Thu Oct 17 2:10pm ET
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Pro Football Writer
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady passes under pressure from the New York Giants in the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are still rolling right along with a high-powered offense and a stingy defense that has their record blemish-free.
The New York Jets look a bit different, though, from the team Bill Belichick's bunch beat 30-14 less than a month ago. And, it all starts at quarterback.
Luke Falk was under center then, making his first NFL start and looking overwhelmed and overmatched. Sam Darnold is back this time around, fully recovered from mononucleosis and coming off one of the best performances of his young career.
''He's a big, strong kid that can stand in the pocket and he's hard to tackle,'' Belichick said. ''He's not an easy guy to bring down. He's big, he can see and find guys under pressure.''
Darnold showed no signs of rust after missing three games because of his illness, going 23 of 32 for 338 yards and two TDs with an INT in a 24-22 win over Dallas and being selected the AFC's offensive player of the week.
It was a big boost for what had been a badly struggling Jets offense. Darnold's day was highlighted by his 92-yard touchdown throw to Robby Anderson, the longest offensive play in the NFL this season and the second-longest in franchise history.
Now, Darnold and the Jets hope to use that momentum to get something going against the Patriots' top-ranked defense at MetLife Stadium in a prime-time showdown.
''You've got to continue to grind,'' Darnold said. ''We know that after a good win, you've got to come right back in here because we got a tough one Monday night against the Pats. We know what our job is, we've just got to come in and get back to work.''
The Patriots are off to a 6-0 start for the fourth time in team history, with a chance to get to 7-0 for just the third time. They also have a chance to sweep the two-game regular-season series against the Jets for the fourth straight year.
Brady is 28-6 against the Jets in the regular season, including seven straight wins. He's also 16-7 in Monday night games, including 2-0 against New York. Meanwhile, Belichick is 18-8 on Monday nights - but just 9-7 in those games on the road.
''Monday night is always a high-energy game,'' Belichick said. ''We'll point to that and know it's always tough down there in New York. So, we need to have a good week here and be ready to go.''
Here are some other things to know for the latest Patriots-Jets showdown:
BEEN A WHILE
The Jets and Patriots play on a Monday night for the eighth time, and New York leads those matchups 4-3.
The previous time the AFC East rivals squared off on ''Monday Night Football'' was in 2010, when New England cruised to a 45-3 victory.
It's also the first time the Patriots are playing a Monday night game on the road against the Jets since 2005, when they won 31-21.
The Patriots entered Week 7 allowing a league-low eight points per game. One of the reasons is how stingy their defense has been on third down.
New England has held teams to an NFL-low 10 of 73 (13.7 percent) conversion rate in those situations. The fewest third downs allowed in a 16-game season is 49 by the 1991 New Orleans Saints.
In their Week 3 win over the Jets, the Patriots did not allow a third-down conversion, which is something New England has accomplished five times since 2000. Only five teams have not allowed a third down twice in the same season - the Packers (2005), Eagles (2009), Giants (2010), Dolphins (2011) and Saints (2018).
Le'Veon Bell hasn't had a breakout-type game for the Jets, but the fluid quarterback situation certainly hasn't helped.
With Darnold back and the offensive line improving the past few weeks, the star running back could start seeing some more opportunities to make plays. He has 256 yards rushing and a TD on 85 carries for a 3.0 average, and 28 catches for 169 yards and a score.
''Hopefully we can open it up a little bit for him,'' coach Adam Gase said. ''We've seen a lot of loaded boxes, he's had a lot of tough runs. He's made the most of what he's had and probably gotten us more than what we should have.''
WELCOME BACK, WATSON
Tight end Ben Watson is back for another stint with the Patriots and it's right on time for an offense looking for some stability and more production from the position.
The 38-year-old Watson was re-signed by New England on Wednesday, less than a week after being released. Belichick left the door open for Watson to return, saying he was cut simply because there wasn't an available roster spot once he returned from serving a four-game suspension for a positive banned substance test following last season.
Circumstances changed when Matt LaCosse injured his knee during the Patriots' win over the Giants on Thursday.
Without Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots haven't gotten a ton of production in the pass game from their tight ends. LaCosse and Ryan Izzo have combined for only nine catches for 169 yards.
Michael Bennett will be missing from the Patriots' defensive huddle on Monday night.
