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.
Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary ran the ball 21 times in a Week 15 win, piling up 87 yards. He also caught two passes, but gained just two yards total. Singletary was solid in this one but didn't make any huge plays against a tough Steelers Defense. He was certainly the featured back though, out-touching Frank Gore 23-10. He'll have a tough matchup against the stout Patriots run defense next week on Saturday.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen was responsible for two touchdowns in Week 15 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He completed 13 of his 25 pass attempts for 139 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He also ran the ball seven times for 28 yards and a touchdown on the ground. His passing score came on a 14-yard pass to Tyler Kroft and his rushing score came on a one-yard scamper. Allen led his team to a win against a tough Steelers Defense, but it certainly wasn't his best fantasy performance of the season.
Buffalo Bills running back Frank Gore ran the ball 10 times in a Week 15 win, gaining just 15 yards total. Gore was thoroughly out-touched and out-played by Devin Singletary, who gained 89 total yards on 23 touches. It'll be an even tougher matchup next week against the New England Patriots, where Gore shouldn't be much of a fantasy consideration.
Minnesota Vikings running back Mike Boone had a great game in Week 15's blowout win over the Los Angeles Chargers. The undrafted second-year back out of Cincinnati rushed 13 times for 56 yards and two touchdowns in the win, finding the end zone for the first time in his young career. Boone worked as the lead back in the second half with starter Dalvin Cook (shoulder) out, and he looked just as explosive as he did when he dominated in the preseason this year. Cook was ruled out very quickly and Alexander Mattison (ankle) could be looking at an extended absence, as evidenced by the Vikings signing Tony Brooks-James to their practice squad last Wednesday. Boone is a priority pickup with Cook and Mattison ailing as he would be squarely on the RB2 radar in Week 16 if they are both ruled out. Stay tuned for updates on all three Vikings' backs.
The Minnesota Vikings Defense stepped up in a big way in Week 15's 39-10 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. They tallied a whopping seven takeaways (three interceptions and four fumble recoveries), three sacks, and a touchdown as the Chargers looked flustered all game long. The most notable play was Danielle Hunter's strip-sack and forced fumble that was scooped by Ifeadi Odenigbo and returned 56 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. The defense took control of this game from the get-go, but the secondary continued its stretch of subpar play and Xavier Rhodes was replaced by Mike Hughes for a good portion of the game. The Vikings Defense will be a risky option in Week 16's home matchup with the Green Bay Packers.
Minnesota Vikings kicker Dan Bailey had himself a game in Week 15, going 4-for-4 on field goals attempts and knocking in three extra points in a 39-10 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. Bailey hit from 26, 27, 38, and 44 yards and is now sitting at an impressive 92% field goal percentage for the season. Bailey is a recommended start in Week 16's home matchup against the rival Green Bay Packers.
Oakland Raiders WR Tyrell Williams caught two of his three targets for 45 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown, in a 20-16 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 15.
Fantasy Spin: After scoring in five consecutive games to open the year, Williams had gone six straight games without a touchdown prior to the Week 15 contests. He's an all-or-nothing, touchdown-dependent flex option.
Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. caught two of three targets for eight yards and a touchdown in Week 15's convincing win over the Los Angeles Chargers. His score was a one-yarder off of play-action to open up the game's scoring in the first quarter. It was the second touchdown of the promising rookie's career, with the first coming back in Week 11. That being said, Smith Jr. is still working behind Kyle Rudolph and does not receive enough volume to be in consideration for fantasy rosters heading into Week 16 against the Green Bay Packers.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Chris Conley caught four of his eight targets for 49 yards and two touchdowns in a 20-16 win over the Oakland Raiders in Week 15.
Fantasy Spin: Conley has been good for a handful of grabs and around 50 yards most weeks, but he entered the game with just two touchdowns. At best, he's a risky flex option.
Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey rushed 19 times for 87 yards and two touchdowns in Week 15 against the Seattle Seahawks. He also added eight grabs for 88 yards on 10 targets.
