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Patriots’ blowout win vs. Browns shows the rest of the NFL they are legit contenders in the AFC

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Don’t look now, but the New England Patriots are arguably the hottest team in the NFL. In Week 10, Bill Belichick’s club ran the Cleveland Browns out of the Gillette Stadium to the tune of a 45-7 victory, giving New England its fourth consecutive win to move to 6-4 on the season. Not only does this latest win extend the Patriots streak, but it’s also further stamping this club as a legit contender in the AFC that’s worth serious attention as we continue to look at the ever-evolving playoff picture.

Entering Sunday, the Patriots’ three-game winning streak included blowout wins against the New York Jets (Week 7) and Carolina Panthers (Week 9). Even with an impressive road win over the L.A. Chargers sandwiched between those games, it was hard to decipher whether or not New England was truly turning a corner after starting the year 2-4, or if they were simply taking advantage of inferior competition. This win over the Browns not only further validates the streak, but points to Belichick unlocking something with his club. 

No matter what the Patriots wanted to do offensively, they were able to get it done. Cleveland came into Week 10 as the No. 12 overall defense in the NFL in DVOA and boasts an elite pass-rush headlined by Myles Garrett. They are also the No. 5 ranked defense against the run in DVOA. That didn’t seem to matter much for the Patriots, who dropped 45 points (six total touchdowns), kept Mac Jones in a clean pocket for the bulk of the game, and rushed for 184 yards on 5.4 yards per carry. 

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No matter where they were on the field, New England was able to move the ball with ease. The most impressive moment in the game — and a possible flash of what this team is capable of — came in the opening minutes of the second quarter. Mac Jones had the ball at his own 1-yard line and orchestrated a 99-yard touchdown drive that concluded with arguably his best throw of the season — a 23-yard touchdown to Kendrick Bourne over the middle of the field. Jones went 3 of 4 on that drive for 61 yards and that score. 

That was New England’s first of three touchdown drives that traveled over 90 yards. 

“I thought the team really played well today,” said Belichick. “There were so many outstanding plays and players and the preparation we had this week, really you can put everybody and talk about just about everybody in there. Long touchdown drives. You know, turnovers, competitive plays in the kicking game. Just kind of big plays after big plays from so many different people. So just really proud of the way the team prepared.”

Defensively, the resilience of this unit was on full display early. After Cleveland put together an opening touchdown drive to go up 7-0, the Patriots slammed the door, shutting them out the rest of the way as the offense scored 45 straight. They also held Baker Mayfield to just 36 yards passing in the first half (a new career-low) and were getting off the field in critical moments, allowing the Browns to convert just one of their 11 third-down opportunities on the day. 

“We know what we have in the locker room,” said linebacker Matthew Judon when asked about the streak. “We knew the type of players we have. We knew that we had to execute a little bit better and hone in on the small details. Kobi [Jakobi Meyers] said we had to be better practice players to be better in games. I think that’s what we did, and we started executing in practice and it started showing up in games. We got a win and it kept rolling. We have to focus on practice which leads to the game.”

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Over this four-game stretch, the Patriots are outscoring their opponents, 150-50. During a year where no elite team in the AFC has revealed itself to this point, New England should be right in the thick of the conversation as contenders in the conference. If they can continue to ride this momentum, they’ll not only be a threat to reach the playoffs but could be one of the more feared teams in the tournament. 





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Should the NFC fear Brady, Bucs after late 4th quarter win over Saints in Wk 13? | FIRST THINGS FIRST

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Nick Wright, Chris Broussard, and Kevin Wildes discuss the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17-16 win over the New Orleans Saints in Week 13. Nick weighs in on Tom Brady’s performance vs. the Saints and explains the Bucs are guaranteed to be in the playoffs after the win. Broussard explains the Bucs should have lost the game but despite the odds came away with a win.



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Jayson Tatum Says Being In MVP Race Is ‘Surreal’

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(Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

 

Boston Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum has taken yet another leap in his NBA career this season.

Before the 2022-23 campaign started, the 24-year-old had already cemented himself as one of the best young players in the league, but he has taken his game to new heights this season.

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As a result of his stellar play and the Celtics’ impressive 20-5 record, Tatum is hearing his name mentioned in MVP conversations more than ever before.

It doesn’t seem like he has gotten used to that feeling yet.

Tatum said Monday that it’s “surreal” to be in the MVP mix, adding that it’s something he dreamed about as a kid.

“It’s really like an honor,” Tatum said. “It’s kinda surreal living out your dreams in reality, being in the conversation. You dream about it as a kid, and for people to acknowledge and recognize that, saying you’re leading or in the running for MVP, I don’t take that lightly. That’s not something I brush over or get used to. I gotta pinch myself sometimes. I think it’s cool, to be honest. I still feel like a kid sometimes doing what I love. To be mentioned with guys like Giannis [Antetokounmpo] and things like that, I think that’s pretty cool.

“At the same, just trying to focus on game to game and being the best I can for the team — 20-5 is big. That’s how we wanted to start the season. Individually, all the guys, myself and J.B. (Jaylen Brown), everybody is going to get the things that they deserve. As far as being in the MVP race, it’s not something I’m used to. I get excited, I guess. It’s something — even though I’ve been in the league six years, I feel like a kid, thinking about the possibility of (winning MVP). There’s a long way to go, but it’s a surreal feeling being in that conversation.”

As Tatum mentioned, there’s still a long way to go, but he’s putting himself in position to be in the MVP race all season long.

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No Celtics player has won the award since Larry Bird in the 1980s, and Tatum is looking to change that.

 

Tatum’s Season At A Glance

Tatum is averaging 30.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game this season.

Last season, he averaged 26.9 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per contest.

What makes his uptick in scoring so impressive is the fact that it hasn’t come from an increase in volume — it has come from an increase in efficiency.

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Last season, he averaged 20.6 shots per game, and this season, he’s averaging 21.0 shots per game, which isn’t much of a difference at all.

But last season, he had a true shooting percentage of 57.8, and this season, he has maintained a true shooting percentage of 62.4.

That’s where the scoring boost has come from.

It would also be silly not to mention his defensive impact.

The three-time All-Star has become one of the better two-way players in the league, and that’s one of the biggest reasons why his team has the best record in the NBA.

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Tatum will look to add to his MVP case on Wednesday when the Celtics face the Phoenix Suns.

The post Jayson Tatum Says Being In MVP Race Is ‘Surreal’ appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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Baker Mayfield claimed on waivers by Los Angeles Rams

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Baker Mayfield has been claimed on waivers by the Los Angeles Rams, just one day after being released by the Panthers.



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