ddThe New England Patriots have won five straight games, the most recent of which came overwhelmingly on Thursday Night Football. With a 25-0 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on the road, New England advanced to 7-4 and moved one step closer to postseason contention. On a short turnaround, the Patriots played a near-perfect game. So with everything out of the way, let’s look at the winners and losers from Thursday’s competition.
Winner: LB Kyle Van Noy
Kyle Van Noy has taken some time to get going in his second tenure in New England, but he’s been perhaps the defense’s most exciting player in recent weeks. He had a spectacular night against the Falcons, with two sacks, two tackles for loss, eight total tackles, and a pick-six. It was, without a doubt, the most okay game of his career.
Bill Belichick commended Van Noy’s versatility in his postgame news conference, citing his ability to play all over the defense, both inside and outside, off-ball and on edge. If the Patriots want to play in late January, they’ll need this version of Van Noy to show up every week.
Winner: DT Christian Barmore
The youngster extended his domination on Thursday night by repeatedly defeating double teams and pressing the pocket for people like Matthew Judon and Kyle Van Noy to take up sacks. Because of his explosiveness and range of pass rush maneuvers, Barmore’s ability to garner this much attention as a rookie has allowed the other members of the Patriots’ front to make plays on the ball.
Winner: OLB Matthew Judon
Matthew Judon has won eleven games in a row and has been in the winner category for eleven weeks in a row. On Thursday night, Judon reached a career-best in sacks, recording his 10.5th season, and moved into third place in the league. Judon’s steadiness against the run, pass, and kicking game has allowed the Patriots to reach a whole new level.
Loser: C David Andrews
David Andrews is difficult to criticize because of his consistency and leadership on the offensive line, but he was penalized for two holding flags last night. Unfortunately, one of them stopped Rhamondre Stevenson’s huge run, which would have put the Patriots in the red zone. Nevertheless, Andrews has been one of the league’s finest centers all season, and we’re confident he’ll bounce back next week and continue to lead the league’s best offensive line.
Winner: RB Damien Harris and RB Rhamondre Stevenson
Even though the Patriot’s offense stagnated a little, it could still move the ball efficiently through Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson. We knew coming in that with Harris being cleared to play yesterday and Stevenson’s great game on Sunday, and both would have significant roles and share the effort.
The Patriots will continue to dominate teams upfront and wear defenses down, with both Harris and Stevenson carrying the ball (with fullback Jakob Johnson leading the way) and being the sorts of powerful backs that they are.
Winner: S Kyle Dugger
Kyle Dugger started up right where he left off after having his most excellent game as a pro against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. He was paired with Kyle Pitts for most of the night, limiting the promising youngster to only two receptions. However, he made a significant play early in the game on third down, demonstrating his progress in coverage by sticking with Pitts and making a great play on the ball.