 2012.

In goal to go situations New England is 31 for 38 (81.7%) and opponents are 17 for 21 (81%).

Since Robert Kraft bought the team in 1994 they:

  • Have the most Super Bowl wins, 3.
  • Have the most regular season wins, 203.
  • Have the most wins including playoffs, 222.
  • Have the most conference titles, 6.
  • Have the most division titles, 12.
  • Have the most playoff wins, 19
  • Have played the most playoff games, 29.
  • Are tied for the most playoff seasons, 14.
  • Have the best playoff win percentage, .671.
  • Have drafted the most Pro Bowl players, 20.

New England set the following team records in 2011:

  • Total yards, 6,848.
  • First downs, 399.
  • Net passing yards, 5,084.
  • 100+ yard receiving games, 18.
  • Games with 30+ points, 12 (tied for most in NFL history).

Patriots Staff Notes

This is the link to head coach Bill Belichick’s Wednesday press conference on the 49ers.

Bill Belichick is 3-0 vs. the San Francisco in his career (2-0 with the Patriots).

Overall in his NFL career Belichick is 185-100 in his 18th NFL season.  He is 149-56 with New England and 36-44 with Cleveland.  He is 17-7 in the playoffs, 16-6 as head coach of the Patriots in the post season.  When you combine his regular season and post season records he is 202-107.

Belichick’s 202 wins are good for 7th all-time. 

Belichick is one of five head coaches in NFL history whose father (Steve Belichick) played in the league.  The others are former Kansas City head coach Todd Haley (Dick Haley), former San Francisco head coach Mike Nolan (Dick Nolan), former Cincinnati head coach David Shula (Don Shula) and former NY Jets head coach Joe Walton (Frank Walton).

Belichick is one of just four coaches to win three Super Bowls, joining Chuck Noll (4), Joe Gibbs (3) and Bill Walsh (3).  Those men are all in the Hall of Fame.

He is the only coach in NFL history to win three championship titles in four seasons.

He is the only coach in NFL history to have led his team to 10+ wins in 9 consecutive seasons.

Patriots Possible Starters


  • LT: Solder
  • LG: Mankins
  • C: Wendell
  • RG: Connolly
  • RT: Vollmer
  • TE: Hernandez
  • WR: Branch
  • WR: Lloyd
  • WR: Welker
  • QB: Brady
  • RB: Ridley


  • DE: Ninkovich
  • DT: Wilfork
  • DT: Love
  • DE: Jones
  • LB: Mayo
  • LB: Spikes
  • LB: Hightower
  • LCB: Talib
  • RCB: Dennard
  • S: McCourty
  • S: Gregory

Patriots Players Notes

This is Tom Brady’s 13th NFL season he is 1-0 against San Francisco in his career.  He missed the last meeting while recovering from ACL surgery in 2008.

Overall Brady is 134-38 as a starting QB and is 16-6 in the playoffs for an overall record of 150-44.  Brady is a 6 time Pro Bowl QB; two time NFL MVP and has won 3 Super Bowls while twice being named the games MVP.  He is also listed as the 21st Greatest Player in the History of the NFL according to the NFL Network.

He was ranked in the preseason by ESPN’s Ron Jaworski as the 3rd best quarterback in the NFL.

Brady has 329 TD passes in his career he is now 5th all-time.  Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton is 4th with 342.

Brady has 134 regular season career wins he is 5th all-time.

Brady finished the 2011 season with 5,235 passing yards and joined Drew Brees (5,476 in 2011 and 5,069 in 2008), Dan Marino (5,084 in 1984) and Matthew Stafford (5,038 in 2011) as the only players in NFL history to reach 5,000 passing yards in a single season.

Brady has thrown at least 1 TD pass in 45 consecutive games.

The Patriots are 89-16 when Brady throws at least 2 TD passes in a game.

Brady has 52 games in his career with 300 or more passing yards he is tied for 5th all-time with Kurt Warner.

On the season Brady is 319 of 495 (64.4%) for 3833 yards with 29 TDs and 4 INTs his QB rating is 104.2.

WR Wes Welker now has catches in 114 consecutive games including playoffs, 97 as a Patriot.  The last time Welker did not have a catch in a game was 12/24/05 as a Dolphin.

Welker leads the team with 95 catches for 1116 yards.

Welker has the second most receptions (745) all-time among undrafted receivers. Rod Smith is the NFL’s all-time leader with 849.

TE Rob Gronkowski has 37 receiving touchdowns and 38 touchdowns overall (1 rushing) since 2010. The NFL record for most receiving touchdowns in a player’s first three NFL seasons is 43 by Randy Moss and the NFL record for most touchdowns overall by a player in his first three NFL seasons is 47 by Barry Sanders (4 receiving and 43 rushing).

He is tied for the team lead with RB Stevan Ridley with 10 TDs.

