Patriots

Cowboys' Travis Frederick reacts to his costly tripping penalty in loss to Patriots

Cowboys' Travis Frederick reacts to his costly tripping penalty in loss to Patriots

FOXBORO -- The Cowboys offense played poorly in Sunday's Week 12 matchup against the New England Patriots at a rainy Gillette Stadium, and yet Dallas still had an excellent chance to win the game with two minutes left in the fourth quarter.

The Cowboys got the ball back at their own 8-yard line with 2:38 remaining after forcing a Patriots punt. The fourth play of the drive included the most controversial call in the game.

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott completed a pass to running back Ezekiel Elliott for a 3-yard gain and a first down at the Dallas 38-yard line. The first down was negated, however, because of a tripping penalty on Cowboys center Travis Frederick, who was trying to block Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower.

Here's a look at the play:

Incomplete passes on the next two plays resulted in a turnover on downs by the Cowboys, who lost 13-9 as the Patriots extended their home win streak to 21 games.

"I don't believe so, no," Frederick said at his locker when asked if he thought he committed that tripping penalty. "Obviously, that's not my call to make."

Did a lot of questionable calls go against the Cowboys?

"It's hard to say, honestly," Frederick said. "I think it's unfair, for us as players, who are emotionally invested in the game, to talk about the referees. We'll leave that up to somebody else."

One of the most passionate reactions to the two tripping penalties called on the Cowboys came from defensive star Demarcus Lawrence. WARNING: the following tweet has NSFW language.

Did the Cowboys lose because of Frederick's tripping penalty? It certainly made their challenge against the NFL's best defense a lot tougher, but they didn't deserve to win. Dallas made too many silly mistakes, especially on special teams and third downs, and you cannot do that against the best-coached and most well-prepared team in the league.

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Why do Patriots still have (relatively) strong Super Bowl odds? Sportsbooks explain

Why do Patriots still have (relatively) strong Super Bowl odds? Sportsbooks explain

We have a new arena for the Bill Belichick vs. Tom Brady debate: Las Vegas.

With Brady leaving the Patriots to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after 20 seasons, sportsbooks are wrestling over whether New England is still a contender without the greatest quarterback of all time.

But several betting outlets are surprisingly bullish on the 2020 Patriots while setting their Super Bowl LV odds, for one obvious reason: New England still employs the greatest head coach of all time.

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"If this were any other team, we'd probably just adjust them up to 100-1," Matt Metcalf, the sportsbook director for Las Vegas bookmaker Circa Sports, told ESPN's David Purdum. "But with Belichick, you can't do that."

Instead, the Patriots are listed at 20-1 to win Super Bowl LV at many sportsbooks -- the same odds they had to win Super Bowl LIV entering last season's playoffs, according to Purdum.

Ironically, Brady's Bucs also have 20-1 odds to win Super Bowl LV at Caesar's Sportsbook. But should a talent-deficient Patriots team really be on the same level as a loaded Tampa Bay squad led by a six-time Super Bowl champion?

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Caesars director of trading Jeff Davis also cited Belichick in his rationale.

"It's hard to say," Davis told Purdum, "But is there anyone who's done more with less than Belichick? I'd say, no."

Interestingly, Purdum cites two more reasons why sportsbooks haven't dropped the Patriots' odds more: 1) They still play in the mediocre AFC East; and 2) they still could sign a "high-profile" quarterback like Cam Newton, Jameis Winston or Andy Dalton.

Our Tom E. Curran has reported that second option is unlikely, but even if Belichick rolls into 2020 with Jarrett Stidham, sportsbooks are wary of writing the Patriots off.

Ex-Patriots scout gives interesting details on Bill Belichick's NFL Draft grading scale

Ex-Patriots scout gives interesting details on Bill Belichick's NFL Draft grading scale

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, despite some recent struggles, has enjoyed a ton of success selecting players in the NFL Draft.

Just a few days ago, Hall of Fame general manager Gil Brandt tweeted Belichick is the best drafter of his lifetime. Brandt is 87 years old, so he's seen plenty of drafts.

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Former Patriots scout and current Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy in a few tweets Wednesday provided some interesting information on how Belichick and his staff grade prospects entering the draft. One example he used was based on evaluating cornerbacks. 

Check out Nagy's explanation below:

The Patriots' ability to contend in the AFC in 2020 could hinge on their success in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft, which is still scheduled to begin April 23 despite the outbreak of the coronavirus.

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New England has lost several key players on both sides of the ball through free agency and trades over the last few weeks.

The most notable departure, of course, was quarterback Tom Brady, who took his talents to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent after spending 20 seasons and winning six Super Bowl titles with the Patriots. The Pats have lost a bunch of important defensive players, too, including linebackers Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy, as well as safety Duron Harmon. Special teams also has taken a hit with the losses of safety Nate Ebner and longtime kicker Stephen Gostkowski.

Filling this holes won't be easy, but luckily for the Patriots, they have 12 picks in the 2020 draft. These picks include No. 23 overall in the first round and three selections in the third round. Only the Miami Dolphins (14) have more picks than the Patriots.

Another positive for the Patriots is many of the top players in the 2020 draft class are wide receivers or defensive players -- two areas of need for New England. In fact, it's possible we see more than half of the first-round picks used on defensive players, and many recent expert mock drafts predict Belichick will target that side of the ball with the 23rd overall selection.