Wed Dec 8 2:19am ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer
Mac Jones and the New England Patriots played a style of game more reminiscent of a triple-option service academy than the modern NFL.
Jones threw just three passes on a windy Monday night in Buffalo for the fewest pass attempts in an NFL game in nearly a half-century as the Patriots beat the Bills 14-10.
With 40 mph wind gusts placing an emphasis on running the ball, the Patriots relied on the ground game with 46 runs compared to just the three passes. The last time a team threw that little in a game came Sept. 29, 1974, on another windy day in Buffalo.
Joe Ferguson threw only two passes - both incomplete - that day for the Bills in a 16-12 win over the New York Jets. O.J. Simpson ran the ball 31 times for 117 yards and Joe Namath went 2 for 18 with three interceptions for the Jets.
There was only one other game in the last 70 years when a team threw three or fewer passes, with Kansas City having three in a 24-10 win over the Oakland Raiders in 1968.
This was the eighth time in the Super Bowl era that a team threw five or fewer passes in a game, according to Sportradar, with those teams going 7-0-1. The last team to do it was also the Patriots, in the infamous 3-0 Snowplow Game win over Miami in 1982.
TOP OF THE MOUNTAN
If the season ended now, the top seeds for the playoffs would be Arizona (10-2) in the NFC and New England (9-4) in the AFC.
Both the Cardinals and Patriots missed the playoffs last season, with Arizona finishing 8-8 and New England at 7-9. The last time both top seeds were coming off non-playoff seasons was in 1992, when San Francisco (14-2) took the spot in the NFC and Pittsburgh (11-5) in the AFC.
Neither the 49ers nor Steelers made the Super Bowl that season with San Francisco losing to Dallas in the NFC title game and Pittsburgh to Buffalo in the divisional round.
The Cardinals have gotten into this position by being the NFL's best road team.
Arizona's 33-22 win at Chicago last week improved the Cardinals to 7-0 on the road with all the victories coming by at least 10 points. The last team to win its first seven road games by double digits was the 1968 Cowboys, who went 7-0 on the road that season. The road success ended in the playoffs when Dallas lost its first game 31-20 at Cleveland when the sites were predetermined by division.
The only other team to win seven straight road games by double digits in the same season was the 1984 Super Bowl champion 49ers, who went undefeated on the road but won the opener at Detroit by just three points.
The Miami Dolphins have been on a quite a roller coaster this season.
After winning the season opener at New England, the Dolphins lost their next seven games. Since then, Miami is 5-0 to become the third team in NFL history to have a five-game winning streak and seven-game losing streak in the same season, according to Sportradar.
The others are the 2017 49ers, who lost their first nine games and won their final five, and the 1994 Giants, who started 3-0, lost seven straight and then won six in a row.
With a win next week against the Jets following a bye, the Dolphins will join the 1974 Jets as the only teams to go from 1-7 to 7-7 in a season.
Tom Brady is doing things at age 44 that he has never done before.
Brady had his sixth game this season with at least four TD passes, surpassing the five he had in 2007 for the most in a season in his career.
This is the sixth time in NFL history a QB has thrown for at least four TD passes six times in a season with the other five all winning the MVP: Aaron Rodgers (seven in 2020), Patrick Mahomes (seven in 2018), Peyton Manning (nine in 2013), Manning (six in 2004) and Dan Marino (six in 1984).
Two of Brady's TDs last week went to Rob Gronkowski, giving the pair 90 in the regular season in their careers. That surpassed Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates (89 TDs) for second-most in NFL history. Only Manning and Marvin Harrison (112) have more.
Indianapolis' Jonathan Taylor scored on a TD run for the 10th straight game last week against Houston.
Taylor is the fifth player ever to run for a TD in 10 straight games in the season and the first to do it since LaDainian Tomlinson did it in 12 straight games in 2004. The others are Priest Holmes (11 games in 2002), Emmitt Smith (11 in 1995) and John Riggins (12 in 1983).
Atlanta Falcons RB Cordarrelle Patterson has six receptions over the last three games combined after logging at least five catches in six of his first eight games.
