Patriots

Five takeaways from Patriots' 38-24 win over Colts: Record-setting night for Brady

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Five takeaways from Patriots' 38-24 win over Colts: Record-setting night for Brady

FOXBORO -- Here are five quick-hitting thoughts from what transpired between the Patriots and Colts on Thursday night . . . 

EDELMAN ACTIVE AND...ACTIVE

There were a couple of approaches the Patriots could've taken with Julian Edelman. One could've been to ease him in. The other was to use him early and often to knock off whatever rust might've accumulated since his suspension began. The team went with the latter. Despite no real practices leading up to the game, no hits since preseason, Edelman started and caught all three passes thrown his way on the game's first drive. He also returned punts. Rust? Hard to find any as he easily found open areas in Indy's zone coverages for easy gains. Edelman did have a drop on third down in the first quarter -- a continuation of an issue he had during training camp. He finished the game with seven catches for 57 yards on nine targets. No easing him in here. 

 

GORDON GRABS BRADY'S 500TH

Tom Brady's 500th touchdown pass looked like a bad idea when he let the football go. On a scramble-drill type of play -- though there was no scramble, Brady just had an eon in the pocket and routes were freelanced as a result -- Brady launched one deep to the right corner of the end zone where two Colts defenders were waiting. But Brady knew he had a good jump-ball option on the other end. Not Rob Gronkowski, but Josh Gordon. Gordon began the play running an over route -- the majority of his targets through two games have come over the middle -- then broke outside when he realized the play had been extended. He fought through a mugging to reverse course, found the football in the air, and out-jumped the Indy defensive backs to catch his first touchdown as a member of the Patriots. His rare set of skills were on display for that one, and his ability to make a play in traffic should only help him earn more trust from his quarterback moving forward. Gordon is the 71st player to catch a pass from Brady, which is an NFL record.

NO SIGNS OF EXACERBATION FOR GRONKOWSKI 

When the inactive list was released and Rob Gronkowski wasn't on it, that might've been an indication that the tight end was feeling fresh enough. Dealing with an ankle injury, he started, and had three catches for 26 yards in the first half. Clearly, given the outcome, the Patriots would've been fine without him. Perhaps incentives were on Gronkowski's mind when he suited up, but pushing himself on a bad ankle that might linger longer if not properly healed seems like it could be as big a detriment to his pursuit of his incentives as sitting out. Either way, Gronkowski looked OK despite fumbling deep in Colts territory late in the third quarter. 

MICHEL PATIENT, POWERFUL

By the time Sony Michel had stiff-armed Matthias Farley to finish off his 34-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, he had 16 carries for 92 yards. And while the score was impressive, the runs where he showed patience at the line of scrimmage were an indication that he's starting to see the game more clearly. He had a 16-yarder in the second quarter where he wisely set up James Develin's block to turn a decent gain into an sizable one. On his next run, he was hit three yards behind the line of scrimmage on first down yet turned the play into a three-yard gain. If he can combine that hard-charging style with some of the patience he's shown over the last two weeks, he'll be a nice complement to James White moving forward. 

CLAYBORN FLASHING SIGNS

Through one half of play, Adrian Clayborn drew a hold on third down to help eventually force a punt. He also laid a hit on Andrew Luck that forced the Colts quarterback into an easy interception that landed in the hands of Patrick Chung. Clayborn had had one hurry in his last two games combined, and that was it for quarterback pressures. If he can consistently help spell Trey Flowers as a legitimate pass-rushing option, the Patriots defense will be much better off. 

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Where does Patriots' Sony Michel rank among NFL RB1s entering 2019?

Where does Patriots' Sony Michel rank among NFL RB1s entering 2019?

Sony Michel enjoyed a tremendous rookie season for the New England Patriots and played a pivotal role in the team's run to a sixth Super Bowl championship.

The 24-year-old running back ran for 931 yards and six touchdowns in 13 regular season games, but his real value, however, was shown in the playoffs. Michel tallied 336 yards and a rookie postseason record six touchdowns in three games, culminating with 94 yards and the Patriots' only touchdown in their 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII.

After a stellar first season as a pro, where does Michel rank among the league's RB1s entering the 2019 season? Former NFL running back Maurice Jones-Drew ranked Michel at No. 11 in his rankings on NFL.com. Here's what MJD had to say about the Georgia product:

Michel showed he can be a bell cow during the postseason, with 71 carries for 336 yards and a rookie-record six rushing TDs in three games. He underwent a minor knee procedure in June, but Michel should still be the effective rusher he was in the postseason starting in September. Plus, I think Patriots OC Josh McDaniels will be more creative with the running game now that Rob Gronkowski is no longer on the team.

Jones-Drew put New York Giants rookie sensation Saquon Barkley atop his rankings, with Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints, Le'Veon Bell of the New York Jets, Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys and Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers rounding out the top five, in that order.

The Patriots offense was carried by its ground game in the last season's playoffs, and we could see more of the same this coming season after New England selected talented Alabama running back Damien Harris in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The Pats now have Michel, Harris, Rex Burkhead and James White leading a really impressive group of running backs that should make the team's offense a well-balanced unit next season.

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NFL odds: Three quarterbacks favored over Tom Brady for 2019 MVP

NFL odds: Three quarterbacks favored over Tom Brady for 2019 MVP

Tom Brady opens as one of the favorites to win the 2019 NFL MVP award, but Vegas has three quarterbacks favored over the Patriots QB.

Chiefs quarterback and 2018 NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes unsurprisingly is listed as the favorite heading into the new season at +350. Also ahead of Brady are Eagles QB Carson Wentz (+550) and Colts signal-caller Andrew Luck (+600).

Brady is tied with Chargers QB Philip Rivers at +700 and followed by Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, who opens at +800.

(Odds via Caesars Palace)

Considering the uncertainty at the wide receiver position for the Patriots, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Brady isn't favored to be 2019's MVP. But at +700, there's certainly plenty of value there if you're looking to put some money down before the season.

Brady has won the NFL MVP award three times before in his illustrious career (2007, 2010, 2017).

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