Fantasy Spin: McCaffrey continues to put up amazing numbers, win or lose. He will be in the conversation for No. 1 overall fantasy pick heading into the 2020 season. The Panthers travel to meet the Colts in Week 16.
Carolina Panthers WR D.J. Moore finished with eight catches for 113 yards on 12 targets in Week 15 against the Seattle Seahawks.
Fantasy Spin: That's four 100-yard games in the past seven outings, and at least 75 yards in all seven during the span. He is a legit WR2 in PPR formats, and a nice WR3 or flex option in standard play. The Panthers travel to meet the Colts in Week 16.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins completed 19-of-25 for 207 yards and a touchdown in a dominating Week 15 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. He also added three rushes for 14 yards. He did toss an interception, but the blame for that one lays squarely on backup running back Ameer Abdullah. Cousins was very efficient again this week, but he simply didn't need to put up big fantasy numbers as the Vikings held a two-possession lead and heavily emphasized the ground game for most of the second half. His lone touchdown pass came on a one-yarder to Irv Smith Jr. to open up the game. Cousins will be on the low-end QB1 radar for Week 16's home matchup against the Green Bay Packers.
The Washington Redskins Defense ended a three-game streak of playing admirably in Sunday's loss to the Eagles. Carson Wentz launched three touchdowns through the air, while Miles Sanders racked up 172 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns of his own. The Redskins didn't help their bottom line with turnovers and sacks the way they have been of late, getting to Wentz just twice and recovering one forced fumble. The end result was 31 points surrendered defensively and not enough complementary stats to account for those points in fantasy lineups. Washington's defense will have a chance to bounce back against the Giants at home next week.
Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph caught all three of his targets for 48 yards in Week 15's 39-10 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. Rudolph finished second in targets and receiving yardage on the team this week as he surprisingly remained relevant despite Adam Thielen's return. Rookie Irv Smith Jr. vultured a one-yard touchdown in the first quarter, but Rudolph's continued involvement in the offense is definitely encouraging. Continue to view him as a touchdown-dependent TE2 heading into Week 16 against the Green Bay Packers.
Seattle Seahawks WR Josh Gordon had one grab for 58 yards on his only target in Week 15 against the Carolina Panthers and he also threw a pass and was picked off.
Fantasy Spin: Gordon is a big-play receiver capable of being a fantasy contributor. He just still isn't 100 percent part of the offense yet. Avoid him outside of deeper fantasy leagues in Week 16 against the Cardinals.
Jacksonville Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette rushed 15 times for 42 yards and caught five of his seven targets for 31 yards in a 20-16 win over the Oakland Raiders in Week 15.
Fantasy Spin: Fournette has been held to 50 rushing yards or less in three straight games, but fortunately for fantasy owners, his increased role in the passing game this year has allowed him to salvage decent point totals more often than not. At worst, he should be a volume-based RB2.
Seattle Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner totaled 10 tackles with two passes defensed in Week 15 against the Carolina Panthers.
Carolina Panthers LB Luke Kuechly totaled 17 tackles with two quarterback hits in Week 15 against the Seattle Seahawks.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Kelvin Harmon was largely absent from his team's offensive attack for the second week in a row on Sunday. Harmon caught two passes on three targets and accumulated just 22 total yards in a loss to the Eagles. This is a discouraging trend for Harmon after he appeared to be carving out a spot in the pecking order in late November and early December. In any case, the fantasy season is at the point where owners just have to trust what their eyes are telling them. Harmon has dropped too far off the map to be considered a realistically safe bet in the late stages of the fantasy playoffs.
Seattle Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett posted eight receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown in Week 14 against the Carolina Panthers on a team-high nine targets.
Fantasy Spin: Lockett had been banged up recently, battling a shin contusion, but he is back just in time for fantasy owners. The Seahawks face the Arizona Cardinals in Week 16.