Fantasy Spin: Patterson has been utilized more frequently as a runner in recent weeks, but his floor will become a little more volatile if he is going to be phased out of the passing game. Consider Patterson a RB2.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Breshad Perriman served as the No. 3 receiver against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 13, playing 83.3 percent of the offensive snaps.
Fantasy Spin: Perriman finished with just one catch for five yards, but based on his playing time, it looks like he will help stretch defenses while Antonio Brown is sidelined. Perriman could be worth a flier in DFS formats thanks to his big-play speed.
When asked if he sees running back Sony Michel taking on a lead-back role, regardless of Darrell Henderson's (thigh) health, Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay was non-committal. "I think it's really good to get Sony going. I think he's a rhythm runner, but I think we definitely would want to find ways to still have Darrell as a big part of it," McVay said. Michel got his second start of the season as Henderson looked on from the sideline in the Week 13 drubbing of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and he produced a season-high 121 rushing yards and his second rushing touchdown of the season on 24 carries. Perhaps Michel earned some more work once Henderson is ready to return, but it seems unlikely that the Rams would just give up Henderson's lead-back role that easily after Henderson has been solid in 10 games -- career-high 4.6 yards per carry, 648 rushing yards and eight total TDs). Michel will most likely only retain standalone RB2 value if Henderson misses more time.
Los Angeles Rams WR Cooper Kupp reached 100 receptions for the season in Week 13, becoming the fourth player in NFL history to record 100 catches in their team's first 12 games.
Fantasy Spin: Kupp and Matthew Stafford have formed an immediate connection, and Kupp currently leads the league in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He has also been remarkably consistent, logging at least seven catches and 95 receiving yards in all but one game.
Pittsburgh Steelers LB T.J. Watt is up to 16 sacks this season, and he and Reggie White are the only players in the NFL history to record at least 13 sacks in four straight seasons.
The Dallas Cowboys activated offensive tackle Terence Steele from the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. Steele will be available in Week 14 against the Washington Football Team, but it's uncertain how the playing time will shake out at right tackle between Steele and La'el Collins. Steele was starting at right tackle and doing well, but Collins is back from his suspension and has started three of the last four games for Dallas. Whoever isn't playing right tackle could play in place of a tight end to give the team better blocking on running plays. The return of Steele only bolsters the Cowboys offensive line, which is good news for the running game and RBs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen is vaccinated, so he still has a chance to play in Week 14 against the New York Giants, according to a source. Allen landed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday, and he'll need to be asymptomatic and return two negative tests 24 hours apart in order to be cleared to play this Sunday. Fantasy managers could still have him available as a strong WR2 option in Week 14, but making backup plans would be wise. Allen is the WR18 in fantasy and is coming off a two-touchdown game. He ranks third in WR targets with 124 and is a must-start if he gains clearance. If he does not, Mike Williams and Jalen Guyton would see a boost in targets, while rookie Joshua Palmer would also see the field more. Guyton is worth a waiver pickup if you have Allen rostered or need help at receiver this week.
Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr (hamstring) said he is playing on Thursday night in Week 14 against the Pittsburgh Steelers after tweaking his hamstring in Week 12 and sitting out the Week 13 loss to the Detroit Lions. Injuries have been a huge problem for Barr, who has played in just eight of 23 games the last two years. The 29-year-old was a full practice participant on Tuesday, so barring a setback, he should be active to kick off Week 14 action. Barr has 32 tackles (16 solo), two QB hits, one interception, one fumble recovery and half a sack in six games played this year, and his return will be good news for a Vikings defense looking to keep rookie running back Najee Harris in check.
