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Patriots expecting to have hands full against creative Bills

Wed Dec 1 7:26pm ET
AP Sports Writer

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New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones yells as he runs down the sidelines prior to an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

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Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) passes in the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Derick Hingle)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) In Devin McCourty's 12 NFL seasons, the Patriots safety has seen plenty of the Buffalo Bills.

He's never seen them playing as well and as difficult to figure out as they've been the past three seasons.

''You kind of know what you're gonna get. But you don't truly know until you get into the game,'' McCourty said.

Led by offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, the Bills have gone from scoring 16.8 points per game (30th in the NFL) during coach Sean McDermott's second season in 2018, to 29.6 points in 2021 - ranked second in the league.

Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier arrived in 2017 with McDermott and has also helped transform Buffalo on that side of the ball. The Bills have ranked in the top five in total defense in three of Frazier's five years in Buffalo, including allowing a league-low 275 yards per game this season.

''They present every challenge,'' Patriots quarterback Mac Jones said. ''They don't really have many flaws.''

Another key element in the improvement has been the growth of fourth-year quarterback Josh Allen. He had his best performance to date against New England in the Bills' second meeting with the Patriots last season, throwing four touchdowns in a dominant 38-9 win in New England to give Buffalo its first series sweep since 1999.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick expects to face a Buffalo team on Monday night that he said ''does everything well.''

''They're statistically at the top of the league in categories in every area, and they deserve to be,'' he said. ''Well-coached. They play smart football, and they're tough. ...Offensively, it really starts with Allen. He can do it all.''

McCourty said Allen's gotten better each season, improving his skillset while shaking off the pressures that come with being a young starting quarterback in the league.

''Every player that comes into the league we try to tear them apart with what they don't do well,'' McCourty said. ''But I think it was obvious when Josh Allen came into the league how talented he was and the different things he does well on the field. ... The decision-making is at an all-time high.''

It will need to be again this year as he prepares to face the Patriots defense that enters the matchup allowing a league-low 15.8 points per game.

The Bills have scored 30 or more points in six of their seven victories.

One thing the Patriots will certainly be looking to do is force turnovers. They are tied with Buffalo for second in the league with 25 takeaways, including a league-best 19 interceptions. Allen's already tied the 10 picks he threw last season.

Linebacker Kyle Van Noy has had the benefit of seeing Allen's growth playing under two different systems in New England and last season as a member of the Dolphins.

He said trying to disrupt the confidence he is playing with is paramount to trying to slow him down. Van Noy thinks Allen's confidence has also played into getting his teammates to buy in to the Bills' culture under McDermott.

''I think he's always had confidence. He's never lacked that. But now it's on another level,'' Van Noy said. ''His leadership in bringing those guys and wanting to go back. ... Getting guys that want to stay there, that want to play with him and the passion that he plays with, they feed off of that.''

While it will be Jones' first trip to Buffalo and his first taste of the rivalry, he does have a tie to the Bills having played under Daboll when he served as Alabama's offensive coordinator in 2017.

Jones said Daboll taught him a lot in their one season together, but he plays to reduce any reminiscing to a few pleasantries.

''People who love football want a chance to play in games like this,'' Jones said.

NOTES: LB Jamie Collins returned to practice Wednesday after spending the past three games on injured reserve with an ankle injury. It opens the 21-day window for him to be added to the active roster or return to IR for the rest of the season. ... The Patriots released kicker Quinn Nordin from the active roster. The undrafted rookie out of Michigan made the initial regular-season roster, but was inactive for the season opener against Miami and has been on injured reserve since Sept. 12 with an abdomen injury.

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Player Notes
David Johnson Dec 1 7:50pm ET
David Johnson

Houston Texans running back David Johnson (illness, thigh) did not take part in Wednesday's practice. Johnson limped off the field in the Week 12 loss to the New York Jets with a thigh issue, but he returned to the game and should be fine to play in Week 13 against the Indianapolis Colts if he can practice later this week. The Texans have run the ball more in the last two games, which has allowed Johnson to reach double-digit carries in back-to-back games for the first two times all season, but as long as he continues to split touches with Rex Burkhead in this non-explosive offense, he'll have a low ceiling as more of an RB4/flex. Johnson is averaging an ugly 3.1 yards per carry and has just one touchdown on the year, a receiving score back in Week 1.

