Tag Archives: Dallas Cowboys

Patriots Week 12 Report Card, Defense Rules Again in 13-9 Win Over Dallas

Steve Balestrieri
November 26, 2019 at 10:30 am ET

 Patriots are 10-1 and head off to Houston for SNF

The Patriots played another defensive gem in horrible weather conditions in Gillette Stadium stopping the #1 offense in the league in the Dallas Cowboys and holding them without a touchdown. The Patriots would grind out a 13-9 in the wind and the rain in Gillette Stadium by once again leaning on the defense and special teams. 

The Patriots offense was shorthanded and banged up but couldn’t muster much either as the Dallas defense also played a strong game. It was a tough day to throw the ball with the way both defenses played coupled with the weather conditions.

So, check out our grades and let’s take a final look at the Cowboys game.

Quarterback: B

Tom Brady would appear to have struggled mightily if one were to look strictly at his numbers. Brady completed 17-37 for just 190 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. But his top wide receiver is playing hurt and probably should be sitting. His number 2 and 3 wide receivers missed the game with injuries.  And in the poor conditions, his receivers dropped six passes and about 4-5 more that were defended well, could have gone either way. 

Brady ran the offense well despite those limitations and while he sailed a few of his throws, he also threw a few beauties including the touchdown pass to N’Keal Harry on a fade right at the pylon where only Harry could catch it.

On the 3rd and 20, where he slid in the pocket away from inside pressure from Robert Quinn and ripped a laser down the middle to Julian Edelman. He had another nice pass to Jakobi Meyers who was wide open down the seam but the safety Xavier Woods closed quickly and tattooed Meyers separating him from the ball.

Running Backs: B-

The running game showed some signs of life on Sunday afternoon and the backs had 104 yards on 25 carries before a couple of Brady kneeldowns at the end of the game. Sony Michel had a pretty decent day, rushing for 85 yards on 20 carries. He made some nice cutbacks against the grain and generally took whatever was available. Sony had four runs of 10 yards+ on Sunday. 

Brandon Bolden (1 carry, 11 yards), James White ( 2 carries, 5 yds), and Rex Burkhead (2 carries, 3 yds) were used only sparingly as this was a Michel day for the vast majority of the game on the ground.  

Is it time to start to worry about the health of James White? His production and usage is way down from what we’d normally expect and he just doesn’t look like himself on the field. 

Wide Receivers: B

Julian Edelman gets high marks here. He’s dealing with a shoulder injury and it seemed like every other play he was rotating it around in the huddle. He must be in a lot of discomfort. And in a perfect world, he’d probably sit for a week. But he can’t right now so he guts it out and continues to produce. Edelman had eight catches for 93 yards. On the 3rd and 20, he displayed a veteran’s savvy, recognizing the soft spot in the Cowboys Cover 2 shell and sitting down just over the yard marker.  

Jakobi Meyers had a few stellar plays and a few he’d probably like to have back. His drops are something that he’ll have to deal with, I think it is a mental thing where he’s pressing a bit too much. But he also had some very nice plays as well and filling in for Mohamad Sanu he had a solid four catches for 74 yards. He caught a short Brady pass and shook off a tackle and broke it for a big gain. His 32-yard reception was the Patriots longest play of the day. 

N’Keal Harry had only one catch for 10 yards but it was a very big one and the only touchdown of the day for either team. Harry has a ton of upside and we saw that he can be a red-zone target. He matched up with Byron Jones and ran a nice fade where he high-pointed the ball and snatched it out of the air. He missed on another later, but his potential is there and we expect he’ll carve out a larger role as the weeks roll on.

Tight Ends: C

Ben Watson was only targeted once and had no catches. Matt LaCosse had one catch for five yards. This seemed like a matchup on paper where they would see more targets but it didn’t work out that way. 

Watson did a good job in the running game, however. He and Isaiah Wynn teamed up for the key block on the Michel run to ice the game.

Offensive Line: B

The offensive line had a much better game this week against the Cowboys. Isaiah Wynn returned and generally got stronger as the game went on. The running game showed some signs of life, and while it was far from perfect it was much better.  The pass blocking for Brady was much better as well, there were several plays where he had all day long to throw. 

Bill Belichick spoke about the toughness of Marcus Cannon after the game. Cannon had an illness all week and Belichick spoke to how he had a tough time even suiting up on Sunday. But he toughed it out and played nearly the entire game. He was spelled by Marshall Newhouse who is the swing tackle now that Wynn is back. 

It wasn’t great or perfect but much better for Dante Scarnecchia’s charges. Let’s see if they can start building off of that. 

 Defensive Line: B+

The defensive line had another nice day against the Cowboys. The Cowboys have one of the best offensive lines in football and they like to run the ball to open up the passing game. While they did run for 109 yards, with Ezekiel Elliott getting 86 of those on 21 carries, he didn’t take over the game and they limited the big plays, the third-down conversions and the ones in the red zone. 

Lawrence Guy and Danny Shelton continue to have very solid seasons and they are getting penetration and disrupting the running game. The Patriots didn’t get a ton of pressure on Dak Prescott however. 

Adam Butler pressured Prescott just enough though to force him as he was rolling out to loft the ball too high for Blake Jarwin to stay inbounds.

Linebackers: A-

The linebackers had another tremendous game led by Jamie Collins who had 10 tackles including one for a loss. That was a typical Collins play where he diagnosed a run by Elliott to the right side and shot the gap to hit him in the backfield. He also made a tremendous play later in the game. Collins was covering Jason Witten on a drag route across the middle. But he kept his eyes on the QB and when Prescott began to scramble, Collins disengaged from Witten and hit Prescott two yards short of a first down. 

Don’t Hightower had another strong game and Chase Winovich showed sideline to sideline hustle coming all the way from the right side to chase down Pollard from behind  on a screen pass to the left. 

Secondary: A

The secondary was tremendous, Prescott came into this game leading the league in passing and he didn’t crack 200 yards until the final snap of the game. The Patriots took away his top two favorite targets, Amari Cooper and Jason Witten and rendering them to MIA for the day. 

Stephon Gilmore held Cooper without a catch and had an interception on an ill-advised throw from Prescott in the first half. Witten was held to one catch for 5 yards. Gilmore nearly had another pick in the end zone. Witten was covered by Chung and Prescott tried to gun the ball in the back corner of the end zone. Gilmore read it perfectly and disengaged from Cooper and nearly came up with his second pick.

On 3rd down Dallas was 2-13, and on 3rd and 3 or less the Cowboys were 0-4.  Devin McCourty made an excellent play on a 3rd and 6 screen to Pollard to stop that one. 

Special Teams: A

Matthew Slater is still amazing at his age and one of the best STs players in the league. He blocked a punt, timing it perfectly setting up the Patriots first touchdown. Nick Folk missed two field goals at the open end of the stadium where the wind was really gusting. He also made two down that end. He gets a pass for those. Jake Bailey was trying to hang his punts up in the air as the return game was hampered by weather. 

Coaches: A+

The Patriots coaching staff had the team excellently prepared to play in those conditions, something the Cowboys staff did not. Bill Belichick knew that Sunday would be a game of field position and situational football. The Patriots excel at that, and that was the difference. 

The defense had a tremendous game plan of taking away Prescott’s two big receivers and forcing them to beat them elsewhere…they didn’t and could only muster three field goals. 

Coaching goes a long way in this league and the Patriots had a big advantage in that department on Sunday. It was the difference and the reason they are now 10-1. We’re on to Houston.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

 

Five Thoughts on the Patriots Win Over the Cowboys

Ian Logue
November 25, 2019 at 8:33 am ET

The weather at Gillette Stadium may have been miserable, but at least the fans on hand who braved the elements on Sunday got to see the Patriots take care of business against the Cowboys as they improved to 10-1 on the season.

Points were at a premium and it was New England who came away on top, beating Dallas 13-9 on a rain-soaked field in front of the home crowd. Here are some thoughts on the win.

1) Wide receiver N’Keal Harry had a fairly solid outing on Sunday, with his athleticism on display in what ended up being the key play of the game as he scored the lone touchdown of the afternoon.

