Tag Archives: San Francisco 49ers

Four Saturday Patriots Thoughts 10/26

Ian Logue
October 26, 2019 at 12:53 pm ET

With just one day until game day, here are some thoughts as we finish out this week before Sunday’s showdown against the Cleveland Browns.

1) The suggestion by Adam Schefter this week regarding the future of Tom Brady reignited the speculation of the status of the quarterback beyond this season, which has dominated the airwaves for most of the past few days.

If you haven’t followed this story, Schefter believes that 2019 could be Brady’s final year in a Patriots uniform and he believes that even if Brady doesn’t opt to retire after this year, his era as the signal-caller in New England may be over and he won’t be back in a Patriots uniform next season.

That’s obviously difficult to even fathom given that the vast majority of the younger fan base doesn’t know this Patriots team any other way.  Brady changed the arc of this franchise since he took over as the starter in 2001 and he’s spent every season ever since rewriting both the history and record books for both the team and the NFL with every performance.

But for anyone who has followed Brady throughout his career, it’s obvious that the past few seasons have been more taxing than most.  The ESPN report from two seasons ago regarding a rift internally between Brady and Bill Belichick seemed far-fetched initially but there ended up being a little more truth to it than many ultimately thought.  One part of the report suggested Brady didn’t feel appreciated, which the quarterback later said, “I plead the fifth” when asked during an interview with Jim Gray when asked if he truly felt that way.

Winning a Super Bowl the following year seemed to cure that problem and it all appeared to die down.  However, a lot of that same discussion started again when we found out that the extension he reportedly agreed to this past offseason suddenly left the door open for him to not be here past the end of this year, along with the fact his house was – and still is – up for sale.

It’s easy to dismiss it, but when you fast-forward back to where we are now, it’s hard not to wonder why Schefter felt the need to both bring it up again and continue to push this narrative.  He’s a smart guy and one of the most reputable in the business, so it feels like there’s more to this than what he’s letting on.

Let’s be a little honest, it’s clear that things are still far from perfect with Brady.  Watching him this season, it feels like it’s been more of a grind for him than in past years.  He’s had to work for every pass and every play, with very little coming easy.  That’s largely due to the injury situation on offense, along with the fact that the Antonio Brown acquisition imploded and ruined an unbelievable opportunity for the two to tear up the opposition in a season where their defense has been playing at a historic level.

Since that all went south, he’s made no secret that he’s been a little frustrated with their personnel situation on offense.  If you’ve watched him closely over the past few games, he’s had to hold the ball until the last second and he’s taken a few tough hits where he’s gotten up a bit gingerly on multiple occasions.

It’s entirely possible that the fact they’re as thin as they’ve been personnel-wise offensively has been wearing on him.  Right now, it seems like it’s just not fun.  They’re winning, but it’s clearly been a grind.  They’ve had trouble running the football and it’s made things more difficult on the passing game, which probably would have been far less productive with anyone other than Brady under center.  Yet Brady, as usual, has done a terrific job making the most of what he’s had to work with.  Honestly, the odds of anyone else being able to lead this club to 7-0 with this group is probably pretty unlikely.

Maybe the addition of Mohamed Sanu will solve some of it and things will finally kick into gear.  Sanu isn’t anywhere near as dynamic or explosive as Brown, but he’s an impact player who has been reliable and should become someone teams will need to account for.  That should open things up for guys like Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett and Jakobi Meyers to hopefully be even a little more effective.  N’Keal Harry showed plenty of explosiveness during training camp and his addition in a couple of weeks coming back from IR may also be another boost to an offense that needs all the help they can get right now.

Things tend to change from October to December and maybe by then, Brady will start enjoying this run a little more than he seems to right now.  Who knows, it’s entirely possible that winning his seventh title could be enough to make him call it a career.  After all, winning seven championships would further cement him as the best ever and it could make him decide he’s done putting his body at risk with nothing left to prove.  But the thought of him playing elsewhere seems too hard to imagine.  With a lot of football still ahead, fans should realize that the end of an era could be coming, so it’s important to at least try and enjoy every moment before it’s over.

White remains the X-Factor in the Patriots offense.

2) Given all the discussion that has centered around the offense, it was interesting comparing Brady’s numbers through seven games last year against where he’s at so far this season.

Considering a lot of the talk about their seemingly poor lack of production in the passing game, Brady’s actually thrown for more yards at this point this season (1992-yards) than he had in 2018 (1876-yards) and has fewer interceptions.  He had 7 at this point last year, compared to the 4 he has currently.

But one of the things that stands out right now is the discrepancy when it comes to his number of touchdown passes, which totaled 16 at this point last year compared to his current total of 11.  The most staggering difference is in the red zone, which has Brady currently with 4 touchdowns compared to the 12 he had at this point last season.

Many will likely attribute this to the absence of Rob Gronkowski, but if you remember, Gronk wasn’t a scoring machine early last season.  In fact, Gronk had just one touchdown through 7 games last season, and just one target (an incompletion) down in the red zone.

At this point last year it was actually James White who led the team in both targets (61) and receptions (45) along with a team-high 6 touchdowns.  So far in 2019, he has 38 receptions and one touchdown but he’s been the most targeted receiver inside scoring territory, with Brady connecting on 10-of-11 throws.

While the tight end position has been a problem, it will be interesting to see down the stretch how they may start to do some things to open things up and create some spacing to put up more points.  But despite some of the takes we’ve heard on this topic, it’s interesting looking at the totals and seeing how big of an x-factor White continues to be.  White’s contributions this season have been quietly consistent, which is probably the best way to describe him. 

We know that if history is any indication, the offense will be quite different two months from now. We’ll see how White factors into the changes we’ll likely see over that span and it should make this team fun to watch during the final months of the season.

The news on Gordon was surprising, but not shocking

3) The news of Josh Gordon heading to injured reserve was sort of a surprise but the designation that he would be free to seek employment elsewhere certainly caught many people off guard, especially given everything the Patriots invested into him.   However, looking back at how things have been the last few weeks, it may ultimately end up being the right move.

Gordon started off fairly strong to begin the season but as the weeks have progressed, there were signs that not all was well with the veteran receiver.  If you watch quite a few of Gordon’s receptions, each time he was brought down hard, he seemed slow to get up and looked like a player who was grinding out each play and really didn’t even want to be out there.

That was a stark contrast from a year ago when he first got here and even going back to Week 1, so it was obvious that something wasn’t right.  Not to mention that the two weren’t connecting consistently this season, with Brady hitting Gordon on just 20-of-36 attempts (56%), one of the lowest completion rates with Brady this season among his receivers.

It’s possible that Gordon was dealing with an injury prior to the one he suffered in his final game, which looked both scary and painful. But whatever the reason, he was trending in the wrong direction.  That was bad news for a team that’s been in desperate need of turning things around offensively and they made the tough call to turn the page with 9 games left to play.

It’s disappointing but given the physical similarities with Sanu and his style of play, hopefully, the Patriots can make up Gordon’s production.  Many people here were rooting for Gordon’s success and you definitely can say the Patriots gave him every opportunity to be successful.  Unfortunately, sometimes no matter how hard you’d like them to, things just don’t work out and that appears to be what happened Gordon’s case.

Garopplo and the 49ers are unbeaten so far.

4) What’s happening in San Francisco is hard to ignore and as crazy as it sounds, it’s potentially setting Brady up with a collision course for a Super Bowl showdown against Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers in Miami.  Many seem to feel like this would be a terrific match-up, but thinking about it further, it’s not as ideal as people may think.

Most likely remember the debate that raged on when Belichick sent Garoppolo to the west coast and continued on with Brady.  Quite a few people were surprisingly split on the move, with a fair amount of them disappointed that the Patriots didn’t figure out a way to either keep Garoppolo around a little longer, or potentially trade Brady.

