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FFL: Playoff Week 1 | NFL: Week 14

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
Adam Thielen Dec 5 1:00pm ET

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (hamstring) is not practicing for the second straight day this week on Thursday. As of now, it's looking like Thielen can't be trusted to return in Week 14 against the Lions in a good matchup. Keep him locked to your bench unless something changes with his status on Friday. Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph and Olabisi Johnson should remain the top three passing targets if Thielen misses another contest. Diggs went for seven catches and 143 yards in the last matchup with Detroit, so he'll be a high-end WR2 regardless of whether Thielen plays. Rudolph has become a touchdown hog with Thielen out of the lineup.

From RotoBaller

San Francisco 49ers Dec 5 1:00pm ET

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees will face an extremely tough test in Week 14 against the San Francisco 49ers. Here's where the 49ers Defense ranks in several key categories: 45 sacks, second in the league, 134.2 pass yards allowed per game, first in the league and 29.4 pass attempts allowed, second in the league. Brees will potentially have to take on this fearsome pass rush without his starting offensive tackles, Andrus Peat (forearm) and Terron Armstead (ankle). Even in the offensive-friendly Superdome, Brees isn't dropping back to pass 40 times against this defense. Expect a more run-oriented gameplan from New Orleans, making Brees more of a QB2 this week.

From RotoBaller

Golden Tate Dec 5 1:00pm ET

Updating a previous report, New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate (concussion) is practicing in full on Thursday. Tate looks ready to return in Week 14 against the Eagles on Monday night after sitting out last week. With tight end Evan Engram (foot) also on track to make his return, Tate will be more of a PPR WR3 for fantasy owners with Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton also being involved. Quarterback Eli Manning is also expected to get the start under center with rookie Daniel Jones (ankle) not expected to play.

From RotoBaller

Gerald Everett Dec 5 12:50pm ET

Los Angeles Rams tight end Gerald Everett (knee) did not practice on Wednesday. Everett missed the game last week and is in danger of sitting again in Week 14 against the Seahawks on Sunday night. If that is the case, Tyler Higbee, who caught seven of eight targets for 107 yards and a touchdown in Week 13, would be a low-end TE1 option again for fantasy owners struggling at the position in the first week of the fantasy playoffs. Everett will need to at least get in a limited practice on Thursday or Friday to have a shot at returning to the field this weekend.

From RotoBaller

Adam Vinatieri Dec 5 12:50pm ET

Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri (knee) is on the injury report for Week 14 against the Buccaneers after his knee flared up in warmups this past Sunday. Vinatieri missed all three of his attempts from 55, 52 and 46 yards on Sunday, with two of them getting blocked. With Indy claiming kicker Chase McLaughlin off waivers on Wednesday, Vinatieri's status is very much up in the air for this Sunday. Vinatieri was limited in practice on Wednesday and isn't a good fantasy option, even if he's active this weekend. McLaughlin could become a worthy streaming consideration if he fills in at all for Vinatieri in the last four games.

From RotoBaller

Austin Ekeler Dec 5 12:50pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack (knee) is going on season-ending Injured Reserve on Thursday, according to a source. It's a big blow to Jacksonville's already weak run defense, especially with Chargers running backs Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler coming to town in Week 14. The 24-year-old Jack totaled 66 tackles, half a sack and one interception in his 11 games this year for Jacksonville. Fantasy owners shouldn't be using the Jaguars Defense in the first round of the fantasy playoffs despite facing a slumping Chargers offense.

From RotoBaller

Daniel Jones Dec 5 12:40pm ET

New York Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones (ankle) is not practicing on Thursday and is doing leg work in a boot with a trainer on the side. Dealing with a mild high ankle sprain, Jones is a long shot to suit up on Monday night against the Eagles and could also miss Week 15. It means that veteran Eli Manning will get another start in Week 14 against an old foe in the Eagles. Philly's secondary has plenty of concerns and was just roasted by the Dolphins. The G-Men could be getting both Evan Engram and Golden Tate back as well, but Manning remains a low-upside QB2 if he gets the start, as expected, on Monday.

From RotoBaller

Evan Engram Dec 5 12:40pm ET

New York Giants tight ends Evan Engram (foot) and Rhett Ellison (concussion) and wide receiver Golden Tate (concussion) are all practicing on Thursday. All three players have a chance of returning on Monday night against the Eagles, but they'll be tough calls in fantasy if they carry questionable designations and are game-time calls. Engram has disappointed this year because of injury, but he'll immediately return to being a TE1 if he's active. Tate's return would be good news for quarterback Eli Manning, who will likely start for Daniel Jones (ankle), but it will hurt Sterling Shepard's upside as a WR2 in a great matchup. Ellison would only be fantasy relevant if he starts and Engram sits. Philly's defense won't be as great of a streamer if New York gets all their offensive weapons back.

From RotoBaller

Jordan Howard Dec 5 12:30pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles running back Jordan Howard (shoulder) is still not cleared for contact on Thursday. It's looking like Howard is in line to miss his fourth straight game unless he can get in a full practice on Friday or Saturday. Rookie Miles Sanders had a season-high 22 touches in the Week 13 loss to the Dolphins and continues to be the primary ball-handler in the backfield with Howard sidelined. Although the Giants defensive front has been stingy to running backs of late, Sanders would have RB2 upside yet again this week if Howard misses another game. Making things even tougher for Howard owners is the fact that the game this week is on Monday night.

From RotoBaller

Tony Pollard Dec 5 12:30pm ET

Dallas Cowboys rookie running back Tony Pollard (ankle) missed practice Tuesday and Wednesday and is questionable for Thursday night against the Bears. Pollard has just 58 carries for 264 yards and one touchdown on the season on the ground as the backup to Ezekiel Elliott, so he doesn't really have any standalone value to begin with. He has added 12 catches for 90 yards and a touchdown this year. Consider him a game-time decision against Chicago, but he should be nowhere near fantasy lineups to begin with.

