<
>

Ten things to know about Patriots' game vs. Eagles

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Ten things to know about the New England Patriots' game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at Gillette Stadium (via ESPN's Stats & Information):

1. The Patriots will clinch the AFC East for a seventh straight season with a win and Jets loss to the Giants. If the Patriots clinch it, they will tie the 1973-79 Rams for the longest divisional championship streak since the 1970 merger.

2. The Patriots are looking to avoid consecutive losses for the first time since Weeks 2-3 of the 2012 season (vs. Arizona and Baltimore). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 56 straight games without consecutive losses is by far the longest active streak. The next highest is the Panthers at 15 straight. As a starter over his career, quarterback Tom Brady is 40-8 in games following a loss.

3. With a win, Bill Belichick would clinch his 13th season with at least 11 victories. That would tie Don Shula for the most 11-win seasons by a coach in NFL history.

4. The Eagles have given up 45 points in each of the past two games (vs. Tampa and Detroit). In the last 75 years, the only teams to give up at least 45 points in three straight games were the Colts over the 1953-54 seasons and the Giants in 1966.

5. Philadelphia quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez have faced the lowest blitz rate in the NFL this season at 14.8 percent. However, since Week 7, Eagles quarterbacks have been pressured against a standard pass rush on 30.4 percent of dropbacks, the fifth-highest percentage in the NFL over that span.

6. Brady is two passing touchdowns from his sixth career 30-touchdown season, which would be the fourth most in NFL history. His next passing touchdown will give him sole possession of third place on the all-time list, breaking a tie with Dan Marino (420). If history is any indication, Brady could have a big day; including the win in the Super Bowl, he is 4-0 with nine passing touchdowns and zero interceptions in his career against the Eagles.

7. Tight end Rob Gronkowski isn't expected to play (right knee). Since drafting Gronkowski in 2010, the Patriots are 11-4 when he is not in the lineup. However, they average 5.5 more points per game -- and more than double the touchdown-to-interception ratio -- with him in the lineup.

8. Since 2002, the Patriots are 45-10 in games against NFC teams, the best record in interconference matchups in that span. That is seven more wins than the next-highest team, the Steelers.

9. The Eagles' staff has plenty of New England ties, starting with head coach Chip Kelly, a native of Dover, New Hampshire, and former offensive coordinator at UNH. Defensive line/assistant head coach Jerry Azzinaro attended American International in Springfield, Massachusetts, and served as an assistant at Maine, Boston College, UMass and Westfield State from 1985-1998. Wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell is a native of Holliston, Massachusetts, and a three-year letterman as a tight end at Boston College. Assistant defensive line coach Mike Dawson is a native of Pepperell, Massachusetts, and was a three-year starter at UMass in the 1990s. Quarterbacks coach Ryan Day is a native of Manchester, New Hampshire, and played at UNH. Outside linebackers coach Bill McGovern was a four-year starter at Holy Cross who was a longtime assistant in the New England college football ranks. Assistant linebackers coach Brian Smith was a three-year starter at UMass.

10. Belichick called the Eagles' special teams units probably the best the Patriots will face all season. For the Patriots, undrafted rookie Brandon King of Auburn leads the team with nine special-teams tackles, followed by Matthew Slater (eight) and Nate Ebner (eight).