Here is this week’s New England Patriots stock watch:
Ryan has been unreal all season long, and he turned in another unbelievable performance last night. Ryan held DeAndre Hopkins to two catches on five targets, and one of the catches he allowed was just a phenomenal play by Hopkins, because Ryan had perfect coverage. The Patriots really don’t miss Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner because Ryan and Malcolm Butler have been lights out this year.
Jabaal Sheard/Akiem Hicks
These two guys combined for four sacks, six QB hits, three tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles last night. Both completely destroyed Houston’s offensive line all game long, and along with the rest of their defensive line mates, they were the chief reason why New England’s defense was so dominant in this contest.
Gronk didn’t play the entire game in his return to the field (42 of 69 snaps), but he was extremely efficient when he was on the field. Gronkowski was targeted four times, and he caught all four balls for 87 yards and a key touchdown at the end of the first half. This offense is a completely different animal when he is playing, and it was a welcome sight to see the big man out there once again.
With Dont’a Hightower inactive and Jonathan Freeny exiting with a hand injury, Mayo was called upon to step up in a starting-role, and he delivered. Mayo finished the game with eight total tackles and one tackle for a loss, as Mayo appears to be looking more and more like the dominant Mayo of old.
LaFell wasn’t as bad as he was last week, but he did have a key drop early in the game that might have cost the Patriots four points. He made a few nice plays later, but LaFell really needs to snap out of this funk before the playoffs begin.
Dominique Easley, LeGarrette Blount, Devin McCourty, and Jonathan Freeny all left this game with injuries. Hopefully none of these are too serious.