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Danny Amendola Dec 1 7:50pm ET
Danny Amendola

Houston Texans wide receiver Danny Amendola (knee) could miss up to four weeks after suffering a knee injury in the Week 12 loss to the New York Jets. Amendola had arthroscopic surgery on the knee on Tuesday and could be a candidate to land on Injured Reserve. With only six weeks left in the season, the 36-year-old may not return again this year, depending on his recovery from the surgery. In seven games this season, the slot man has 17 catches on 29 targets for 135 yards and one touchdown. It's been a crapshoot trying to rely on any receiver for Houston not named Brandin Cooks in fantasy this year, but Amendola's injury should open up more targets for intriguing rookie Nico Collins moving forward. Chris Conley and Chris Moore are also in the picture.

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Brandin Cooks Dec 1 7:40pm ET
Brandin Cooks

Houston Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks (illness) missed Wednesday's practice with a non-COVID-19-related illness. As long as Cooks is able to practice later this week, he should be good to go for the Week 13 tilt against the Indianapolis Colts. Cooks had his worst game of the season in Week 11 (two catches for 18 yards), and while he didn't blow anyone away with his three receptions for 45 yards in the Week 12 loss to the New York Jets, he at least found the end zone for the third time this season. The 28-year-old has been a target hot in this offense as the No. 1 receiver -- four games with double-digit targets -- but his eight looks in the last two games is a bit concerning. Cooks had nine catches for 89 yards on 13 targets against Indy back in Week 6 and should remain on the WR2 map this weekend.

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DeVonta Smith Dec 1 7:30pm ET
DeVonta Smith

Philadelphia Eagles rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith (illness) was a non-practice participant on Wednesday due to a non-COVID-19-related illness. As long as the 23-year-old first-rounder can get back on the practice field later this week, he should be fine to play in a Week 13 clash with the New York Jets. Smith is coming off a two-catch, 22-yard performance in the Week 12 loss to the New York Giants, but he could easily bounce back this weekend against a Jets defense that has allowed the third-most fantasy points per game to receivers in the last three weeks. As expected, the Alabama product has had his ups and downs in his rookie season, posting four touchdowns and two 100-yard games, but he's also disappeared at times with the Eagles focusing more on the run in certain matchups. He'll be on the WR2/3 borderline in Week 13.

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Miles Sanders Dec 1 7:20pm ET
Miles Sanders

Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders (ankle) picked up an ankle injury in the Week 12 loss to the New York Giants and was limited in practice on Wednesday. Sanders didn't play in the fourth quarter on Sunday, ceding snaps to Boston Scott and rookie Kenneth Gainwell with Jordan Howard (knee) out. Howard is unlikely to return this Sunday against the New York Jets, so Sanders should have a big role in a great matchup if he's able to get through the practice week. Before leaving last week's game, Sanders had nine carries for 64 yards and caught his only target for no gain. It's been a disappointing year for Sanders between injuries and performance (no touchdowns), but he'll have nice RB2 upside against the Jets if he's able to play.

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Boston Scott Dec 1 7:20pm ET
Boston Scott

Philadelphia Eagles running back Boston Scott (illness) missed practice on Wednesday with a non-COVID-19-related illness. Scott saw a lot of touches in the fourth quarter of the Week 12 loss to the New York Giants after Miles Sanders left with an ankle injury. Jordan Howard (knee) was out and is unlikely to return in Week 13 to face the New York Jets. Both Sanders and Scott should have a good chance to play in a juicy matchup this weekend, and they'll both have RB2 upside if Philly is able to maintain a lead and lean on their ground attack. The 26-year-old would pretty much be a must-start if both Howard and Sanders are inactive. The Jets defense is allowing the sixth-most rushing yards per game (128.7) in 2021.