On the play, Harry broke out toward the corner and twisted himself around, snatching the ball out of the air on a terrific throw from Tom Brady, while managing to keep both feet in bounds for the 10-yard touchdown.

It was a huge play for the rookie, coming two plays after Matthew Slater blocked a Dallas punt deep in their own territory and it ended up being the knockout blow as the Cowboys never reached the end zone for the entire game.

Harry was targeted 4 times with his lone TD reception but did have a couple of drops in this one, which were largely due to the elements as the ball slipped through his fingers on a couple of leaping grabs that may have otherwise been receptions in dryer weather. But Sunday was a nice glimpse of why the Patriots selected him and hopefully, it’s a sign of things to come.

2) Sunday was also a big day for fellow rookie receiver Jakobi Meyers, who stepped up big in Sunday’s win.

Meyers was targeted 9 times and finished with 4 receptions for 74-yards, all of which were first downs. He also caught 2-of-3 targets on third down, both of which moved the chains.

The rookie averaged a team-high 18.5 yards per reception and made a critical 9-yard catch during a fourth-quarter drive that led to a 42-yard field by kicker Nick Folk, which put the Patriots up 13-6 and kept the pressure on Dallas.

Overall, like Harry, it was a solid showing for Meyers and it came when they needed it most. Without receivers Mohamed Sanu and Phillip Dorsett, who were both sidelined with injuries, the two each got in some much-needed work and it was great to see both players take advantage of their opportunities.

3) Much of the talk all week centered around the return of left tackle Isaiah Wynn and he didn’t disappoint on Sunday.

Brady had significantly more time to throw and even more importantly, the ground game was pretty effective all afternoon. Running back Sony Michel finished Sunday’s game carrying 20 times for 85-yards, 14 of which went to the left side.

Dallas’ pass rush was also kept at bay and Wynn played a big factor in that and he looked fairly comfortable out there. Not bad for a player who has been a spectator all season as he spent time getting healthy. The team seemingly took their time and didn’t rush him back, hopefully making sure that this time, they’ll have Wynn back for the long haul.

If Sunday’s game is any indication, Wynn appears to be the difference-maker they needed up front and the result certainly speaks for itself.

4) One of the things that also stood out was the fact that Stephon Gilmore was absolutely outstanding on Sunday, completely shutting down Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper.

Cooper was held without a reception for the first time since he joined the Cowboys, with Gilmore blanketing him all game long and making sure Cooper was never a factor out there.

Gilmore also finished the game with a diving interception, which came early in the second quarter as Dak Prescott was targeting Cooper and the Patriots ended up with Folk hitting a 44-yard field goal, which at the time put New England up 10-0.

By the fourth quarter it was obvious Cooper was frustrated and the game ended in fitting fashion, with the Dallas receiver failing to haul in a fourth down reception as Cooper dove for a pass from Prescott to try and extend the game. It was initially ruled a 20-yard reception but was overturned after replay showed that Cooper couldn’t quite secure it before he hit the ground.

But credit Gilmore for his performance. In a tight game like this one where there was little margin for error, the veteran defensive back made sure there were certainly no mistakes on his side of the field.

5) Sunday’s game was a solid outing for Brady, who finally had some room to work back in the pocket.

With Wynn stabilizing his side of the offensive line, Brady did a solid job even despite the rain throwing the football. Granted, there were a couple of throws that were off-target, but that was to be expected given the elements. But the biggest thing that was noticeable was the fact he was much more poised than he had been in recent weeks and that was largely because he was under significantly less duress.

Brady finished the afternoon 17-of-37 for 190 yards and a touchdown, with his best quarter coming in the final 15 minutes of Sunday’s game as he completed 7-of-13 for 55-yards, which included a terrific 23-yard pass to Julian Edelman that put New England in Dallas territory. While the drive stalled, that pass was big because it put them into position to allow Jake Bailey to pin the Cowboys in at their own 8-yard line and forced Prescott and the offense to have to drive the length of the field if they hoped to win the game.

However, he did make a dangerous play in this one on another throw to Edelman as he was sandwiched between defenders and twisted awkwardly as he went down. Fortunately, Brady escaped injury but watching it on replay was certainly scary. For a player who normally does a pretty good job with self-preservation, that was a moment that could have turned out badly and he’s fortunate to have come away unscathed.

But overall, it was probably the most comfortable we’ve seen Brady in a long time and with a climate-controlled game up next in the dome in Houston, it should be interesting to see if this is the week both he and the offense finally breaks out.

If ever there was a week to make a statement, this is certainly it. Hopefully, that’s exactly what we’ll see next Sunday night when New England faces the Texans as they look to improve to 11-1 on the season.

Patriots Defense Rises Up Again, Downs Dallas 13-9

Steve Balestrieri
at 7:33 am ET

Sunday afternoon was a time for the defenses to shine, with the weather conditions difficult at best for the offenses to get untracked and the Patriots and Cowboys defenses pretty much dominated the action. But in the end, the Patriots made a few more plays than Dallas did and came away with a hard-fought 13-9 in a wet, windy and miserable Gillette Stadium. 

The effects of the weather can’t be minimized, there were times when the rain was driving sideways, making ball handling difficult, the kicking game a crapshoot and throwing the ball on-target hit or miss. It isn’t a coincidence that all three missed field goals were all toward the open end of the stadium where the wind at times was whipping intermittently. 

With the Patriots banged up physically entering the game and having over a quarter of the active roster questionable for this game, coaching played an even larger part in this one. Bill Belichick put together a tremendous game plan to slow down the #1 offense of the league and they did. Dallas had three field goals to show for their efforts on the afternoon. 

On the flip side, Jason Garrett did things there were head-scratchers, but it has become what we’ve come to expect from the Cowboys coach. Facing several 3rd and 1 situations and with Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield, he chose to throw against the #2 pass defense in the league. And down seven with just over six minutes to go in a game where his offense had scored six points, he opted for another field goal attempt knowing he’d still need a touchdown… Game over. Thanks for flying Belichick Airlines, be sure to place your tray tables in the upright position.

Yes the Patriots swept the East this season… the NFC East.

Other observations include:

Stephon Gilmore Erased Amari Cooper: 

Can there be any doubt any more who is the best corner in football? Gilmore was absolutely brilliant as he held the Dallas wide receiver and Dak Prescott’s go-to guy without a catch for the first time in a Dallas uniform. 

Cooper was Prescott’s first read and with Gilmore blanketing him, it through Prescott off all game long and he struggled to find his second read. Gilmore had an interception on a beautiful play where he trailed Cooper, baiting Prescott into throwing the ball on a drag route, believing him to be open, but then Gilmore undercut it and picked the ball off.

Two of Prescott’s go-to guys in this game were basically taken out of the game completely. Cooper had zero catches with an interception while being targeted, while Jason Witten had one catch for five yards on four targets. Outstanding job by the Patriots coaches and defense taking those two right out of the game and relegating them to a milk carton. 

N’Keal Harry Scores His 1st NFL Touchdown:

We’ve been beating the dead horse since the spring that Harry, the Patriots big 1st round draft pick could be a viable red-zone target for the offense. The rookie WR had his development delayed due to an injury, putting him on IR but he played in his first game last week. This week Harry scored his first NFL touchdown, in the red zone.

From the 10-yard line, Harry ran a fade route and Brady put the ball up where only Harry could get it and he did a great job, snatching the ball out of the air, coming down and just getting his feet inbounds with possession.

They went back to him later in the game, but he couldn’t come up with that one as the ball went through his hands. It will be something we should see more of as the season winds down. 

Fellow rookie WR Jakobi Meyers had a pretty solid game with four catches for 74 yards including a big 32 yarder where he shook off a tackle and got about 25 yards after the catch. 

Patriots Defense Slows Down Ezekiel Elliott:

In a very solid effort, the defense slowed down the Cowboys big running back and limited his effectiveness at influencing the game at key points of the game. We pointed out in our pregame notes, the Patriots weren’t going to shut down Elliott and they didn’t, Elliott had 86 yards on 21 carries for a 4.1 average.

