FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quick-hit thoughts and notes on the New England Patriots and from around the NFL:
1. Tom Brady is naturally pulling for the Boston Red Sox in the Major League Baseball playoffs, but he revealed during his weekly Westwood One interview with Jim Gray that he has another rooting interest: He’s a Milwaukee Brewers fan.
How did Brady become a card-carrying member of the “Brew Crew”?
As it turns out, he was introduced to Brewers owner Mark Attanasio a few years ago through Gray, who goes way back with Attanasio.
The Brady-Attanasio connection has grown to the point that Attanasio’s son, Mike, who attended college at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been a guest of Brady’s at Patriots games and at training camp. Most recently, when Brady was part of the annual UCLA Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles in May, he had lunch with Attanasio.
Brady can comfortably balance his split loyalties at this point -- with the Red Sox in the American League and Brewers in the National League -- but what happens if they meet in the World Series?
That’s a fun scenario to consider as Brady, whose laser focus on the football season is well-documented, also keeps his eyes on the baseball playoffs.
2. Did you know: The Patriots have played in back-to-back prime-time games 12 times in team history, but this is the first time they have had two sets of back-to-back prime-time games in the same season (Oct. 4/Colts and Oct. 14/Chiefs; and then Oct. 29/Bills and Nov. 4/Packers).
3. If the Patriots’ road game against the Bears on Sunday, Oct. 21 (CBS) is going to be moved out of its 1 p.m. ET spot to either 4:25 p.m. or 8:20 p.m., the answer will come in the next few days. When the league decides to move a game, it must make the decision no later than 12 days prior to the kickoff. CBS has Cowboys at Redskins in the 4:25 p.m. slot, which is also a big game for the network. Meanwhile, it would be tough to give the Patriots a fifth straight prime-time game, but with the Rams-49ers game currently in the Sunday slot on NBC, one wonders if the network and NFL might be looking for a switch because of the lack of appeal without injured quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Bengals-Chiefs, Panthers-Eagles and Saints-Ravens are three other games that caught my eye that week.
4. Some more context on the recovery for promising Patriots rookie linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley, who was placed on injured reserve Sept. 26: I’m told his injury, which occurred late in the team’s loss to the Lions on Sept. 23, is a torn biceps. He already has undergone surgery and has been around the team since, staying involved as he also focuses on his recovery and rehabilitation.
5. Next Sunday night’s Chiefs-Patriots game is one of the marquee games on the schedule, and here is a quick primer on Kansas City (4-0) heading into its game Sunday at home against Jacksonville:
The Chiefs boast the No. 1 scoring offense (36.3 points per game) through the first quarter of the season, but defensively, no team has given up more first downs or is allowing more yards per rush (5.7 average).
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes leads the league with 14 touchdown passes, which is tied for the second most through a team’s first four games of a season in NFL history. I asked Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores what stood out to him about Mahomes. "One word would be 'dynamic,'" he responded.
Offensive lineman Jordan Devey, who was with the Patriots in 2013-14, is the lone player with ties to New England on Kansas City's roster. He is a backup on the interior.
6. Patriots backup tight end Dwayne Allen has struggled to emerge as a consistent pass-catching option for Brady -- he has one catch for minus-4 yards through five games -- but coach Bill Belichick places a high value on his blocking and team-first approach. As for Allen’s staying power on the roster, Belichick said on sports radio WEEI last week: “Collectively, [those in the media] were saying the same thing last year and he made some big catches -- and some hard catches -- around midseason. ... I’m sure his opportunities will come and I’m sure he’ll be ready for them, because that’s the way he approaches it, that’s the way he practices and works.”
7. One of my favorite parts of “Willie McGinest: A Football Life” -- which debuted on NFL Network on Friday and began with behind-the-scenes footage of McGinest recently addressing the full Patriots squad in a meeting -- was the story of how Bill Parcells and the Patriots scooped Jerry Jones and the Cowboys to select him fourth overall in 1994. The draft-room footage that started in New England (with owner Robert Kraft sitting next to Parcells) and then went to Dallas (where Jones put his head on the table after hearing of the Patriots’ pick) showed a notable contrast in reactions that captured how badly the Cowboys wanted McGinest.
8. A nugget from Brady’s weekly interview on Westwood One Radio to file away: “We probably won’t know what kind of team we are until six games from now, after the 10th week.” That’s right after a Nov. 11 game in Tennessee, and it is consistent with something Brady has said in the past: The real football season begins after Thanksgiving. The idea, as always, is for the team to not dig so big of a hole that it can’t recover. So far, so good for the Patriots, who responded to some early turbulence and are well-positioned with a 3-2 record.
9. Patriots special-teams captain Matthew Slater, who is again one of the team’s player representatives, has annually shared his opinion that Thursday night games need to be looked at further from a standpoint of player health and safety, and he did it again last week, leading into Thursday’s home game against the Colts. Slater isn’t usually one to stray from the team’s week-to-week focus on games when speaking with reporters, but this is the one topic on which he has decisively used his platform to express his concern.
10. The Patriots went extremely light at running back in Thursday’s game, with just Sony Michel and James White on the 53-man roster after releasing Kenjon Barner to make room for receiver Julian Edelman. That obviously is a situation that bears watching in the days to come, because the team can’t expect to get by with just two running backs. Barner could always be brought back, Mike Gillislee could be an option after losing his roster spot in New Orleans with Mark Ingram returning, and undrafted rookie Ralph Webb remains on the practice squad.