The defensive end was suspended for what he said in a statement to ESPN was a ''philosophical disagreement'' with defensive line coach Bret Bielema. Bennett also offered an apology for any distraction it might have created.
Belichick declined to comment when asked about the suspension this week.
The Patriots traded for the 11-year veteran in March, but his usage has steadily decreased over New England's first six games. Bennett has started just once and played a season-low 11 snaps in the Patriots' win over the Giants in Week 6.
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Vance McDonald caught three passes for 33 yards on Thursday during the loss to the Cleveland Browns. McDonald led the team with seven targets on the night after James Conner (shoulder), Diontae Johnson (concussion), and JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion) all suffered injuries. McDonald, who has been targeted 21 times over the last three games, could be more involved against the Bengals in Week 12 if any one of those three mentioned aren't able to go. Keep on an eye on things heading into next Sunday's matchup with Cincy.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver James Washington finished with a team-high 49 yards during the loss to the Browns on Thursday. With JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion), James Conner (shoulder), and Diontae Johnson (concussion) all getting banged up in this one, Washington received five targets while managing to catch just three of them. The 23-year-old could see his fantasy stock rise before the Week 12 showdown with the Bengals if any of those guys aren't able to suit up, especially for those playing in deeper formats.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Trey Edmunds finished with just three carries for 11 yards during the loss to the Browns. Edmunds yielded carries to Jaylen Samuels, who finished with five attempts for 26 yards, and while both men didn't fully capitalize on the ground after the premature departure of James Conner (shoulder), they were involved on the receiving end to some degree. If Conner is unable to suit up against the Bengals in Week 12, Edmunds has some value, but only as a desperation play in deeper leagues as Samuels will likely be more involved against Cincinnati.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Samuels finished with five attempts for 26 yards in addition to five receptions for 19 yards and a touchdown against the Browns in Week 11. Samuels stepped up after James Conner was ruled out on Thursday night after re-injuring the same shoulder that kept him out over the last few weeks. Look for 23-year-old to once again be a popular waiver wire target, especially in PPR formats, heading into Week 12 against the Bengals if Conner is forced to miss another one.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph struggled in Week 11 in the loss to the Browns, finishing with 221 yards on 23-for-44 passing to go along with four interceptions. While the 24-year-old did throw a touchdown, the four picks he threw offset any chance for an adequate fantasy performance. He hasn't played well over the last three weeks, however, compiling only 654 yards and three scores, while throwing five interceptions. There is light at the end of the tunnel for Rudolph, nonetheless, as the Steelers will look to get back on track against the Bengals in Week 12, with his stock increasing if either JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion) or James Conner (shoulder) are able to play after suffering in-game injuries on Thursday night.
Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri has been one of the NFL's worst kickers this year, but head coach Frank Reich remains confident in him. However, in Week 11 with the fantasy playoffs looming, you can't trust him in your lineups. He's missed five field goals and six extra points this season. He's below 80 percent accuracy in both categories, and this figures to be a low-scoring game. You just can't trot him out this week, as there are likely several options available that are better than him.
Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack has only cleared 100 scrimmage yards in a game twice this season. One of those was all the way back in Week 1 against the Los Angeles Chargers. In Week 11, he has a good matchup that could see that number grow to three. The Jacksonville Jaguars, Indy's Week 11 opponent, have been decent against the pass, but they're allowing over 120 yards per game on the ground. Mack is still in the RB2 conversation every week because he gets good volume, and this week he has a fair bit of upside.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett (knee) is expected to start after missing last week's loss to the Miami Dolphins. After being a consistent QB2 for much of the season, he can't be trusted this week. He'll be without three of his top four wide receivers due to injuries, and he's playing against a defense that still has a fair bit of talent to make life difficult for him. With only four teams on a bye, there should be better streaming options available for this week than Brissett. Expect the Colts to lean heavily on the running game even with Brissett back in the fold.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Zach Pascal was quiet last week, and he'll see an uptick in his stock this week with quarterback Jacoby Brissett (knee) expected to start. However, he still can't be relied on for anything consistent. He's been boom-or-bust wideout nearly every week since he showed up on the scene in Week 3. He'll also have to deal with cornerback A.J. Bouye a fair bit in this game, which further downgrades him. Unless you have no other options, look elsewhere at wide receiver in shallow leagues. The Colts should lean more on the run this week once again.