But Elliott and the Dallas offense never got the running game going to the extent that they were controlling the line of scrimmage and the tempo of the game. (See our comments above on the 3rd and 1 situations)

Running behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, the Cowboys ran the ball fairly well but the Patriots defensive line did a good job at slowing them down at the point of attack. Lawrence Guy had another strong game inside and having Pat Chung back was huge for the defense as he always has a strong presence in the box. 

Sony Michel and the Running Game Rebound:

Meanwhile, the moribund Patriots rushing attack had a good game of running the ball and especially when they HAD to run the ball at the end of the game. Was it perfect? Obviously not. But in a year where they’ve struggled to run the ball at all, it was a good first step. Getting Isaiah Wynn back was a big plus and it wasn’t a coincidence that Michel’s big run on 2nd a 5 at the end the game that iced it was behind his big teammate at Georgia. 

Michel ended up with 85 yards on 20 carries, a solid 4.5-yard average. At this point, the Patriots will take that, and give them something to build off of moving forward. 

Brady Plays Solid With a Banged Up Group of Receivers: 

Oh, the talking heads on those hot take shows that overpopulate the media now will no doubt disagree but if you watch those bobos and subscribe to that drivel…shame on you. With an offensive line that has underperformed this season, a running game stuck in neutral and entering the game with his top WR who can’t raise his left arm over his head, they did well enough to win. And BTW, his #2 and #3 wide receivers were out. 

Julian Edelman gutted out another tough game and it seemed after every play, he was trying to loosen that banged-up left shoulder. But he caught eight passes for 93 yards. After that, Brady had undrafted rookie Jakobi Meyers and rookie WR N’Keal Harry playing in just his second game of his career. 

The Patriots had six drops by my count and several others that were contested and they couldn’t come down with. With those 10-11 passes going their way, Brady’s numbers would have looked much more impressive. 

His best throw? Facing a 3rd and 20, Brady slid in the pocket to avoid pressure from the inside and unleased a dart to Edelman, who had just enough yardage to move the sticks. Dallas was in a Cover 2 shell, and Edelman found the soft spot. 

Where is James White? 

It is beginning to look like James White may be dealing with something physical because in the past few weeks his production and usage are way, way down. White had just two carries for five yards against the Cowboys and a single catch for -6. 

We’ve become so accustomed to seeing him be a big part of the offense, especially in the passing game, it is surprising to say the least for him to be relegated to a non-factor for several weeks in a row. 

He may be fine health-wise but it definitely seems like something is amiss with the Patriots “Swiss Army Knife” on their offense. With just three targets and one catch for negative yardage (great play by former Patriot Michael Bennett), it is becoming worrisome, especially for a passing game that is already missing some key pieces. 

______________

Regardless of style points, the Patriots won a close one and are now 10-1 on the season. They maintain a two-game lead in the AFC East, where the Bills are now 8-3 (for all my Dallas friends who complain about the AFC “Least”, the Bills would be leading your division by two games…just sayin’)

 And they maintain at least a one-game lead over Baltimore in the AFC (pending their game on Monday Night Football). We’re on to Houston.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

 

Patriot Defense Storms The Cowboys

Bob George
November 24, 2019 at 9:15 pm ET

FOXBOROUGH – Tom Brady needs to stop sulking as long as his team continues to win.

His press conference last week following the win at Philadelphia now seems churlish and petty. Of course, this isn’t what Brady is used to. But Brady has to remind himself to learn to work with what he has, not pretend to work with what he is used to. Over the years, Brady has adapted many times to what works, and he is being forced to do the same in 2019.

Without the retired Rob Gronkowski, with both Mohamed Sanu and Phillip Dorsett injured, with N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers not quite yet ready for prime time, Brady suffered through another substandard offensive performance on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium. Brady was only 17 of 37 passing for 190 yards and rating of 70.8. But instead of pouting like last week, he should be more like MAD Magazine’s iconic cover boy, Alfred E. Neuman and simply say “What, me worry?”

The Patriots have the best defense on the planet, and needed every bit of it to hold off the Dallas Cowboys and their number one offense. In a driving rainstorm, the Patriots shut down Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and the rest of the gang from Big D, 13-9. A strong wind was blowing left to right the entire game, which affected both the passing game and the kicking game for the entire afternoon. Most of the time, when the elements are a factor, the opponent becomes more beatable for the Patriots, and on Sunday, the game did indeed come down to defenses and special teams, for the most part.

Brady, and not Julian Edelman, threw the one and only touchdown pass of the afternoon, a 10-yard pass to Harry at the end of the first quarter. The rookie out of Arizona State outleaped Byron Jones at the left pylon and came down barely in bounds for the touchdown. It was Harry’s only catch of the game; he was targeted a total of four times and had a drop on a sideline pass late in the first half, though the fact that the ball was wet might have been a factor.

To his credit, Brady was a little bit more talkative at his press conference than he was last week at Philadelphia, but he still looked tired and unhappy with his offense. His 17 of 37 completion percentage (46 percent) was the fifth lowest of his career. Edelman led the Patriots with eight catches for 93 yards, but the other six receivers combined for only nine catches. Brady’s other “old reliable”, James White, had a grand total of -1 all-purpose yards on five yards rushing and minus-six yards receiving.

What did help Brady was Sony Michel and the Patriot rushing attack. Michel finished with 85 yards on 20 carries and a 4.3 per carry average. His 12-yard run on the final offensive possession for the Patriots virtually closed out the win. With left tackle Isaiah Wynn back in action, Michel was able to find lots better holes to run through. This ability to run in the absence of a prolific passing attack enabled the Patriots to stay toe to toe with the Cowboys in the field position battle.

The elements also made field goals more of an important factor in the game. Nick Folk, the most recent replacement for the injured Stephen Gostkowski was two out of four in field goals, making kicks from 44 and 42 yards (both of them into the wind from right to left), while Brett Maher was three of four, missing his first attempt from 46 yards (a doink shot off the left upright) but then making his next three from 46, 27 and 29 yards. All his made field goals were with the wind, while his one miss was against the wind. Both of Folk’s misses were off to the right, but given the weather conditions, it really doesn’t behoove Bill Belichick to once again go shopping for a new kicker.

Maher’s last field goal, with 6:04 left in the game, might go down as something Dallas head coach Jason Garrett might have to explain. Trailing 13-6, the Cowboys were at the Patriot 11 facing fourth down and 7. Fox’s Troy Aikman, himself a former Dallas quarterback. Hall of Famer and three-time Super Bowl champ, strongly advocated for Dallas to go for it on fourth down and not kick. As it turned out, the Cowboys did get the ball back with enough time to try and win the game. But the Cowboys were stopped on fourth down at their own 25, as Amari Cooper, who was covered by Stephon Gilmore the entire game, caught what would have been a first down on a diving catch only to have the catch thrown out on replay because he bobbled the ball as he hit the ground. Gilmore shut out Cooper for the entire game, another key to the Patriot victory.

All game long, it seemed that the Patriots were bent on stopping the Dallas passing attack, and Cooper in particular, allowing Elliott to get his yards and not get burned by Prescott and the pass. Elliott finished with 86 yards rushing on 21 carries and a 4.1 average, which is fantastic given Elliott’s stature among current NFL running backs. Elliott is still a load and one of the toughest running backs in the league, which is no surprise to anyone. But the Patriots were able to contain him well enough to not let him take over the game and still provide enough in the defensive backfield to quash the Cowboy passing attack.

The Patriots will have to travel to Houston next week and get another dose of a running quarterback. DeShawn Watson will provide a similar skill set to Lamar Jackson, but the Patriots will return to the same stadium where they engineered the finest comeback in Super Bowl history. The Patriots historically play well against the Texans, but their only loss to this team was in this stadium in the game where Wes Welker was lost for the playoffs after blowing out his knee. The Patriots seem fully recovered from the shell-shocking loss at Baltimore and might not be as ill-prepared to face Watson as they were Jackson.

After losing the first seven to Dallas going back to 1971, the Patriots have now won the last six games against America’s Former Team. The Patriot defense still reigns supreme, and they will need every bit of it when November becomes December next week.