Ridley has scored in 6 consecutive games.

Ridley leads the team in rushing with 1082 yards on 243 carries.

K Stephen Gostkowski has two field goals of 50 or more yards in 2012.  With one more he will be the first Patriots kicker with three field goals of 50 or more yards in one season.

Gostkowski (7 for 10) needs one more field goal of 50 or more yards to tie Adam Vinatieri (8 for 17) for most in team history.

TE Aaron Hernandez had the 3rd two TD game of his career on Monday night.

DE Rob Ninkovich leads the team with 6.5 sacks, it is a new career high for sacks.

Rookie DE Chandler Jones leads the team with 11 QB hits.

Ninkovich and LB Brandon Spikes lead the team in forced fumbles with 5 each, which ties Mike Vrabel’s franchise record.   

Ninkovich and DT Vince Wilfork lead the team with 4 recovered fumbles each.

Mayo leads the team through 13 weeks with 158 tackles (100 solo).  Spikes is second with 116 tackles (76 solo).

Rookie S Tavon Wilson and S Devin McCourty lead the team in INTs with 4. Wilson now has more INTs in his rookie NFL season than he did in his college career at Illinois.

McCourty also has team high 12 passes defensed in 2012. CB Kyle Arrington is 2nd with 10 passes defensed.

WR Matthew Slater has a team high 18 tackles on special teams.  Rookie S Nate Ebner is 2nd with 14 tackles on special teams.

There are only three players on the team who played on at least one of the Super Bowl championship teams, Brady (3), Branch (2) and Wilfork (1).

Roster moves this week:

  • WR Donte Stallworth was placed on IR.
  • TE Visanthe Shiancoe was released.
  • WR Deion Branch was re-signed by the team.
  • Signed WR/PR Tony Logan to the practice squad.

Patriots players with San Francisco area ties are: Brady who is from San Mateo; TE Daniel Fells played for UC-Davis; G Logan Mankins is from Catheys Valley and went to Fresno State; RB Shane Vereen attended University of California and WR Donte Stallworth (IR) is from Sacramento.

WR Brandon Lloyd is the lone former 49ers player with the Patriots.

The Patriots captains for 2012 are QB Tom Brady, DT Vince Wilfork, G Logan Mankins, LB Jerod Mayo, CB Devin McCourty and WR Matthew Slater (special teams).

The Patriots have 5 New England natives on the roster they are: TE Aaron Hernandez (Bristol CT); OL Donald Thomas (New Haven CT); DE Ron Brace (Worcester MA); LB Niko Koutouvides (Plainville CT) and OL Jamey Richard (Weston CT – IR). 

They have 11 players who played for a New England school or a Big East Conference member.  They are CB Will Allen (Syracuse – IR); DE Ron Brace (Boston College); RB James Develin (Brown); RB Tony Fiametta (Syracuse – Exempt List); DE Justin Francis (Rutgers); S Stephen Gregory (Syracuse); DE Chandler Jones (Syracuse); CB Devin McCourty (Rutgers); OL Donald Thomas (UConn); OL Jeremiah Warren (South Florida – Practice Squad) and NT Vince Wilfork (Miami).

The Patriots have 6 retired numbers: 20 – Gino Cappelletti, 40 – Mike Haynes, 73 – John Hannah, 78 – Bruce Armstrong, 79 – Jim Lee Hunt and 89 – Bob Dee.

49ers Team Notes

Here is the 49ers roster, depth chart and injury report for the game.

2012 49ers Schedule/Results

San Francisco’s all-time record is 531-426-16 they are 27-19 in the post season with their last post season appearance coming in 2011 when they beat the New Orleans Saints at home in the NFC Divisional game and lost at home to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship game.

The 49ers have won 5 Super Bowls (XVI, XIX, XXIII, XXIV, XXIX) in 5 appearances.

They were the NFL’s Dynasty of the 1980’s with 4 titles in the decade.

The Niners also had the NFL’s best record in the 1990’s going 122-54.

San Francisco is 3-3 all-time at New England and is 0-1 in Gillette Stadium.

The Niners have lost the last three games in the series.

San Francisco is 12-9 on Sunday Night Football games, they are 3-4 as the road team.

In the last two seasons the Niners are PLUS 34 in turnover ration second in the NFL to only the Patriots who are PLUS 41 in the same time span.

The 49ers and Patriots are the only two NFL teams to ever win 18 games in one season (San Francisco was 18-1 in 1984; New England was 18-1 in 2007).

This is the first of two consecutive Sunday Night Football games for the Niners who play at Seattle next week.

The Niners are 13th in the NFL in points per game with 24.3.  While they allow 14.2 points per game good for 1st in the NFL.

The San Francisco defense has sacked the opponents quarterback 32 times this season while their quarterbacks have been sacked 38 times.