The Atlanta Falcons designated tight end Hayden Hurst (ankle) to return from Injured Reserve on Tuesday, opening up the team's 21-day window to activate him. Hurst has a good chance of rejoining the active roster for the Week 14 game against the Carolina Panthers after they released tight end Parker Hesse on Monday. Whenever he returns, Hurst should go back to backing up rookie tight end Kyle Pitts, giving him very limited fantasy appeal as a low-end TE2. The 28-year-old has 20 receptions for 158 yards and one touchdowns on 25 targets in nine games played before landing on IR. Hurst should go on being ignored on the waiver wire in most fantasy leagues.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (pectoral, shoulder) got in a full practice on Tuesday after being listed as a DNP on Monday's estimated practice report. Roethlisberger has been following this scheduled for most of the season, but the only game he's missed in 2021 was after he tested positive for COVID-19. Big Ben will start under center in Week 14 on Thursday night against the Minnesota Vikings and will be a midrange QB2 for the matchup. The 39-year-old signal-caller is likely in his final NFL season, and although his arm hasn't been fully healthy, he's still able to make most of the necessary throws to his receivers. Roethlisberger has looked better in recent weeks, although he doesn't have a ton of upside at this point in his career -- one 300-yard game (back in Week 3) and 16 TDs in 11 games.
The New Orleans Saints waived wide receiver Kenny Stills and defensive tackle Malcolm Roach on Tuesday. In a corresponding move, they re-signed wide receiver Kevin White to their practice squad. Stills played just 16% of the offensive snaps in last Thursday's loss to the Dallas Cowboys and wasn't able to haul in any of his five targets. The 29-year-old managed only five catches on 22 targets for 64 yards and one touchdown as a depth option for an already thin Saints receiving corps in 10 games played. With Deonte Harris suspended for the next three games, Marquez Callaway, Tre'Quan Smith and Lil'Jordan Humphrey should work in three-receivers sets, with Ty Montgomery and White serving as additional receiving depth.
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (shoulder) was listed as a DNP on Monday's estimated practice report, but he was able to put in a limited practice on Tuesday. While Cook may ultimately miss his second straight game this Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers after dislocating his left shoulder and tearing his labrum in Week 12, it's progress nonetheless. We'll know more on the 26-year-old's status on Wednesday, but even if Cook is surprisingly active in Week 14, there'd be a good chance that Alexander Mattison takes most of the backfield touches against Pittsburgh. The likely outcome is that Cook won't return until Week 15, and it's fair to be worried about his production once he does return. Mattison will be a must-start if Cook is inactive.
New England Patriots S Sean Davis and DT Daniel Ekuale reverted to the practice squad Tuesday, Dec. 7.
Dallas Cowboys TE Blake Jarwin (hip) reverted to the Reserve/Injured list after he was restored from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday, Dec. 7. WR T.J. Vasher (knee) reverted to the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list after he was restored from the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
Atlanta Falcons TE Hayden Hurst (ankle) was designated for return from the Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Dec. 7.
Free-agent RBs Jeremy Cox, Brian Hill and Dexter Williams worked out for the San Francisco 49ers on Tuesday, Dec. 7.
Free-agent RB BJ Emmons was signed to the practice squad of the Jacksonville Jaguars on Tuesday, Dec. 7. RB Jordan Wilkins was released from the practice squad to make room for him.
New Orleans Saints WR Kenny Stills and DT Malcolm Roach were waived Tuesday, Dec. 7. Free-agent WR Kevin White was also signed to the practice squad.
Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook (shoulder) was upgraded to a limited practice Tuesday, Dec. 7.
Fantasy Spin: Cook is not exactly out of the woods yet in terms of his status for Thursday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but this is a step in the right direction. Less than two weeks removed from a serious shoulder injury, he still seems highly unlikely to play in Week 14. It does bode well for his potential availability in Week 15, however. Assuming Cook does not play against the Steelers, Alexander Mattison is in line for another heavy workload and top-10 finish at his position this week.
Minnesota Vikings WR Adam Thielen (ankle) did not participate in practice Tuesday, Dec. 7.
Fantasy Spin: Thielen suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 13 and would not be expected to play even if Minnesota wasn't playing the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday this week. Depending on the seriousness of the sprain, he could struggle to be ready in time for Week 15 against the Chicago Bears as well. K.J. Osborn won't be expected to fill Thielen's sizable shoes, but he should be considered a strong WR4 option at worst for as long as the 31-year-old is sidelined.