Thu Nov 14 11:35am ET
By ROB MAADDI
AP Pro Football Writer
In this Feb. 4, 2018, file photo, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady sits on the field after fumbling against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 52 football game, in Minneapolis. The Eagles upset the Patriots 41-33. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Losing to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl two years ago still bugs Tom Brady, even though the New England Patriots rebounded to win their sixth title last season.
''That's a lot of mental scar tissue from that year,'' Brady said in his weekly radio appearance on WEEI in Boston. ''That was a tough game. In a lot of ways, we learned from that year and we came back stronger the next year. We won the Super Bowl in '18. I think everything is a matter of perspective and when you play in that game and you play great teams, you're not going to win them all.
''This is not the Harlem Globetrotters vs. the Washington Generals. This is all about tough competition against the best teams. They deserved it that year, and now a couple years later we get a chance to play the organization again. We've had a lot changes, they've had a lot of changes. It's totally different circumstances. Huge game for us. Big game for them. The better team is going to win.''
The Eagles (5-4) meet the Patriots (8-1) on Sunday for the first time since backup quarterback Nick Foles led Philadelphia to a 41-33 victory on Feb. 4, 2018, to capture the franchise's first championship since 1960.
Foles is in Jacksonville now, so the Patriots will get their first chance to see Carson Wentz. He was recovering from knee surgery and watched Foles' MVP performance against New England from the sideline.
''He can do it all - good arm, athletic, can extend plays, tough kid, can run if he needs to, can make all the throws, get the ball down the field, gets the ball to all his receivers, uses the backs, tight ends and receivers based on who is open, his route progression,'' Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. ''He's good at reading defenses. They give him a lot of responsibility at the line of scrimmage to change plays or adjust plays. There's some checking going on there and so forth. So, looks like he's pretty good at everything, a pretty accomplished guy.''
The Eagles have won two in a row after consecutive lopsided losses and are tied with Dallas for first place in the NFC East. The Patriots are coming off their first loss, 37-20 in Baltimore.
Both teams had a bye so they're well-rested and some of the players who've been out are getting healthier.
With rankings at or near the top of the NFL in several defensive categories, the Patriots have drawn comparisons to the 2000 Ravens' defense.
That Baltimore unit, led by future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis, held opponents to a single-season record-low 10.3 points per game. The Ravens went on to win the Super Bowl over the Giants that season.
The Patriots have allowed only 10.9 points per game through nine games, while allowing the fewest yards per game (249.3). They're first in interceptions (19), second in passing yards allowed (150.2) and fourth in sacks (32).
Eagles coach Doug Pederson started at quarterback for the Browns the second time they faced the Ravens that season and suffered cracked ribs in a 44-7 loss. He said he sees parallels between the two defenses.
''I think the biggest thing that jumps out to you right now, the glaring thing, is the turnover ratio,'' Pederson said. ''The fact that they've got six defensive scores this season, the interceptions, the fumbles they're causing - it's a brand of defense where they just smother you. They just corral you. They're OK with giving you 2, 3, 4 yards, but they're right on top of you.''
Patriots rookie receiver N'Keal Harry is again available to make his NFL debut after being activated off injured reserve before the loss to Baltimore.
Harry, who was sidelined with a preseason ankle injury, has been practicing without restriction since being activated.
The 32nd overall pick in the draft became the first receiver selected by the Patriots in the first round since they chose Terry Glenn seventh overall in 1996. Harry is the first receiver taken in the first round under Belichick.
''We'll activate the players that we feel give us the best chance to compete against the Eagles,'' Belichick said about whether Harry will play.
The Patriots have allowed at least 135 yards rushing in four of their last six games, including 210 to the Ravens. Their vaunted defense has one flaw, susceptibility against the run. The Eagles' biggest strength is running the ball. Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders have combined for 861 yards rushing and seven touchdowns.
Throwing the ball against New England is a tough task. The defense has allowed just three touchdown passes while making 19 interceptions. Wentz has only thrown four picks this season, but the Patriots have had four in a game three times already.
Nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters could return for the Eagles after missing time with a knee injury. Rookie first-round pick Andre Dillard played well in Peters' absence.
