5 Points on Patriots Win Over Saints & New Injuries

Tom BradyThe New England Patriots had a rough start to the season, losing 42-27 at home against Kansas City. But they’re back on track after pulling out a 36-20 win over the New Orleans Saints.

New England quarterback Tom Brady was the star of the show, completing 30-of-39 passes for 447 yards and 3 touchdowns. Rob Gronkowski rebounded from a quiet game to catch six passes for 116 yards and a touchdown.

The Saints aren’t the league’s most-heralded team right now. Even still, the Patriots’ convincing victory shows that they aren’t suffering a Super Bowl hangover. Here are some key takeaways from the game against New Orleans and what to look for in next week’s contest.

1. Tom Brady was Excellent

tom-brady-patriotsMuch was made about Brady’s age following his performance against Kansas City. He threw for 267 yards and no touchdowns against the Chiefs. This had many wondering if the 40-year-old quarterback is entering the twilight of his career.

If so, you certainly wouldn’t know it by how Brady played against New Orleans. Beyond the eye-popping stats, he had some incredible throws. Examples include a touch pass to Rex Burkhead, a flat-footed touchdown TD throw to Gronk, and another perfect ball to Gronksowski that was dropped.

This performance was a far cry from last Thursday, when Brady consistently overthrew players. But we can give him a break since he lost over half of his starting receiving corp (Julian Edelman, Malcolm Mitchell, Danny Amendola) before and during the game.

2. New England Played with More Emotion

Brady wasn’t happy with his teammates following the loss to Kansas City. He questioned the Patriots’ attitude and competitiveness following the contest.

“We just didn’t make a lot of plays tonight, actually,” said Brady. “So we just have to be better in a lot of areas, starting with our attitude and our competitiveness. We have to do a lot better than tonight.”

New England heard his message loud and clear because they played with a lot more energy against New Orleans. Gronkwoski started flexing after he scored a 53-yard touchdown.

The team got excited after a big special teams tackle by Harvey Langi. And Brady himself celebrated after throwing a TD to Chris Hogan.

3. Gronkowski Had a Great Game – But He was also Injured

Rob Gronkowski is trying to get back to the top of his game after an injury-plagued season in 2016. And he certainly got things going against the Saints. He looked like the old Gronkowski on his 53-yard TD, out-running and out-juking New Orleans defenders.

The only problem is that Gronk was slow to get up after his sixth-and-final catch. He headed off the field afterward and went to the medical tent.

The good news is that he didn’t aggravate the back injury that kept him sidelined half of last season. The bad news is that he hurt his groin and didn’t play any more snaps. Gronkowski did at least ride the exercise bike on the sidelines while watching the rest of his team’s victory.

4. Other Patriots Got Injured Too

New England hasn’t had much luck with injuries this season. As mentioned before, three of their top receivers have already been injured, with Edelman (ACL) done for the year.

The New Orleans didn’t bring much relief in this department. Rex Burkhead, playing in his first game as a slot receiver/running back hybrid, headed back to the locker room. Newly acquired receiver Phillip Dorsett went to the medical tent late in the contest. And Hogan was limping at various points during the game, although he remained on the field.

Amendola was forced to miss this game with a concussion and knee injury. Mitchell has been placed on IR, meaning he’ll miss at least 8 games, and Edelman won’t see the field until 2018. That said, New England can’t afford many more long-term injuries.

5. Burkhead could Play a Big Role Moving Forward

If Rex Burkhead is on your fantasy football waiver wire, you might want to pick him up. New England made a serious effort to get Burkhead the ball in the early going.

After getting just 4 touches against the Chiefs, he had 5 touches in the first quarter against the Saints. This included a 19-yard touchdown.

With Amendola out, Burkhead ran some routes out of the slot and also shared the field with fellow running back James White on occasion.