New England Patriots News 11-24, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 11-24 and AFC East notes this week. 

Gameday! The Patriots are back home to face the Dallas Cowboys later this afternoon. 

 Quick Hitters For the Pats and the NFL:

Bill Belichick – As part of the NFL’s Top 100 Panelists, is it any wonder that Bill would rave about one of the last of the two-way specialists, Earl “Dutch” Clark who played for the Portsmouth Spartans? Last full-time player to drop kick. On Jim Brown, Belichick said, “I’d still put him in there on 3rd and 1.”

Rob Gronkowski – Is holding a beach party on Super Bowl Sunday… that was his big announcement on Tuesday. If you expected anything else, shame on you. He’s made it clear that he’s in a good place with his retirement. He just hints around that he may not be done just yet. It is sinking the hook into a fanbase that is desperate for him to return. As I said earlier this week on the Pats UK Podcast, if he was coming back, the Patriots would have announced the press conference. 

Look, he put up with a bunch of injuries and surgeries and was always the good, loyal soldier who busted his tail for the team and the league. If he can use his fame to further his own business ventures….more power to him. 

AB – Now that Gronk isn’t coming back, Patriots fans are clamoring for AB to return. It is really a panic move as they’re convinced that the Patriots can’t win #7 without bringing AB back to the offense. Brown’s apology looked suspiciously like Drew Rosenhaus wrote it up, right down to the semicolon. 

4th & 2 Podcast – If you’ve haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, Please do check it out. 

Myles Garrett Suspension Upheld: 

The NFL has upheld the Browns player’s indefinite suspension. One interesting tidbit was that Garrett in his appeal said that Mason Rudolph uttered a racial slur towards him in the moments immediately before Garrett ripped off Mason’s helmet and swung it, hitting the Steelers QB over the head with it. 

The Steelers were justifiably ticked that Garrett used this ploy to lessen his suspension now when prior to his hearing, he hadn’t said a word about this, which makes it quite unbelievable. 

In fact, when he apologized to the Steelers and Rudolph on the day after the game, he didn’t utter a word about this. “Last night, I made a terrible mistake. I lost my cool and what I did was selfish and unacceptable. I know that we are all responsible for our actions and I can only prove my true character through my actions moving forward. I want to apologize to Mason Rudolph, my teammates, our entire organization, our fans and to the NFL. I know I have to be accountable for what happened, learn from my mistake and I fully intend to do so.”

The NFL replayed its on-field audio and could find no such thing was uttered by Rudolph. Timothy Younger, Rudolph’s attorney made the following statement: “According to ESPN, in his appeal, Myles Garrett falsely asserted that Mason Rudolph uttered a racial slur toward him, prior to swinging a helmet at Mason’s uncovered head, in a desperate attempt to mitigate his suspension. This is a lie. This false allegation was never asserted by Garrett in the aftermath of the game, never suggested prior to the hearing, and conspicuously absent in the apology published by the Browns and adopted by Garrett. The malicious use of this wild and unfounded allegation is an assault on Mason’s integrity which is far worse than the physical assault witnessed on Thursday. This is reckless and shameful. We will have no further comment.”

Isaiah Wynn Will Return Today, Coaches Confident on His Impact :

Isaiah Wynn has been activated and should see his first action since September later today against the Cowboys. While we believe he’ll definitely help the Patriots offense, we have tempered our expectations a bit. But the Patriots coaches are having no such thoughts. In fact quite the opposite. 

Running back coach, Ivan Fears, normally a man who gives faint praise, surprisingly was quite confident. Asked how much Wynn could help, he said: “A lot,” running backs coach Ivan Fears replied. “We were just talking about it. Isaiah is a very good football player. He’s a talented athlete that’s got a great love for the game and he’s got a little nastiness, which is what you need. Having him back in there will make a world of difference when it comes to making some of the blocks that we like to see that guy make — and I think he’s capable of doing that stuff. That’s probably going to open a hole here or there.”

“ I think right now, what we’re seeing is a guy that’s really, completely healthy. Stronger than he’s been,” said Dante Scarnecchia. “We thought he was a good player when we went into the season and we still think even that much more of him now.”

“I really like Isaiah,” Scarnecchia added. “I like the person. I like the player. We all like the person and we like the player. We’ve just gotta keep him out there. That’s really important.”

Bill Belichick chimed in as well. “Isaiah always works hard,” Belichick said. “He did a lot of scout team work to get his timing back and all of that, so working against a defense. But yeah, he works hard and he’s always ready to go.”

Sanu and Dorsett Are Questionable Today: 

As the Patriots get ready to play Dallas this afternoon, they are physically beaten up and have 12 players listed on the injury report. QB Tom Brady headlines the list with an elbow injury that just popped up on the report, but he’s expected to play. Right now, however, the big names that are questionable are WRs Mohamed Sanu and the Phillip Dorsett. 

With a Patriots offense that is struggling to move the ball consistently and score in the red zone, losing both of those players will really put a damper on the offense if they can’t play today. Sanu injured his ankle returning a punt against the Eagles and Dorsett suffered a concussion after he was drilled in the aftermath of his touchdown catch. 

The Patriots listed as questionable to play include: QB Tom Brady (right elbow), RB Damien Harris (hamstring), WR Mohamed Sanu (ankle), WR Phillip Dorsett (concussion), WR Julian Edelman (shoulder), WR Matthew Slater (hamstring), OT Marcus Cannon (illness), DE John Simon (elbow), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (knee), CB Jason McCourty (groin), S Patrick Chung (heel/chest), S Nate Ebner (ankle/back)

NFL Schedule Week 12, Who Are Your Winners:

How are you feeling about the games this week? We have a post on our PatsFans Forum where our readers can predict the slate of games for that week. I did it on our weekly Sunday column here and will post it up below. Here is the link if you’d care to pick your own: https://www.patsfans.com/new-england-patriots/messageboard/picks/

Last Week: 13-1
Season:105-56-1

TNF Houston over Indy 1-0

Seattle over Philadelphia
Detroit over Washington
Oakland over NY Jets
New Orleans over Carolina
Cleveland over Miami
Pittsburgh over Cincinnati
Chicago over NY Giants
Buffalo over Denver
Tampa Bay over Atlanta
Tennessee over Jacksonville
Dallas over New England
SNF 49ers over Green Bay
MNF Baltimore over LA Rams

Bye week: Arizona, Kansas City, Minnesota, LA Chargers

Week 13 Thanksgiving Day Football
Detroit over Chicago
Dallas over Buffalo
New Orleans over Atlanta 

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills Have a Tough Four-Game Stretch Upcoming:

The Buffalo Bills are 7-3 and off to their best start in 20 years, but although the defense is playing very well, the offense can’t seem to get untracked or find an identity. Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll is trying to find a package that works. But after the Bills game against Denver today, they have a very tough four games that may define their season. 

The Bills go to Dallas, come home against the Baltimore Ravens and then go back on the road in back-to-back weeks against the Steelers and Patriots before closing out at home against the Jets. 

How the Bills fare in those four big games, with three of them on the road will go a long way in determining if they are playing in the playoffs or going home. The Bills have only made the playoffs once in 20 years and that was a one and done 10-3 loss.This year’s Buffalo team seems much better designed and constructed to handle tough games down the stretch. 

Dolphins Facing a Browns Defense Missing 6 Week 1 Starters:

The Miami Dolphins are taking on the Cleveland Browns today and the Browns have a bunch of players who are missing. Morgan Burnett injured his Achilles and is out this week.  Both Myles Garrett (suspended for the remainder of the season) and Larry Ogunjobi (suspended 1 game) are both going to be missing for their roles in the melee at the end of the Steelers game. 

But the Browns have had a slew of injuries on their defense. Sunday they could be without six of their original Week 1 starters on defense. That could play into the hands of Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins offense. 

Or will it be Josh Rosen? With Miami not going anywhere this season, there is some noise about replacing Fitzpatrick with Rosen to end the regular season and build for the future. Will that hold Rosen? Or will they look to the draft (still Tua?) to find their franchise QB? 

