New England Patriots

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

The New England Patriots had another game of mostly “ups” with a smattering of “downs” in their 38-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday Night Football. Here’s a quick rundown of whose stock is rising (and whose is falling) after the Patriots’ second straight win by double-digit points.

Rising: Julian Edelman

The Patriots are thankful on Friday to know that they have Edelman back, and he’s the same player he’s been in recent years for Tom Brady. With his safety valve back shredding the middle of the field, Brady looks more comfortable with his decision-making and is spreading the ball around even better than he has to start the season. It wasn’t a perfect night for Edelman, who dropped what could’ve been a long wide-open touchdown on the Patriots’ second possession. But if and when they can clean up the sloppiness, the Patriots offense has more than enough weapons to be able to take off in the coming weeks.

Falling: Chris Hogan

Those weapons, however, have largely not included Hogan. Besides a two-touchdown game against the Jaguars – one of which came in garbage time and was one of just four catches on the day – Hogan has been virtually nonexistent in this offense, despite entering the season as the team’s perceived No. 1 receiver. Phillip Dorsett has passed him in the pecking order, and it only got worse for Hogan on Thursday night as he dropped a catch that turned into an interception. The fact that Brady heaved it to Josh Gordon in double-coverage instead of a wide-open Hogan is telling. Hogan may not be out of Brady’s vaunted circle of trust just yet, but he’s certainly closer to the outer edge.

Rising: Josh Gordon

The biggest takeaway from Gordon’s fourth-quarter touchdown isn’t the play itself. He obviously has rare ability for a receiver to beat double coverage the way he did. But he did it against backups. The real big takeaways here are that 1) Brady trusted him enough to throw that ball in the first place, and 2) that it came at a crucial point in the game where it felt like the Colts were surging and the Patriots needed to keep the game out of reach. Thankfully for Gordon and the Patriots, the receiver came down with the ball.

Falling: Devin McCourty

A night to forget for the veteran safety, and that comes even when he made arguably the best defensive play of the night. He stripped the ball away from Jordan Wilkins to negate a Brady interception that had come minutes before, but that wasn’t enough to make up for a down night in coverage for McCourty. He struggled to cover both tight ends, Eric Ebron and Erik Swoope. The latter wasn’t even on the Colts’ official roster in the press box. The Patriots are going to have to tighten up their coverage against tight ends in a hurry with Travis Kelce and the Chiefs coming to Foxborough next weekend.

Rising: Adrian Clayborn

After a relatively quiet first four games with his new team, Clayborn was the Patriots’ most disruptive pass rusher coming off the left edge. He hurried Andrew Luck’s throw that resulted in his interception to Patrick Chung, and also registered a hit and drew a holding penalty. No sacks, but his speed off the edge was clearly making things much harder for Luck to operate. It would be a boon for the defense if they can get the veteran edge rusher going on a consistent basis.

Next “Rise & Fall” isn’t for 10 days, with the Patriots’ next game coming on Sunday Night Football against the Chiefs on Oct. 14.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.