Patriots vs 49ers [Preview]
The New England Patriots are planning a tribute for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary Schoo tragedy. In addition to wearing their own decal, the Patriots will send up 26 flares, one at a time, during a moment of silence at Gillette Stadium prior to Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers. The flares represent an individual memorial symbol for each person who lost their life on Friday morning in Newtown, Conn.
The NFL has requested each home team observe a moment of silent reflection prior to this weekend's games.
San Francisco 49ers at New England Patriots — 8:20 P.M.
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.
Spread: Patriots by 3
Forecast: Temperatures in the 30s, chance of rain
Records: Patriots (10-3, AFC East 5-0); 49ers (9-3-1, NFC West 2-1-1)
Past results: Two most recent regular-season meetings -- Oct. 5, 2008: Patriots 30, 49ers 21. Jan. 2, 2005: Patriots 21, 49ers 7 Series record: San Francisco leads the series, 7-4.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been steady since taking over for Alex Smith for San Francisco. The 49ers may use running back Frank Gore in an effort to control time of possession and keep the potent Patriots offense off the field. The Patriots defense has forced a league-high 27 fumbles and intercepted 15 passes. Quarterback Tom Brady has been playing like an MVP again for New England. He has 11 touchdowns and one interception over the past four games. The 49ers have the NFC's top-ranked pass defense and linebacker Aldon Smith leads the league with 19.5 sacks. San Francisco will clinch a playoff spot with a win; the 49ers will clinch the NFC West title with a victory and a Seahawks' loss.
CB Aqib Talib (hip) and Rob Gronkowski (forearm) headline the list of injuries this week. DT Kyle Love also missed a practice and was limited for the birth of his child. He'll likely play Sunday. Gronkowski did practice this week but is not expected to play.