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Jordan Howard Dec 1 7:10pm ET
Jordan Howard

Philadelphia Eagles running back Jordan Howard (knee) missed practice on Wednesday. Howard missed practice all of last week and was ruled out, and he's not on track to make his return in Week 13 against the New York Jets. Miles Sanders and Boston Scott split the majority of the workload in last week's loss to the New York Giants, with rookie Kenneth Gainwell playing sparingly in pass-catching situations. As long as both Sanders and Scott are able to play this Sunday, the Eagles backfield should remain largely unchanged. Against a Jets defense that is allowing 128.7 rushing yards per game to opponents this year, both Sanders and Scott could have RB2 upside if the Eagles continue to rely on their ground attack.

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Phillip Lindsay Dec 1 7:00pm ET
Phillip Lindsay

Miami Dolphins running back Phillip Lindsay (ankle) and tight end Adam Shaheen (knee) were limited in Wednesday's practice. Lindsay played 15 offensive snaps in his team debut in Week 12 and carried the ball 12 times for 42 yards behind Myles Gaskin. Lindsay's addition is obviously bad news for Salvon Ahmed's rest-of-season outlook, but Lindsay won't have much standalone fantasy value in this offense as the No. 2 running back. Shaheen missed last week's win over the Carolina Panthers but is on track to return in Week 13 against the New York Giants. But as the No. 2 behind Mike Gesicki when healthy, Shaheen has no fantasy value. He's caught 12 of 16 targets for 110 scoreless yards in nine games in 2021.

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John Ross Dec 1 6:50pm ET
John Ross

New York Giants tight end Kyle Rudolph (ankle) and wide receiver John Ross (illness) both missed practice on Wednesday. Tight end Kaden Smith (knee) also missed practice. Rudolph did not play in Week 12 against the Philadelphia Eagles, allowing Chris Myarick, who scored a touchdown, to see extra playing time alongside Evan Engram. If quarterback Mike Glennon starts in place of Daniel Jones (neck), he could rely on New York's tight ends more as a safety blanket, but relying on Myarick or Engram as anything more than a TE2 is risky business. Sterling Shepard (quadriceps) and Kadarius Toney (quadriceps) are in danger of missing another game, but even if Ross is active in Week 13 against the Miami Dolphins, he'd be battling with Collin Johnson for snaps in three-receiver sets behind Kenny Golladay and Darius Slayton.

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Kadarius Toney Dec 1 6:50pm ET
Kadarius Toney

New York Giants wide receivers Sterling Shepard (quadriceps) and Kadarius Toney (oblique, quadriceps) both missed practice on Wednesday. Shepard hasn't played since Week 8. He's been productive when on the field in five games, but it's unrealistic to expect him to have a big workload if he's able to get back on the practice field later this week and play in Week 13 against the Miami Dolphins. Toney has looked electric with the ball in his hands in his rookie season, but he missed last week due to injury, and both Shepard and Toney might be taking passes from backup quarterback Mike Glennon if they are active this weekend, which further lowers their fantasy appeal this weekend. Kenny Golladay and Darius Slayton will be New York's top-two pass-catchers if Shepard and Toney continue to miss time.

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Auden Tate Dec 1 6:40pm ET
Auden Tate

Cincinnati Bengals wide receivers Auden Tate (calf) and Mike Thomas (illness) both missed practice on Wednesday. Tate and Thomas have been battling for snaps as the No. 4 receiver behind rookie Ja'Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins all season long, but Tate hasn't been available since Week 7. He's caught three of four targets for 39 yards and one touchdown in seven games, while Thomas has five receptions for 52 yards on eight targets in eight games. Neither has been fantasy relevant in this crowded receiving corps. If both Tate and Thomas are unavailable in Week 13 against the Los Angeles Chargers, Stanley Morgan would be Cincy's No. 4 wideout.

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Logan Thomas Dec 1 6:33pm ET
Logan Thomas

Washington Football Team TE Logan Thomas (hamstring) was limited during practice Wednesday, Dec. 1.

Fantasy Spin: Thomas was back in the lineup after being sidelined for several weeks and was targeted six times during the game. He should be one of the main options in the passing game and can be a low-end No. 1 fantasy tight end.

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Landon Collins Dec 1 6:33pm ET
Landon Collins

Washington Football Team S Landon Collins (foot), C Tyler Larsen (knee), OG Wes Schweitzer (ankle) and CB Benjamin St-Juste (concussion) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Dec. 1. OG Brandon Scherff (knee) and TE Ricky Seals-Jones (hip) were limited during practice.

