Brown, Jones among top WR duos Patriots will face


The Patriots' defense did well against the pass last season, allowing the eighth fewest yards through the air at 222.3 per game. But Stephon Gilmore and company will have their hands full trying to contain some dynamic duos at wideout during the 2021 season. Here are the top 10 tandems they must stop.

10 photos

Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore were one of the most underrated duos during the 2020 season. Anderson, known for being one of the fastest receivers in the league, reached career highs in catches (95) and receiving yards (1,096) while serving as the No. 2 option for the Panthers.

Moore totaled 66 catches for a career-high 1,193 yards and four touchdowns in a breakout year. With Anderson's former teammate Sam Darnold under center and LSU's Terrace Marshall Jr. joining the fold, Anderson and Moore could have an electric season in 2021.

The Patriots will take on Anderson, Moore and the Panthers Week 9 on Nov. 7 at 1:00 p.m


The passing game will look a little different in New Orleans this season with the retirement of Drew Brees, the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards. But the Saints have some weapons for their new quarterback, whether that’s Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill.

Thomas is coming off a frustrating season where he was hampered by an ankle sprain he suffered in Week 1. He played in just seven games, four with Hill starting in place of the injured Brees, and finished the season with just 40 receptions for 438 yards and no touchdowns. But, Thomas is just one season removed from setting the record for receptions in a season with 149, totaling 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns in what was his third consecutive season of 100-plus receptions. Thomas hauls in just about anything within reach, having caught 78.5 of targets over that three-year stretch. 

Smith was one of the beneficiaries of Thomas’ absence, as he had his most productive season with the Saints. The third-year receiver stepped up immediately in Week 1 with 182 yards and two touchdowns, and he went on to set career highs with 34 receptions and 448 receiving yards. 

New England will host the Saints Week 3 on Sept. 26 at 1:00 p.m. 


The Falcons certainly aren't short on weapons following Julio Jones' departure.

Jones being dealt to the Titans solidifies Calvin Ridley as the unquestioned No. 1 wide receiver in Atlanta. As Jones battled injuries last season, Ridley emerged as Matt Ryan's favorite target, seeing an uptick in production from previous seasons. Ridley caught 90 passes for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns.

Russell Gage took full advantage of an increased opportunity in 2020, setting career highs in receptions (72), receiving yards (786) and touchdowns (4). With Jones completely out of the picture, Gage could be in for an even bigger season in 2021.

Calvin and Gage won't be the only pass catchers opposing defenses need to worry about either, as the Falcons will be adding rookie phenom Kyle Pitts to their offense.

The Patriots will face Ridley, Gage, Pitts and the Falcons Week 11 on Nov. 18 for Thursday Night Football.


It’s officially Tua Time in Miami, with second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa set to begin the season as starter. He gets a new deep threat to throw to with the Dolphins signing former Texans wideout Will Fuller to a one-year deal. Fuller set career highs last season in receptions with 53, receiving yards with 879 and touchdowns with eight.

He should help take some of the defensive attention off DeVante Parker, whose production slipped last season following a career year in 2019. Parker, who missed two games late in the season with a hamstring injury, had 63 catches for 793 yards, including four touchdowns. Those numbers were down from the career highs he set the season prior with 72 receptions, 1,202 yards and nine TDs.

With the addition of Fuller, a healthy Parker, and a talented young quarterback in Tua, the Dolphins have a pair of receivers capable of 1,000-yard seasons. Oh, and they also used the No. 6 pick in the 2021 draft on Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle.

The Pats will square off against the Dolphins Week 1 on Sept. 12 at 4:25 p.m. and Week 18 on Jan. 9 at 1:00 p.m.


Justin Herbert will be looking to build off of his rookie of the year campaign with a strong sophomore season in 2021 and his trusted wide receiver duo of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams should benefit as a result.

Allen is one of the best pure route-runners in the league and has caught over 100 passes in three of the past four seasons. His receiving yards dipped in 2020 (992 yards), but Allen's eight touchdowns last season were the most since his rookie year in 2013.

Williams on the other hand served as a rising playmaker for the Los Angeles Chargers, compiling 48 catches for 756 yards and five touchdowns.

While he hasn't yet lived up to his potential as a former seventh overall pick in the 2017 draft if Williams can become more consistent Justin Herbert and the Chargers' offense should ascend to elite status in 2021.