Indianapolis Colts tight end Eric Ebron wanted more opportunities, and he got them last week. He saw 12 targets, but he only came down with five of them. Regardless, he remains a TE2 in Week 11. The Colts are without three of their top four wide receivers due to injury, which puts Ebron in a position to make plays every week. He has three touchdowns on the year, and with three good tight ends on byes this week, there's a short list of players that can be in front of him. If you have a better option, you can start him, but the Jacksonville Jaguars have been average against tight ends this year. Especially if T.Y. Hilton (calf) misses another game, you could do much worse than Ebron.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry caught 4-of-7 targets for 43 yards and a touchdown in a 21-7 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 11. Landry got wide open on the left side of the end zone for a one-yard score in the second quarter, giving him a touchdown in three straight games. The veteran wide receiver has been trending up in recent weeks and draws a cake matchup against the Miami Dolphins in Week 12. He will be a no-brainer fantasy option for that contest.
The Cleveland Browns Defense put on a dominant showing in a 21-7 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 11. Cleveland intercepted Mason Rudolph four times and sacked him another four times in the win. It isn't all good news, however, as star pass rusher Myles Garrett is probably looking at a lengthy suspension for his role in a brawl at the end of the game. Garrett ripped off Rudolph's helmet and hit him with it after a sack late in the contest. Cleveland's defense will be a top option in Week 12 against the Miami Dolphins regardless of whether Garrett is available or not.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield got the job done in a 21-7 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 11. Mayfield completed 17-of-32 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns. He also added a one-yard rushing touchdown on the evening. The rushing score was a gift as Odell Beckham Jr. appeared to have a touchdown reception which was overturned after the scoring play was reviewed, putting the ball at the Pittsburgh one-yard line. After a rough start to the season, Mayfield is starting to trend upwards. He draws a beautiful Week 12 matchup against the tanking Miami Dolphins.
Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb carried the ball 27 times for 92 yards in a 21-7 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 11. Chubb was mostly bottled up by a tough Pittsburgh run defense but the 27 carries go down as a season-high as he became the first NFL player to rush for 1,000 yards in the 2019 season. He did check out near the end of the game with what appeared to be a groin issue. On the negative side, Chubb only drew one target as newly reinstated Kareem Hunt continues to cut into his passing game work. Either way, Chubb will be a lock-button play in Week 12 against a weak Miami Dolphins Defense.
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt carried the ball six times for 12 yards and added six receptions for 46 yards in a 21-7 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 11. Hunt continues to be deployed as Cleveland's passing-down back, out-targeting Nick Chubb eight to one in the contest. Chubb also appeared to tweak his groin toward the end of the game, which could lead to more work for Hunt against the Miami Dolphins in Week 12 if Chubb is unable to play or is limited. Hunt's work in the passing game has him on the radar as a flex option in PPR leagues going forward.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. caught 4-of-10 targets for 60 yards in a 21-7 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Beckham had a touchdown wiped off the board at the end of the first drive when official review revealed that his knee was down inside the one-yard line, right before the ball crossed the goal line. Beckham wound up settling for a 42-yard reception. He was mostly quiet for the rest of the game as he and Baker Mayfield continue to struggle to get on the same page. Despite the slow season, Beckham could very well erupt in Week 12 as the Browns take on the tanking Miami Dolphins.
Free-agent RB Jay Ajayi (Eagles) will visit the Philadelphia Eagles Friday, Nov. 15, according to a source.
Fantasy Spin: Ajayi played well for the Eagles in 2017, but knee injuries took a toll on his production. If he does return to the Eagles, he won't have any fantasy appeal in a crowded backfield.
Updating a previous report, Cleveland Browns FS Morgan Burnett (Achilles) has been ruled out for the remainder of the Week 11 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers with an Achilles injury.
Updating a previous report, Pittsburgh Steelers RB James Conner (shoulder) has been ruled out for the remainder of the Week 11 game against the Cleveland Browns after suffering a shoulder injury.
Fantasy Spin: After his shoulder injury flared up, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Conner miss additional time going forward. Jaylen Samuels would be the back to own in Conner's absence.
Updating a previous report, Pittsburgh Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion) won't return to the Week 11 game against the Cleveland Browns after being diagnosed with a concussion.
Fantasy Spin: Diontae Johnson is currently second on the team in receptions and could be worth a flier as a desperation flex play if Smith-Schuster misses additional games.