1. Philly Brown continues to run ahead of Devin Funchess

The Panthers haven’t shown any desire to free their second-round pick. Last week, Brown led the Panthers with 49-of-65 snaps while Funchess only got 22. Funchess was also asked to block a ton (partially due to game flow) as he only ran five pass routes. So as much as we want to click on Funchess at $3200 because he can make plays, the Panthers have far more faith in Brown – who costs $2800. With Patrick Peterson possibly slated to shadow Ted Ginn, Brown should see 4-6 targets.

2. Patriots threw double teams at Demaryius Thomas in Week 12

When the Broncos and Patriots met in late-November, Demaryius Thomas was held to a season-worst 1-36-0 on 13 targets. In that game, Bill Belichick used Malcolm Butler to shadow Emmanuel Sanders in mostly single coverage for 36-of-40 pass routes (via PFF). He then put Logan Ryan plus safety help on DT. Given how successful the plan was in limiting Thomas, we can expect something similar Sunday. With the corpse of Peyton Manning under center, it’s hard to be excited about DT in this matchup.

3. Jonathan Stewart returns to practice

Stewart is going to play through his latest ankle “tweak” Sunday. I don’t think he’ll be very limited, although there’s no way to know for sure given his wheel history. If healthy, Stewart is set up nicely against a Cardinals defense that has crumbled a bit of late. Fat Ed Lacy somehow got them for 12-89-0 last week and Alf Morris went 11-50-0 in the Wild Card Round. Stewart, averaging an impressive 18.6 carries per game on the year, should get close to 20 touches in this one.