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Cole Kmet Dec 1 6:30pm ET
Cole Kmet

Chicago Bears tight end Cole Kmet (groin) was unable to practice on Wednesday due to a groin issue. Kmet has yet to find the end zone in his second NFL season, but he's coming off one of his best games of the year on Thanksgiving when he caught a season-high eight passes for 65 yards on a season-high 11 targets. The season high in targets and catches likely had to do with the fact that both Allen Robinson II (hamstring) and Marquise Goodwin (foot, ribs) were inactive. Robinson and Goodwin could miss more time this weekend against the Arizona Cardinals, but Kmet must also get back on the practice field later this week if he hopes to play in Week 13. Kmet will be a low-end TE1 streamer if he plays, but the Cardinals have allowed the fewest fantasy points per game (4.1) to TEs this year. Jimmy Graham would be a more attractive touchdown-dependent TE2 if Kmet doesn't play.

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Damien Williams Dec 1 6:30pm ET
Damien Williams

Chicago Bears running back Damien Williams (calf) missed another practice to kick off the week on Wednesday. Williams also missed practice all of last week before missing his third straight game in the Thanksgiving win over the Detroit Lions. The 29-year-old has been sidelined since Week 8 and was surpassed on the RB depth chart by rookie Khalil Herbert when David Montgomery went on Injured Reserve earlier this season. Montgomery has since taken control of lead-back duties, leaving scraps for Herbert. Whenever Williams returns, he'll have a non-existent role as the No. 3 back in this lackluster offense. He should remain on the waiver wire in most leagues.

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Curtis Samuel Dec 1 6:23pm ET
Curtis Samuel

Washington Football Team WR Curtis Samuel (groin) was limited during practice Wednesday, Dec. 1.

Fantasy Spin: Samuel returned to the lineup last week but finished with only one catch and nine yards. He may see a few more targets this week but can be avoided in fantasy leagues.

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Allen Robinson Dec 1 6:20pm ET
Allen Robinson

Chicago Bears wide receivers Allen Robinson II (hamstring) and Marquise Goodwin (foot, ribs) both missed practice on Wednesday. Robinson has missed the team's last two games, while Goodwin was inactive last Thursday on Thanksgiving in the win over the Detroit Lions. The 28-year-old Robinson has just one touchdown on the year and is in the midst of a disastrous contract season. He's become droppable in 12-team leagues, especially if he cannot play again this weekend against the Arizona Cardinals. Goodwin, at best, is a boom/bust deep threat when available. Darnell Mooney has become Chicago's top receiving threat, even when Robinson and Goodwin are active. Damiere Byrd caught four of five targets for 42 yards as the No. 2 pass-catcher last week.

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Andrew Sendejo Dec 1 6:13pm ET
Andrew Sendejo

Indianapolis Colts DT DeForest Buckner (knee, foot), C Ryan Kelly (knee), LB Darius Leonard (ankle, wrist), OG Quenton Nelson (ankle) and S Andrew Sendejo (calf) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Dec. 1. OT Eric Fisher (knee) was limited during practice.

From TheHuddle

J.D. McKissic Dec 1 6:13pm ET
J.D. McKissic

Washington Football Team RB J.D. McKissic (concussion) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Dec. 1.

Fantasy Spin: McKissic needs to pass the concussion tests before he is cleared to play, so there is a chance he does not play in Week 13. He sees a decent amount of targets when he plays and can be at least a flex option if he is active.

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Adrian Peterson Dec 1 6:10pm ET
Adrian Peterson

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that the team has signed running back Adrian Peterson to their practice squad on Wednesday. Peterson filled in for the Tennessee Titans in three games when Derrick Henry (foot) went down with an injury, but he averaged just 3.0 yards per carry and was released. The 36-year-old could now be an option for Seattle to close out the year with Chris Carson (neck) done for the rest of the season, but the Seahawks also have Alex Collins, Travis Homer, DeeJay Dallas and Rashaad Penny at the position. Collins has been the team's primary option in the backfield ever since Carson went on Injured Reserve, but he hasn't been very good at all (3.9 yards per carry). Peterson isn't guaranteed to see a prominent role to close out the season, making him merely an RB bench stash in deeper leagues.

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