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.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber did not have a rushing attempt the entire afternoon in Week 11 but was able to save his day with a six-yard touchdown catch. Barber caught 2-of-2 targets for 11 yards on the day but was totally uninvolved after scoring late in the fourth quarter with the Bucs in a deep hole. Barber's usage has continued to decrease weekly as Ronald Jones II has become the clear No.1 option in this backfield. Fantasy owners who are still holding on to Barber can drop him now. Needless to say, he will not be a recommended start in Week 12 against the Falcons.
New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson caught one of three targets for six yards and a touchdown in a win over the Redskins Sunday. Anderson has now reached the point in fantasy where he disappoints his owners even when he scores a touchdown as this is the second straight week he's made only one catch. Quarterback Sam Darnold just seems to have a better connection with Jamison Crowder and Ryan Griffin than with Anderson as Darnold has struggled to get the ball downfield to Anderson all season. He'll remain a boom-or-bust flex option in deeper leagues with more favorable matchups on the horizon.
New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell carried the ball 18 times for 59 yards and a touchdown in a win over the Redskins. Bell also had two catches in the game to give him 20 total touches for the seventh time in 11 games this season. This is the second straight good-not-great performance from Bell where he saved his fantasy day with a touchdown. It's fair to wonder if the Jets start to split carries more with Bilal Powell, the latter received seven carries for the second straight week. Powell averaged six yards per carry to Bell's 3.3 so they may rely more on the fresh legs more moving forward. Despite the inefficiency from Bell, his typical volume makes him a must-start RB in fantasy.
New York Jets tight end Ryan Griffin exploded for 109 yards on five catches and scored his fourth touchdown of the season Sunday in Washington. Griffin was invisible last week in starting tight end Chris Herndon's (hamstring) only game this season. That was not the case in this one as Griffin made a major statement in the week he became the rest-of-season starter with Herndon going on IR. Griffin hasn't had much use in fantasy most of his career, but he seems to be making a real connection with Sam Darnold and is in the low-end TE1 streaming conversation next week vs Oakland.
New York Jets running back Bilal Powell carried the ball seven times for 42 yards in a win over the Redskins on Sunday. Powell added one catch for five yards as his role in the offense continues to grow. This isn't the first time we've seen the Jets use their veteran running back later in the season so Powell could very well become a usable running back in deep leagues. In standard size leagues, however, Powell's fantasy impact will likely be how much work he takes from Le'Veon Bell as this is the second straight week Powell has gotten seven carries.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II rushed for just 13 yards on four attempts, while also adding two catches for one yard in the Bucs loss to the Saints. The Bucs were down 20-0 midway through the second quarter, and that all but sealed Jones' fate for the rest of the afternoon. Fantasy owners who were looking for Jones to build off of his eight-catch, 77-yard performance in Week 10 were badly disappointed in this one, but on the positive side, Jones did out-touch Peyton Barber and looks to be the No.1 option in the Bucs backfield. Jones has a much easier matchup in Week 12 with the Falcons on deck, he will be on the RB3/4 borderline for that matchup.
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold completed 19 of 30 passes for 293 yards and a season-high four touchdowns in a win over the Redskins. This is the second week Darnold was 19-for-30 passing but this one was much better for fantasy owners with the four touchdowns. Darnold has had his rough games this season, but he's taken advantage of a soft schedule lately. He'll try and stay hot in another good matchup next week at home against the Raiders.
Arizona Cardinals WR Christian Kirk caught six of his nine targets for 41 yards in a 36-26 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 11. He also gained one yard on one carry.
Fantasy Spin: Kirk has been busy in recent weeks, catching at least six passes in three of the last four games. He can be a WR3 or flex option in PPR formats.
Detroit Lions backup quarterback Jeff Driskel did his best on a day where the Lions Defense was nowhere to be seen, but it was ultimately not enough to get the win. Driskel completed 15-of-26 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns, while also adding 51 rushing yards and a score on the ground in the Lions loss. Driskel has shown impressive mobility through two games, routinely extending plays and getting out of trouble. He was unable to play the hero in this one though. The second-year quarterback will have his easiest task of the season with the Redksins coming up in Week 12 if Matthew Stafford (back) remains sidelined, and he will definitely be a recommended fantasy option after how well he's performed against the Cowboys and the Bears. He will slot in as an upside QB2 for that matchup.
Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald caught all five of his targets for 37 yards and a touchdown in a 36-26 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 11.
