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.
Kansas City Chiefs RB Damien Williams (non-injury) is officially active for the team's Week 11 game.
Fantasy Spin: Williams should continue to receive a majority of the work at running back this week. He has rushed for 202 yards and one touchdown over the last two weeks and should be a No. 2 running back in all leagues this week.
Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku (wrist) is day-to-day and could return to practice on Wednesday. "We've got to get him on the football field and see where he's at," head coach Freddie Kitchens said. Njoku isn't a lock to return to action in Week 12 against the Dolphins, but he needs to be picked up in any leagues where he's available. He caught four of his six targets for 37 yards and a touchdown in the season opener before getting hurt in Week 2 against the Jets. Njoku has clear TE1 upside to close out the season once he comes off Injured Reserve. He could be an X-factor at the weakest fantasy position for teams that advance to the fantasy playoffs.
New York Giants tight end Evan Engram (foot) is out of his walking boot and sees an "upward trend" as he's ahead of schedule. Although he didn't practice on Monday, Engram thinks he could be running and cutting by the middle to end of the week. He said it's "definitely possible" that he plays in Week 12 against the Bears. We'll have to keep a close eye on his progress in practice this week, but Engram currently profiles as a risky fantasy option that isn't a lock to play this weekend. Either Rhett Ellison (concussion) or rookie Kaden Smith would start if Engram misses another game, but neither would be more than desperation, low-end TE2 options.
Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien is calling wide receiver Will Fuller (hamstring) and cornerback Bradley Roby (hamstring) game-time decisions for Thursday's game against the Colts in Week 12. O'Brien said the team will find ways to test both players outside of practice on the short week. Fuller and Roby were both close to playing in Week 11 and should return on Thursday, barring any setbacks. Fuller would be a boom/bust WR3 against a Colts Defense that doesn't give up a ton of big plays. Fuller's return would drop Kenny Stills to No. 3 on the receiver depth chart and Keke Coutee to fourth. Roby's return is needed for a struggling and beat up secondary that just got torched by the Ravens.
Philadelphia Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson (concussion), who had played every offensive snap through nine games this year, suffered a concussion in the Week 11 loss to the Patriots. Halapoulivaati Vaitai replaced Johnson, who has become of the best right tackles in the NFL. For an offense already missing wide receivers Alshon Jeffery (ankle) and DeSean Jackson (abdomen) in Week 11, the Eagles did very little to move the ball effectively after Johnson's departure. It would be more bad news for this offense if Johnson was forced to miss time.
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said that the team wants to activate left tackle Isaiah Wynn (toe) from Injured Reserve this week. It doesn't mean that Wynn will be active and in the starting lineup in Week 12 against the Cowboys, but it's a good sign for an offensive line that looked especially vulnerable against the Eagles strong pass rush in the Week 11 victory. Quarterback Tom Brady hasn't had much time to throw in the last two games, so hopefully Wynn's return will afford him more time to find his wideouts downfield.
The Jacksonville Jaguars placed tight end Josh Oliver (back) on season-ending Injured Reserve on Monday after he injured his back in Week 11 against the Colts. He had just three catches for 15 yards in four games this year. The Jags signed tight end Nick O'Leary in a corresponding move. Seth DeValve missed the game with an injury, and Geoff Swaim and James O'Shaughnessy are also on Injured Reserve, so the team is hurting for depth at the position. O'Leary will join DeValve and Ben Koyack as the only tight ends on the active roster. You should be ignoring the position in fantasy in Jacksonville.
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Dee Ford (hamstring) suffered a hamstring injury in the Week 11 win over the Cardinals. Ford didn't rack up any stats before leaving the contest. The 28-year-old pass-rusher has been great in his first season with the Niners, racking up 14 total tackles, 6.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in 10 games. If he were to be sidelined for an extended period of time, it would be a blow to San Francisco's defensive line to close out the season. Stay tuned for more word on the severity of Ford's injury.
New York Giants tight end Evan Engram (foot) was absent from practice on Monday coming out of the bye week. Engram isn't off on the right foot to return to action in Week 12 against the Bears, so fantasy owners should make plans to be without him. With that being said, he still has the rest of the week to return to practice. Engram has been frustrating as a TE1 with rookie quarterback Daniel Jones under center, but he'll be on the TE1 radar if he can play this weekend. With Rhett Ellison (concussion) also banged up, rookie Kaden Smith could see a substantial increase in playing time if both Engram and Ellison are unable to play in Week 12.
New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (concussion) was seen practicing on Monday. Out the last five games because of serious issues after suffering two concussions already this season, Shepard's return to practice is a welcomed sight. However, he's still no guarantee to be cleared from the league's concussion protocol in order to play in Week 12 against the Bears. Even if Shepard returns, he'd be a risky WR4/flex in a tough matchup with Chicago. Golden Tate and Darius Slayton would have lower ceilings in the passing game if both Shepard and tight end Evan Engram (foot) are able to return this Sunday. Keep an eye on Shepard's practice status the rest of the week.
Chicago Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro missed two more field goals -- one from 47 yards and one from 48 yards out -- in Sunday night's loss to the Rams. Pineiro was 8-for-10 on his field goals and perfect on extra points going into the bye week, but he's hitting just 50 percent of his kicks since then and hasn't made a field goal since going 3-for-5 against the Chargers. Head coach Matt Nagy is disappointed in Pineiro, but he's not ready to make a change at the position just yet. Im not worried about anything right now, Pieiro said. Ive just go to keep making kicks in practice, go back and see what I did wrong, and just try to make kicks. Even in a good matchup with the Giants next week, Pineiro shouldn't be in starting lineups.
Denver Broncos fullback Andy Janovich (elbow) will miss the rest of the season after suffering a dislocated right elbow in the Week 11 loss to the Vikings. He will undergo an MRI exam on Monday to determine if he also has ligament damage. Janovich scored on a one-yard touchdown plunge before his injury. Andy Beck, an undrafted rookie who plays tight end and fullback, replaced Janovich in the second half. Janovich missed the first three games of the year with a partially torn pectoral muscle. His absence the rest of the way is bad news for both running backs Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman.
The Denver Broncos Defense had a solid outing against the Minnesota Vikings, the most noticeable stat being the five sacks they logged against Kirk Cousins and the Vikings o-line. They also managed to force and recover two fumbles, packing the stat sheet for any owners that played them in Week 11. Despite the defensive collapse in the fourth quarter, the Broncos held the Vikings to under 350 total yards and won the turnover battle during the game. They will look to keep up the pace next week against the Buffalo Bills in a road matchup.
Denver Broncos running back Royce Freeman was non-existent in the team's loss to the Vikings in Week 11. The 2nd-year back has started to dip in production his last two games, a daunting sign for owners that were occasionally sneaking him into their flex spot. Freeman only had eight carries for 31 yards, alongside one reception for 14 yards. Things don't lighten up for the Oregon product, as the Broncos face a stout Buffalo Bills Defense next week on the road.
Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus hit three of his four field-goal attempts on Sunday afternoon, while also connecting on both of his extra-point tries. The three hits came from 29, 41, and 47 yards out, while the lone miss was a 43-yard attempt. McManus continues to be a middle of the pack option at kicker, posting solid performances week-to-week.
Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack (hand) suffered a hand fracture during Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He underwent successful surgery to repair the fracture on Monday morning. He's expected to be out for Week 12, and it's likely that he'll be out at least one more week after that. However, this is not considered to be season-ending for him at this point. With Jordan Wilkins inactive in Week 11, Jonathan Williams benefited the most from Mack leaving the game, attempting 13 runs for 116 yards and adding one catch for 31 yards in the win. On a short week Thursday night in Week 12 against the Texans, Williams could have RB2 upside if Wilkins misses another game. Nyheim Hines should also see more work, but he's mostly an RB3/flex for PPR leagues.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson both suffered concussions in Thursday night's eventful loss to the Browns. Smith-Schuster also came away from the game with a knee injury for his trouble, and his status for Sunday's matchup with Cincinnati is up in the air, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. Neither Smith-Schuster nor Johnson have been no-doubt weekly fantasy starters, but fantasy owners will nonetheless want to keep their ears to the ground for updates on these developments. Vance McDonald and James Washington could be in line for increased roles if one or both are inactive for Week 12, as well as the already PPR-friendly Steelers backfield.
Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant was a highly sought after target for quarterback Brandon Allen, as he hauled in four catches on 11 targets. This is a career-high in targets for Fant, who is starting to see an uptick in production with a change of scenery in recent weeks. Against the Vikings, the rookie tallied 60 yards, his second-highest yards in a game this season. Fant's stock continues to rise as he and the Broncos have a tough test against the Bills next week.
Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku (wrist) was called "day-to-day" by head coach Freddie Kitchens on Monday. Njoku is eligible to be activated from injured reserve this week after fracturing his wrist during Week 2's win over the New York Jets. Kitchens told reporters, "We've got to get him on the football field and see where he's at." There is a strong possibility that Njoku practices on Wednesday as the team gears up for a Week 12 matchup against the Miami Dolphins. Fantasy GMs in need of tight end help should check for Njoku on the waiver wire. He has the potential to be a TE1 down the stretch of the fantasy season.
Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay struggled against the Minnesota Vikings run defense, posting disappointing numbers for his fantasy owners. The 2nd-year back had 16 attempts on the afternoon but only managed 67 yards, with eight yards added in the receiving game. Things don't lighten up for Lindsay, as he faces a stout Buffalo Bills Defense next week.