From RotoBaller

Antwaun Woods Dec 5 12:30pm ET

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch (neck) missed practice all week and has been ruled out for Thursday night against the Bears. Also out are safety Jeff Heath (shoulder) and defensive tackle Antwaun Woods (knee). Vander Esch is dealing with a pretty serious injury that could send him to Injured Reserve any day now. It's bad news for the interior of Dallas' defense, but Sean Lee is more than capable of picking up the slack if he can stay healthy himself. Vander Esch's absence is good news for the Bears ground game and running backs David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen on Thursday night.

From RotoBaller

Darrel Williams Dec 5 12:20pm ET

The Kansas City Chiefs placed running back Darrel Williams (hamstring) on season-ending Injured Reserve on Thursday. In corresponding moves, defensive back Alex Brown was added to the 53-man roster and wide receiver Gehrig Dieter was signed to the practice squad. With Williams done for the year and Damien Williams (ribs) questionable to play in Week 14 against the Patriots, the Chiefs backfield might be down to LeSean McCoy, Darwin Thompson and Spencer Ware this Sunday. The Chiefs have been limiting Shady's repetitions to keep him fresh for the stretch run, so Thompson could have a sizeable role this weekend if Williams doesn't play. Consider McCoy on the RB2/3 borderline, while Thompson could be a fantasy wild card in both DFS and season-long leagues.

From RotoBaller

JuJu Smith-Schuster Dec 5 12:20pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) is unlikely to return in Week 14 against the Cardinals. Fantasy owners that own Smith-Schuster shouldn't be counting on him for their lineups in the first week of the fantasy playoffs. He might not even be a lock to make it back in time for Week 15. The bottom line is that Smith-Schuster has been one of the biggest WR busts in fantasy this year due to injury and the fact that Ben Roethlisberger (elbow) was hurt early in the season. James Washington continues to be the top wideout in Smith-Schuster's absence, but he'll be a volatile WR3 with Devlin Hodges at quarterback.

From RotoBaller

New York Jets Dec 5 11:20am ET

The New York Jets Defense has a good matchup on paper in Week 14. However, fantasy owners may want to think twice before starting this unit in the playoffs. The Dolphins have been a punch line most of this season but have actually won three of their last five games, scoring 20-plus points in four of those games. The Miami offense has looked good led by former Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick who said he's feeling confident after hanging 37 points on the Eagles last week. The Jets defense was picked apart by Bengals QB Andy Dalton last week and now will likely be without stud safety Jamal Adams (ankle). The Jets could be used as a low-end starter, but other streaming defenses are likely to outperform Gang Green this week.

From RotoBaller

Demaryius Thomas Dec 5 11:10am ET

New York Jets wide receiver Demaryius Thomas was limited in Wednesday's practice with a hamstring injury. This is nothing new for the veteran wide receiver who has been limited in most practices this season, but hasn't missed any game action since September. Thomas will be active and play for the Jets this Sunday, but fantasy owners don't need to follow suit. Thomas has just one game in his last six with more than five targets and hasn't done much with the limited work he's getting. Starting QB Sam Darnold has been throwing more to Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder in recent weeks with Thomas fading to fantasy obscurity, even in a good matchup with Miami.

From RotoBaller

Atlanta Falcons Dec 5 11:00am ET

The Falcons Defense showed some glimpses of hope in Week 10 and Week 11, completely shutting down the Saints and Panthers. However, the past two weeks, they've struggled mightily and have allowed a total of 61 points. This week, the Falcons have their second meeting against the Panthers. While Kyle Allen could turn the ball over a few times and provide ample sack opportunities, the Panthers should still put a good amount of points on the board. The Falcons defense could be worth considering if you're in a pinch, but you're probably best off going in a different direction this week.

From RotoBaller

Younghoe Koo Dec 5 11:00am ET

Atlanta Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo has earned at least three field goal attempts in each of his four games with the Falcons. He's hit 12-of-14 attempts on the year. This week, the Falcons face the Panthers in a game that should feature a good amount of scoring. Expect Koo to have the opportunity to hit two or three field goals in the game with some extra-points as well, making him a strong starting kicker option this week.

From RotoBaller

Brian Hill Dec 5 10:50am ET

Atlanta Falcons running back Brian Hill saw his workload heavily diminished upon the return of Devonta Freeman in Week 13. This week should be a similar story as the team faces the Panthers. Hill should see only around six or seven touches at best in the game, giving him little hope of a solid fantasy day. He can be left on waivers in all leagues at this point.

From RotoBaller

Qadree Ollison Dec 5 10:50am ET

Atlanta Falcons running back Qadree Ollison didn't see a single touch in Week 13. The team featured Devonta Freeman heavily in the game, with Brian Hill as his backup. Ollison scored touchdowns in back-to-back games while Freeman was out in Week 11 and Week 12, but now appears to be relegated to benchwarmer status. He can be dropped or left on waivers in all leagues at this point.

From RotoBaller

Russell Gage Dec 5 10:40am ET

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage (ribs) was a limited practice participant on Wednesday. He wasn't alone. Julio Jones (shoulder), Calvin Ridley (toe) and Austin Hooper (knee) were all limited as well. Assuming Gage is able to play in Week 14, his upside varies greatly depending on which of the other three hobbled Falcons pass-catchers are good to go. If Jones, Ridley and Hooper all suit up, Gage is tough to trust in any format. If one of them sits, Gage is a decent PPR play. If two or more sit, Gage is worth starting in all formats. Gage has 13 catches for 128 yards and a touchdown over his past two games.

From RotoBaller