Well, imagine a situation where Brady faces Garoppolo in the Super Bowl and, heaven forbid, loses to him.

If the Patriots were to be undefeated and it went down that way, that scenario becomes an even bigger nightmare.

It would likely reignite that debate and, if Brady were to walk away, would obviously be one of the most disappointing ways for his career as a Patriot to potentially end.

It’s funny, looking at this situation a few years ago when Brady’s future was being discussed while Garoppolo was still here, Brady to San Francisco was one scenario that made some sense.  Given that the possibility of Brady possibly not finishing his career in New England had come up previously, if Brady had left, the logical move would have been for him to go to the 49ers, who he grew up rooting for in his hometown of San Mateo, California.  Back then, San Francisco was in dire need of a quarterback and didn’t seem close to solving that situation. The team certainly had enough talent to be much better than they were, but they lacked a viable quarterback.

As frustrating as that would have been here, it would have at least allowed Brady to finish his career in his hometown and it seemed like the perfect fit.  Instead, when Belichick sent Garoppolo there, it essentially blew up that scenario.   It eliminated that possibility for Brady and got the back-up quarterback out of the conference.  It worked out since the Patriots have added two championships and appear poised for a third, but if Brady is thinking about a campaign elsewhere, looking around the league, there’s not really a place that would make sense for him to attempt to end his career the way Peyton Manning did.

With the way things currently stand, both Los Angeles teams have quarterbacks and the lesser of the two, the Chargers, even with Brady, definitely aren’t good enough collectively to win a title.  Tennessee might make sense due to his relationship with head coach and former teammate Mike Vrabel, but it’s a risky move because they haven’t even really been consistent on defense. 

Chicago or Tampa Bay could use a quarterback change, or possibly even Detroit if Matt Patricia decides to move Matt Stafford for a draft pick and roll the dice for a season or two with Brady.  But each of the destinations mentioned are anything less than ideal for Brady to put himself through that to possibly tarnish his legacy elsewhere.

Whether or not any of this is/was ever even a possibility is tough to say, but it’s hard not to wonder if Brady’s NFL future would be further in doubt heading into the end of this season if that opportunity was still available.  Instead, Garoppolo being shipped there eliminated that potential vacancy and the further idea that he could be the one to rob Brady of his seventh ring is scary to think about. 

Needless to say, it’s O.K. to root for Garoppolo to lead his team to the postseason and win a game.  However, rooting for him to make it to Miami might be a different story. Hopefully, it will be a seventh ring that allows Brady to go out on his own terms and if an undefeated season is also part of that story, even better.

But losing to Garopplo and spoiling both? Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

NFL Week 16 Odds, Predictions and Picks Against the Spread

John Morgan
December 22, 2017 at 8:01 pm ET

NFL Week 16 Odds, Predictions and Picks Against the Spread

Week 16 is unique, with neither Thursday nor Sunday night football – but with two games on Monday. Five teams have clinched a playoff spot and 14 others are still in contention for the post-season. There are plenty of intriguing games worth watching this weekend and next before the playoffs commence. The theory of home field advantage will be put to a test during these three days. Road teams are favored in ten of the sixteen games this week.

There is another oddity about this week’s schedule. Of the four games between teams with winning records, none are on in primetime – and three are broadcast in the early time slot. Fox has always had an affinity for NFC East teams due to their large market sizes. But if the network is not going to make the best game of the week (Falcons at Saints) their showcase game, then give it up to be flexed to Saturday night. Net result is that the two best games (NO-Atl and Patriots-Bills) are on at the same time. Those two back-to-back would have made for superior programming.

To see what games are being broadcast in your area, please check JP Kirby’s 506 Sports.


National Broadcasts

3-11 Indianapolis Colts at 8-6 Baltimore Ravens
4:30 pm ET Saturday 12/23 on NFLN; Greg Gumbel, Trent Green
Ravens favored by 13½; over/under 41 points; money line -1000, +675

Baltimore has averaged 31 points over their last five games, in large part to an NFL-best plus-17 turnover differential. The Raven defense ranks 4th with 18.3 points per game and has a league best 33 takeaways. I don’t see how the Indy offense (16.1 ppg, 31st) can keep this game close.

Pick: Ravens 31, Colts 13
Ravens -13½, over 41


11-3 Minnesota Vikings at 7-7 Green Bay Packers
8:30 pm ET Saturday 12/23 on NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth
Vikings favored by 9; over/under 41 points; money line -430, +340

The Vikings are playing for at minimum a first round bye, while Green Bay is eliminated. Minnesota’s defense will dominate a team that may be giving second stringers playing time with an eye on 2018.

Pick: Vikings 27, Packers 13
Vikings -9, under 41


11-3 Pittsburgh Steelers at 4-10 Houston Texans
4:30 pm ET, Monday 12/25 on NBC/NFLN; Mike Tirico, Kurt Warner
Steelers favored by 9½; over/under 45 points; money line -450, +350

I’m interested to see if Pittsburgh comes out with their hair on fire after last week’s last second loss. Or will the Steelers play down to their opponent’s level, as they often do. Pittsburgh is notorious for not playing well on the road either, and no Antonio Brown does not help matters. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Pittsburgh comes out flat, but Houston has lost too many key players over the course of their season.

Pick: Steelers 24, Texans 20
Texans +9½, under 45


6-8 Oakland Raiders at 12-2 Philadelphia Eagles
8:30 pm ET Monday 12/25 on ESPN; Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden
Eagles favored by 9; over/under 47½ points; money line -400, +330

Oakland is all but mathematically eliminated, and traveling cross country for a meaningless game. Philly wants to clinch the number one seed in the NFC and Nick Foles (4 TDs last week) showed the 31.3 ppg offense is still in capable hands. The Eagle defense should be able to handle Oakland and control this game.

Pick: Eagles 34, Raiders 17
Eagles -9, over 47½


Early CBS Games

8-6 Buffalo Bills at 11-3 New England Patriots
Jim Nantz, Tony Romo
Patriots favored by 12; over/under 47½ points; money line -750, +525

This should be a great game, as both teams have plenty to play for. The Patriots need two wins to insure home field throughout the playoffs. Buffalo needs a victory (and help) to make the playoffs. To add to the drama this is a revenge game for the Bills after the hit three weeks ago that resulted in Rob Gronkowski’s suspension. Sean McDermott came up with a great defensive game plan for Buffalo in the last meeting; it will be interesting to see what he has in store Sunday.

Pick: Patriots 27, Bills 20
Bills +12, under 47½


7-7 Los Angeles Chargers at 5-9 New York Jets
Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
Chargers favored by 7; over/under 42½ points; money line -300, +250

After a surprisingly good start, the Jets are 2-7 in their last nine games. As the season has progressed their lack of quality depth has become apparent. The Chargers are in a must-win spot here; the Jets can go back to their original plan of tanking the 2017 season.

Pick: Chargers 27, Jets 17
Chargers -7, over 42½


6-8 Miami Dolphins at 8-6 Kansas City Chiefs
Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon
Chiefs favored by 10½; over/under 43½ points; money line -550, +425

Dolphins on the road outdoors in cold weather equals a Miami loss. Kansas City has finally righted their mid-season swoon with home victories over the Raiders and Chargers. Make it three in a row for the Chiefs.

Pick: Chiefs 27, Dolphins 14
Chiefs -10½, under 43½


5-9 Denver Broncos at 6-8 Washington Redskins
Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta
Redskins favored by 3½; over/under 40½ points; money line -180, +160

Washington is again in a difficult position due to injuries on their offensive line. Denver has finally got it together the last couple of weeks, just in time to win enough games to miss out on a top-5 draft pick.