Jets Face Big Test in the Raiders At Home:

The New York Jets have built up a little bit of momentum winning their last two games against the Giants and Redskins but now face a much tougher test against a Raiders team that is in the playoff hunt. And the defense will be looking to set the tone. 

The Raiders have a very tough, physical offensive line and running back Josh Jacobs, the league’s 4th leading rusher has run for 100 yards or more in four of his last six games. But the Raiders have also given up six sacks in their last two games and that may be a key to a win today. 

While Derek Carr is completing 72 percent of his passes thus far this season, look for Gregg Williams to attack the Raiders with blitzes and over-pressure to force the issue. “We don’t catch and react. We’re an attacking defense and you’ve got to do a really, really, really good job on not letting them get outside,” Williams said. 

“When you let them get outside, it’s a tough game to play because now you’ve got to match up with them in space. If your athlete isn’t as good as their athlete – they do a good job. Tom Cable, Jon Gruden, that staff is a really, really good staff on running the football and we’ve got our work cut out for us this week.”

________________

Yeah, we’ll share it when the injury report comes out after practice. I’ll make sure you get a copy. No point in guessing on it. Might as well go out and practice, see what they can do, and make an accurate report. I’m not going to sit here and try to ouija board it here this morning, tell you how a guy is going to feel before he’s gone out and done anything. I mean, that wouldn’t be responsible on my part.”Bill Belichick being asked if he had a sense on the status of Sanu and Dorsett. When pressed if he’d share, this was his answer.

________________

“So, how was your week?”

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

 

Patriots – Cowboys Week 12 Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
November 22, 2019 at 6:38 am ET

The Patriots return home for a big matchup against the Dallas Cowboys at Gillette Stadium. This will be the second straight week facing an NFC East team as the Patriots were in Philadelphia last Sunday.  

The Patriots are trying to stay ahead of the Baltimore Ravens for the top spot in the AFC while trying to keep some distance between themselves and the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East. The Cowboys are leading the NFC East with a 6-4 record, a game ahead of the Eagles…thanks to New England. 

This will be a match of strength vs strength as the #1 offense of the Cowboys is facing the #1 defense of the Patriots.  

This week’s game will be broadcast by Fox and can be seen locally on WFXT Channel 25. Joe Buck will handle play-by-play duties with Troy Aikman as the color analyst. Erin Andrews will report from the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.

The Patriots (9-1) are coming off a hard-fought, tough 17-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. The defense logged five sacks of Carson Wentz and shut them out for the final 42+ minutes 

The Cowboys (6-4) are coming off of a big 35-27 win over the Detroit Lions. Dak Prescott threw for 444 yards and is leading the league. 

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2019 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History:

The Patriots and Cowboys have met 12 times in their history, including the first-ever game in Texas Stadium in Irving. Dallas won the first seven and the Patriots the last five. The teams last met in October 2015 in Dallas where the Patriots won 30-6.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots RBs vs Cowboys Front Seven – Razor’s Edge Dallas

The Patriots running game remains frustratingly mired in neutral, they have tried different combinations and backs but the issue remains the offensive line has not played well as a group. However, starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn returns after being on IR for eight weeks (turf toe). Will it help to have Wynn back? Of course. Will it make them a juggernaut running the ball or even consistently good? Nope. Their problems running the ball are deeper than just one man can fix. But it should be better. 

The Cowboys run defense is middle of the road allowing 105.2 yards per game which is tied for 15th in the league. Their defense is small and very fast and athletic. (More to this below). This is a matchup a year ago that the Patriots ground game would have eaten them alive in the second half. This year? Hmm…

Look for Josh McDaniels to mix things up but this may be a straight-ahead type of game for the running backs. Trying to run those stretch plays to the outside against a fast, athletic defense is pure folly.  A straight-ahead game would favor more Rex Burkhead and possible Brandon Bolden than Sony Michel but we’ll see.         

Patriots WRs vs Cowboys Secondary – Razor’s Edge New England

Caveat here…. A big maybe considering who may miss this game. The Patriots passing game has been limited by the pass blocking of the offensive line. Again, it hasn’t been anywhere near good enough. That means Tom Brady can’t wait long enough for plays to develop. The Patriots have good possession guys in Julian Edelman and Mohamed Sanu who are very quick off the line and can eat up the short-intermediate areas of the field. Sanu is dealing with an ankle sprain and is expected to miss this week’s game. A big loss. 

Dallas is 7th in the league against the pass allowing 216.9 yards per game. Their strength is their pass rush. Robert Quinn has 8.5 sacks while DeMarcus Lawrence has 4.5. Michael Bennett has garnered three sacks in three games. 

Wynn’s return will definitely help because Marshall Newhouse struggled against speed rushers. And Quinn is an excellent speed rusher off the blindside. With Sanu and possibly Phillip Dorsett out, it means Edelman, James White, and Rex Burkhead will be leaned on heavily. The offense will need rookies N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers to step up big this week. Ben Watson has been coming on a bit and should see more targets this week. 

Next up the Cowboys offense:

Cowboys RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge Dallas

The Cowboys running game with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard with Prescott scrambling out of the pocket is very effective. It helps to have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL to run behind. An area to watch is the health of the Cowboys’ bookend tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins, both of whom have been banged up. 

The Patriots have been a Top 10 defense against the run allowing 97.3 yards per game. They’ll need the big men inside, Danny Shelton and Lawrence Guy to penetrate and slow down the running game at the point of attack. 

For the Patriots it isn’t so much stopping Elliott, he’s going to get his yards, but they have to slow him down with their nickel package to force Prescott into obvious passing situations on third down. If they can do that, they’ll be successful. If Dallas constantly has third and short, they’ll get burned by play action. 

Cowboys WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge New England

The Dallas passing game has a plethora of weapons. Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb at wide receiver, Jason Witten at tight end and Elliott out of the backfield is a tough group to cover. Dallas is the #1 team in the NFL on 3rd down. 

The Patriots #1 pass defense will be tested here. Stephon Gilmore is the best corner in the league and will be matched up with Cooper. But the key for New England is QB pressure where the Patriots have 37 sacks on the season. Covering the secondary receivers Gallup and Cobb will take on an increased focus for J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones, and Jason McCourty.

Prescott will continue to spread it around, look for Witten to play a big role this week. The Patriots will try to pressure him and force him into making a mistake. Third downs and keeping the sticks moving will be key for the offense. 

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots special teams have Nick Folk who has settled things down in the kicking game although he hasn’t been asked to do much from distance yet. Jake Bailey is having an outstanding season and last week put six of eight punts inside the 20-yard line. The coverage units have been terrific. The return game has been stuck in neutral.

The Cowboys have the very steady Brett Maher who is 32-32 for PATs and has been okay in the FG department but has missed 4-6 from 50 yards and beyond. The Dallas return game has been only so-so. Because they’re at home and Bailey is on a roll, the Patriots get the nod this week.

Next up, who wins and why…

The Patriots are looking to improve to 10-1 but have their work cut out for them this week as the Cowboys are a very tough matchup this week. But Dallas has been inconsistent this season. One week they look awful and lose to the Jets and then they totally blow out the Eagles. I’d expect them to bring their A-Game to Gillette this week.

Keys to the Game from a Patriots Perspective:

Slow Down the Run- Look for the Patriots defense to give some different looks this week. If Pat Chung can return to game action this week it will help as he typically plays in the box. The Cowboys like to play mainly out of their 11 personnel package, (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR) and even with Elliot, they’ll be in their nickel package. 

Instead of the normal two-gapping the big men, the Patriots may try to have Guy and Shelton penetrate and slow things before they have a chance to get off the line. This is a big key for the defense. It seems crazy to say that they want to force the ball in Prescott’s hands but that would match against the Patriots strength, their secondary. 

Get the RBs into the Passing Game – The Patriots offense has struggled lately and with Sanu and possibly Dorsett out, this could get ugly. Therefore. James White and Rex Burkhead have to step up and keep the chains moving. Look for the Patriots to go up-tempo and try to control the clock. 

