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.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson tied for the team lead in catches in Week 15, coming down with five catches for 62 yards. He was targeted seven times, good for second on the team. Johnson made some big plays in this one and should be primed for another good game next week against the Jets secondary.
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Nick Vannett played well in Week 15, catching five passes for 40 yards. He was targeted six times. With Vance McDonald (concussion) forced to miss the game, Vannett was the main tight end for the Steelers offense. His five catches tied for the team lead in catches. He'll be a solid TE2 with a decent floor for as long as McDonald is out.
The Pittsburgh Steelers Defense was okay against the Buffalo Bills in a Week 15 loss. They allowed 17 points, but recorded a sack and an interception. The Steelers defensive unit will have a better matchup in Week 16 against a scuffling New York Jets team. They'll be a solid fantasy option for fantasy championship week.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges did not play well in a Week 15 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Hodges completed 23 of his 38 pass attempts for 202 yards and one touchdown. He threw four interceptions, some at critical times in the game. The Steelers take on the Jets next week and should fare slightly better through the air, but Hodges still won't be much of a fantasy option for the fantasy championships.
The Buffalo Bills Defense was excellent in a Week 15 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. They recovered a fumble, collected four interceptions, allowed just 10 points, and got four sacks. It was an all-around impressive performance by Buffalo, who will have a tougher contest next week against the New England Patriots.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner ran the ball just eight times in Week 15, gaining 42 yards. He added four catches for nine yards and a touchdown. Conner's touchdown came on an 11-yard pass from Devlin Hodges. Despite his success on the ground (5.3 ypc), the Steelers kept the ball in the air far too often in this game. Conner will face the Jets next week and should at least get more than eight rushing attempts.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver James Washington caught five passes in Week 15, gaining 83 scoreless yards. Washington was targeted 11 times, which led the Steelers. His five catches tied for the lead on the team with two other players, and his 83 yards were tops on the team as well. It was an overall strong game by Washington against a tough Buffalo Bills Defense. He'll have the Jets Defense to deal with next week.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown caught seven passes in a Week 15 win, gaining 99 yards. Brown led the team in both catches, targets, and yards, all by a huge margin. Brown had an excellent start to the season but had faded a bit in previous weeks. Given the tough matchup against the Steelers Defense this week, he was not a widely recommended fantasy option. He played very well however, and could surprise again next week despite an incredibly tough matchup against the New England Patriots.
Buffalo Bills tight end Tyler Kroft caught his only target in a Week 15 win over the Steelers, coming down with a 14-yard touchdown. The Bills did very little in the passing game outside of John Brown, but Kroft's touchdown was a critical one, helping to send the Bills to the playoffs for the first time in a while. Kroft won't be a fantasy option next week against the New England Patriots.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley was targeted six times in a Week 15 win, but caught only one pass for just six yards. Beasley was somewhat hyped coming into this one, but did next to nothing. The Bills passing game in general didn't really do anything outside of John Brown, however. Beasley gets an even tougher matchup next week against the New England Patriots.
Arizona Cardinals RB Kenyan Drake rushed 22 times for 137 yards and four touchdowns and caught one pass for nine yards in a 38-24 win over the Cleveland Browns in Week 15.
Fantasy Spin: After a couple of lackluster outings, Drake erupted for the best game of his career. He has become a workhorse since being acquired by Arizona, logging at least 14 touches in all six games. He'll be a fringe RB2 option with upside against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 16.
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.
Cleveland Browns WR Jarvis Landry caught five of his eight targets for 23 yards in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15.
Fantasy Spin: It was Landry's lowest yardage total of the year, and it couldn't have come at a worst time with the fantasy playoffs in full swing. He could be in a for another rough outing in Week 16 when he faces the Baltimore Ravens.
Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. caught eight of his 13 targets for 66 yards in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15.
Fantasy Spin: Beckham delivered one of his better games of the year, and while it was encouraging to see him targeted 13 times, he is going to have a hard time backing up this performance in Week 16 when he faces a Baltimore defense that held him to 20 yards earlier in the year.
Cleveland Browns RB Nick Chubb rushed 17 times for 127 yards and a touchdown and caught all three of his targets for 21 yards in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15.
Fantasy Spin: Chubb continues to be one of the steadiest backs in the league, and he is up to seven 100-yard rushing efforts on the year, including three in his last four games. He's a plug-and-play RB1.
Cleveland Browns RB Kareem Hunt rushed four times for 14 yards and caught eight of his nine targets for 62 yards in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15.
Fantasy Spin: Nick Chubb is the top dog in Cleveland's backfield, but Hunt typically sees about 10-15 touches and has been able to stay in the flex conversation in PPR formats thanks to his involvement in the passing game.
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.