San Francisco 49ers rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel has lived up to his second-round billing in recent weeks and remains a steady WR3 in Week 15 against the Atlanta Falcons. Over his last five contests, Samuel has either surpassed 100 scrimmage yards or scored a touchdown, becoming an instrumental piece of the offense. Even with veteran wideout Emmanuel Sanders reassuming No. 1 receiver status, Samuel has continued finding ways to make an impact. Against an Atlanta Falcons Defense ranked 26th in DVOA, there should be ample opportunities for all Niners playmakers.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders played his best game in over a month last Sunday and is a WR3 in Week 15 against the Atlanta Falcons. After being limited with a rib injury, Sanders looked healthy en route to 157 receiving yards and two touchdowns (one passing) in Week 14. Against a Falcons Defense ranked 26th in pass DVOA, Sanders is well-positioned to capitalize as the Niners top receiver. Even with rookie wideout Deebo Samuel ascending as a big-play talent, Sanders veteran savviness and ability to move the chains make his floor palatable in any fantasy format.
New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook (concussion) was limited in practice on Thursday. Cook caught both of his targets in Week 14 against the 49ers for 64 yards and two touchdowns, but he also suffered a head injury that makes him questionable for Monday night against the Colts. The fact that he's already practicing is a good sign, but we'll have to wait and see if he clears the league's concussion protocol this weekend. Until them, consider him a low-end TE1 for Week 15 in the second week of the fantasy playoffs. If he's not given the green light, Josh Hill could be on the TE2 streaming radar against Indianapolis.
San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman appears to be the odd man out in the Niners backfield. With Raheem Mostert assuming control and Matt Breida running well in relief, Coleman is a tough sell as a flex play in Week 15 against the Atlanta Falcons. Since his four-touchdown explosion in Week 8, Coleman has been pedestrian, registering under 75 yards in each contest and finding the end zone just once. After playing just 11 snaps in Week 14, Coleman will be a high-risk fantasy option in a critical playoff week, even in a favorable matchup.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (elbow) and rookie wide receiver N'Keal Harry (hip) are both practicing in full on Thursday ahead of Week 15 against the Bengals. Both players should be fine to play in an excellent bounce-back spot against the one-win Bengals this Sunday. Brady has been a disappointment in the second half of the season, but he's on the QB1 radar this weekend in the second round of the fantasy playoffs. While Harry has a great matchup, he's caught only five passes on 10 targets for 40 yards and a touchdown in his four games in his rookie season. It's really hard to trust anyone outside of Julian Edelman in this passing offense.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has been scorching lately and could flirt with QB1 status in Week 15 against the Atlanta Falcons. After game managing to start the year, Jimmy G has three four-touchdown games in his past six contests and has registered a QB rating over 110 in six of seven. While hes endured turnover issues this season, Garoppolo has grown increasingly comfortable taking an assertive role in the offense. Against a Falcons pass defense ranked 26th in DVOA, Garoppolo will look to parlay a dangerous complement of weapons into another top-10 fantasy performance.
San Francisco 49ers running back Matt Breida ran well in his return from injury in Week 14 (9.0 YPC) but played just 12 snaps. With Raheem Mostert taking charge of the backfield, Breida and Tevin Coleman will battle for touches, rendering both risky flex options. Averaging a healthy 5.2 yards per tote this year, Breida has outplayed Coleman, giving him the slight edge in change-of-pace duties against a beatable Falcons rush defense. However, Breida has been a nonfactor in the red zone and his uncertain opportunity share makes him a relatively low-ceiling play.
Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku (knee) was a full participant in practice on Thursday after being limited on Wednesday. Njoku returned in Week 14 from Injured Reserve and posted just one catch for four yards in the win over the Bengals. The 23-year-old has plenty of upside, but fantasy owners will be worried that he'll have his snaps limited for the second straight game. The Cardinals Defense is the worst team at defending the position, though, so Njoku will have boom-or-bust appeal as a TE2 this Sunday.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle cemented his status as a gridiron beast in Week 14 by securing the Niners victory with a highlight-reel catch-and rumble. Hell return to his premium TE1 status in Week 15 against the Atlanta Falcons. Despite missing two games with a broken ankle, Kittle has heated up in the second half, amassing 292 yards and three touchdowns since Week 10. The Niners draw a cushy matchup against a Falcons Defense ranked 26th in pass DVOA, setting up Kittle favorably for an encore performance. In a critical fantasy weekend, Kittle managers should feel confident having the All-Pro on their roster.