Pick: Broncos 20, Redskins 17
Broncos +3½, under 40½


0-14 Cleveland Browns at 4-10 Chicago Bears
Tom McCarthy, Steve Beuerlein
Bears favored by 6½; over/under 38 points; money line -280, +240

Chicago has played well at home this year, beating the Steelers and Panthers. Their home losses have all been close (an average of 5 points), and mostly to good teams (Falcons, Vikings, Packers). Cleveland’s 0-16 parade plans remain intact.

Pick: Bears 24, Browns 13
Bears -6½, under 38


Early Games on Fox

9-5 Atlanta Falcons at 10-4 New Orleans Saints
Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis
Saints favored by 5½; over/under 52½ points; money line -240, +200

Set your DVR so you can record and watch this game after the Patriots-Bills ends. Two weeks ago the Falcons beat the Saints 20-17 in Atlanta. It is really difficult to sweep a good division rival. The Falcons should be able to keep it close, especially now that RB Tevin Coleman (concussion) has been cleared to play.

Pick: Saints 27, Falcons 24
Falcons +5½, under 51½


10-4 Los Angeles Rams at 8-6 Tennessee Titans
Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston
Rams favored by 6½; over/under 47½ points; money line -290, +240

On one hand you have a west coast team having to travel 2000 miles and play a game three hours earlier than usual. On the other hand the Rams are a far superior team than the Titans. LA is back in sync now that Robert Woods is back on the playing field.

Pick: Rams 24, Titans 20
Titans +6½, under 47½


8-6 Detroit Lions at 5-9 Cincinnati Bengals
Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman
Lions favored by 4; over/under 44 points; money line -210, +180

This will be the final home game for Cincy head coach Marvin Lewis. Maybe he and Jeff Fisher can form a speaking tour and teach people how to retain a job much longer than they deserve.

Pick: Lions 24, Bengals 17
Lions -4, under 44


4-10 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 10-4 Carolina Panthers
Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber
Panthers favored by 10; over/under 46½ points; money line -475, +375

Can somebody please explain to me why Carolina LB Thomas Davis was originally suspended for two games, rather than one? I think Roger Goodell uses one of those magic eight-balls from the sixties when deciding his punishments.

Pick: Panthers 34, Bucs 17
Panthers -10, over 46½


Late Games

10-4 Jacksonville Jaguars at 4-10 San Francisco 49ers
Andrew Catalon, James Lofton (CBS)
Jaguars favored by 4; over/under 42 points; money line -210, +175

When Jimmy Garoppolo was traded, Pats fans wished him well. Now Patriot Nation is full of hand wringing seller’s remorse. The Niners have won three in a row since inserting Jimmy G as their starting quarterback, after a 1-10 start. Jacksonville could be in for a battle on the road here, especially if the Jags have to count on Blake Bortles at critical junctures.

Jaguars 23, Forty Niners 20
Niners +4, over 42


8-6 Seattle Seahawks at 8-6 Dallas Cowboys
Joe Buck, Troy Aikman (Fox)
Cowboys favored by 5; over/under 47½ points; money line -240, +200

Dallas has won three straight and have RB Ezekiel Elliott for this game. His presence completely changes the Cowboy offense. Seattle’s defense is just a shell of its former self to injuries. Is it time to replace Pete Carroll?

Pick: Cowboys 27, Seahawks 17
Cowboys +5, under 47½


2-12 New York Giants at 6-8 Arizona Cardinals
Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth (Fox)
Cardinals favored by 3½; over/under 40 points; money line -185, +165

Ho hum, a battle of two under achieving teams. Giants are the bigger mess right now and on the road.

Pick: Cardinals 24, Giants 13
Cardinals +3½, under 40



Garoppolo Wins First Start As 49rs QB Against Bears on Sunday

Ian Logue
December 3, 2017 at 5:56 pm ET

Jimmy Garoppolo’s streak as a starter remains intact after the former Patriots quarterback came away with a last-minute win over the Bears on Sunday in Chicago.

Garoppolo, whose parents were on hand as he got his first start with his new team, won his third NFL start, improving to 1-0 with the 49ers while building on the 2-0 record from his previous two starts in New England.

He finished the game 26-of-37 for 293 yards on the afternoon,  engineering scoring drives on five of their eight possessions, all of which were field goals.  It wasn’t all perfect as Garoppolo threw his first career interception, ending a streak of 103 straight passes without being picked off.

However, the turnover was hardly his fault.  After Garoppolo made a great throw to Louis Murphy on a 3rd-and-9, Kyle Fuller ripped the ball away and was awarded the interception.  The Bears took advantage, marching 54 yards on 8 plays before scoring their only offensive touchdown of the afternoon.

Chicago’s other score came in the second quarter, after Tarik Cohen returned a 49ers punt 61-yards for a touchdown, which at the time put Chicago up 14-6 with 5:49 left to play in the half.

But Garoppolo lead the 49ers on an 11 play drive that resulted in a field goal to close out the half to pull within 14-9, and then put together a 16 play drive on their first possession of the third quarter, which resulted in another field goal to cut the lead to 14-12.

Looking at the numbers, with Garoppolo at the helm, the 49ers controlled the clock and held the ball for nearly 39-minutes, with the team showing a lot more fire with their new quarterback under center.  Garoppolo rewarded their faith, leading the team on a final 14 play drive to close out the game and set up their game-winning field goal that put them ahead at 15-14 with 0:08 left to play.

The team here in New England was apparently keeping an eye on their quarterback, with Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reporting that the players and coaches were excited to learn about the outcome of Garoppolo’s first start.

Garoppolo and the 2-10 49ers will now head to Houston next Sunday to take on the Texans.

NFL Week 12 Odds, Predictions and Picks against the spread

John Morgan
November 26, 2017 at 6:00 am ET

More than half of the remaining NFL Week 12 games have odds of seven or more points. On paper there are few competitive games, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot. Last week the Chiefs were double-digit favorites but lost to a one-win Giants club in disarray. Washington was an injury riddled 7½ point road dog up against a hot team on a seven game winning streak. The 4-5 Skins were up by 15 with less than two minutes to play and nearly upset the Saints before losing in overtime in one of the season’s most exciting games. On the other hand there are the Patriots, who have not lost since October 1st – and have covered the spread four weeks in a row.

Should the Patriots-Dolphins game turn into a blowout, there may be some competitive games in the early time slot. Buffalo is at KC in a battle between two fading teams. Tampa Bay at Atlanta could be interesting should the Falcons have a letdown after winning at Seattle. In the late time slot the Saints at Rams should be a great game. The night games are nothing special. Green Bay at Pittsburgh would have been a good game if Aaron Rodgers was the QB rather than Brett Hundley. Monday night it is Houston at Baltimore. The only reason to watch that is to witness a potential John Harbaugh meltdown and another Baltimore loss.

Unfortunately New England fans are once again saddled with Ian Eagle and the incompetent Dan Fouts as the broadcast crew for Sunday’s game. It boggles my mind that somebody at CBS considers this pair to be their second best set of announcers. How can anyone possibly consider those two to be better than Greg Gumbel and Trent Green, or Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon?

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 CBS

4-6 Miami Dolphins at 8-2 New England Patriots
Patriots favored by 16½; over/under 47½ points; money line -1900, +1000

The Patriots have often struggled against quarterbacks that they have little film to review for tendencies and weaknesses. Does that mean that Matt Moore will lead the Dolphins to an upset? Of course not. The offense is clicking despite several injuries, and the defense has made a 180 turn from the first month of the season.

Pick: Patriots 38, Dolphins 17
New England +16½, over 47½


0-10 Cleveland Browns at 4-6 Cincinnati Bengals
Bengals favored by 8; over/under 38 points; money line -410, +340

DeShone Kizer has thrown 14 interceptions, most in the NFL. Cleveland’s defense has been decent, but having to overcome all those turnovers is too much to ask for.

