Patriots vs. Eagles Instant Overreactions: New England's dominant defense is back?

Patriots vs. Eagles Instant Overreactions: New England's dominant defense is back?

Sunday's Week 11 game between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles was nothing like their previous meeting in Super Bowl LII. 

The Eagles won that Super Bowl 41-33, but points were hard to come by this weekend at Lincoln Financial Field. The Patriots escaped with a 17-10 win in a game that, at one point in the fourth quarter, saw punts on 10 consecutive drives.

There was a lot to analyze despite the lack of scoring, so let's take a look at four instant overreactions and assess their merit.

1. Ben Watson will be a receiving threat at tight end
: Overreaction

Watson gave his best performance of the season with three receptions for 52 yards, including a 19-yard catch to set up 1st-and-goal at the 4-yard line in the first quarter. But unless we see Watson put up these numbers on a consistent basis, it's too early to call him a legitimate receiving threat at tight end at 38 years old. He wasn't even targeted once in the Patriots' four trips to the red zone. That's the area of the field where Watson has to help replace the loss of Rob Gronkowski.

2. Patriots' red-zone offense is a huge concern
Verdict: Not an overreaction

The Patriots drove into the red zone three times in the first half and scored zero touchdowns. The second trip inside the 20-yard line was the most painful. New England had 1st-and-goal at the 4-yard line and Brady threw three consecutive incompletions to force head coach Bill Belichick to bring on the field goal unit. Brady nearly threw an interception on that second red-zone drive, too. He has two red zone interceptions this season after throwing just two of them in the 2016, 2017 and 2018 campaigns combined.

The Patriots averaged just 2.1 yards per carry in the first half, and that might explain the hesitancy to run despite being inside the 5-yard line. Sony Michel and the offensive line as a whole have struggled in short yardage situations throughout the season.

New England finished with four red zone trips overall, and its only touchdown came on a 15-yard pass from Julian Edelman to Phillip Dorsett. 

Rookie wide receiver N'Keal Harry could emerge as a valuable red-zone threat at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, but it would've been unfair to expect too much of him in this area during his pro debut.

Red zone offense has been a huge issue for the Patriots. They entered Week 11 with a league-high 40 trips into the red zone but had only scored touchdowns on half of them. This weakness must be resolved ASAP if the Pats are going to come out of this difficult stretch in their schedule sitting atop the AFC standings.

3. The Patriots defense is back!
: Not an overreaction

The Eagles scored 10 points in the first half. The first three came as a result of a suspect 49-yard pass interference penalty that put the Eagles in field goal range, and their lone touchdown originally was ruled an interception before replay overturned the call. The Patriots defense dominated for the rest of the game, allowing zero points and only 170 total yards in the second, third and fourth quarters combined.

New England's pass rush was a major factor, and the game shifted toward the Patriots' favor once the front seven consistently put pressure on Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. The Pats tallied five sacks and hit Wentz 11 times. The Patriots also held the Eagles to 3-for-11 on third down and forced the game's only turnover (a fumble).

New England's historically dominant defense was humbled with a 37-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 9. Critics quickly said the unit was overrated and only had great stats because of a soft schedule. Sunday's performance against a quality quarterback and a good offensive line was a reminder the Patriots defense really is one of the league's best.

4. No-huddle should be an offensive staple moving forward
Verdict: Not an overreaction

The Patriots ran a no-huddle offense with tremendous success versus the Ravens in Week 9, and they found more to begin the second half Sunday. New England moved at a no-huddle tempo and gained eight yards, six yards and 10 yards on the first three plays of the third quarter. They ultimately scored a touchdown to cap a 10-play, 84-yard drive that lasted just 4:11. The Patriots hurried the line on six of the nine plays on the drive, and the Eagles had little answer for it. Don't be surprised if the Patriots go back to this no-huddle offense plenty more times in 2019.

WATCH: N'Keal Harry hauls in first reception from Tom Brady>>>

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NFL Rumors: Patriots, RB Lamar Miller agree to one-year contract

NFL Rumors: Patriots, RB Lamar Miller agree to one-year contract

The New England Patriots added a veteran running back to their roster on Monday.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, ex-Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans RB Lamar Miller reached an agreement with the Patriots on a one-year contract.

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Miller, 29, missed the entire 2019 campaign after suffering a torn ACL in the preseason. In 2018 with Houston, he rushed for 973 yards and five touchdowns in 14 games and was named to the Pro Bowl.

Miller's most productive NFL season came in 2014 with Miami when he tallied 1,099 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.

With Miller now in the fold, he joins a Patriots running back depth chart that also consists of Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, James White, Damien Harris. Michel underwent foot surgery in May and was placed on the PUP list earlier this month.

Fantasy football 2020: Projections for Tom Brady, other Bucs players

Fantasy football 2020: Projections for Tom Brady, other Bucs players

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski leaving the New England Patriots to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn't just send a shockwave through the NFL. It also altered the fantasy football landscape.

