Patriots News 12-26, AFC East is up for grabs today
Hello, here is your Sunday Patriots News 12-26 and notes.
Merry belated Christmases from all of us here and we hope yours has been happy and safe.
The Patriots and Bills meet today for essentially the AFC East crown. While there are two weeks left and anything could happen, a win today would give the Patriots a two-game lead over Buffalo. A victory for the Bills gives them the tiebreaker against New England and with Atlanta and the Jets on the schedule, it looks (on paper) they would win these clashes.
Have you viewed our Sortable statistics on PatsFans.com for the Patriots? It’s a great resource for all of the players on the roster.
Quick shots for the Pats and the NFL:
Kendrick Bourne: The Patriots wide receiver was retired from COVID-19 on Christmas Day and is eligible to play today against the Bills. Bourne tweeted as such and it looks like he’s going to go, which is good news for the offense.
With Nelson Agholor with a concussion and questionable N’Keal Harry with a hip injury, Bourne’s news is even more welcome. He’s been one of Mac Jones’ favorite targets and he and Jakobi Meyers should come in handy in today’s game against the Bills.
Kristian Wilkerson: To replace Agholor, the team raised Wilkerson from the practice squad for today’s game. The wide receiver has been active in one game this season (Caroline). During the preseason, he was the most focused and productive receiver on the team. In three games, he has been targeted 17 times, with 13 catches for 147 yards for an average of 11.3 yards, (via preseason statistics by Ian Logue).
Wilkerson, 6’1, 201 pounds, has been the wide receiver for the scouting team in practice this year, and his work has been praised by Josh McDaniels and who said he believed he would be ready to leave if called. He was a favorite target for Mac Jones during training camp and preseason as both got reps with the second team.
Josh Uché: The Patriots linebacker was activated from the injured reserve. He’s been practicing so it’s assumed he’s ready to play and it will be interesting to see if he’s one of the players on the active roster. Deatrich Wise has been placed on the COVID-19 reserve list and is out for today’s game. In his place, DL Daniel Ekuale was recalled from the PS again. He has played well this season.
Rhamondre Stevenson: Rookie RB was also placed on the COVID-19 reserve list and is out for today’s game. His loss is significant as running back as Damien Harris and Brandon Bolden were both on the injury report this week. Harris missed the Colts game with a hamstring injury he sustained in the game against the Bills a few weeks ago.
JJ Taylor returned to training this week after being placed on the COVID list. He could be active and see some snaps this week given the state of offensive players with injury / illness.
Podcast Patriots 4th and 2: If you haven’t consulted our PatsFans.com Podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a moment, please check it out. Derek Havens and I met to discuss the loss to the Colts and to get a preview of the Bills game.
Russ Francis / Chuck Fairbanks: The former Patriots tight end and head coach are both expected to be in the Patriots Hall of Fame… that will be on our Sunday posts until that happens.
Buffalo has also hit hard with COVID-19 but recovers Dawkins:
With COVID-19 plaguing the league again, we’ve already listed which Patriots will miss the game. Buffalo was not immune either as they lost WR Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis for today’s game.
Offensive linemen Jon Feliciano and Cody Ford were placed on the COVID list this week and joined DE AJ Epenesa who remains on the list. But the team also received some good news when OL Dion Dawkins was taken off the COVID list and is expected to start today against the Patriots. DL Star Lotuleilei will miss the game (personal reasons).
JC Jackson continues his way to a big contract:
The Patriots cornerback is an unrestricted free agent next spring and is only the last of the Patriots’ undrafted free agents (UDFAs) to play a starting role while taking in a big paycheck. The Patriots secondary has three undrafted corners with Jackson, Jonathan Jones (IR) and Myles Bryant. Jackson got his first Pro-Bowl nod this season.
But Jackson’s path was the one that almost ended with the young man in prison. The Brockton, MA company posted a detailed and very enjoyable article Jackson article by writer Greg Dudek this week worth seeing.
In 2015, Jackson was charged with armed robbery and faced four first-degree felonies – three counts of home invasion with a lethal weapon and one count of burglary of an occupied home. Each count carried a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison. At his trial he was acquitted of all charges by a jury, but his athletic career was apparently over.
He had to go the Junior College route in Riverside Calif. And he poked his nose in the grindstone, hit the pounds and excelled on the football field. This brought him to the Big Ten with Maryland where he started 23 of 24 games before declaring himself for the NFL Draft after the 2017 season. Despite a stellar game in Maryland, he did not hear his sound. name called and was signed by the Patriots as UDFA in 2018. It was a perfect union. The Patriots led by Bill Belichick don’t care where a player is drafted, but judge them based on how well they perform on the field.
Since entering the league, the 6’1, 198-pound Jackson has led the league in interceptions with 24 and is currently 2nd in the league with seven. He has consistently progressed and as the Patriots’ No.1 corner, he is. justified to generate a big salary next spring.
Predictions for week 16:
The week 16 fixture list and my predictions are correct for this week.
Thursday night football –
Tennessee over San Francisco 1-0
saturday, christmas day –
Green Bay on Cleveland 2-0
Arizona above Indianapolis 2-1
Atlanta vs. Detroit
Cincinnati vs. Baltimore
LA Rams over Minnesota
New England vs. Buffalo
NY Jets over Jacksonville
Philadelphia vs. New York Giants
Tampa Bay on Carolina
LA Chargers over Houston
Seattle over Chicago
Kansas City over Pittsburgh
Las Vegas vs. Denver
Sunday night football –
Dallas vs. Washington
Monday night football –
Miami over New Orleans
Last week: 10-6
Last season: 169-86-1
2019 season: 162-93-1
“They did a great job for us, both on and off the pitch. They give us a lot of leadership, decision making, communication, recognition, awareness on and off the pitch. They are great professionals. They know how to work. They know what it takes to win. They help us get on the right track. They can keep some guys from thinking outside the box. They know what is important.
“A lot of times players, coaches and teams can get caught up in things that are 1% of the game and you are ignoring something that is 80% of the game. these are fundamentals, communication or techniques, etc. They are, of course, highly respected and admired, not only by all of their teammates, but by all members of the organization.
I am very lucky to have these two guys. They both have had great careers here and their careers have run quite parallel. They have been together for a long time. They have gained a lot of trust and confidence in each other by working with each other. They can play well and communicate well with each other in critical situations or situations where we need to make adjustments. Like I said with the linemen, they’ve been there before and they have a level of anticipation and confidence in their teammates. It has been won over many plays and over several years together. They did a great job for us. Whatever I say, it would be underestimated.
Bill Belichick asked about veterans Devin McCourty and Dont’a Hightower (via Patriots.com)
“So how was your week?”
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Commentary by the Patriots
Bill Belichick Brandon Bolden Buffalo Bills Devin McCourty Dont’a Hightower Kendrick Bourne Mac Jones N’Keal Harry New England Patriots NFL Patriots