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FFL: Playoff Week 1 | NFL: Week 15

Losing to Eagles still bugs Patriots’ Brady, motivated him

Thu Nov 14 11:35am ET
By ROB MAADDI
AP Pro Football Writer

Players: Tom Brady, Nick Foles, Carson Wentz, Jordan Howard, N'Keal Harry, Miles Sanders

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.

HISTORIC COMPARISON

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.''

ROOKIE WATCH

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 WEAKNESS

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.

THE STRENGTH

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.

REINFORCEMENTS

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.

Player Notes
Mark Andrews Dec 11 2:40pm ET

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (quadriceps) and tight end Mark Andrews (knee) are both listed as questionable for Week 15 against the Jets on Thursday night. Jackson practiced in full on Wednesday and is fully expected to play. If you own Jackson, you're not benching him whatsoever in a great matchup. Andrews is obviously much riskier this week as a strong TE1 after his injury in Week 14, but he's a must-start fantasy tight end if he's playing. If he's out, Hayden Hurst and Nick Boyle should share tight end duties, with Hurst, who had a big game in Week 14, being the better streamer with TE1 upside.

From RotoBaller

Josh Jacobs Dec 11 2:30pm ET

Oakland Raiders rookie running back Josh Jacobs (shoulder), who sat out in Week 14 against the Titans, had positive results from his MRI exam and is expected to return to action in Week 15 against the Jaguars, according to sources. Barring a setback this week, Jacobs should only have a one-week absence. Jacobs has been one of the most impressive running backs in the NFL in 2019, let alone among rookies. Fantasy owners might've been eliminated from the first round of the playoffs without him last Sunday, but they should get him back if they were able to advance. Against a Jacksonville team that has been getting destroyed on the ground in recent weeks, Jacobs will return to high-end RB1 status if he's active. Deandre Washington and Jalen Richard will go back to backup duties.

From RotoBaller

Greg Olsen Dec 11 1:33pm ET

Carolina Panthers TE Greg Olsen (concussion) took part in individual drills Wednesday, Dec. 11, which was a moderate surprise to beat writer Joe Person.

Fantasy Spin: Olsen has a great matchup against the Seattle Seahawks this week if he's able to go. Olsen will be a low-end TE1 option in PPR leagues.

From TheHuddle

T Y Hilton Dec 11 1:33pm ET

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (calf) said the team's playoff eligibility won't be a factor on if he returns this season. 'I would never quit on my team,' Hilton said. 'I signed up for 16 games. Some guys may shut it down and call it quits. I don't do that.'

Fantasy Spin: We still view him on the wrong side of questionable to return this season. If he's able to, he'd be a WR2 option. Zach Pascal should be a WR3 in the interim.

From TheHuddle

Golden Tate Dec 11 1:23pm ET

New York Giants TE Golden Tate (foot) was limited in practice Wednesday, Dec. 11.

Fantasy Spin: Tate had just one catch for 11 yards with Eli Manning last week, but he has a great matchup against the Miami Dolphins if he can go this week. He'd be a high-end WR3.

From TheHuddle

Evan Engram Dec 11 1:13pm ET

New York Giants TE Evan Engram (foot) was limited in practice Wednesday, Dec. 11.

Fantasy Spin: He was limited in practice last week as well, and he didn't play. Rhett Ellison (concussion) was also limited, and this situation remains in flux. If Engram goes, he's a midrange TE1. If he doesn't, Kaden Smith could be worth streaming again.

From TheHuddle

Jason Witten Dec 11 1:00pm ET

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is a floor-play only for a Week 15 contest against the Los Angeles Rams. Witten has seen plenty of targets lately, with seven in Week 14 and right in Week 13, but he's only come up with 11 catches for 79 yards total in both games. He's one of the least likely players in fantasy football to put up a goose egg in your lineup, but he's also very unlikely to put up a game-changing score, even in PPR. He's a tight end to play when you only need to reach a floor in your matchup, otherwise, even in a position as shallow as tight end, there are likely higher upside options on the waiver wire.

From RotoBaller

Blake Jarwin Dec 11 1:00pm ET

Dallas Cowboys tight end Blake Jarwin is not a strong fantasy option for Week 15 despite a strong performance in Week 14. Jarwin caught six passes for 50 yards against the Bears last week, but it was the first time this season he'd even been targeted more than four times. He's likely to sink back into the two-or-three targets per game life this week against the Los Angeles Rams and makes for nothing more than a dart-throw tight end option.

From RotoBaller

Kai Forbath Dec 11 1:00pm ET

Dallas Cowboys brand new kicker Kai Forbath is a decent option at kicker for Week 15 fantasy lineups. Forbath was signed to replace Brett Maher, who was released by the Cowboys earlier this week. Forbath has made just under 86 percent of his field goal tries in his career and made his only attempt this year as a member of the Patriots. He did miss one of his two extra points, though. Most leagues will have higher-upside guys available on the waiver wire, but Forbath is fine as a fill-in kicker if needed.

From RotoBaller

Dallas Cowboys Dec 11 1:00pm ET

The Dallas Cowboys Defense is a middling option at best in a Week 15 game against the Los Angeles Rams. The Cowboys defense has been generally disappointing this season, and this week they take on a Rams offense that looked like it finally figured things out in Week 14. There are likely better options on the waiver wire in most leagues, especially given this week's matchups.

From RotoBaller

Amari Cooper Dec 11 12:50pm ET

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper is a solid choice in any Week 15 fantasy lineup. Cooper looked a bit slow in Week 14 due to his previous injuries, but he'll have had 10 days to heal up even more before the Cowboys take on the Rams on Sunday afternoon. With the Cowboys offense struggling somewhat of late and Jalen Ramsey likely attached to Cooper all day, Cooper's usual upside is a bit limited, making him more of a high-end WR2 this week.

From RotoBaller

Michael Gallup Dec 11 12:50pm ET

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup is a strong WR2 option for a Week 15 game against the Los Angeles Rams. With Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey likely shadowing Amari Cooper in this one, Gallup could be more of the first look for quarterback Dak Prescott than usual. Coming off a game in which he led the Cowboys in receiving with 109 yards, Gallup is a strong WR2 option with upside for Week 15.

From RotoBaller

Randall Cobb Dec 11 12:50pm ET

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Randall Cobb had a nice flash in the pan moment a few weeks ago, but it looks like he's settled back into fantasy irrelevance in most formats. Cobb saw at least seven targets for four games in a row from Week 9 to Week 12, but saw just eight balls thrown his way in Weeks 13 and 14 combined. That much smaller target share will likely continue in Week 15 against the Los Angeles Rams. Cobb is nothing more than a desperation dart-throw type wide receiver and is not a recommended starter in most formats.

From RotoBaller

Dak Prescott Dec 11 12:40pm ET

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is expected to play in Week 15 and has a decent matchup against the Los Angeles Rams. Prescott suffered a sprained left hand and an injured index finger on his throwing hand in Week 14's Thursday night loss to the Chicago Bears. With 10 days to rest, Prescott should be good to go against the Rams. Still, he's been struggling along with the whole Dallas offense of late and a possible flare up of the injuries won't help. Prescott hasn't been great on the field lately, but he's still been producing solid fantasy numbers. He's a low-end QB1 for Week 15.

From RotoBaller

Ezekiel Elliott Dec 11 12:40pm ET

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott should be a solid fantasy contributor in a Week 15 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams. Elliott scored twice in Week 14 despite the Cowboys inexplicably going away from the running game for long stretches. Hopefully, coach Jason Garrett feeds his star running back in this one. Elliott comes in as a top-half RB1 for this matchup.

From RotoBaller

Tony Pollard Dec 11 12:40pm ET

Dallas Cowboys rookie running back Tony Pollard should return from an ankle injury that kept him out of Week 14, but shouldn't be in any fantasy lineups. Pollard will be strictly a backup to Ezekiel Elliott in what is expected to be a close game. Elliott should be on the field for almost every snap, leaving Pollard to only reach relevance if the starter were to get injured. Most leagues will have someone with a clearer path to touches on the waiver wire. Pollard remains no more than a handcuff for Elliott owners.

From RotoBaller

Jake Elliott Dec 11 12:30pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott is a decent kicking option in a Week 15 game against Washington. The Eagles shouldn't have too much difficulty scoring on a weak Washington defense, but Elliott does seem to be in a bit of a slump lately. After starting the season off with 12 perfect weeks without a missed field goal, Elliott has missed two of his last six tries. He's still a K1, and should be fine in a fantasy lineup this week.

From RotoBaller

Philadelphia Eagles Dec 11 12:30pm ET

The Philadelphia Eagles Defense have an excellent matchup in Week 15 against Washington. While the Eagles looked rough against the Miami Dolphins in Week 13 and came out slumping in the first half of Week 14 against the New York Giants, they were able to put it together and play well for the second half of Monday's win. The Eagles defense is a little risky because they have shown the capacity to fall apart against lesser competition, but the Washington offense is last in the NFL in scoring and allows the fifth most points to opposing fantasy defenses. The risk should be worth the reward this week.

From RotoBaller

Dallas Goedert Dec 11 12:10pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert is a strong option for Week 15 fantasy lineups. Going up against an easy Washington defense, Goedert has the added benefit of working as one of the top receiving options for Carson Wentz. Dealing with a decimated wide receiver corps, the Eagles will almost certainly rely on their running backs and tight ends to move the ball in this matchup. Goedert could end up behind only Zach Ertz in passing game pecking order. He's a mid-range TE1 with touchdown upside.

From RotoBaller

Odell Beckham Jr. Dec 11 12:03pm ET

Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. (groin) was limited in practice Wednesday, Dec. 11.

Fantasy Spin: OBJ has really struggled the last few weeks, but he's the kind of talent you need in there as at least a WR2 against the Arizona Cardinals.

From TheHuddle