New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills Monday Night Football Preview

Tom Brady will try to improve his 28-3 career record against the Buffalo Bills when the New England Patriots travel to New Era Field on Monday Night Football.

New England Patriots

The New England Patriots made everyone forget their 1-2 start by winning their last four games, including a hard-fought 38-31 road victory against the Chicago Bears last Sunday. Tom Brady completed 25 of 36 passes for 277 yards, three touchdowns and one interception to help rally the Patriots from an early 10-point deficit and their special teams had two touchdowns via a blocked punt by Kyle Van Noy and a kickoff return by Cordarrelle Patterson.

The New England defense preserved the win in dramatic fashion, allowing a Hail Mary completion from Mitch Trubisky to Kevin White before tackling him one yard shy of the goal line. Rookie running back Sony Michel left the game in the first half after twisting his left knee but an MRI revealed no structural damage he’s listed as day-to-day. James White and Kenjon Barner stepped up on the running game, combining for 76 rushing yards on 21 carries and Josh Gordon caught four passes for 100 receiving yards.

The Patriots are averaging 260.3 passing yards (14th in the NFL) and 120.9 rushing yards (14th). New England ranks 4th with 30.6 points per game and 19th with 25.6 points against. Tom Brady has passed for 1,876 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions, Sony Michel has 422 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 95 carries and Rob Gronkowski has 26 receptions for 405 yards and one touchdown. Devin McCourty has 41 tackles and Deatrich Wise Jr. has 3.5 sacks.

Buffalo Bills

The quarterback situation for the Buffalo Bills has become a mess and they were completely manhandled on Sunday’s 37-5 road loss against the Indianapolis Colts. Derek Anderson became the team’s third different player to start at quarterback this season after a 12-day stretch in which he signed a contract and took over the starting job because head coach Sean McDermott doesn’t trust Nathan Peterman to replace injured rookie Josh Allen.

The results were as expected, Derek Anderson had just 12 days to learn the playbook and he lost star running back LeSean McCoy during the game. Anderson completed 20 of 31 passes for 175 yards, no touchdowns, four turnovers (three interceptions) and he was sacked twice. The Bills totaled 175 of their 303 total yards in the second half, when the outcome of the game was already decided and they failed to score a touchdown for the third time in seven games.

Derek Anderson will start under center once again while Josh Allen continues to recover from a sprained ligament in his throwing elbow and running back LeSean McCoy is in concussion protocol, so his status for this game is still up in the air.

The Bills are averaging 129.4 passing yards (32nd in the NFL) and 104.6 rushing yards (19th). Buffalo ranks 32nd with 11.3 points per game and 16th with 25.0 points against. Derek Anderson has passed for 175 yards and three interceptions, LeSean McCoy has 244 rushing yards on 63 carries and Zay Jones has 19 receptions for 226 yards and one touchdown. Tremaine Edmunds has 54 tackles and Jerry Hughes has 4.5 sacks.

NFL Trends:

The Under is:

8-3 in New England’s last 11 games after accumulating more than 350 total yards in their previous game

5-2 in New England’s last seven road games

9-4 in New England’s last 13 games against a team with a losing record

5-0 in Buffalo’s last five games overall

4-0 in Buffalo’s last four games after allowing more than 350 total yards in their previous game

6-1 in Buffalo’s last seven games following a straight up loss

5-1 in Buffalo’s last six games following an ATS loss

4-1 in Buffalo’s last five games a team with a winning record

New England has scored 38 or more points in four straight games but I just can’t trust this weak Buffalo offense to put up enough points to make this a high-scoring contest. This game could get out of control quickly, so the Patriots might be content with scoring just enough to secure the win and rest their starters.

NFL Pick: Under 44 (-110)Odds via Jazz Sports

Jake Walker runs OddsandNews.com. You can follow him on Twitter (@Walker_J23)
Advertisements

NFL Week 6 Power Rankings

The NFL season continues to move along. Week 5 saw some surprising finishes, but there are still a pair of undefeated teams that remain. After those two powerhouses, the NFL power rankings are muddied a bit. We take a look at teams 1-10 again this week, trying to sort out who is for real and which teams still have a bit more to prove:

1) The Los Angeles Rams           2018 Record: 5-0          Previous Week: 1 ( – )

The Rams were able to hold off their division rival, the Seattle Seahawks, to move to 5-0. Jared Goff converted a crucial 4th-and-1 late in the 4th quarter on a QB sneak to end the game. The Rams offense has been amazingly efficient, as they lead the NFL in yards per offensive play (7.4) and rank T-4th in fewest turnovers lost (5). Goff ranks 2nd in the league in passer rating (119.7); behind only Drew Brees. The Rams defense also currently ranks 6th in points allowed (19.6 PPG) and has allowed the 3rd fewest attempts inside the red zone (12).

2) The Kansas City Chiefs          2018 Record: 5-0          Previous Week: 2 ( – )

The Chiefs rolled right through the Jags 30-14 and remain one of two unbeaten teams. Kansas City’s defense stepped up big, intercepting Blake Bortles four times. The Chiefs defense came into the game with only two interceptions in the team’s first four games. Patrick Mahomes  had his first game this year without a TD and threw his first two interceptions of the season, but was able to get enough offense going to down the Jags. The Chiefs offense ranks 2nd in points per game (35.0) and ranks T-1st in fewest turnovers (3). The Chiefs are also the 3rd most efficient team at scoring inside the red zone (76.2%).

3) The New Orleans Saints        2018 Record: 5-0         Previous Week: 9 ( +6 )

Drew Brees, this week, became the new all-time leader in passing yards in the NFL. He did so in a 43-19 drubbing of the Redskins in the Superdome. Brees leads this Saints offense that ranks 1st in points per game (36.0) and 2nd in first downs (128). The Saints also got RB Mark Ingram back this week from suspension, and he contributed immediately rushing for two TDs. Brees found rookie WR Tre’Quan Smith three times for 111 yards and two scores, the first of which a 62 yard TD that gave his QB the all-time passing yards record.

4) The Chicago Bears            2018 Record: 3-1            Previous Week: 3 ( -1 )

The Bears had a week four bye after their week three win over the Bucs. For a team that came into the season with modest expectations, the Bears find themselves ranking 2nd in scoring defense (16.3 PPG) and have allowed the fewest trips inside the red zone (7). The Bears’ next matchup is a Dolphins team that ranks 28th in scoring (19.8 PPG).

5) The Cincinnati Bengals           2018 Record: 4-1          Previous Week: 5 ( – )

The Bengals moved to 4-1 after overcoming a 17-0 2nd half deficit to beat the Dolphins. A Bengals defense, which has struggled this season, blanked the Fins for the final 24 plus minutes of game time. The Bengals’ only blemish thus far was a loss on the road in Carolina. The Bengals rank 4th in scoring offense (30.6 PPG) and continues to have a top five scoring offense in the red zone (70.6%).

6) The New England Patriots        2018 Record: 3-2           Previous Week: NR

The Patriots, after some early season offensive struggles, have rebounded with back-to-back wins. They dominated the Dolphins last Sunday, and then beat the Colts last Thursday on a short week to move to 3-2. In the process, the Pats have moved to 6th in red zone scoring (68.8%) and rank 9th in points per game (26.6). The Patriots defense also ranks 9th in scoring (21.6) and has forced 10 turnovers (6th).

7) The Los Angeles Chargers         2018 Record: 3-2         Previous Week: NR

The Chargers took down the Raiders this past week to move to 3-2. Philip Rivers currently ranks 3rd in the NFL at QB rating (116.4) and leads this Chargers offense that ranks 8th in scoring (27.4 PPG). The Chargers offense has also taken care of the football, ranking T-4th in turnovers lost (5). The 2018 Bolts’ defense are T-10th in turnovers (8), and their only two losses have come against the Chiefs and Rams.

8) The Carolina Panthers          2018 Record: 3-2          Previous Week: NR

This past Sunday, the Panthers held off a Giants team desperate for a win. Graham Gano kicked a game-winning 63 yard FG with 0:01 remaining. The Panthers offense ranks 12th in scoring offense (26.0 PPG), and have only committed four turnovers thus far, which is good for 3rd in the NFL. The Panthers defense is ranked 15th in scoring defense (22.8 PPG) and is T-5th best at stopping conversions on 3rd down (30.8%).

9) The Jacksonville Jaguars         2018 Record: 3-2         Previous Week: 4 ( -5 )

The Jaguars hit a lofty speed bump in their 2018 season last week, falling to the red hot Chiefs 30-14. The Jags have had trouble scoring this season; their 20.4 PPG ranks 26th in the league. That said, they still rank T-3rd in scoring defense (17.2 PPG) and are the 2nd stingiest team on defense inside the red zone (33.3%). That defense is also the 6th best in the NFL at getting off the field on 3rd down (30.8%).

10) The Baltimore Ravens           2018 Record: 3-2           Previous Week: 6 ( -4 )

The Ravens lost a tough, divisional game on the road in OT this past week to a reinvigorated Cleveland Browns team. The Ravens struggled mightily on 3rd down (4/16) against their division foe. The Ravens defense, however, still ranks 1st in scoring defense (15.4 PPG) and 1st at getting off the field on 3rd down (28.8%). Their defense is also T-3rd fewest red zone attempts allowed (12). The Ravens offense has come up big inside the red zone, ranking T-8th in converting red zone scores (65.0%).

NFL Week 5 Power Rankings

The NFL season is a quarter way finished, and we are down to only two unbeaten teams: the Rams and the Chiefs. Those teams were 1-2 in last week’s rankings, and there isn’t any good reason to change that this week. But as for positions 3-10, a little shakeup this week as per usual, and some surprising entrants into the top five and top ten. Will the Patriots or Packers re-enter the list after dominant performances against AFC East competitors? Which teams crack the top ten for the first time in 2018? Full list:

1) The Los Angeles Rams          2018 Record: 4-0          Previous Week: 1 ( – )

The Rams took down the Vikings last Thursday to move to 4-0 this year. Jared Goff racked up over 450 yards and five TDs, finishing the game with a perfect passer rating. The Rams defense was finally tested, but their high powered offense proved too much for Minnesota to overcome. The Rams rank 2nd in the league in points per game (35.0) and also have the most 1st downs (105) through the first four weeks. The Rams are tied for 3rd in the NFL with a +4 turnover margin, and are also T-2nd best in the league at converting on 3rd down (48.8%).

2) The Kansas City Chiefs         2018 Record: 4-0          Previous Week: 2 ( – )

The Chiefs appeared to be on their way to their first loss this week at Mile High. That was before Patrick Mahomes led the Chiefs down the field for two fourth-quarter TD drives, the second of which was the game-winner capped off by a Kareem Hunt four-yard rushing score. In the process, the Chiefs broke the Broncos‘ streak of 65 straight wins when leading by at least ten points in the 4th quarter. It was also the first time in 37 games that the Broncos had surrendered over 300 net passing yards; which had been the longest streak in football. A full quarter into the 2018 season, it is hard to argue that Patrick Mahomes isn’t the front-runner for NFL MVP.

3) The Chicago Bears           2018 Record: 3-1            Previous Week: 6 ( +3 )

For most of the year, the buzz surrounding the Bears has been focused on their new look defense. This past Sunday, the defense again was dominant, as they held the fiery Buccaneers offense to only ten points. But the bigger story was Mitchell Trubisky’s six TD passes en route to putting up a near 50 burger on the Bucs. The Bears currently rank T-3rd in scoring defense (16.3 PPG) and 8th in scoring offense (27.8 PPG). Perhaps more impressive, the Bears have forced 11 turnovers already on defense while only coughing the ball up five times. That +6 turnover ratio ranks 2nd in the NFL to the Browns.

4) The Jacksonville Jaguars           2018 Record: 3-1          Previous Week: 4 ( – )

The Jags dominated the Jets this past Sunday, nearly doubling them up in time of possession. Blake Bortles was able to connect with Dede Westbrook nine times for 130 yards. Bortles also found Donte Moncrief five times for 109 yards, most of which came from a big 67 yard TD pass late in the 3rd quarter. I don’t think we learned a whole ton about the Jags this week that we didn’t already know. Four games in, the Jags have the best scoring defense in the league (14.0 PPG). They also commit too many penalties and have turned the ball over seven times already. Their -4 turnover margin is tied for worst in the NFL.

5) The Cincinnati Bengals          2018 Record: 3-1           Previous Week: 8 ( +3 )

The Bengals beat the Falcons this last week in a shootout 37-36. Andy Dalton led a 75 yard game winning TD drive that was capped by a 13 yard score to AJ Green. This Bengals offense has been electric thus far, ranking 4th in the league in scoring (31.5 PPG). They are also the most efficient team inside the 20 yard line, scoring on 11/13 attempts (84.6%). The Bengals are also T-3rd in first downs (98) and are the 5th best team converting 3rd downs (46.5%). The upcoming schedule for this red hot offense looks promising. They play a Miami team next week that was just routed by the Patriots. After that, their next four opponents all are among the bottom eight teams in points allowed (PIT, KC, TB, and NO).

6) The Baltimore Ravens            2018 Record: 3-1           Previous Week: 9 ( +3 )

The Ravens secured a huge win Sunday night in Pittsburgh, downing the Steelers and holding them to only 47 second-half yards. The Ravens defense stepped up huge down the stretch, and Joe Flacco was able to handle the not so elite Steelers defense for 363 yards and two TDs. He also connected with the speedy John Brown three times for 116 yards and a score, including a 71 yard catch and run in the 2nd quarter. The Ravens are one of two teams, the other being the LA Rams, to rank within the top five for both scoring offense (5th; 30.8 PPG) and scoring defense (T-3rd; 16.3 PPG). The Ravens defense is also 2nd best in the NFL at getting off the field on 3rd down, allowing conversions on just 27.8% of attempts.

7) The Philadelphia Eagles          2018 Record: 2-2          Previous Week: 3 ( -4 )

I do not see a three-point OT loss to a better than expected Titans team as a dagger to this Eagles season. And most weeks, it wouldn’t cause them to slip this far at all. What does worry me slightly is the Eagles rank T-26th in scoring (20.5 PPG) through the first four weeks. Another troubling stat about this Eagles team is they have put the ball on the ground 11 times so far, losing five of those fumbles. Their -3 turnover ratio is T-2nd worst in the league. Defensively, Philly has been solid. They rank 3rd in the league in defensive 3rd down conversions allowed (28.3%) and have only allowed seven scores on 16 red zone attempts. Their 43.8% defensive red zone percent ranks 6th best in the NFL thus far.

8) The Tennessee Titans          2018 Record: 3-1           Previous Week: NR

Last week, I mentioned the Titans were tied with the Jags stout defense for best red zone percentage and best at keeping teams out of the red zone entirely. This past Sunday, they found themselves backed up in the red zone at the end of regulation, but held tough forcing a FG to take the game into OT. Again in OT, the Eagles had a 1st and 10 inside the Tennessee 20, but had to settle for a FG. The Titans defense has come up big inside the 20, allowing a league-best 20% of drives inside the red zone to result in a score. They also rank 6th best in the NFL in overall scoring defense (18.3 PPG). Marcus Mariota led the Titans from 14 points down midway through the 3rd quarter. Mariota finished with 344 yards and three total TDs (1 rushing). He also found his #1 target, the 5th overall pick of 2017’s draft Corey Davis, nine times for 161 yards that included the ten yard score in OT.

9) The New Orleans Saints         2018 Record: 3-1          Previous Week: NR

The Saints took down the Giants this week to move to 3-1. Drew Brees leads this offense that ranks 3rd best in the NFL at 34.3 PPG. Brees has been extremely solid to begin 2018, he has 1295 yards, eight TDs, and zero INTs through the first quarter of 2018. The Saints have also added seven rushing TDs so far, five of those by the 2nd year man Alvin Kamara. Defensively, the Saints haven’t gotten off to as hot of a start this year. They rank 29th in the NFL in points allowed (30.3 PPG) and have surrendered the 3rd most yards through the air through four games.

10) The Green Bay Packers          2018 Record: 2-1-1          Previous Week: NR

The Packers rebounded from a tough loss to the Washington Redskins by blanking the Bills 22-0. That shutout was the Packers’ first in eight years, and included a total of seven sacks of Buffalo rookie QB Josh Allen. The Pack defense also forced three turnovers and held the Bills to just 3/16 on 3rd down. Aaron Rodgers, still suffering the lingering effects from a Week 1 knee sprain, wasn’t his normal self. However, RB Aaron Jones was effective on the ground, running 11 times for 65 yards and a score. He could prove to be a real difference maker going forward for this Packers offense. At the least, he could take some pressure off of Green Bay’s all-pro QB until his knee is 100%. This Packers defense is playing better than last year’s team that ranked 26th in scoring. So far in 2018, they rank 11th in scoring defense (20.8 PPG), are T-9th with five takeaways, and also rank T-4th in the league in sacks (13.0).

12 NFL Trends To Note

We’ve hit the quarter-mark on the season and it’s time to look at some players that are trending in the right direction and some that are heading the wrong way:

  1. Nyheim Hines has played on 70.5% of the Colts offensive snaps during the past two games. Marlon Mack missed both of those contests and three out of four this season with injury woes.
  2. Hines is averaging 8.3 targets per game when Mack sits. Mack is also not expected to play on Thursday.
  3. Over the past two weeks, Eric Ebron has run the second-most routes of all tight ends. He saw 21 targets over that span and should be in all lineups at least until Jack Doyle returns to full health.
  4. Sony Michel accounted for 69.4% of the Patriots’ backfield carries on Sunday, producing 112 yards.
  5. Michel received nine red zone carries over the last two weeks, which is six more than the next highest back (James White).
  6. Kerryon Johnson continues to look good when he’s on the field, gaining 55 yards on nine carries against the Cowboys in week 4. He only saw 20 snaps, running just seven routes, seeing just one target. On the plus side, he handled on the Lions‘ only red zone carry.
  7. Larry Fitzgerald only made three catches during Josh Rosen‘s first start, though better times may be on the horizon. The future Hall-of-Famer recorded a team-high 26% target share from the rookie. Expect brighter days, especially with a soft schedule approaching.
  8. Nelson Agholor is nice buy-low candidate. Alshon Jeffery stole the receiving show for the Eagles in his first game back, but Agholor actually had more targets. Agholor is still running nearly 70% of his routes from the slot, averaging 8.5 targets per contest.
  9. Jordan Howard has seen his snap rate decline in each of the past three weeks, going from 72.7% to 62.2% to 54.1% from weeks 2-4. The Bears were up big in the first half thanks to Mitchell Trubisky’s miracle 6-TD game, though Howard only saw one carry.
  10. Melvin Gordon is averaging 8.4 targets per game and his increased use in the passing game (something he was already a big part of last season) makes him a top-five player in all fantasy formats.
  11. What is going on with Kenyan Drake? He was only on the field for 44.9% of Miami’s offensive snaps on Sunday and ran just one more route than Frank Gore. The Dolphins just lost starting center Daniel Kilgore for the season so the sledding won’t get any easier for Alabama product.
  12. In five games without Leonard Fournette in the lineup, Blake Bortles is averaging over 34 pass attempts per game, including 45 and 34 attempts in weeks 2 and 3, respectively.

NFL Round-Up: Fantasy Corner, Injury Updates

Ryan Fitzpatrick was pulled from the Buccaneers game on Sunday after completing just nine of his 18 passes for 145 yards. Jameis Winston came in for Fitzmagic and he will be the starter when the team returns from a bye in week 6, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link).

Coach Dirk Koetter said when he originally found out Winston would be suspended for the first three games, he anticipated the former No. 1 overall pick starting in week 4. The coach added that Tampa Bay brought in Fitzpatrick to be a mentor for Winston. Koetter also said that Winston is a “guy who will be here way longer”  than the coach will and Winston “needs” to be playing.

The Fitzmagic era in Florida is over and the Harvard QB can be dropped in all leagues. Let’s take a look around the league at a few other key fantasy football story lines:

  • Rob Gronkowski left Sunday’s game with an ankle injury and while it’s been reported that the ailment is not serious. He’s considered questionable for the Patriots‘ tilt against the Colts.
  • Geronimo Allison‘s emergence is real, though a concussion sent him out of Sunday’s game after catching six balls for 80 yards. Randall Cobb didn’t suit up in the contest because of a hamstring injury and if both players are out against Detroit, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who was on the field for 54-of-76 snaps against the Bills, will be the next man up for Green Bay. It’s worth noting that Cobb did not seem close to playing for the Packers this week.
  • Calvin Ridley has six touchdowns in four games this year and although that rate is not sustainable, he’s a mainstay in the Falcons‘ red zone offense. Four of his six scores have come from inside the 20. He’s a solid WR3 going forward.