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 wide receiver Tyreek Hill (hamstring) will undergo an MRI exam on his hamstring in the next day or so, according to a source. At that point they'll have a better idea for a timeline. Hill missed both of his targets on Monday night against the Chargers before leaving the game and never returning, so it was a tough pill to swallow for his fantasy owners. The good news is that the Chiefs are on their bye in Week 12, so Hill may not end up missing any games as long as his MRI yields positive results. If he's forced to miss time, Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson would once again be attractive flexes in deeper leagues behind Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins.
Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds (hamstring) was not seen at the portion of practice open to the media on Tuesday. The Cardinals are going on their bye in Week 12, so Edmonds will have another week to rest up. He's been out since Oct. 27 against the Saints. In the meantime, the Cardinals signed Kenyan Drake, and he has now leaped an injured David Johnson on the running back depth chart. Edmonds could get some run in Week 13 if he's ready and DJ is still slowed by his injuries, but Edmonds is still unlikely to have any standalone value the rest of the way. He can be left to the waiver wire in most leagues.
Free-agent TE Orson Charles (Broncos) re-signed with the Denver Broncos on an undisclosed deal Tuesday, Nov. 19. FB Andy Janovich (arm) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list.
Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (calf) can play Thursday, Nov. 21, if he receives medical clearance from doctors and clearance from the team, according to head coach Frank Reich.
Fantasy Spin: It's still pretty questionable with the short week. Hilton would be a WR2 against the Houston Texans.
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said he's "excited about the potential return" of rookie running back Benny Snell Jr. (knee) for Week 12 against the Bengals. Snell has missed the last two games and will be evaluated in practice this week. The 21-year-old has 28 rushing attempts for 118 yards in five games this season. He could have a role in the team's backfield if he returns this weekend if James Conner (shoulder) remains sidelined, but Jaylen Samuels would still likely see most of the touches as Pittsburgh's lead back. Snell is only worth stashing in deeper leagues if you own either Conner or Samuels.
Retired tight end Rob Gronkowski won't rule out a return to football in the future, but he has no plans to come back in 2019. If he had planned to return to football this season, Gronk would have to do so by Nov. 30, per league rules. The Patriots offense could surely use Gronkowski on the field this year, as they predictably haven't gotten much production from the tight end position without him. The combination of Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo and Benjamin Watson has left a lot to be desired. The veteran Watson has become the primary pass-catching tight end of late, but he's a low-end TE2 for fantasy purposes. It looks like the Pats will continue to roll with Watson for the foreseeable future.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper (knee) is expected to play in Week 12 against the New England Patriots. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones himself is the source here, who said he expects his top wide receiver to play in a huge game against the 9-1 Patriots. Cooper played on just 55 percent of offensive snaps in Week 11, but Jones stating this early in the week that Cooper will play could be good news. Fantasy owners should keep a close eye on practice reports this week to see how limited Cooper is leading up to Sunday.
The Miami Dolphins waived running back Mark Walton on Tuesday morning. Walton was already suspended for violating the league's personal conduct policy, but the Dolphins were, "made aware of a police matter earlier this morning regarding Walton" according to Dolphins General Manager Chris Grier. Kalen Ballage will continue as the lead back for the Dolphins presumably for the rest of the season. Walton, still only 22 years old, may already be running out of chances in the NFL.
Cleveland Browns FS Morgan Burnett (Achilles') was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Nov. 19.
Los Angeles Chargers kicker Michael Badgley took advantage of the thin air in Mexico City and drilled a 49-yarder, the second longest good kick of his career. While Badgley did barely miss a 40-yard shot in the first quarter, he was able to make kicks from 27, 26, and 49 yards on the night. Badgley's leg kept LA in the game since their offense sputtered terribly once they were staring down the goal line, but unfortunately, the Chargers fell to the Chiefs anyway. Badgley has made 80% of his field goal tries and all of his extra points since he returned from a severe groin injury. He's not a superstar or Mr. Dependable, but he's getting the job done well enough for an LA franchise that struggled with kicking woes for years.