The Patriots will make the trip to Los Angeles to face the Chargers in Week 8 on Halloween at 4:05 p.m.


No wide receiver in the NFL benefited from a change in scenery more last season than Stefon Diggs. The former fifth-round draft pick out of Maryland was primarily seen as a solid No. 2 option during the five years he spent with the Minnesota Vikings, but in Buffalo he broke out and finally proved that he can be a go-to option. Josh Allen’s MVP-level season was very much thanks to Diggs who put up the best numbers of his career in 2020. Diggs caught 127 passes for 1,525 yards and eight touchdowns, breaking the franchise record for most receiving yards and receptions.

But Diggs wasn’t the only WR to benefit from Allen’s emergence into one of the NFL’s best QBs. Cole Beasley, who signed with the Bills in 2019 after seven seasons with the Cowboys, also posted career high numbers in 2020. Beasley caught 82 passes for 967 yards and four touchdowns as a solid No.2 contributor from the slot. 

With Allen only getting better and Brian Daboll returning as offensive coordinator, the Bills duo should be able to make some more noise coming of an AFC East winning season.

The Pats face the Bills twice in four weeks starting Week 13 on Dec. 6 at 8:15 p.m. on Monday Night Football, and again in Week 16 on Dec. 26 at 1:00 p.m.


Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry have been terrorizing opposing defenses since their college days at LSU. After reuniting as teammates in Cleveland in 2019, the pair is ready to take the league by storm once again in 2021. The duo saw a dip in production in 2020 compared to their 2019 season, where both Beckham and Landry had over 1,000 receiving yards. 

Beckham caught 23 passes for 319 yards and three touchdowns last season before tearing his ACL Week 7 against the Bengals. As a result of the injury, Landry became Baker Mayfield's No. 1 receiving option for the rest of the year, but only totaled 72 receptions for 840 yards and three touchdowns. 

With both Beckham and Landry healthy heading into OTAs, they both will look to get back to the form that made them a force.

The Patriots welcome Beckham, Landry and the Browns to Gillette Stadium Week 10 on Nov. 14 at 1:00 p.m.


Amari Cooper is known as one of the best yards after catch receivers in the league. Cooper, who signed a five-year, $100 million deal with the Cowboys last March, has managed to amass over 1,000-plus yards receiving in the past two seasons despite dealing with an injured starting quarterback.

Cooper had 92 catches for 1,114 yards and five touchdowns in 2020, and 79 catches for 1,189 yards and eight touchdowns in 2019. 

Lamb emerged as a productive target out of the slot for the Cowboys. In his rookie season, he caught 74 passes for 935 yards and five touchdowns. While his role could increase depending on what Dallas wants to do with No. 2 wideout Michael Gallup, his potential to be a home-run hitter will only increase with Dak Prescott healthy again in 2021.

The Patriots will host Cooper, Lamb and the Cowboys Week 6 on Oct. 17 at 4:25 p.m.


The newest wide receiver tandem is one of league's best.

With Julio Jones being traded from Atlanta to Tennessee, he'll play alongside A.J. Brown to help take an offense that tied for the second-most passing yards per game last season (396.4) to the next level.

The seven-time Pro Bowler has led the league in receptions twice and heads to Tennessee with a resume that includes 848 catches, 12,896 yards and 60 touchdowns. The 32-year-old is coming off an injury-plagued season where he was limited to nine games and 51 catches for 771 yards and three touchdowns.

Jones' presence will help open the field for Brown, who has posted 1,000-plus yard seasons in each of his first two years. The duo will form a nightmare matchup for opposing secondaries, while also creating some extra space in the box for Derrick Henry. 

The Patriots host the Titans Week 12 on Nov. 28.


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers not only have a Hall of Fame QB but the league's best wide receiver tandem heading into the 2021 season in Pro Bowlers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. 

Evans is coming off a strong 2020 season where he caught 70 passes for 1,006 yards and 13 touchdowns despite battling multiple injuries throughout the season. 

While Godwin's numbers dipped in 2020 as he battled through a concussion, hamstring strain and fractured left index finger which caused him to miss four games, he still was able to catch 65 passes for 840 yards and 7 touchdowns in 12 games.

With Tom Brady under center and Antonio Brown back in the fold in the slot, the sky is the limit for two of the best wide receivers in 2021.

The Patriots will welcome Brady back home to Foxborough Week 4 on Oct. 3 at 8:20 p.m. on Sunday Night Football.

Contact Us