Fantasy Spin: Fitzgerald scored for the first time since Week 11, and his yardage totals have been pedestrian. He's a WR3, at best.
Detroit Lions running back Bo Scarbrough took control of the Lions backfield in Week 11, rushing 14 times for 55 yards and a touchdown in the loss. Scarbrough surprisingly out-snapped both Ty Johnson and J.D. McKissic and had 14-of-19 Lions rushing attempts just one day after being promoted from the practice squad. It is very possible Scarbrough reverts back to irrelevance in the coming weeks, but with how good he looked today, fantasy owners may want to get him on their rosters. Both Johnson and McKissic have not been able to take control of this backfield, so the opportunity is there for Scarbrough. The Lions will face the Redskins in Week 12, Scarbrough will slot in as a mid-range RB3 in that matchup.
The New Orleans Saints Defense bounced back tremendously in Week 11 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. New Orleans recorded two sacks and four interceptions, one of which was returned 55 yards for a touchdown. The Saints took advantage of a mistake-prone Jameis Winston, as four different defenders tallied an interception. They'll take on the Carolina Panthers in Week 12 led by quarterback Kyle Allen, who just threw four interceptions of his own against the Atlanta Falcons. New Orleans will be an appealing option once again.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones had a big day in the Lions Week 11 loss to the Cowboys, catching 4-of-5 targets for 43 yards and two scores on the day. Jones proved to be a useful fantasy piece even with backup quarterback Jeff Driskel under center for the second consecutive week. The Lions did get their running game going somewhat in this matchup, and Jones did see the same amount of targets as Danny Amendola and Kenny Golladay, so this likely won't keep up. The chemistry between Jones and Driskel is apparent though. Jones will slot in as a WR3 in Week 12 when the Lions travel to Washington to take on the Redskins.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith was targeted once but failed to catch a pass in Week 11 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Injuries and inconsistency have plagued the 23-year-old, who hasn't exceeded three catches or 50 receiving yards in four games played. He's too risky to trust right now ahead of a Week 12 matchup with the Carolina Panthers.
New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz enjoyed a great game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 11. Lutz contributed to the Saints victory by making both field-goal attempts, including a long of 44 yards, and all four extra-points. The 25-year-old has now made five field goals in a row after missing three in Weeks 7 and 8 combined. Lutz should continue to have success, given that the Saints offense seems to be back on track. He'll take on the Carolina Panthers in Week 12.
Arizona Cardinals RB Kenyan Drake rushed 16 times for 67 yards and caught six of his seven targets for 13 yards in a 36-26 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 11.
Fantasy Spin: Drake has tallied at least 16 touches in all three games since joining Arizona, and David Johnson didn't touch the ball at all against the 49ers. Drake looks like the No. 1 back in Arizona, and he should be a RB2 the rest of the way if his current usage continues.
Arizona Cardinals RB David Johnson didn't touch the ball in a 36-26 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 11.
Fantasy Spin: Johnson was expected to have to share touches with Kenyan Drake, but Drake ended up monopolizing the backfield work. Johnson owners can only stash Johnson on the bench and hope that an injury played a part in his lack of playing time. Regardless, it seems like he has taken a backseat to Drake.
New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook caught both of his targets for 33 yards and a touchdown. The 32-year-old turned a slant into a 30-yard gain for his first catch. His second catch was worthy of the highlight reel, as he athletically went up top to catch a lob pass from Brees in the end zone. Cook seems to be finding his groove in the Saints offense, as he's put together back-to-back solid games. He'll look to make it a third straight solid game against the Carolina Panthers in Week 12, who have been tough on opposing tight ends this year.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay caught 1-of-5 targets for 34 yards in the Lions Week 11 loss to the Cowboys. Backup quarterback Jeff Driskel targeted Golladay, Marvin Jones II, and Danny Amendola the same amount of times on Sunday. Not exactly what fantasy owners were hoping for. Without Matthew Stafford (back) under center, Golladay's fantasy value takes a clear hit. He has a much more favorable matchup coming up in Week 12 against the Redskins where he'll slot in as a mid-range WR2 if Stafford remains sidelined.
Miami Dolphins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 32-of-45 passes for 323 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions in Week 11 against the Buffalo Bills.
Fantasy Spin: Fitzpatrick didn't record any touchdowns, but he has a healthy passing yardage total. He remains more of a low-end QB2 in most fantasy leagues heading into Week 12 at Cleveland.