Pick: Bengals 24, Browns 13
Cincinnati -8, under 38


5-5 Buffalo Bills at 6-4 Kansas City Chiefs
Chiefs favored by 10; over/under 46½ points; money line -500, +400

Buffalo HC Sean McDermott may be in over his head. With a 5-4 record and the Bills holding onto a wild card spot, he inexplicably benched QB Tyrod Taylor. Taylor is not an elite quarterback by any means, but the replacement was a 5th round rookie going on the road to make his first NFL start. Nathan Peterman proceeded to throw an interception on four of the first five drives, and was mercifully yanked after his fifth pick. McDermott’s reasoning was that he wanted to see what Peterman had and how he could do. Isn’t that what a blowout game in the fourth quarter is for? Or preseason? Or games in December after you have been eliminated from the playoffs, as opposed to a midseason game when you have a winning record?

Pick: Chiefs 31, Bills 20
Kansas City -10, over 46½


Early Games on Fox

3-7 Chicago Bears at 9-1 Philadelphia Eagles
Eagles favored by 14; over/under 44½ points; money line -1100, +700

Philly has won eight in a row and is coming off a huge win over division rival Dallas. The Eagles will be on the road for the next three games, playing the Rams, Seahawks and Giants. The Bears have already taken advantage of superior opponents in trap games twice, defeating the Steelers and Panthers. While an upset would be shocking, A close game would not be a surprise.

Pick: Eagles 24, Bears 20
Chicago +14, under 44½


4-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 6-4 Atlanta Falcons
Falcons favored by 9½; over/under 48½ points; money line -475, +375

In their victory last week at Miami the Bucs allowed three pass plays of over 40 yards. That kind of pass defense is going to be in a world of hurt against Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and the Atlanta offense.

Pick: Falcons 30, Bucs 21
Tampa Bay +9½, over 48½


7-3 Carolina Panthers at 4-6 New York Jets
Panthers favored by 5½; over/under 40 points; money line -250, +210

Will Carolina be well rested or rusty coming off the bye? If the Panthers are looking ahead to next week’s game at New Orleans, the fundamentally sound Jet defense could cause enough problems to pull off an upset.

Pick: Panthers 20, Jets 17
New York Jets +5½, under 40


6-4 Tennessee Titans at 3-7 Indianapolis Colts
Titans favored by 3; over/under 45½ points; money line -165, +145

The Titans bounce back from last Thursday’s loss to Pittsburgh by feasting on an inferior opponent.

Pick: Titans 24, Colts 17
Tennessee -3, under 45½


Late Afternoon Games

6-4 Seattle Seahawks at 1-9 San Francisco 49ers
4:05 ET on Fox
Seahawks favored by 6½; over/under 45½ points; money line -300, +250

The 49ers may be able to keep it close thanks to all the injuries on Seattle’s defense. The Niners just don’t have enough talent to beat the Seahawks though.

Pick: Seahawks 27, Niners 20
Seattle -6½, over 45½


8-2 New Orleans Saints at 7-3 Los Angeles Rams
4:25 ET on CBS
Rams favored by 2½; over/under 53½ points; money line -145, +125

By far the best game of the week. The Rams have beaten only one good team all season (Jacksonville), and were a bit disappointing in last week’s loss at Minnesota. I’m expecting them to bounce back at home against New Orleans. The Saints defense has been opportunistic (ten interceptions, 13 takeaways) but could be overpowered here. New Orleans gave up 31 points at home to the injury riddled Redskins last week, and haven’t faced an offense this good since their week two loss to the Patriots.

Pick: Rams 31, Saints 27
LA Rams -2½, over 53½


7-3 Jacksonville Jaguars at 4-6 Arizona Cardinals
4:25 ET on CBS
Jaguars favored by 5½; over/under 38 points; money line -240, +200

The Jaguar defense is allowing just 14.1 points per game, by far the lowest in the NFL. Jacksonville should be able to feast on Blaine Gabbert and an anemic Arizona offense that has scored more than 21 points just twice all year.

Pick: Jaguars 20, Cardinals 13
Jacksonville -5½, under 38


3-7 Denver Broncos at 4-6 Oakland Raiders
4:25 ET on CBS
Raiders favored by 5; over/under 43 points; money line -240, +200

Remember when the experts declared the AFC West to be the best division in the NFL before the 2017 season began? Not much of that talk now, thanks to these two disappointing teams that failed to live up to the hype. Denver has lost six in a row, their worst losing streak since 1990. They could actually benefit from Tim Tebow at this point.

Pick: Raiders 24, Broncos 21
Denver +5, over 43


Prime Time Games

5-5 Green Bay Packers at 8-2 Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday night at 8:30 pm ET on NBC
Steelers favored by 14; over/under 43½ points; money line -1000, +600

Last week Pittsburgh was able to stop Tennessee’s running game, force the Titans into predictable pass plays, and take advantage of poor down-and distance situations. That resulted in four Marcus Mariotta interceptions and a 40-17 victory. The same formula worked for Baltimore last week in their 23-0 rout over the Packers as Green Bay turned the ball over five times. No reason to believe this game won’t be more of the same.

Pick: Steelers 31, Packers 10
Pittsburgh -14, under 43½


4-6 Houston Texans at 5-5 Baltimore Ravens
Monday night at 8:30 pm ET on espn
Ravens favored by 7; over/under 38 points; money line -320, +260

Tom Savage has ten turnovers (3 picks, 7 fumbles) in just 125 pass attempts. He has been sacked 13 times and is averaging a league-worst 4.54 yards per dropback. This all plays right into the strength of Baltimore’s defense, to force turnovers (an NFL-best 23).

Pick: Ravens 24, Texans 13
Ravens -7, under 37


NFL Week 10 Odds, Predictions and Picks against the spread

John Morgan
November 12, 2017 at 7:00 am ET

NFL Week 10 has plenty of interesting story lines. On Sunday night the Patriots travel to their house of horrors, Denver’s Mile High Stadium. The Pats are 2-6 since 2005 in Colorado, and 4-18 in the Rockies since 1969. Despite that alarming trend the Patriots are 7½ point favorites as of Saturday night.

Since their week five bye the Broncos have been in a free fall with no end in sight. First there was a 13-point loss to the Giants, giving Big Blue their only win of 2017. That was followed by a shutout loss to the Chargers, then a five-turnover debacle against KC. Last week the one strong point for Denver, their defense, allowed 51 points. It was the most points allowed by the Broncos since 2010. On top of that the 28 point differential was the worst for Denver since the 2011 season of Tim Tebow.

There are plenty of other games worth watching as well. In the early time slot Minnesota is at Washington, and the Saints travel to Buffalo on a six-game winning streak. Then in the late afternoon time slot Dallas travels to Atlanta without Ezekiel Elliott. Roger Goodell wanted the NFL to have 12-month headlines, but these questionable suspensions and subsequent court cases are crushing the popularity of the sport. The week wraps up with Miami at Carolina on Monday night.

Most of the country will get Pittsburgh at Indy early on CBS. Fox has the early time slot split between the Saints-Bills in the east, and Minnesota-Washington in the west. The Pats-Broncos game is available most everywhere, though Hartford is stubbornly (and stupidly) opting to air the Giants game instead. smh…. 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

6-2 Minnesota Vikings at 4-4 Washington Redskins
Vikings favored by 1½; over/under 41 points; money line -125, +105

Washington has had injuries throughout their entire offensive line this season. They get three starters (LG Shawn Lauvo, C Spencer Long, RG Brandon Scherff) back this week. That should significantly help matters, but LT is still a sore spot. Minnesota Pro Bowl DE Everson Griffen already has ten sacks, and will make LT TJ Clemmings look incompetent.

Pick: Vikings 23, Redskins 17
Minnesota -1½, under 41


4-4 Green Bay Packers at 3-5 Chicago Bears
Bears favored by 5½; over/under 37½ points; money line -250, +210

It would be no surprise whatsoever if the Pack finishes the season in last place in the NFC North. Perhaps then they can use their early draft picks to shore up that Swiss cheese offensive line. Here’s a question: will Brett Hundley be able to make the roster on a CFL or Arena league team in 2018?

Pick: Bears 20, Packers 17
Packers +5½, under 37½


3-5 Cincinnati Bengals at 5-3 Tennessee Titans
Titans favored by 4½; over/under 40½ points; money line -220, +180

Cincinnati has given up 25 ppg over the last three weeks, losing two of three since their bye. Two of those games were against Jacksonville and Indianapolis, neither of which are offensive juggernauts. More alarming was the Bengals regression on offense last week, with a mere eight first downs and seven points scored.

Pick: Titans 20, Bengals 17
Cincinnati +4½, under 40½


6-2 New Orleans Saints at 5-3 Buffalo Bills
Saints favored by 3; over/under 47½ points; money line -145, +125

The Saints are overdue for a letdown loss, but will it come now? Here is dome team playing outside up north in the last half of the season against a team coming off an embarrassing loss. I just don’t think that the Bills can keep up with the New Orleans offense though. The Saints have a balanced attack and are playing complimentary football. That is something they have lacked since winning the Super Bowl eight years ago. Logically the Saints win, but I’m taking the Bills to bounce back in a slight upset. Buffalo wins their fifth straight home game.

Pick: Bills 24, Saints 20
Buffalo +3, under 47½


Early Games on CBS

6-2 Pittsburgh Steelers at 3-6 Indianapolis Colts
Steelers favored by 10; over/under 45 points; money line -500, +400

Pittsburgh has a tendency to play down to the level of their opponents on the road. That doesn’t mean the Colts will pull off the upset though; they are still awful. Indy has an atrocious minus-98 point differential already. To place that in perspective that is worse than even the one-win Giants, or the winless Browns and Niners.

Pick: Steelers 27, Colts 20
Indianapolis +10, over 45


3-5 Los Angeles Chargers at 5-3 Jacksonville Jaguars
Jaguars favored by 4½; over/under 41 points; money line -210, +180

RB Leonard Fournette will have fresh legs after three weeks off. He faces a Charger run defense that is allowing 4.6 yards per carry (28th) and 135 yards per game (31st). The Jacksonville defense is for real, allowing an NFL-best 14.6 points per game.

Pick: Jaguars 24, Chargers 13
Jacksonville -4½, under 41


4-5 New York Jets at 2-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jets favored by 2½; over/under 43½ points; money line -140, +120

Tampa Bay’s defense has been a sore spot all season. The Buccaneer defense generates no pass rush, with a league-worst eight sacks on the season. That has resulted in 7.9 yards per pass attempt (28th) and 24.8 points per game (26th). Give journeyman QB Josh McCown enough time and he will avoid critical mistakes and do just enough to win.

Pick: Jets 24, Bucs 20
Gang Green -2½, over 43½


0-8 Cleveland Browns at 4-4 Detroit Lions
Lions favored by 11; over/under 43½ points; money line -625, +450

The Cleveland defense has actually played well this year. The Browns are allowing only 2.9 yards per rush (1st) and 4.9 yards per play (8th). The offense though ranks at or near the bottom in nearly every statistical category. Detroit may be inconsistent, but they have far more talent and should win easily.

Pick: Lions 31, Browns 13
Detroit -11, over 43½


Late Afternoon Games

3-5 Houston Texans at 6-2 Los Angeles Rams
Rams favored by 11½; over/under 45½ points; money line -675, +475

This would have been a really great game to watch. Unfortunately it’s Tom Savage at QB rather than DeShaun Watson, and JJ Watt and Whitney Houston are sidelined as well. The Rams put up 51 points last week and now have to be considered a genuine contender to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. QB Jared Goff’s numbers through eight games: 2,030 yards passing with 13 TD against only 4 INT. Goff also leads the NFL with 8.3 yards per pass attempt and 13.8 yards per completion.

Pick: Rams 27, Texans 13
Los Angeles -11½, under 45½


5-3 Dallas Cowboys at 4-4 Atlanta Falcons
Falcons favored by 3; over/under 48½ points; money line -150, +130

The Dallas offense has been clicking, and the Atlanta defense has been missing. The Cowboys will be without RB Ezekiel Elliott however. Perhaps more importantly all-pro LT Tyron Smith will also be inactive due to a groin injury. Atlanta needs to get their offense back in gear to keep their playoff hopes reasonably alive.

Pick: Falcons 28, Cowboys 27
Dallas +3, over 48½


1-7 New York Giants at 0-9 San Francisco 49ers
Giants favored by 2½; over/under 42 points; money line -145, +125

Week after week I keep picking Santa Clara to win a game. Week after week the Miners find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Now they host Team Turmoil, traveling three time zones. The G-men have given up on their season and their coach is Dead Man Walking. The legend of Jimmy Garoppolo in the City by the Bay commences. Only masochists would tune in to watch a game between two teams with a combined 1-16 record.

Pick: Niners 3, Giants 2
Niners +2½, under 42


Prime Time Games

6-2 New England Patriots at 3-5 Denver Broncos
Patriot favored by 7½; over/under 44½ points; money line -320, +260

New England fans are rightfully going to temper their expectations based on the Patriots history in Denver. The Broncos have not looked good since their week five bye. Denver has lost four straight, turning the ball over 13 times in that span. To win they will need their defense to come through against a Patriot offense that is without WR Chris Hogan (shoulder). Danny Amendola has been playing through a knee injury, so the Pats could rely more on James White in the passing game. The Broncos can’t focus on stopping both Rob Gronkowski and the Patriot running backs at the same time. Brock Osweiler and the Denver offense will make a critical gaffe or two against Matt Patricia’s defense.

Pick: Patriots 31, Broncos 17
New England -7½, over 44½


4-4 Miami Dolphins at 6-3 Carolina Panthers
Panthers favored by 9; over/under 38½ points; money line -450, +350

Continuity on offensive lines is a key to productivity. Miami will make two changes to their OL this week, adding LG Ted Larsen but losing RT Ja’Wuan James. That could be problematic against a Carolina defense that is allowing only 17.7 ppg.

Pick: Panthers 24, Dolphins 17
Miami +9, over 38½


Bye Week:
4-5 Baltimore Ravens
6-3 Kansas City Chiefs
4-5 Oakland Raiders
8-1 Philadelphia Eagles


For a sneak peak at next week’s games, check out NFL Week 11 Early Advanced ‘Look-Ahead Lines: Patriots favored by 6 vs Raiders in Mexico City.


Podcast: Do We Like Or Hate The Jimmy Garoppolo Trade For The Patriots?

Russ Goldman
November 1, 2017 at 12:03 pm ET

In this episode, we looked back at the victory for the Patriots against the Chargers. Later on in the show, we shared our NFL Topics that we discussed for this week. However, we started the show by discussing the Jimmy Garoppolo trade for the Patriots.

All-22 Film Review, Patriots Win Over 49ers

Steve Balestrieri
November 22, 2016 at 8:34 am ET

All-22 Film Shows Good and Bad in Several Key Areas

Reviewing the game film from Sunday’s win over the 49ers it is easy to find plenty of good and bad plays to highlight. Bill Belichick will have plenty of positives and negatives to work with within the upcoming week to prepare for the Jets.

The offense, missing two key players in Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan struggled in the middle point of the game, but still put up 30 points and could have easily put up over 40. Malcolm Mitchell had his best game as a pro and scored his first NFL touchdown, a 56-yard pass play from Tom Brady. The “Pony” backfield with both Dion Lewis and James White looks intriguing and gives Brady plenty of options to spread out the defense.

LeGarrette Blount and James Develin are working quite well together. Develin is opening some gaps as the fullback for him to run through and Blount is showing good patience and excellent vision in picking the holes to exploit.

The defense mixed and matched with several different combinations but it is obvious that when they rested Dont’a Hightower, the defense suffered. They did use him with different linebackers, starting Shea McClellin also using Elandon Roberts, Kyle Van Noy and even Barkevious Mingo near the end of the game. All of them had their ups and downs, but Van Noy flashed a nice inside move on the right tackle to pick up his first sack as a member of the Patriots. The Patriots manufactured five sacks by utilizing some different looks and it worked. They got two from DBs (Chung, Butler), two from LBs (Hightower, Van Noy) and one from the DL (Ninkovich), so it is a positive moving forward.

Logan Ryan had a nice bounce-back game in the slot this week. Eric Rowe got the start opposite of Malcolm Butler and played well. I would imagine that they’ll stick with this unit next week in the Meadowlands against the Jets.

We’ve picked out a couple of different plays this week and we’ll look at how the team did.

Dion Lewis 9-Yard Pass: What the Patriots have is an intriguing pair of pass catchers now in Dion Lewis, now that he’s back and James White who has played very well in his stead. So why not use them both? And they did with great effect here early in the game.

The Patriots had a third and about three just inside the 20-yard line. The line up with three wide receivers and Lewis on Brady’s left with White on his right in the backfield. This is a look the 49ers hadn’t seen on tape before so they’re unprepared for it.


At the snap, Mitchell who is lined up wide left runs a seven-yard pattern inside and sits, dragging his coverage with him. Both Lewis and White run out into the flat at 45-degree angles. Brady has plenty of options.

The 49ers took a deep drop …too deep and Mitchell is wide open for an easy first down. Lewis is open in the left flat, where Brady delivers the ball and after he makes the first man miss, he runs for other 4-5 yards for a 9-yard gain. But White at the top of the screen is wide open and had only a single man to beat for the touchdown.


Julian Edelman TD Catch: The Patriots moved to the San Francisco four-yard line where they lined up four wide. James White came in motion from right to left. Edelman is split wide right. Martellus Bennett is in the slot right.


At the snap Bennett runs a short out route right along the goal line, taking two defenders with him. Edelman runs a crossing route along the back of the end zone and is covered well by Keith Reaser, but once Brady begins to move in the pocket to the right, the coverage breaks down. Edelman reverses his field, and his quickness leaves Reaser behind. Brady delivers the ball on the money and Edelman does a nice job of keeping both feet inbounds for the touchdown.


Draughn 26-Yard Wheel Route: This was one of those plays that fans were up in arms about because we’ve seen this one before and it seems that opponents always seem successful with. It was a perfectly executed play by the 49ers and the Patriots were unfortunate because of a slip.

The Niners lined up with a bunch formation on the right side with three receivers tightly aligned. The Patriots answer and deploy Hightower, Chung, and Butler to counter. But at the snap, the Niners do a good job at rubbing the defenders to get open. Jeremy Kerley runs across in the middle of the field and is wide open. Chris Harper drags Butler on a deep post route.


Shaun Draughn flares out on the wheel route. Hightower gets caught up in the wash initially and then the issue is compounded when he loses his footing momentarily allowing Draughn to run free. Rowe in the middle of the field and McCourty have coverage responsibility with Kerley. Hightower can’t catch him and Kaepernick makes the correct call and delivers the ball to Draughn for a big gain. Perfect execution by the 49ers here. Draughn would have been open regardless but the slip probably cost the Patriots extra 15 yards downfield.


Dont’a Hightower Sack: Hightower snuffed out a possible 49ers touchdown bid with a big sack of Kaepernick on third down at the Patriots six-yard line. The Pats show blitz with four down linemen and Chung and McClellin lined up on the line of scrimmage.

At the snap, Chris Long at the right defensive end crashes down hard to the left drawing the center and left guard with him. McClellin blitzes from the right and is picked up by the left tackle. Initially, all is well, Kaepernick has a good pocket. But the void in the center is filled by Hightower who blasts inside the A-Gap. DuJuan Harris moves up to block him but is easily overpowered.


The Patriots by rushing six on Kaepernick were able to stop them for a loss and force a field goal attempt. Good execution by everyone involved and although no one else was able to beat their one-on-one matchups, Hightower’s play snuffed out a possible touchdown pass.


Mitchell 56-yard Touchdown: The Patriots once again used the “Pony” formation to great effect. Lined up at their 44-yard line, the Pats go three wide with Mitchell lined up wide right and Edelman and Amendola wide left. White is on Brady’s right, Lewis to his left. Edelman comes in motion from left to right just before the snap.


As Brady gets the ball, White and Lewis again flare out of the backfield, Mitchell runs a deep comeback, with Amendola running a deep crossing route. Brady is flushed from the pocket. He again buys time with his feet sliding to the right and the coverage, which was solid breaks down. Mitchell gets behind Reaser, who is caught out of position and in chase mode.


Brady delivers the ball just barely over his head and Mitchell as he catches it runs under Trumaine Brock who was in catchup mode with Amendola. He then sprints untouched into the end zone for his first NFL TD. This was a play that was well covered at first but illustrates again, that once a QB breaks containment, bad things usually happen in the secondary.


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 Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Reactions from Northern California to Patriots’ 30-17 Victory Over 49ers

John Morgan
November 21, 2016 at 8:00 pm ET

Some New England fans and certain sports talk radio hosts are whining about the New England Patriots not looking impressive enough in their latest win to improve their conference leading record to 8-2. For another perspective here is a sampling of reactions from Northern California to the Patriots’ 30-17 victory over the 49ers.


Reactions from Northern California to Patriots’ 30-17 Victory Over 49ers

San Francisco Chronicle:
Tom Brady, the legend, comes home

“They inspired a lot of kids here in the Bay Area in my time growing up, and I was one of them,” he said.

He mentioned the players he idolized — Joe Montana, Dwight Clark, Steve Young, Tom Rathman — and said that seeing them at halftime during the ceremony honoring Eddie DeBartolo “was a pretty, pretty great day for me.”

He shared some words with Rathman, the 49ers’ running back coach, on the field, and recalled first meeting him.

“He was neighbors with my best friend, and I got to know him a little bit before the draft when he had just started in coaching,” Brady said. “I always loved the way he played and how he spiked the ball after he scored. He was one of my favorite players.

“He autographed my shoe at a store opening when I was probably 12 or 13. He and Roger Craig. It was a pretty great memory.”

Not such a great memory is the one shared by 49ers fans, whose team (along with every other team in the NFL) passed on the hometown boy, drafting quarterback Gio Carmazzi in the third round in 2000 while Brady lasted until the sixth.

What could have happened with Brady on a 49ers team that hadn’t yet fallen into disrepair, that still had Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens and Charlie Garner and a decent defense?

We’ll never know. But 17 seasons later, Brady finally played on the 49ers’ home field. And, as he has been for most of his career, he was brilliant.


The Mercury News:
49ers historic, ninth straight loss comes against Tom Brady-led Patriots
Chip Kelly becomes first 49ers coach to lose nine straight

The 49ers matched a dubious franchise record by losing their ninth straight game Sunday, falling 30-17 to the New England Patriots in San Mateo native Tom Brady’s long-awaited homecoming.

Brady threw four touchdown passes, one in each quarter, to key the Patriots (8-2) in his first career action on the home field of his childhood team. He completed 24 of 40 passes for 280 yards with no interceptions and a 114.6 rating.

As rain fell through most of the game, Colin Kaepernick got sacked five times — all in the first half — and fell to 0-5 since replacing Blaine Gabbert as the 49ers starting quarterback.

GRONK WHO: Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski did not travel because of a chest injury. He wasn’t exactly missed.


The Sacramento Bee:
On 49ers: Fates of Kaepernick, Kelly, Baalke still being written

After a 26-20 win in Chicago on Dec. 6, then-49ers coach Jim Tomsula and his staff were set to return for the 2016 season. Then, three weeks later, they weren’t.

That serves as a lesson that the futures of those on the current 49ers squad – in grave danger of losing nine consecutive games for the first time since Jimmy Carter was president – probably haven’t been decided yet and instead will be written, rewritten and then scratched out again over the next seven weeks, starting Sunday against the Patriots.

What’s more, the fates of the big three – quarterback Colin Kaepernick, coach Chip Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke – are interwoven. If Kaepernick continues to make progress, that’s probably good news for Kelly, who’s been a Kaepernick advocate from the beginning. If the 49ers keep Kaepernick in 2017, that might not bode as well for Baalke, who has an icy relationship with the quarterback.


East Bay Times:
49ers secure wrong kind of historical achievement

The San Francisco 49ers have reached unfamiliar territory, but these aren’t the accolades anyone would want referenced among their list of accomplishments.

After a 30-17 loss to the New England Patriots in Week 11, the Niners have compiled nine straight losses, tying a record set by the 1978 team then went on to finish 2-14 and 4th in the NFC West.

By the time it’s all said and done, this year’s Niners team could compile the worst run defense in history. San Francisco allowed the Patriots to rack up 171 rushing yards and are still on pace to give up 500 points and 3,000 yards on the ground this season.


San Francisco Examiner:
Eddie D drowned out by Pats fans during pregame at Levi’s Stadium (VIDEO)

The San Francisco 49ers are honoring former owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. during the team’s game against the New England Patriots on Sunday.

DeBartolo was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame over the summer and was answering questions from the media pregame.

Then, Tom Brady took the field and the hordes of Pats fans in the crowd shouted their appreciation for the man they call Tommy Terrific.

“That must be Tom Brady,” DeBartolo said before laughing.


CSN Bay Area:
Instant Replay: 49ers Fall To Pats, Drop Franchise Tying Ninth In A Row

On Sunday, the 49ers received a lesson from the organization that most closely resembles what DeBartolo accomplished in the 1980s and ‘90s with Walsh and quarterback Joe Montana.

Bill Belichick’s AFC East-leading Patriots improved to 8-2 on the season, while the 49ers drop to 1-9 after opening the season with a 28-0 win over the Los Angeles Rams.

Tom Brady was not his usual sharp self, perhaps due to the weather conditions, but he managed to throw four touchdown passes to lead New England to the victory.

Brady, a 17th-year professional, made his first start against the 49ers in the Bay Area. Brady grew up a fan of the 49ers and was at the NFC Championship game in January 1982 that produced Dwight Clark’s catch that propelled the 49ers to their first Super Bowl appearance. Brady was 4 years old.

Brady completed 24 of 40 attempts for 280 yards with four TDs and no interceptions. His passer rating was 114.6.


The Mercury News:
49ers pregame: Torrey Smith’s 89-game streak ends; Rob Gronkowski out for Patriots
Rain is expected for the Patriots first visit to Levi’s Stadium

Smith sustained a shoulder injury last Sunday at Arizona and did not practice Tuesday or Wednesday. He was listed as questionable after being limited in Thursday and Friday practices.

Smith, in his third season with the 49ers, has not missed a game previously in his six-year career. The only active wide receiver with a longer streak of consecutive games played is the Atlanta Falcons Eric Weems, who is more of a return specialist.


The Sacramento Bee:
Report card: 49ers flunk second half

Offense: Colin Kaepernick made several nice touch passes, which haven’t exactly been his forte, including two exceptional throws to tight end Vance McDonald. But he and the 49ers deteriorated in the second half, when they punted five times and, as has been the case all season, couldn’t maintain momentum in the third quarter. Grade: C-

Defense: Unlike other running backs this year, 250-pound LeGarrette Blount didn’t trample the 49ers, but he finished with 124 yards. The real issue was Tom Brady, who was good on third downs and excellent in the red zone, where he threw three touchdown passes. After forcing four turnovers last week against Arizona, the 49ers had none against New England. Grade: C-


Niners Nation:
Jimmie Ward suffers concussion, Eric Reid suffers reported torn biceps

The San Francisco 49ers lost badly to the New England Patriots on Sunday, but more importantly for now, they have a pair of notable injuries to deal with this week. Cornerback Jimmie Ward suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter, and free safety Eric Reid suffered a right arm injury that Matt Barrows tweeted, “could be serious.”

Ward left the game with a head injury, and is now formally in the NFL’s concussion protocol. The 49ers travel to face the Miami Dolphins in Week 12, and so Ward has until the end of the week to clear through the protocol if he is to play in that game.


Patriots Win Unsatisfying, But Show Steps in Improvement

Steve Balestrieri
at 8:24 am ET

The Patriots beat the San Francisco 49ers 30-17 on Sunday in Santa Clara, California and moved to 8-2 on the season. That’s the most important thing to take away from beating the 1-9 struggling Niners and moving on to the Jets. While it wasn’t always pretty, there were some steps in the right direction and positives to build upon for the team.

There will be plenty of film both good and bad for Bill Belichick to use as a teaching tool this week. There were positives and negatives for each unit of the team and while one should assess the quality of the opponent, the bottom line is they did what they needed to do and move on with home field advantage of the AFC intact.

A second look at the game in our film review is upcoming on Monday, but here are some notes and observations from the game.

Brady Puts Up Big Numbers: Tom Brady put the team on his back [again], and finished 24 of 40 for 280 yards with four touchdown passes and no interceptions for a passer rating of 114.6, which points to a particularly terrific day. And there were some great plays by #12, his ability to slide in the pocket is better than ever and his move to slide and deliver the ball to Danny Amendola in the back of the end zone for an early fourth quarter score was among the best of the day. He also made fantastic deliveries to Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell for touchdown throws in his homecoming to the SF Bay area.

But his overreliance on Edelman was at times troubling. Edelman, also making his return to the Bay area was targeted 17 times on Sunday, many of the deep ball variety. He did haul in 8 passes for 77 yards and the first score of the game. But it was clear that he missed Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan on those deep routes.

49ers Tried Taking Bennett Away: Without the benefit of the All-22 film, at first glance, it looked like Chip Kelly’s game plan for the Pats sans Gronk was to take away the middle of the field and take away Martellus Bennett. It will be worth a second look tomorrow but SF’s linebackers were seemingly dropping into those areas where the Patriots like to target the tight ends and forcing them to beat them elsewhere.

Bennett was targeted only twice and had just one catch for 14 yards. But the Patriots offense still has plenty of weapons even missing Gronkowski and Hogan and they had more than enough weapons to beat the struggling Niners.

With Bennett not getting a ton of looks, rookie WR Malcolm Mitchell had his best day as a pro today. He had four catches for 98 yards including a nice 56-yard catch and run for a touchdown. He’s had modest numbers on the season, but with a roster deep with targets, it is good to see that he’s picking up the offense very well and seems to have integrated himself in it with the trust of Brady.

The defense has Both Good and Bad Moments: Overall, the defense gets passing grades on Sunday. They held the 49ers to just 10 points until a garbage time touchdown drive in the final few minutes when the Patriots were playing a lot of backups. That’s ultimately what they’re judged on and there, they did their job.

There was plenty of shuffling of players as they tried to find combinations that work. One area that improved on Sunday, the pass rush. Matt Patricia got a little creative this week and he got things off to a good start. Pat Chung was playing an in-the-box Big Nickel LB role and blitzed on consecutive plays, the second where he sacked Colin Kaepernick. Overall the Patriots got five first-half sacks which is a very encouraging sign. They narrowly missed on a few others and the creativity definitely helped. Five different players had sacks including Kyle Van Noy who appeared in his first game.

They also gave up two long drives totaling ten points prior to the garbage time drive. And simply put, the Patriots can’t afford to lose Dont’a Hightower. He was rested for a spell and the defense was gashed. Watching Kaepernick and a below average offense move down the field at ease on those two drives was troubling as well.

Covering running backs out of the backfield is going to be a big area of concern moving forward. The Niners completed big passes to their backs, granted the first against Hightower was the result of a bunch formation and the big LB got caught in the wash. But Elandon Roberts is a detriment in coverage right now. He was targeted both against running backs and tight ends and opponents will continue to test him when he’s on the field. Against the Jets next week and Matt Forte, it is something to keep in mind.

The defense also had their moments in the second half, basically limiting the Niners to just about 70 yards of offense until that final drive. At one point Kaepernick was 0-10 passing in the second half.

Logan Ryan Bounces Back: Ryan, who is a lightning rod for criticism had a really solid day. The Patriots had Malcolm Butler and Eric Rowe outside at corner and played Ryan mainly in the slot against the Niners’ Jeremy Kerley.

While no one is going to compare Kerley with Antonio Brown, he is the 49ers leading receiver and had 40 catches entering the game. He still has 40, as Ryan held him to zero catches on just two targets for the afternoon.

Ryan did a good job of sticking with Kerley all day long and took away Kaepernick’s biggest target. Those are the things that they can build off in the upcoming weeks.

LaGarrette Blount’s Big Day: The Niners made a concerted effort to stop the Patriots running game today and at times were able to hold them to minimal gains, but the running game got untracked and Blount put up big numbers.

Blount carried 19 times for 124 yards and a stellar 6.5-yard average on the day. He also had a nice 35-yard touchdown run get wiped off the books due to a penalty. While he didn’t make it into the end zone this week, it wasn’t for lack of trying.

The Patriots killed off the clock with a good, physical final drive where Blount carried them down inside the five-yard line. He got two cracks at the end zone before Belichick had Brady take a knee at the end of the game. It was a nice day for the Patriots big man as not only he but the team as well, they ran for 177 yards as a team today.

Dion Lewis Returns: There was some optimism with the news that the Patriots running back would make his 2016 debut after tearing his ACL a year ago. And Lewis was put right into the mix with Brady throwing him the ball on his first snap.

Lewis seems to have his trademark elusiveness intact and while obviously a bit rusty, looked good in his first game action in a year. He carried five times for 23 yards and added three catches for 26 more.

The Patriots experimented with a backfield of both he and James White on some passing downs and it will be interesting to see more of it. The two backs combined for nine catches for 89 yards.

Slater Injury Compounds Bad Day for STs: The Patriots reported that Matthew Slater was injured during Sunday’s game and was in a walking boot and on crutches after the game. Losing arguably the best STs player in the league is a big blow to the unit and will bear watching as the schedule unfolds.

Sunday’s rainy, sloppy weather was a perfect metaphor for the Pats plays on Special Teams in Santa Clara. Stephen Gostkowski pushed his first extra point to the right. Ryan Allen had a couple bad punts early in the game. Danny Amendola had a stellar 30-yard return on a punt return so there was some good to go with it. The coverage units looked solid as well.

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 Wednesdays at 12 noon.

In Mitchell, Patriots Seem to Have Finally Gotten This One Right

Ian Logue
at 6:30 am ET

If you’ve followed this team for any period of time, you know that one of the biggest problems this football team has been developing young receivers.

You’ve seen players like Bethel Johnson and Chad Jackson, who showed promise early but fizzled out as quickly as they started.  You’ve seen players like Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson who developed and showed flashes of brilliance, only to fall apart and drop off when this team needed them most.

Granted they’ve gotten lucky with players like Deion Branch, but overall, it’s been a frustrating process.  Save for the surprising emergence of Julian Edelman, a former 7th round draft pick, the Patriots have largely come up empty in the draft and instead have spent much of their time looking for weapons for Tom Brady’s arsenal by shopping for them in free agency.  They’ve brought in players like Randy Moss, Wes Welker, trading back for Branch after losing him in free agency the first time when he finally became eligible, and eventually signed Danny Amendola when Welker left for Denver.

But this past offseason when they drafted Malcolm Mitchell, you could tell he was special.  Seeing him in the preseason and his athleticism along with the way he carried himself, the 4th-round pick out of Georgia looked like a player who finally had the potential to contribute in this offense.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing.  The elbow dislocation he suffered in the preseason looked pretty gruesome at the time, but fortunately that turned out to be not as severe as it could have been and it kept him out mere weeks, and he emerged among the group that started the season on the 53-man roster.

Mitchell has shown plenty of promise so far this season. (USA TODAY Images)

He had some big plays early on, finishing with one reception of at least 15 yards or more in each of their first three games before he dropped off the radar for a bit after Brady’s week five return against Cleveland.  Chris Hogan essentially took over the majority of the snaps thanks to his big play ability and the connection the two players seemed to have.  But with Hogan out on Sunday along with Rob Gronkowski’s absence, Mitchell found himself in position to take advantage of his opportunity, and he did just that.

“I just think the coaches did a good job of just getting me prepared for the week,” said Mitchell after the game. “It kind of came down to a last second call for Chris [Hogan]. Other than that, I was just working hard every week, just getting ready for any opportunities that I get, in general.”

The receiver finished with four receptions for 98 yards along with a touchdown out in San Francisco on Sunday, which included an incredible 56-yard grab that saw him catch a perfectly thrown football in traffic from Brady and take off for the races as he scored his first NFL career touchdown and Brady’s fourth of the afternoon.

“He shows up every day with his hard hat on ready to go to work,” Brady said Sunday after the win. “I’ve just been impressed with him since the day he came in and just his personality is infectious. He’s a very positive person and he made a great play today, made a lot of great plays. He’s growing along with everybody else and it’s been great to see.”

With Mitchell, one of the things that stands out is the fact he’s so smooth in and out of his routes, with tremendous control along with the fact he catches the ball with his hands away from his body.  In fact, watching him play, he doesn’t even look like a rookie.  He does everything right from his receiving skills all the way down to his blocking, with one of his downfield blocks on Sunday helping spring LeGarrette Blount for a 44-yard gain standing out.  Thanks to that effort, it helped Blount get them down to the 49ers 33-yard line and ultimately lead to a 9-yard touchdown pass from brady to James White that, at the time, put them up 13-3 early in the second quarter.

Bill Belichick, certainly noticed the play, and he was very pleased with Mitchell as he spoke to reporters after the game.

“Honestly, I thought maybe the best play he had just from the sideline was the blocking he did on [LeGarrette Blount]’s long run in the first quarter,” said Belichick. “It was like a 20-yard gain and ended up being a 40-yard gain, or something like that.  Malcolm competed hard. He always works hard. He’s a smart kid.  He got an opportunity today and certainly stepped up and took advantage of it, so that’s what our team needed.”

He looks like a player who has all the tools necessary to play in this league and it was great to see him build some chemistry with Brady with Hogan and Gronk both sidelined.  But so far, he’s playing above what we’ve seen previously from past young Patriots receivers and that’s exactly one of the things that’s been missing.

Thanks to his emergence, the Patriots seem to have the most quality depth at receiver that they’ve ever had and with plenty of football still ahead. But for now, it looks like the Patriots may have finally gotten it right with his selection and we’ll have to see if this is just a glimpse of what might be still to come from him moving forward.