FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Players get limited downtime during the NFL season, and on Saturday afternoon at the Empower Field House at Gillette Stadium, New England Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy used his for a cause close to his heart.
Van Noy and his wife Marissa -- with the help of teammates and friends dressed in No. 53 red shirts --handed out 200 Christmas trees, lights, ornaments and new children’s winter coats to 200 Boston-area foster families.
Foster care is a special mission for the Van Noys. Kyle was adopted as an infant and Marissa’s father and younger brother both were adopted. Together, they started a foundation to raise funds to help improve the lives of foster children and families. This effort was supported by the Christmas Tree Santas out of Newburyport, Massachusetts.
Visitors were greeted at the door by Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater, who donned a Santa hat. Other Patriots teammates on hand included cornerback Eric Rowe and linebackers Trevor Reilly and Marquis Flowers, along with first-year coaching assistant DeMarcus Covington.
As is the case the night before games, players soon had to be on their way for meetings and to ensure a good night’s rest leading into Sunday’s home contest against the Miami Dolphins (1 p.m. ET). But before they did, with Van Noy (95 percent of the defensive snaps; team-high 64 tackles; 4 sacks) and his wife Marissa leading the way, they spread some good cheer.
That act of kindness leads off this week’s “final walk-through” leading into Sunday’s game:
Stat of the week: If the Patriots win, they will have posted an undefeated record in the month of November, giving them their 24th undefeated month in Bill Belichick’s coaching tenure (2000-present). That is the most in the NFL during that time span, with the Colts next on the list (15).
Quote of the week: “He was bragging about them and I told him to bring some in and he's like ‘they were so good, they were all eaten.’ So I told him to make some more. I'm not lying. That's dead serious what happened. If he doesn't bring some in, there's going to be some problems.” -- Rob Gronkowski, on Tom Brady’s highly touted biscuits.
Torbert assigned as referee: Ron Torbert has been assigned as referee for the game, which is his first Patriots contest of the season. He began his NFL career as a side judge in 2010 and was promoted to referee in 2014. Sarah Thomas, who received attention as the NFL’s first female official a few years ago, is a down judge on Torbert’s crew.
CBS broadcast: Ian Eagle (play-by-play), Dan Fouts (analysis) and Evan Washburn (sideline) are on the call for CBS.
Prediction: After an exhilarating 10-day, three-leg road trip to Denver, Colorado Springs and Mexico City in which they steamrolled the Broncos and Raiders, one concern for the Patriots would be the possibility of a letdown. But players felt they had a good week of practice, so there is no indication that is coming. Here's another thing on the line for the Patriots: With a win, they will improve to 9-2 and guarantee a winning record for the 17th consecutive season, to break a tie with San Francisco (1983-98) and Dallas (1970-1985) for the most consecutive winning seasons since the 1970 merger. While Miami's pass rush potentially could create some problems, the Patriots' offensive line has improved markedly in recent weeks, and the Patriots now rank 12th in sacks allowed per pass play. Patriots 31, Dolphins 17.