Philadelphia Eagles WR Nelson Agholor (knee), DE Derek Barnett (ankle) and OT Lane Johnson (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Dec. 12. RB Jordan Howard (shoulder) and CB Jalen Mills (elbow) were limited. LB Kamu Grugier-Hill (concussion) practiced in full.
Tennessee Titans WR Adam Humphries (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Dec. 12.
Fantasy Spin: It appears like Humphries will miss another game because of the injury, so he should be avoided in all fantasy leagues.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne has emerged lately as a red zone threat. The third-year pro has collected five spikes in his last six games, operating as the teams primary third receiver. With Marquise Goodwin (foot, knee) on injured reserve, Bournes 50 percent snap share should remain steady in Week 15 against the Atlanta Falcons, even with sophomore disappointment Dante Pettis (knee) back in the mix. While his touchdown prowess is tough to ignore, Bourne hasnt eclipsed four catches or 45 yards during his scoring run, rendering him a volatile WR5.
Updating a previous report, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee), who was limited in practice on Thursday, is still expected to play in Week 15 against the Bills on Sunday night, barring any future setbacks. Smith-Schuster practiced in full on Wednesday, so the limited practice was initially seen as a troubling setback. He's been out since Nov. 14, though, and is more of a weak WR4 choice for fantasy owners with Devlin Hodges throwing him passes in an extremely tough matchup. Avoiding all Pittsburgh pass-catchers is probably the best strategy in the fantasy playoffs. James Washington's upside takes the biggest hit with Smith-Schuster expected back.
Tennessee Titans LB Daren Bates (shoulder), RB Derrick Henry (hamstring), WR Adam Humphries (ankle) and CB Adoree' Jackson (foot) did not participate in practice Thursday, Dec. 12. DT Jurrell Casey (knee) was limited. C Ben Jones (thumb), CB LeShaun Sims (ankle) and S Kenny Vaccaro (concussion) practiced in full.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans (hamstring) and OT Donovan Smith (ankle, knee) did not practice Thursday, Dec. 12. LB Anthony Nelson (hamstring), LB Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) and QB Jameis Winston (thumb, knee) were limited. OG Alex Cappa (elbow), OT Demar Dotson (non-injury), WR Scott Miller (hamstring) and DL Beau Allen (ankle) practiced in full.
Updating a previous report, Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (calf) was officially limited during practice Thursday, Dec. 12.
Fantasy Spin: Hilton appears to have a chance to play in Week 15 but will be a risky option since the Colts play on Monday Night Football. Fantasy players should monitor the situation over the next few days to have a better idea of Hilton's status.
Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry (hamstring) did not participate in practice Thursday, Dec. 12.
Fantasy Spin: Henry is optimistic about his availability for Week 15, but fantasy players will need to keep an eye on the situation. He is a must-start option in all fantasy leagues if he is active for the game.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Scott Miller (hamstring) got in a full practice on Thursday after being limited on Wednesday. He looks to be on track to return for Week 15 in a mouthwatering matchup against the Lions. There is increased opportunity to produce as well with Mike Evans shut down for the rest of the year. Miller has only 10 catches on the year for 151 yards and no touchdowns, so he'd still be a lottery ticket for desperate fantasy owners in redraft leagues. Behind Chris Godwin, it will be Miller, Breshad Perriman and Justin Watson fighting for targets from quarterback Jameis Winston.
Detroit Lions OG Joe Dahl (back, knee), LB Jarrad Davis (ankle, knee), DT Damon Harrison (calf, knee, shoulder, rest), DT A'Shawn Robinson (shoulder), RB Bo Scarbrough (ribs), QB Matthew Stafford (hip, back) and OT Ricky Wagner (knee) did not participate in practice Thursday, Dec. 12. DE Austin Bryant (hip), LB Christian Jones (shoulder) and P Sam Martin (abdomen) were limited. CBs Jamal Agnew (ankle) and CB Rashaan Melvin (ribs) practiced in full.
Miami Dolphins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (shoulder) fully participated in practice Thursday, Dec. 12.
Fantasy Spin: Fitzpatrick was held without a touchdown pass last week but did post five touchdowns in the previous two games. He should have a favorable matchup this week but may only be a starting option in two-quarterback leagues.