Michael Lombardi was on Dallas radio and had some interesting things to say. 

“In the last 2 seasons when the Cowboys play 30 minutes or more on defense they’re 5-17. When they play 30 min or less they’re 20-4. 

Why is that? It’s because the Cowboys are small on defense, they rely on quickness, they rely on speed, they rely on their movement to make plays.  When they have to stand in the middle of the ring for 32, 33 minutes, they wear down. That’s the essence of this game and I think what you’ll see from the Patriots is you’ll see tempo, you’ll see them control, you’ll see them want to hold the ball 34+ minutes and keep Zeke and Dak off the field.” 

Will this work without Sanu and Dorsett? We’ll see. Bill Belichick is the master at finding the adjustments needed to win and in the coaching department, he gets the edge over Garrett, but the team may be very short-handed on offense. 

Special Teams Will Have to Step Up – The Patriots have been getting great special teams play and they’ll need more of that this week to earn a victory. Bailey has been outstanding at pinning teams deep and they’ll need more of that on a rainy Sunday in Gillette. 

Look for them to go after a punt or two this weekend to help out the struggling offense. Justin Bethel or Brandon Bolden may be a key contributor this week.

___________

Prediction: 

As we’ve said, the Cowboys present a great matchup of two really good football teams. The Cowboys offense is tough and will not be easy to stop. They’ll get their yards and points this week, especially with the Patriots offense scuffling along right now. The Patriots will get it figured out, they always do.

But with Sanu and Dorsett out, that may be too much for the offense to work around. The Patriots drop their first game at home this year and fall to 9-2 on the season.  Cowboys 24-16

The “Knocking on Sevens’ Door” tour goes back out on the road next week as the Patriots take on the Houston Texans.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and breakdown game analysis

 

Patriots 2019 Opponents, The Cowboys Coming in on a Roll

Steve Balestrieri
November 21, 2019 at 6:58 am ET

The Patriots return home for a late afternoon matchup with the Dallas Cowboys. It has been an up and down season in Dallas, but right now the Cowboys are on a roll offensively. Dak Prescott behind a superb offensive line and a talented and deep group of receivers is lighting it up in 2019. They also have Ezekiel Elliot in the running game and a fast, flowing to the ball defense. 

Dallas is trying to be the first team since the 2003-2004 Eagles to win the NFC East back-to-back times. Right now at 6-4, they are a game up on Philly with six to go, but hold the tiebreaker after crushing Philly 37-10 about a month ago.

So, let’s take a look at the 2019 version of the Cowboys and what’s happening in Jerry’s World down in “Big D” as we approach Week 12

The Offense Is Riding Prescott’s Hot Hand:

The Cowboys entered the 2019 season with some question marks as RB Ezekiel Elliott was a holdout and after a stellar rookie season, QB Dak Prescott had two so-so years in 2017-18. Any doubts about Prescott are now in the rearview mirror as he’s been outstanding in 2019 and nearing career highs in yards and touchdown passes only 10 games in. 

Prescott has completed 247 of 365 passes (67.7 %) for 3221 yards with 21 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. In the Cowboys’ last three games against the Giants, Vikings, and the Lions, he’s completed 79 of 122 passes for 1098 yards with 9 touchdowns and 1 interception. 

Prescott is now considered an MVP candidate and has a plethora of good targets to throw to. And he’s been spreading the ball around. In the Cowboys win over Detroit, Prescott targeted Michael Gallup, Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, and Jason Witten seven or more times each as they rolled up 444 passing yards.  

Stopping Elliott Will Present a Tough Matchup:

Despite Prescott’s very high numbers in the passing game, one of the toughest matchups, and a key one for the Patriots defense on Sunday will be trying to slow down the Dallas running game behind Ezekiel Elliott. 

Elliott runs behind one of the premier offensive lines in the NFL and he’s enjoyed great success in his career up to this point. So far in 2019, Elliott has rushed 194 times for 833 yards (4.3-yard avg) with 7 touchdowns. He’s also caught 28 passes out of the backfield for 220 yards and a score. 

His numbers receiving are way down from a year ago but that has to do with two main factors. The Cowboys have so many talented receivers, they’re just spreading the ball around more and keeping everyone involved and secondly, they’re putting him on a pitch count a bit to keep him fresh for a stretch run that they hope will lead to a deep playoff run.

But with the passing game hot right now, Elliott isn’t sweating seeing his touches go down the past two weeks. “The passing game is rolling right now so you’ve got to ride it and ride it while it’s hot,” Elliott said. Slowing him down and forcing the Cowboys into obvious passing situations will be a tough task on Sunday. 

Watch the Dallas Pass Rush Closely:

Dallas, as we stated earlier has a very fast and athletic defense. And the Cowboys’ pass rush will bear consistent watching this week as they take on a Patriots offense where the offensive line is struggling. 

The Cowboys have 26 sacks and are led by Robert Quinn who has 8.5 already this season. Quinn is enjoying a career renaissance in Dallas and besides his sack total has 30 QB pressures on the season. Not bad numbers for a guy who missed the first two games of the season. 

Quinn has been an absolute steal for the Cowboys, Dallas got him for a 6th round draft pick from the Dolphins. His speed rush is his patented move and Isaiah Wynn, in his first game back will have his hands full. Marshall Newhouse, who filled in for Wynn while he was injured struggled mightily with speed rushers. Welcome back Isaiah, your plate is filled already. 

Quinn isn’t even the Cowboys best defensive lineman, that title belongs to DeMarcus Lawrence, who although he has just 4.5 sacks is a load to handle. Lawrence banged up a shoulder against the Lions and may be limited this week. 

Dallas picked up Michael Bennett from the Patriots a few weeks ago and Bennett has 3 sacks in 3 games with Big D. It will be interesting to see how Rod Marinelli the Dallas defensive coordinator game plans this week. I look for the Cowboys to be uber-aggressive in coming after Tom Brady. 

Jason Witten Calls Sunday “A Defining Game” For the Cowboys: 

The Cowboys veteran tight end who has been around the block a few times and spent time in the broadcast booth after a brief one-year retirement isn’t one to make statements lightly. 

That’s why it was interesting to see his comments on the upcoming game. Witten was asked if Sunday’s game is a type of measuring-stick affair for the Cowboys.

“Yeah, I think it is,” Witten said. “These are defining games that happen. You look at last year’s season … and you beat a good New Orleans team. This is one of those games. There’s still a lot of games out there, so I don’t think it’s “make or break”. But at the same time, to be able to go on the road and play against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and their team — they’re 9-1 like they are. A great opportunity for us.”

Expect Dallas to bring their A-Game on Sunday. 

We’ll have our keys to the game and key matchups later tomorrow. Stay tuned… 

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

 

NFL Week 17 Early Advanced ‘Look-Ahead’ Betting Lines: Pats favored by 16 vs Jets

John Morgan
December 23, 2017 at 8:00 pm ET

NFL Week 17 Early Advanced ‘Look-Ahead’ Betting Lines: Pats favored by 16 vs Jets

The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook has published their latest NFL Advanced Betting Lines. These early odds were posted a day after the Week 15 games finished. Keep in mind these odds were listed prior to any of this week’s injury reports, as well as any of the Week 16 games. Also known as Look-Ahead lines, they give the adventurous sports fan an opportunity to wager on games up to twelve days away from being played. Early lines offer a short opportunity to get a jump on odds that could become less favorable after Sunday’s games.

Handicapping games in the final week of the regular season can be a tricky proposition. Motivation could be difficult for a team that has played for the goal of making the playoffs for months, and suddenly finds themselves eliminated. A bad team might play loose and try things they normally wouldn’t, catching an opponent off guard. Good teams locked into a specific playoff slot may opt to rest players who would have otherwise started. The line in the Eagles-Cowboys game reflects that concept.

In Week 16 ten road teams are favored to win. That number falls back to a more typical number in Week 17, with five home dogs. The Saints are the biggest road favorite, minus 8½ points at Tampa Bay. The largest spread of the week is in Foxboro, where the Patriots are favored by 16 versus the Jets. That game is one of four double-digit spreads. The narrowest odds are with Houston as a one-point underdog at Indianapolis.

