3 Up, 3 Down: Studs and Duds From Week 16

3 Up, 3 Down: Studs and Duds From Week 16

by December 23, 2018 0 comments

It’s become uncharacteristic of the New England Patriots to be playing a meaningful game against the Bills in Week 16 of the NFL season, but here we are.

Having been unable to take care of business against the Dolphins and Steelers in back-to-back games on the road, New England limped into Gillette Stadium on Sunday afternoon with a 9-5 record, and just a yard away from being an 8-6 team.

But none of that would matter if the Patriots could win this matchup against the 5-9 Bills, led by rookie QB Josh Allen –– especially since the Houston Texans fell to the Philadelphia Eagles on a 35-yard field goal by Jake Elliot as time expired; thus letting the Patriots leapfrog their way back into the top two seeds in the AFC.

The teams traded three-and-outs on their opening drives before New England marched down the field and scored on a run by Sony Michel. In doing so, it seemed as if the Patriots were well on their way to another dominating home victory, in a stadium in which they are now 7-0 in (3-5 on the road).

But, like the past two weeks, there are always the stand-out players on both sides of the ball; and some were positive, some were negative.

Starting with stud number one on the afternoon: Sony Michel. The rookie out of Georgia finally got an opportunity to be the focal point of the offense against a Bills defense that averages 104.8 yards per game on the ground; and he did nothing but tear it up on Sunday.

Notching his fourth 100-yard game of the season, Michel also added a touchdown in the Patriots win. The Patriots shied away from the pass game in their first week without Josh Gordon, and it was crucial for one of the three feature backs to step up. While Rex Burkhead was fine aside from a fumble, it’s clear Michel was the star of the show.

Stud No.2 was J.C. Jackson. Jackson, like last week against the Steelers, was one of the stars of the defense. He hadn’t been credited with an interception since Week Seven against the Bears and was able to grab his third pick of the season in the first half. On top of that, Jackson continued to play great in coverage all day; outside of his interception, you didn’t really hear his name –– which is always a good thing for a defensive back.

Stud number three: Julian Edelman.

Starting his day with his trademark dropped pass, following a week in which he had multiple drops, it seemed as if Edelman was going to stall many drives for the second straight week. However, that wasn’t the case on Sunday.

Jules caught the lone touchdown pass on the afternoon from Tom Brady –– who struggled mightily against the Bills pass rush –– on a play in which he got wrapped up, but never went down and was able to turn it into six.

Honorable mentions: Offensive Line, Jason McCourty

Of course, there are always the negatives that can be added on any given day. At this point last season, if the following names were brought up as duds, you’d probably have laughed. But starting with dud No.1, Tom Brady certainly didn’t look very sharp on the day.

Completing just 54-percent of his passes, for 126 yards, two interceptions, and just one touchdown, Brady didn’t do a very good job of silencing the people who think he’s still on the decline.

On top of that, his passer rating was an abysmal 48.3 –– his worst of the season.

Next, Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski wasn’t targeted very often against the Bills; not because he wasn’t a part of the game plan, but because he’s slowed down so much this season that he simply could not get open in man coverage like he used to. Outside of drawing a pass interference penalty, Gronkowski caught no passes, and was flagged for a hold.

The Patriots still controlled, but it was certainly not because of his efforts.

Dud number three was the receiving corps. Outside of Edelman, only Cordarrelle Patterson caught a pass on Sunday. It’s not really fair to call out a guy like Chris Hogan or Phillip Dorsett when neither of them were even targeted –– but if the Patriots hope to move forward, they’re going to need more production from those two, especially without Josh Gordon moving forward.

All in all, the Patriots won a game that was deceptively close –– 24-12; as they were in control from the opening kick. In doing so, they improved to 10-5 on the season, and clinching their tenth consecutive AFC East title in the process.

With a Week 17 matchup looming against the Jets, the Patriots will look to lock up a first round bye with a victory.

No Comments so far

Jump into a conversation

No Comments Yet!

You can be the one to start a conversation.

Leave a Reply