The fantasy values of both the Patriots and Bucs' skill players will be much different in 2020 following Brady and Gronk's departure from Foxboro. We've gone over what to expect from the go-to guys in New England's offense, so now it's time to go over Tampa's weapons.

The obvious benefactors -- at least one would think -- of Brady becoming a Buc are his primary wide receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. But will their numbers, along with Brady's, see a significant increase as expected, or should we pump the brakes on the hype?

And then there are the running back and tight end positions. Can Tampa's intriguing rookie running back take over the starting job? What can we really expect out of Gronk after a year off from football?

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Here are our projections for the Bucs' key offensive players with Brady and Gronk in the fold:

Tom Brady, QB
Projected Stats
: 4,300 yards, 29 TD, 9 INT
Projected Draft Round: 5-7

Brady is set up to be a really solid starting quarterback in fantasy football this year. That being said, those who expect Brady to put up elite numbers and draft him any higher than Round 5 are just asking to be disappointed. There are going to be some growing pains in Bruce Arians' offense. Sure, having his old pal Gronk around as a security blanket will help, but it's going to take time for the six-time Super Bowl champ to get comfortable down in Florida. There's little doubt Brady's numbers will be better in nearly every category now that he has some real weapons at his disposal, just make sure you don't reach when plenty of other QBs will do just fine in the middle rounds.

Ronald Jones II, RB
Projected Stats
: 650 yards, 4 TD
Projected Draft Round: 7-9

Jones was an OK flex play at points last season, but overall he simply hasn't been the running back Tampa Bay has hoped for these last few seasons. That led to the Bucs selecting Vanderbilt product Ke'Shawn Vaughn on Day 2 of this year's NFL Draft. Jones is the No. 1 guy heading into camp, though it doesn't look like that will be the case throughout the 2020 campaign. Wait until the mid-to-late rounds to take Jones, and maybe even consider passing entirely to take Vaughn if you're so inclined to take a Bucs RB.

Ke'Shawn Vaughn, RB
Projected Stats
: 550 yards, 3 TD
Projected Draft Round: 8-10

Speaking of Vaughn, he could be a major difference-maker for the Bucs in Brady's offense this season. He rushed for 1,028 yards and nine touchdowns for Vandy last season and was pretty effective through the air too, tallying 270 yards and a TD. It's always tough to count on a rookie, but it's worth the risk and the ceiling definitely seems to be higher with Vaughn than it is for Jones. The addition of McCoy, however, makes Vaughn's fantasy outlook a bit murky.

LeSean McCoy, RB
Projected Stats
: 400 yards, 3 TD
Projected Draft Round: 8-10

It's impossible to now as of right now how the Bucs backfield is going to shape up in 2020. Although McCoy is a shell of what he once was, Bruce Arians definitely should find some sort of role for the 32-year-old veteran. The obvious question is whether that role will be more significant than Jones' or Vaughn's. If you're really that compelled to draft a Bucs running back, something I'd avoid entirely, it's a total toss-up and a matter of personal preference.

Mike Evans, WR
Projected Stats
: 75 receptions, 1,250 yards, 7 TD
Projected Draft Round: 2-3

There's no question the Brady-to-Evans connection is going to excite people heading into the new season. However, I'm somewhat skeptical about how their playing styles will mesh. Brady isn't one to take many risks, and Evans made a living out of catching Jameis Winston's ridiculous jump-balls downfield. It really is impossible to know how that'll work itself out, but nonetheless we're believers in Evans' elite talent and project him as a solid WR1 again in 2020.

Chris Godwin, WR
Projected Stats
: 90 receptions, 1,350 yards, 10 TD
Projected Draft Round: 2-3

Godwin was the breakout star of the 2019 fantasy football season as he put up absolutely ridiculous numbers with Jameis Winston under center. Now, the question is whether he can do it again with Brady. That may seem like a silly question, but again we have no clue what to expect from Brady in Arians' offense and how it will differ from what Godwin thrived in a year ago. Regardless, he definitely should be one of the first WRs off the board.

Rob Gronkowski, TE
Projected Stats
: 50 receptions, 700 yards, 5 TD
Projected Draft Round: 6-8

How do you make stat projections for a guy who took a year off from football to party in Miami and join the WWE? With injury concerns to boot, that makes drafting Gronk in fantasy football an extremely risky move. Obviously, with that high risk could come high reward as Tampa's offense has the potential to be one of the best in the entire NFL and Brady is going to look to Gronk early and often as a security blanket. Draft the former Pats tight end in the middle rounds, long after guys like Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Zach Ertz are off the board.

O.J. Howard, TE
Projected Stats: 25 receptions, 450 yards, 3 TD
Projected Draft Round: 8-10

The Bucs are going to run two-tight end sets in 2020, so don't think that Gronk's presence will limit Howard's production. In fact, it could even help it. Howard was a huge fantasy disappointment in 2019 and is out to prove he isn't a bust this year. There's also still a chance he gets traded to a TE-needy team and benefits from a change of scenery. Either way, you could do worse than Howard in the later rounds of your draft.