The most important games of Week 17 loom to be Carolina at Atlanta (-3½) in the NFC, and Jacksonville (-3½) at Tennessee in the AFC.

All games will be played on Sunday, December 31. There are no night games.
 

NFL Week 12 Early Odds – Early Games on CBS

New York Jets at New England Patriots (-16)
Jacksonville Jaguars (-3½) at Tennessee Titans
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers (-15)
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens (-11)
Buffalo Bills (-2½) at Miami Dolphins
Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts (-1)
 

NFL Week 12 Early Odds – Early Games on Fox

Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (-3½)
New Orleans Saints (-8½) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings (-12)
Dallas Cowboys (-3) at Philadelphia Eagles
Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions (-9)
Washington Redskins (-3) at New York Giants
 

NFL Week 12 Early Odds – Late Games

Oakland Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers (-7), CBS
Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks (-7), Fox
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos (-2½), CBS
San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams (-7), Fox

 

 

NFL Week 16 Odds, Predictions and Picks Against the Spread

NFL Playoff Picture Entering Week 16

 

NFL Playoff Picture Entering Week 16

John Morgan
at 2:00 pm ET

Entering Week 16 five teams have clinched a playoff spot. The Patriots, Steelers, Jaguars, Eagles and Vikings have all punched a ticket for the post season. Philadelphia is the only team thus far to earn a first round bye.

In the AFC six teams have been eliminated: the Browns, Colts, Texans, Broncos, Bengals and Jets. The Dolphins and Raiders are technically alive, but comatose and on life support. The Chargers are not in much better shape, even though they are only one game behind the Chiefs in the AFC West. Most likely it is Ravens, Titans and Bills battling for two wild card spots.

The Giants, Bears, Forty Niners, Bucs, Cardinals, Skins and Packers are all officially eliminated. Dallas, Seattle and Detroit face tall odds to get in. Philadelphia and Minnesota have won their divisions and will host at least one playoff game. The only way the Rams don’t win the NFC West is to lose twice while Seattle wins twice. The NFC South is probably going to send three teams to the playoffs. Games involving the Saints, Panthers and Falcons are the most intriguing over the next two weeks. Atlanta is at New Orleans this week, and then the Falcons host Carolina next week.

For the sake of clarity (and sanity), I will not consider ties in the following playoff scenarios. Yes, I know they can happen: just ask Donovan McNabb.

 

AFC Playoff Picture

#1 (11-3) New England Patriots
Home vs 8-6 Bills, home vs 5-9 Jets.
Have clinched AFC East and at least #3 seed.
Clinch #2 seed with win, plus a loss by either Jacksonville or Pittsburgh.
Clinch #1 seed with win, plus losses by both Jacksonville and Pittsburgh.
Clinch #1 seed with two wins regardless of what else happens.

#2 (11-3) Pittsburgh Steelers
At 4-10 Texans, home vs 0-14 Browns.
Have clinched AFC North and at least #3 seed.
Clinch #2 seed with win, plus Jacksonville loss.

#3 (10-4) Jacksonville Jaguars
At 4-10 49ers, at 8-6 Titans.
Clinch AFC South and #3 seed with either a win, or a Tennessee loss.

#4 (8-6) Kansas City Chiefs
Home vs 6-8 Dolphins, at 5-9 Broncos.
Clinch AFC West and #4 seed with a win, plus a Chargers loss.

#5 (8-6) Tennessee Titans
Home vs 10-4 Rams, home vs 10-4 Jaguars.
Clinch playoff spot with a win, plus losses by both the Bills and Ravens.

#6 (8-6) Baltimore Ravens
Home vs 3-11 Colts, home vs 5-9 Bengals.
Clinch playoff spot with two wins.

#7 (8-6) Buffalo Bills
At 11-3 Patriots, at 6-8 Dolphins.

#8 (7-7) Los Angeles Chargers
At 5-9 Jets, home vs 6-8 Raiders.
Eliminated with a loss.
Can win AFC West and #4 seed with two wins, plus two losses by Kansas City.
Scenario #1 as a wild card: win twice, Titans lose twice, Ravens win or lose out (don’t go 1-1), and Bills lose at least once.
Scenario #2 as a wild card: win twice, Ravens lose twice Titans win or lose out (don’t go 1-1), and Bills lose at least once.

#9 (6-8) Oakland Raiders
At 12-2 Eagles, at 7-7 Chargers.
Can only be a #6 seed, or miss playoffs.
Eliminated with a loss.
To make the playoffs the Raiders need to win twice while Buffalo and Tennessee both lose twice, Miami wins twice, and Baltimore wins at least once.

#10 (6-8) Miami Dolphins
At 8-6 Chiefs, home vs 8-6 Bills.
Eliminated with a loss.
Scenario #1 as a wild card: win twice, Titans lose twice, Bills lose to Pats, Chiefs lose to Broncos, and Raiders lose at least once.
Scenario #2 as a wild card: win twice, Ravens lose twice, Bills lose to Pats, Chiefs lose to Broncos, and Raiders lose to Chargers.

 

NFC Playoff Picture

#1 (12-2) Philadelphia Eagles
Home vs 6-8 Raiders, home vs 8-6 Cowboys.
Have clinched NFC East and at least #2 seed.
Clinch #1 seed with either a win, or a Vikings loss.

#2 (11-3) Minnesota Vikings
At 7-7 Packers, home vs 4-10 Bears.
Have clinched NFC North.
Clinch #3 seed with either a win, or a Rams loss.
Clinch #2 seed with both a win, plus a Panthers loss.

#3 (10-4) Los Angeles Rams
At 8-6 Titans, home vs 4-10 49ers.
Clinch a playoff spot with losses by the Falcons, Panthers and Lions.
Clinch the NFC West and #3 seed with either a win, or a Seahawks loss.

#4 (10-4) New Orleans Saints
Home vs 9-5 Falcons, at 4-10 Bucs.
Clinch at least #5 seed with a win over Atlanta.
Clinch NFC West and at least #4 seed with win over Falcons, plus Panthers loss.

#5 (10-4) Carolina Panthers
Home vs 4-10 Bucs, at 9-5 Falcons.
Clinch playoff spot with a win.
Clinch at least #5 seed with a win, plus Saints loss to Falcons.

#6 (9-5) Atlanta Falcons
At 10-4 Saints, home vs 10-4 Panthers.
Clinch playoff spot with a win.

#7 (8-6) Detroit Lions
At 5-9 Bengals, home vs 7-7 Packers.
Eliminated from playoffs with a loss.
Scenario #1 as wild card: win twice while Falcons lose twice.
Scenario #2: win twice, and either Saints or Panthers lose twice, and either Seahawks or Cowboys win twice.

#8 (8-6) Seattle Seahawks
At 8-6 Cowboys, home vs 6-8 Cardinals.
Eliminated from playoffs with a loss.
Must win twice plus Rams lose twice to win NFC West and #4 seed.
Scenario #1 as wild card: win twice, Panthers lose twice, and Saints lose twice.
Scenario #2: win twice, Lions lose at least once, and one of Panthers, Saints or Falcons lose twice.

#9 (8-6) Dallas Cowboys
Home vs 8-6 Cowboys, at 12-2 Eagles.
Eliminated from playoffs with a loss.
Scenario #1 as wild card: win twice, Panthers lose twice, and Saints lose twice.
Scenario #2: win twice, Lions lose at least once, and of Panthers, Saints or Falcons lose twice.

 

NFL Week 16 Odds, Predictions and Picks Against the Spread

 

NFL Week 11 Odds, Predictions and Picks against the spread

John Morgan
November 19, 2017 at 11:00 am ET

The Patriots versus Raiders in Mexico City highlights a decent slate of pro football games in Week 11. Four games in particular stand out, conveniently with one in each time slot.

The day kicks off with a matchup of division leaders, a rarity in the early time slot. The 7-2 Rams have won four straight and bring their top ranked offense (32.9 ppg) to Minnesota. The 7-2 Vikings have won five in a row and are allowing just 18.3 points per game. Minnesota is listed as a 2½ point favorite.