San Francisco is PLUS 6 in turnover differential, tied for 11th in the NFL. The offense has given up 6 INT and 6 fumbles, while the defense has 10 INTs and 8 fumble recoveries. 

The 49ers are 56 for 155 (36.1%) in 3rd down efficiency and 4 for 7 (57.1%) on fourth down attempts.  Opponents are 55 for 175 (31.4%) in 3rd down efficiency and x for x (42.9%) on 4th down attempts.

San Francisco is 24 of 43 (55.8%) in the red zone while opponents are 14 for 25 (56%) in the red zone in 2012.

49ers Staff Notes

Read what San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh had to say to the New England media about the match up.

San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh, is in his 2nd season, he is 22-6-1 in the regular season and 1-1 in the post season for an overall record of 23-7-1.

He has never faced the Patriots.

Harbaugh led the team to the NFC West Division title and the NFC Championship Game in his first season.

He was the NFL Coach of the Year in 2011, succeeding Patriots Bill Belichick with that honor.

Harbaugh’s brother John is in his fifth season as the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens.

The brothers each ended up one win away from facing each other in the Super Bowl last year.

He is one of nine head coaches who had NFL playing experience.

Former Patriots coach Brad Seeley is the 49ers assistant head coach/Special Teams Coordinator.

49ers Possible Starters


  • LT: Staley
  • LG: Iupatti
  • C: Goodwin
  • RG: Boone
  • RT: A. Davis
  • TE: V. Davis
  • WR: Crabtree
  • WR: Manningham
  • QB: Kaepernick
  • RB: Gore
  • RB: Miller


  • DT: McDonald
  • DT: J. Smith
  • OLB: Brooks
  • ILB: Bowman
  • ILB: Willis
  • OLB A. Smith
  • CB: Rogers
  • CB: Brown
  • CB: Culliver
  • S: Goldson
  • S: Whitner

49ers Players Notes

49ers QB Colin Kaepernick took over the starting job in Week 11 after Alex Smith suffered a concussion in the Week 10 24-24 tie with St. Louis.

Kaepernick is in his 2nd NFL season.  He is 3-1 in the regular season and has never faced New England.

Kaepernick was San Francisco’s 2nd round draft pick in the 2011 NFL Draft out of the University of Nevada.

He is the only QB in NCAA history to throw for 10,000 yards and rush for 4,000 yards.

He has the two longest runs by a QB in Niners history both were for 50 yards breaking Steve Yong’s record 49-yard run.

Kaepernick is 87 of 129 (67.4%) for 1073 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT for a quarterback rating of 97.4.

RB Frank Gore leads the team in rushing yards with 1035.

Gore is in a three-way tie with Roger Craig and Joe Perry for most rushing TD’s in franchise history with 50.

He is 3rd in franchise history in yards from scrimmage with 11, 236.  He trails Roger Craig (11,506) and Jerry Rice (19,872).

Gore is the Niners all-time rushing yards leader with 8,660.

WR Michael Crabtree leads San Francisco with 66 catches for 761 yards.

TE Vernon Davis ranks first in franchise history among tight ends in TDs (40) and second in receptions and receiving yards.

S Dashon Goldson leads the Niners in INTs with 3.

LB Aldon Smith has 19.5 sacks to lead the NFL he also set a new San Francisco franchise record.

He also has a team high 3 forced fumbles.

He has 5 games in his career with 2 or more sacks.

Smith’s 33.5 career sacks are the highest total in NFL history in a players first two seasons.

NaVorro Bowman leads San Francisco with 150 tackles (76 solo).

DT Justin Smith has a team high 52 QB hits for the season.

CB Carlos Rogers has 3 fumble recoveries to lead the team.

CB Chris Culliver leads the Niners with 13 passes defensed.

There is one former Patriot returning to Foxboro on Sunday and that is WR Randy Moss.

San Francisco captains for 2012 are QB Alex Smith, DT Justin Smith, RB Frank Gore and LB Patrick Willis.

There are 2 players on the 49ers roster from Big East universities.  They are P Andy Lee (Pittsburgh) and T Anthony Davis (Rutgers)

The Niners have 12 retired numbers.  They are 8 – Steve Young; 12 – John Brodie; 16 – Joe Montana; 34 – Joe Perry; 37 – Jimmy Johnson; 39 – Hugh McElhenney; 42 – Ronnie Lott; 70 – Charlie Krueger; 73 – Leo Nomellini; 79 – Bob St. Clair; 80 – Jerry Rice and 87 – Dwight Clark.  In addition former owner Ed DeBartolo Jr. and former coach Bill Walsh have their names up as honorees within the retired numbers.

Next Week

The Patriots visit the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday at Ever Bank Field in Jacksonville FL.  Kick off is at 1 p.m. on CBS.

Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveMichaelsII