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FFL: Playoff Week 2 | 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
Raheem Mostert Dec 12 1:40pm ET

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said that running back Raheem Mostert has earned his role as the lead ball carrier of late and that "he's given us no choice." Mostert has had double-digit carries each of the last two weeks against the Ravens and Saints and has also caught four passes, including one for a touchdown. Over the last three contests, Mostert has four total touchdowns (three on the ground) and was impressive with 146 ground yards against Baltimore on Dec. 1. He's taken over the backfield from Tevin Coleman and should be considered an RB2 on the rise for Week 15 in a great matchup against the Falcons.

From RotoBaller

Julian Edelman Dec 12 1:30pm ET

New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (knee, shoulder) returned to practice on Thursday after being held out on Wednesday. The Patriots were just giving Edelman a rest on Wednesday, as he's battled through nagging injuries for much of the season. He's clearly quarterback Tom Brady's favorite target -- eight straight games with double-digit targets -- and he'll be a no-brainer must-start in fantasy against a Bengals squad that the Patriots should be able to take advantage of through the air in Week 15. Edelman isn't in any danger of sitting out this Sunday.

From RotoBaller

Derrick Henry Dec 12 1:10pm ET

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (hamstring) said "I'll be ready to go" for Week 15 against the Raiders. Henry has been rested early in the week recently as he navigates a nagging hamstring injury, but he should be fine for this Sunday and is a must-start in all fantasy lineups. The bruising 25-year-old back is once again carrying teams in the fantasy playoffs in 2019 with four straight 100-yard performances. We see no reason why that shouldn't continue against Oakland this weekend as long as Henry plays the entire game.

From RotoBaller

Younghoe Koo Dec 12 1:00pm ET

Atlanta Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo has certainly risen to the occasion since joining the team in November. He's hit 16 of his 18 field goal attempts on the year, with three made field goals in four of the five games he's played with the Falcons. This week, the Falcons face the 49ers and both teams should be able to put some points on the board. Expect Koo to get around three field goal attempts in the game with a few extra-point opportunities to boot, making him a solid starting kicker option once again this week.

From RotoBaller

Atlanta Falcons Dec 12 1:00pm ET

The Falcons Defense faces an extremely tough task in Week 15. They're up against a 49ers team that has put up 36-or-more points in three of the past four weeks. The only time they were held under that number was against the Ravens. Needless to say, the Falcons don't have quite as formidable of a defense as the Ravens. The Falcons will likely cede over 30 points in this game and they may struggle to come up with a turnover, let alone multiple turnovers, to save their day. They should be avoided in all formats.

From RotoBaller

T Y Hilton Dec 12 12:50pm ET

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (calf) is returning to practice on Thursday. It gives him a chance to suit up on Monday night against the Saints. Hilton hasn't seen game action since Nov. 21 against the Texans, though, so he could have his snaps limited if he returns against New Orleans. That would obviously make him a pretty risky fantasy option, especially on a Colts team that is usually run-first. Making the decision even tougher for fantasy owners is that the game is on Monday. Zach Pascal is Indy's No. 1 receiver with Hilton out, so he'd be the plug-and-play option if you take your decision all the way to Monday.

From RotoBaller

Olamide Zaccheaus Dec 12 12:50pm ET

Atlanta Falcons rookie wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus made waves with his first NFL catch last week. It went for 93 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately, it was his only catch of the game. There might be more opportunities for Zaccheaus going forward as Calvin Ridley (abdominal) is out for the season and Julio Jones (shoulder) is currently questionable for Week 15 as well. Zaccheaus was fourth on the team in offensive snaps amongst receivers in Week 14, behind Jones, Ridley and Russell Gage. If Jones sits this week, Zaccheaus could be a worthwhile dart throw in DFS or as a WR4 in deep leagues. If Jones plays, it's probably best to just keep Zaccheaus on your watch list or add him to your bench.

From RotoBaller

Russell Gage Dec 12 12:50pm ET

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage should see his role increase going forward with Calvin Ridley (abdominal) out for the year. Gage has earned at least four targets in each of his past six games, with nine-plus targets in three games over that stretch. Julio Jones (shoulder) and Devonta Freeman (ankle) have been dealing with injuries this week and are both questionable for Week 15 against the 49ers. If one or both of them sit, Gage's upside becomes even higher, making him a must-start in PPR and a more realistic non-PPR option as well. Regardless of Jones and Freeman, Gage is a great WR3 or flex play in PPR as he should have a great chance to catch about five passes for 60-plus yards.

From RotoBaller

Austin Hooper Dec 12 12:40pm ET

Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper has had an absolutely exceptional season with 58 catches for 640 yards and six touchdowns over 10 games. Last week, in his return from a three-game absence, he had one of his weaker showings of the year, catching just two passes for 32 yards. However, it was a rare off-game in an otherwise top-end season. Plus, the team just lost Calvin Ridley (abdominal) for the season and there's a chance they could be without Julio Jones (shoulder) and/or Devonta Freeman (ankle) this week as well. Hooper should see at least six or seven targets regardless of the availability of Jones and Freeman, and we've seen him turn in high-end tight end numbers with targets like those all year, so make sure to get him in your lineups.

From RotoBaller

T Y Hilton Dec 12 12:33pm ET

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (calf) is expected to be a limited participant in practice Thursday, Dec. 12, as the Colts return to the field. Head coach Frank Reich said the team plans to take it careful with Hilton, and he will play in Week 15 on Monday night only if the Colts feel he's 100 percent.

Fantasy Spin: Hilton has played in only one game with three receptions for 18 yards since Week 8, and it would be a nice early Christmas for his fantasy teams if he were able to return. That still seems like more of a longshot at this point, but we'll have to monitor Indy's practice reports over the next few days to get a better gauge.

From TheHuddle

Qadree Ollison Dec 12 12:30pm ET

Atlanta Falcons running back Qadree Ollison is currently third on the team's depth chart behind Devonta Freeman (ankle) and Brian Hill. Freeman has been dealing with an ankle injury this week and is currently questionable for Week 15, but even if he sits, it would be Hill who stands to benefit more than Ollison. In Week 14, Freeman earned 17 carries, while Hill had nine and Ollison had only four. If Freeman plays, Ollison's playing time will be greatly limited and if Freeman sits, Ollison will be a touchdown-or-bust option. He's best to avoid in all formats.

From RotoBaller

Julio Jones Dec 12 12:30pm ET

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (shoulder) has been limited in practice this week and is currently questionable for Week 15 against the 49ers. It was recently announced that Jones's teammate and fellow wide receiver Calvin Ridley (abdominal) would miss the rest of the season. So now, Jones figures to see an even heavier workload as Ridley had been seeing around 10 targets per game the past month. Jones is a must-start if he plays this week. He's had a disappointing season by his lofty standards with only four 100-yard games and no touchdowns since Week 3. However, he's been essentially a lock for five-plus catches and 60-plus yards all year, which is a fantastic baseline and we all know how high his ceiling is.

From RotoBaller

Matt Ryan Dec 12 12:20pm ET

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is coming off a solid game against the Panthers in which he threw for 313 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. This week, the Falcons face a tougher matchup against the 49ers, but Ryan should still have ample opportunities to pile up yardage. The team will be without Calvin Ridley (abdominal) this week and for the rest of the season, but Ryan should have the rest of his primary arsenal intact. Expect him to throw for over 300 yards with two touchdowns on the day. He might throw one or two interceptions or lose a fumble, which makes him a low-end QB1 option this week as opposed to mid-tier or high-end.

From RotoBaller

Brian Hill Dec 12 12:20pm ET

Atlanta Falcons running back Brian Hill had a strong showing in Week 14 against the Panthers. He rushed the ball nine times for 62 yards and a touchdown playing as a backup to Devonta Freeman (ankle). There's a chance Freeman is out this week as he's dealing with an ankle injury and is currently questionable. If Freeman suits up, he's likely to receive around 20 touches and greatly limit Hill's workload. However, if Freeman is out, Hill becomes a potential RB3 or flex play against the 49ers. He doesn't have high upside as a starter, but could pull through with another touchdown or a few big plays.

From RotoBaller

Jameis Winston Dec 12 12:10pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (thumb) is throwing tennis balls in practice on Thursday. Winston suffered a fractured thumb in Week 14 against the Colts but played through it. He's listed as day-to-day this week, but it's far from a guarantee that he'll even play in Week 15 against the Lions. Even if Winston is active, the thumb ailment could hamper his production, especially now that he no longer has talented wideout Mike Evans at his disposal the rest of the season. Winston has high-end QB1 potential against the Lions, but there's far more risk with him this week because of his fractured thumb. If he can't go, Ryan Griffin would get the nod and would be a weak QB2 play.

From RotoBaller

D.J. Chark Dec 12 12:10pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark (ankle) will miss his second straight practice of the week on Thursday. Chark is considered week-to-week and is looking like a long shot to play in Week 15 against the Raiders. The 23-year-old has had an excellent season with 67 catches for 956 yards and eight touchdowns, but he's in danger of missing the final three games with his injury. Dede Westbrook, Chris Conley and Keelan Cole should be in three-wide sets if Chark misses any games. Westbrook is your best bet in fantasy, although Conley is also worth a look as a boom/bust type against a weak Raiders Defense this weekend if Chark is out.

From RotoBaller

Devonta Freeman Dec 12 12:10pm ET

Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (ankle) was held out of Wednesday's practice and is currently questionable for Week 15 against the 49ers. Freeman had 21 touches in Week 14 against the Panthers and gained 94 yards and scored a touchdown in the game. As long as he suits up, he should be set for around 20 touches against the 49ers, which makes him a solid RB2 option in most leagues. He has more value in PPR as he has 46 receptions on the year.

From RotoBaller

T.J. Yeldon Dec 12 12:00pm ET

Buffalo Bills running back T.J. Yeldon has been inactive for seven straight weeks. The team has been rolling with the combination of Devin Singletary and Frank Gore at running back and it has worked well for them as Singletary has flourished. Yeldon will likely be inactive for the eighth straight week as the team faces the Steelers in Week 15. He should remain on waivers in all leagues.

From RotoBaller

Buffalo Bills Dec 12 12:00pm ET

The Bills Defense finds itself in a great spot going into Week 15. They face a Steelers offense that has been riddled with injuries surrounding rookie quarterback Devlin Hodges. While the rookie quarterback has performed decently the past two weeks, he was up against the Cardinals and Browns, two defenses that pale in comparison to Buffalo's. Expect the Bills to make things difficult all day for Hodges. They should record multiple sacks and force a few turnovers while holding the Steelers under 20 points in the game. They're an excellent starting option this week.

From RotoBaller

DeVante Parker Dec 12 12:00pm ET

Miami Dolphins wide receivers Devante Parker (concussion) and Albert Wilson (concussion) will remain in the league's concussion protocol at least "through the end of the week," according to head coach Brian Flores. Parker is having the best season of his career and has become pretty close to a must-start in fantasy because of it, but both he and Wilson are in serious danger of sitting out in Week 15 in a very nice matchup with the Giants secondary. Allen Hurns is also dealing with an injury, so Miami's offense could be severely undermanned this weekend. Parker is the only one of Miami's pass-catchers that needs to be in fantasy lineups if he's active, but you'll have to check back on Friday to get a better read on his status.

From RotoBaller