The Patriots and Raiders renew their decades long rivalry in the late afternoon time slot. New England puts a five game winning streak on the line in their second consecutive game on the road at high altitude. The Patriots need a win to keep pace with Pittsburgh for the best record in the AFC, and to maintain their two game lead in the AFC East. 4-5 Oakland has been inconsistent this year but still possess plenty of talent on offense. The Raiders need a victory to keep hopes of winning the AFC West alive.

Sunday night has a good game with Philadelphia at Dallas. The Eagles own the NFL’s best record at 8-1, and have a league-high seven game winning streak. The 5-4 Cowboys need a win to stay in contention for a wild card spot, as nine other NFC teams have at least five wins. With all that has been happening off the field for Jerry Jones, a victory would be sweet. The Jerrah now knows first hand with what it is like to be on the wrong side of Roger Goodell’s erratic system of lies punishment.

Week 11 wraps up with a good game on Monday Night. 5-4 Atlanta travels to Seattle to play the 6-3 Seahawks. The defending NFC champs are in third place, two games behind New Orleans. The Falcons need a win here to not only stay close in the NFC South, but to just keep up as a wild card contender. Seattle is only one game behind the Rams in the NFC West but they have bigger issues. The Seahawks will be without Pro Bowl CB Richard Sherman (ruptured Achilles’ tendon) and Pro Bowl SS Kam Chancellor (neck stinger).

For a full list of announcers and to see what games are being broadcast in your are, please check JP Kirby’s 506 Sports.

Early Games on Fox

5-4 Detroit Lions at 3-6 Chicago Bears
Lions favored by 3; over/under 41 points; money line -150, +130

The Bears continue to find a way to lose close games. Mitch Trubisky has a bright future but right now he’s going through the growing pains of being a rookie quarterback on a bad football team.

Pick: Lions 21, Bears 17
Detroit -3, under 41

 

3-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 4-5 Miami Dolphins
Pick’em; over/under 41½ points; money line -110, -110

How much of a distraction will the Uber allegations against Jameis Winston be for the Bucs? This game comes down to which CB gets burnt more badly, Miami’s Xavien Howard or Tampa’s nickel duo of Javien Elliott and Robert McClain.

Pick: Buccaneers 20, Dolphins 17
Tampa Bay -0, under 41½

 

7-2 Los Angeles Rams at 7-2 Minnesota Vikings
Vikings favored by 2½; over/under 45½ points; money line -135, +115

Most of the talk has been about Jared Goff and the #1 LA offense against a tough Viking defense. The Rams are well balanced, with Aaron Donald leading the way in Wade Phillips’ defense. LA is allowing just 18.0 points per game and has forced 19 turnovers. Keep an eye on Viking WR Adam Thielen. The D-2 receiver has five games with at least 90 yards receiving, and at least five receptions in all nine games.

Pick: Rams 24, Vikings 20
Los Angeles +2½, under 45½

 

4-5 Washington Redskins at 7-2 New Orleans Saints
Saints favored by 7½; over/under 51½ points; money line -380, +310

The Saints are playing well in all three phases of the game. The offense is far more productive with more emphasis on the running game, keeping opposing defenses off balance. Net result is a 7-game winning streak, tied with Philadelphia for the longest in the NFL this season. Make that eight straight over the injury depleted Skins.

Pick: Saints 31, Redskins 21
New Orleans -7½, over 51½

 

4-5 Arizona Cardinals at 3-6 Houston Texans
Texans favored by 1½; over/under 37½ points; money line -125, +105

You want to know why ratings are down? Games where the starting quarterbacks are Tom Savage and Drew Stanton may have something to do with that.

Pick: Cardinals 19, Texans 16
Arizona +1½, under 37½

 

Early Games on CBS

6-3 Kansas City Chiefs at 1-8 New York Giants
Chiefs favored by 10; over/under 46 points; money line -500, +400

Remember when preseason prognosticators were predicting that the Giants would win the division and contend for the Super Bowl? Now Big Blue is a double-digit underdog at home and instead in contention for the number one pick in the 2018 draft.

Pick: Chiefs 34, Giants 10
Kansas City -10, under 46

 

4-5 Baltimore Ravens at 5-4 Green Bay Packers
Ravens favored by 2; over/under 38 points; money line -130, +110

Brett Hundley looked awful in his first two games, but was improved last week. Packer RB Jamaal will need a productive day to counter Baltimore’s blitz-heavy defense on a cold (33) and windy (12-25) day.

Pick: Packers 20, Ravens 17
Green Bay +2, under 38

 

6-3 Jacksonville Jaguars at 0-9 Cleveland Browns
Jaguars favored by 7½; over/under 37 points; money line -380, +310

Jacksonville may be without their top four receivers, so it will be imperative that the Jags get their running game in gear. Jacksonville’s offensive line has performed well this year, with the Jaguars averaging an NFL best 163 yards rushing per game. Cleveland’s run defense has been their lone bright spot. The Browns are allowing an NFL-low 3.1 yards per carry and just 86 yards rushing per game.

Pick: Browns 20, Jaguars 16
Cleveland +7½, under 37

 

Late Afternoon Games

5-4 Buffalo Bills at 3-6 Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 ET on Fox
Chargers favored by 5½; over/under 41½ points; money line -250, +210

Nathan Peterman gets the start at quarterback over benched Tyrod Taylor. Expecting a rookie QB to win on the road in his first NFL start is a tall order, even though the Chargers have virtually no home field advantage.

Pick: Chargers 27, Bills 16
Los Angeles -5½, over 41½

 

3-6 Cincinnati Bengals at 3-6 Denver Broncos, 4:25 ET on CBS
Broncos favored by 2½; over/under 38½ points; money line -145, +125

Denver has lost five straight and Bronco fans are pointing their fingers at everybody, including John Elway. If the Bengal secondary could not cover Tennessee receivers last week, what will they do at Mile High against Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders?

Pick: Broncos 23, Bengals 20
Denver -2½, over 38½

 

7-2 New England Patriots vs 4-5 Oakland Raiders
4:25 pm ET on CBS, at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City
Patriots favored by 7; over/under 54½ points; money line -320, +270

Jack Tatum. Daryl Stingley. Russ Francis. George Atkinson. Phil Villapiano. Ray Hamilton. Ben Dreith. Stop whining about the Tuck Rule, Raider fans. You scored six points on your final ten possessions of that game, and failed to stop the Patriots on three of their last four possessions.Pats improve to 19-15-1 all time in this series.

Pick: Patriots 31, Raiders 17
New England -7, under 54½

 

Prime Time Games

8-1 Philadelphia Eagles at 5-4 Dallas Cowboys
Sunday night at 8:30 pm ET on NBC
Eagles favored by 5½; over/under 48 points; money line -240, +200

Carson Wentz has thrown 17 touchdown passes against three interceptions in the last five games. Dallas has not been able to contain good quarterbacks and high scoring offenses this year. The Cowboys gave up 35 points in home losses to the Packers and Rams, and 27 points at Atlanta last week.

Pick: Eagles 31, Cowboys 20
Philadelphia -5½, over 48

 

5-4 Atlanta Falcons at 6-3 Seattle Seahawks
Seahawks favored by 3; over/under 45 points; money line -150, +130
Monday night at 8:30 pm ET on espn

The Seahawks are in a difficult situation, playing without CB Richard Sherman and SS Kam Chancellor. Seattle does benefit with the return of FS Earl Thomas, and Atlanta RB Devonta Freeman (concussion) is out. This could easily go either way; it’s tough to pick against Seattle at home. Former Patriot Justin Coleman gets the start at corner in place of Sherman.

Pick: Seahawks 24, Falcons 20
Seattle -3, under 45

 

Bye Week:
7-3 Carolina Panthers
3-7 Indianapolis Colts
4-6 New York Jets
1-9 San Francisco 49ers

 

For a sneak peak at next week’s games, check out NFL Week 12 Early Advanced ‘Look-Ahead Lines: Pats favored by 14.5 vs Miami.