Alshon Jeffery WR PHI (10) 8 hours ago
Jeffery caught all five of his targets for 85 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's 38-7 NFC championship drubbing of the Vikings.
Jeffery hauled in a 53-yard score to make it 21-7 with 1:09 left before halftime, then caught a five-yard touchdown to conclude the scoring with 14:10 remaining in the fourth quarter. The physical wide receiver has established strong chemistry with quarterback Nick Foles, so expect Philadelphia to rely on Jeffery heavily in the Super Bowl.
Nick Foles QB PHI (10) 8 hours ago1 Comment
Foles was tremendous in Sunday's 38-7 NFC championship triumph over the Vikings, completing 26 of 33 passes for 352 yards and three touchdowns.
Minnesota's defense was able to make Foles uncomfortable in the pocket early, but he did a great job of escaping and finding receivers downfield. He was most impressive on third down, converting 10 of 14 tries against a Vikings unit that had been historically proficient at getting off the field in such situations. Foles' touchdown passes of 53, 41 and five yards to Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Jeffery again, respectively, should have him brimming with confidence heading into the Super Bowl.
QAndrew Sendejo DB MIN (9) 9 hours ago
Sendejo injured his calf and is doubtful to return to Sunday's NFC championship game against the Eagles, Courtney Cronin of ESPN reports.
The nature of Sendejo's injury isn't clear. Jayron Kearse will fill in for him at strong safety for the remainder of the game.
QPat Elflein MIN (9) 9 hours ago
Elflein injured his ankle and has been ruled out for the remainder of Sunday's NFC championship game against the Eagles.
Elflein went down in the third quarter. Look for Cornelius Edison to take over at center for the remainder of the game.
QRob Gronkowski TE NE (9) 9 hours ago
Gronkowski has entered concussion protocol but there's optimism the tight end will be cleared in time for the Super Bowl on Feb. 4, Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald reports.
Gronkowski absorbed a helmet-to-helmet hit in the second quarter of Sunday's AFC championship game against the Jaguars and was later ruled out for the remainder of the contest. His chances of being cleared in time are benefitted by the fact he'll have an extra week of rest with the Super Bowl still two weeks away.
Rex Burkhead RB NE (9) 10 hours ago
Burkhead (knee) rushed once for five yards and failed to bring in his only target in Sunday's 24-20 AFC conference championship game victory over the Jaguars.
Burkhead's role turned out to be unexpectedly minimal in his first game action since Week 15, as his only touch turned out to be a first-half end-around rush. The fifth-year pro didn't appear to suffer any setbacks to his knee during the contest, and with lead back Dion Lewis notching just nine carries overall in his own right, it appears that his scant opportunity was essentially a byproduct of game script. Burkhead also saw fellow pass-catching specialist James White garner six touches and five total targets, a factor that also played a factor in his lack of usage. It remains to be seen how master game planner Bill Belichick will opt to utilize his three-headed backfield in Super Bowl LII, but given Burkhead's red-zone success on the ground in the latter portion of the regular season, it's likely he'll be in for a more prominent role.
Danny Amendola WR NE (9) 10 hours ago
Amendola brought in seven of nine targets for 84 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's 24-20 AFC championship game win over the Jaguars. He completed his sole pass attempt for 20 yards, rushed once for three yards and gained 25 yards on two punt returns.
Amendola paced the Patriots in targets while sharing the team lead in receptions with Dion Lewis, and he even had a nifty 20-yard completion to the latter on a trick play that culminated in a lost fumble. However, it was his outstanding work in the red zone that helped vault New England into its second straight Super Bowl. The veteran possession man capped off two fourth-quarter scoring drives with touchdown grabs, the first a nine-yarder with 8:44 remaining. Amendola had a total of three catches during that march, but the highlight of his afternoon was a beauty of a leaping four-yard scoring reception two possessions later in which he just managed to keep both of his feet inbounds in the back of the end zone. That subsequent touchdown, which came with 2:48 remaining, ultimately proved to be the game-winner. Through two postseason games, Amendola has now brought in 18 of 22 targets for 196 yards and Sunday's two touchdowns, making him Tom Brady's top target overall during that span. If star tight end Rob Gronkowski is unable to recover from the head injury that knocked him out of Sunday's contest by the time Super Bowl LII rolls around in two weeks, Amendola should see an even more expanded role than usual in that game.
Brandin Cooks WR NE (9) 10 hours ago
Cooks brought in six of eight targets for 100 yards in Sunday's 24-20 AFC championship game win over the Jaguars.
The speedster found some rare success against the Jags' pair of stalwart corners, doubling up his reception total from last Saturday's divisional-round win over the Titans in the process. Cooks notched an 18-yard grab in key early fourth-quarter drive among his six catches, which was preceded by a game-long 31-yard reception on the second play of the contest in which he got loose from Jags linebacker Telvin Smith downfield. In between, Cooks served as a deep threat on multiple occasions, and as a pivotal component of the passing game once Rob Gronkowski was lost for the game in the first half due to a head injury. His eight targets tied with Dion Lewis for second on the afternoon behind Danny Amendola, and Cooks should once again see a prominent role in two weeks' time when the Patriots face off with the winner of the Vikings-Eagles NFC championship game showdown in Super Bowl LII.
Blake Bortles QB JAC (8) 10 hours ago
Bortles completed 23 of 36 passes for 293 yards and a touchdown during Sunday's 24-20 loss to New England.
New England obviously got the memo that Bortles helped bring Jacksonville to the conference title game with his legs. New England's focus on Bortles as a runner helped open things up in the passing game, Bortles' four-yard touchdown pass to Marcedes Lewis in the second quarter serving as a fine example. The linebacker came off of Lewis to defend Bortles as he rolled out, opening up an easy touchdown. New England adjusted well in the second half and Bortles struggled down the stretch, completing just five of his last 12 passes after a field goal put Jacksonville up 20-10 in the fourth quarter. He had a chance to win it at the end, and drove Jacksonville down the field with a nice 29-yard back-shoulder throw to Dede Westbrook, but an incomplete pass, sack, dump off to the flat, and incomplete pass in New England territory gave the Patriots the opportunity to run out the clock. Bortles deserves credit for being a great complement to Jacksonville's power offense and stout defense formula, and his 91.0 quarterback rating in the playoffs represents a 10-point improvement over his career average. That said, if you're looking at the Jaguars' prospects in 2018, quarterback is probably the position where the most improvement can be had.
Leonard Fournette RB JAC (8) 10 hours ago
Fournette ran for 76 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries and added 13 yards on two catches during Sunday's 24-20 loss in New England.
Fournette put the Jaguars up by 11 in the second quarter when he pounded the ball right up the gut and bulldozed through New England's front for a four-yard score. His impact from then on was minimal as the Patriots focused on taking away the run game and forcing Blake Bortles to throw the ball in disadvantageous downs and distances. The formula worked. Fournette is an athletic freak that saw a whopping 23.4 touches per game in the regular season and another 25.7 in the playoffs. His failure to average four yards per carry can be attributed, in large part, to the ability of opposing defense to key on him with Jacksonville's iffy pass offense. Look for Jacksonville to try to improve its pass offense in 2018 in order to open up more looks for its big power back.