Upon Further Review: Patriots Week 16

December, 23, 2013
12/23/13
10:00
AM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A review of four hot issues following the New England Patriots' 41-7 win over the Baltimore Ravens:

Vereen
S. Vereen
Vereen & McCourty the latest injured players: The Patriots have been ravaged by injuries, and running back Shane Vereen (groin) and safety Devin McCourty (head/likely concussion) didn't finish the game. Add starting left tackle Nate Solder (concussion), dime linebacker Dane Fletcher (groin), and rookie receivers Josh Boyce (ankle) and Kenbrell Thompkins (hip) -- all of whom missed Sunday's game -- and the list just keeps on growing.

First-round playoff bye within reach: Having clinched a playoff berth, now the Patriots can focus on playoff seeding. If they beat the Bills on Sunday, they will earn a first-round playoff bye, most likely as a No. 2 seed. The only way they get the No. 1 is if they win and the Broncos lose on the road against the Raiders. That seems unlikely.

Ridley's re-entry into the offense: Since he was a healthy scratch Dec. 1 against the Texans, running back Stevan Ridley has been carefully integrated into the mix. Ridley has played 17, 13 and 21 snaps in those games, as LeGarrette Blount has taken over as the lead back. Blount has been impressive. Both Blount and Ridley had some ball-security struggles earlier this season, but no footballs have been on the ground over the past four games.

Time to turn to Logan Ryan at CB? The rookie cornerback turned in a solid performance in a starting role against the Ravens, with two interceptions and a fourth-down stop. His expanded opportunity came with second-year cornerback Alfonzo Dennard limited with an injury. Now the question is whether Ryan, the third-round pick from Rutgers, should stay in the role in the coming weeks.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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