Starting Green Bay running back Tim Montgomery had a similar role last season until breaking out. We doubt Burkhead will get as much action as Montgomery when considering all of New England’s running backs. But he’s definitely a player to look for moving forward.

The only question is what kind of injury he’s dealing with, and if he’ll have to miss any time.

Patriots Betting in Week 3

New England hosts the Houston Texans next week on Sunday. Houston is coming off a narrow 13-9 road victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. That said, I don’t see the Texans contending with New England in Gillette Stadium.

This isn’t to say that Houston can’t be competitive. But they’ll be starting rookie quarterback DeShaun Watson in a road game against one of the NFL’s top teams. I look for New England to win the game 31-17.

The one X-factor could be the Patriots’ injuries. If Amendola isn’t cleared and any of the other players we discussed miss time, then this will be a much tougher game for New England than expected.

But don’t bet on this happening until any more injuries are confirmed for the Patriots.

2017 NFL Futures: New England Trades for Brandin Cooks

brandin-cooks-new-englandThe New England Patriots aren’t resting on their laurels after winning Super Bowl LI. Head coach and GM Bill Belichick traded the team’s first round pick (32nd overall) for New Orleans Saints receiver Brandin Cooks. Additionally, the Patriots will swap their third round pick (103rd) for the Saints’ fourth rounder (118th).

Reports suggest that the teams were discussing a swap for Cooks and New England cornerback Malcolm Butler. But the Patriots were able to negotiate a deal where they traded picks for Cooks, who was the 20th overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Impact of Cooks on New England Patriots’ Betting Futures

A 3-year veteran, Cooks had another strong year in 2016, catching 78 passes for 1,173 yards and 8 touchdowns. Stepping onto a loaded Patriots receiving corp, the 23-year-old figures to be in the running for the team’s top wideout.

Julian Edelman led New England last year with 98 catches for 1,106 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns. Chris Hogan also had a solid year, hauling in 38 receptions for 680 yards and 4 touchdowns.

brandin-cooks-patriots-1Other notable Patriots pass-catchers include tight ends Martellus Bennett (701 yards, 7 TDs) and Rob Gronkowski (540 yards, 3TDs), running back James White (551 yards, 5 TDs), and receiver Danny Amendola (243 yards, 4 TDs).

Bennett signed a 3-year, $21-million contract with the Green Bay Packers, meaning New England needs to replace some of this production.

While the team signed former Colts tight end Dwayne Allen to help ease the burden, they can definitely use what Cooks brings to the table too. With Edelman, Cooks, Gronkowski, and Allen, they should once again have a very tough receiving corp. Furthermore, their GTBets futures odds of +500 may even be undervalued with the latest addition.

Why Cooks was a Steal

Let’s start off by saying that the Saints didn’t get screwed over in this deal – in fact, it was a great one for them. Cooks has been talking about wanting out of New Orleans, and he was entering the final season of his rookie deal. Rather than letting him walk and getting nothing in return, the Saints get a first rounder and slightly more value by swapping their fourth rounder for New England’s third pick.

That said, this is also a steal for the Patriots because they get a top-tier receiver for a late first round pick. Belichick has long respected Cooks’ game, knowing that he has the ability to play both inside, and stretch defenses on the outside with his 4.3 speed.

The deep speed is especially important here because Cooks will open things up for Gronkowski and Allen running over the middle.

As for the first-round pick that New England gave up, this is a small price for a team that normally doesn’t assign top value to picks beyond the 15-20 range. According to Yahoo! Sports, the Patriots often assign second-round grades to players in the late first round. This means that New England probably views the 32 pick as having similar value to a player drafted with the 45th selection.

Now take Cooks, a proven player who would be a top-10 pick if he were to go in the draft today. Assuming he can master the Patriots’ system fast enough, then it’s possible that Cooks becomes the team’s best receiver.

Cooks Is Really Excited to be in New England

According to NESN, Cooks doesn’t think that he could’ve landed in a better destination.

“Obviously, to play for an organization like this, it’s a dream come true and it’s blessing,” Cooks said. “So I couldn’t be more thankful. I’m just thankful for the opportunity, and I can’t wait to get started.”

brandin-cooks-patriotsOne thing that helped Cooks understand the benefit of playing for New England is that his old team held joint training camp practices each of the past two summers.

“It’s a first-class place — a place you’d love to be a part of,” said Cooks, who faced off against Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler during the practices. “When we practiced against them, it was always competitive. These are the type of teams you want to go against to better yourself. So to be on a team like this now, it’s amazing.”

With the offseason still relatively young, it’ll be interesting to see who else New England adds before summer practices. But just based on the trade they made for Cooks alone, the team’s offense has already received a significant upgrade who can get in well with the team.

Jacoby Brissett Injures Hand – Who’s Next at QB for Patriots?

jacoby-brissett-injuryWhen Tom Brady was forced to serve a 4-game suspension for the Deflate-Gate incident, few would’ve guessed that the New England Patriots would be 3-0 right now, with Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett starting at quarterback.

Forget the multiple Super Bowls that Bill Belichick has coached this franchise to. Reeling off three victories with two unheralded options at the game’s most-important position is a marvel.

But Belichick and the Patriots might have to get even more creative because, as reported by NFL.com, Brissett has a thumb injury that may force him to miss the team’s Week 4 contest (Oct 2) against Buffalo.

Who’s up next at QB for the Patriots?

NFL.com writes that the thumb injury “is not deemed a serious one,” but the team still isn’t sure how they’re going to handle the situation moving forward. New England is expected to sign a veteran quarterback to prepare for the Buffalo game while they monitor Brissett’s situation.

Cameras showed him in pain during the third quarter of Thursday night’s 27-0 blowout victory over the Houston Texans. Despite the 23-year-old wincing while holding his thumb, he finished the game.

As the roster currently stands, Julian Edelman, who played quarterback at Kent State, is the emergency fill-in. But this is far from the desired option due to his importance at the receiver position.

A more-attractive option would be starting Garoppolo again if he’s healthy enough to play. But given that Garoppolo is dealing with a serious shoulder joint sprain, it’s unclear whether or not another week-plus of recovery will be enough.

Regarding veteran options, Matt Flynn and Ryan Lindley are available free agents. Both have starting NFL experience and could bridge the one-game gap until Brady comes off his suspension in Week 5, ready for a contest against the Cleveland Browns.

No matter who starts at center, New England will have a good chance of winning based on what they’ve done over the past three weeks.

Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels put together a strong game plan on Thursday that accentuated Brissett’s strengths while hiding his weaknesses.

The stats from Brissett weren’t overwhelming – 11 for 19 passing for 103 yards, along with 48 rushing yards on 8 attempts – but it was enough to move the ball. And Pats fans are still relishing the 27-yard touchdown run that Brissett reeled off.

Given some of his overthrows, it’s obvious that this wasn’t Brady under center. But Brissett looked solid on most of his throws and ran the option effectively.

What’s also impressive is that Brissett played solid and avoided turnovers against one of the league’s most-talented defenses. With J.J. Watt, Vince Wilfork, Brian Cushing, and Jadaveon Clowney, the Texans have a devastating pass rush that can wreak havoc on quarterbacks.

But Brissett was able to provide just enough passing to keep this defense honest while avoiding sacks. The only Houston player to tally a sack was second-year linebacker Bernardrick McKinney.

The game was mainly won on the ground for the Patriots, as they piled on 185 rushing yards, versus 109 for the Texans. LeGarrette Blount led the way with 105 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries.

With uncertainty at QB for the Buffalo game, who knows type of gameplan New England will employ. But regardless of the starter, the Patriots will likely be favored to win.

And if they start 4-0 without their future Hall of Fame quarterback, it’s scary to think how good the Patriots will do with Brady in the lineup.