Los Angeles Chargers safety Rayshawn Jenkins made a slashing leap in front of a Chiefs receiver to snag his third interception of the year on Monday night. The pick was just the second one of the season for quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and LA is the first defense this season to hold Mahomes under 200 yards passing when he played a full game. Unfortunately, failures on the offensive side of the ball cost the Chargers the game even though the defense held KC to just 24 total points. While it looks like the season is a wash for LA, their defense can still be useful if they can play like that more often.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen finally ended his touchdown drought. In the third quarter of Monday night's loss to the Chiefs, Allen was able to snag a quick pass and dive his way through a couple of defenders to get the score. It was Allen's first touchdown in eight games, and his 71 yards receiving are the most he's posted since Week 3. After a monster start to the year, Allen has become a ghost. While it's easy to blame it on Allen, it's starting to look like the problem originates with Philip Rivers instead. Rivers appears to be getting real old real fast, and that could explain why Allen, traditionally the team's outside man, has gotten lost in the shuffle.
Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry tacked another 69 yards onto his season total in Monday night's loss to the Chiefs. He's now either tallied 60+ receiving yards or a touchdown in six of the seven games he's played this season, and he's still averaging 12.5 yards per reception this season. Henry has been in a constant struggle with his health, but he seems to be fully healthy now. When he's at the top of his game, Henry is arguably the best tight end in the NFL, and he's proving it this season. Even with a quarterback who has been struggling, Henry is putting up a fine season.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler was the man to beat on Monday night, but even he couldn't will the team to a victory. Ekeler carried the ball five times for 24 yards and caught eight of 12 passes sent his way, tallying another 108 yards. Unfortunately, the moment that will get the most attention was the game-ending interception Philip Rivers threw Ekeler's direction. There's no question that the pick was purely Rivers' fault, but his performance really overshadowed what should have been a star-studded Sportscenter appearance for Ekeler, a backup running back who happens to be incredibly valuable. Unfortunately, the unpredictability in Ekeler's touches from week to week limits his dependable fantasy value.
With the game on the line and 75 yards to go, Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams picked a huge moment to make a phenomenal catch. Having only caught one pass so far in the match, Williams launched himself up and hauled in a bomb from Philip Rivers to get his team just outside the red zone. Unfortunately, Rivers would throw a game-sealing pick a few plays later. The big play at least gave Williams a respectable fantasy performance, and he now has a reception of 43+ yards in each of his last four games. He's also caught at least one pass for 20 or more yards in his last nine games, and he's become a regular fixture in the Chargers passing attack.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers put up a couple of nice numbers on Monday night as he completed 28 passes for 353 yards and a touchdown, but he also only completed 53.9% of the passes he threw and tossed four interceptions including a game-ending pick in the end zone. Rivers has now moved into sole possession of second place in the league in interceptions with 14, and he's only posted a QB rating over 85 in two of his last seven games. He still has the ability to sling it on occasion, but for the most part, it looks like time has caught up to Rivers. He just can't make the throws anymore, and his decision-making hasn't accepted that fact yet.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon rushed the ball 14 times for 69 yards and caught three passes for 21 more yards in Monday's loss to the Chiefs. Averaging 4.9 yards per carry, it was surprising LA didn't lean more heavily on Gordon's ground game, especially with Philip Rivers throwing interception after interception. However, Gordon still topped 90 scrimmage yards, even if he didn't get to hit the end zone on any of his touches. With Rivers looking like a shell of his former self, Gordon could be in for some greater use over the team's remaining games. He remains one of the most potent parts of the Chargers offense.
Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker has been one of the more reliable fantasy kickers all season. In most games Butkler has been able to connect on multiple field goals, but Week 11 was not one of those games. It wasn't his fault, Butker hit a 41 yard field goal in the victory over the Chargers. That was his only field goal attempt of the game as the Chiefs won 24-17. The Chiefs head into a bye week in Week 12 so fantasy owners who don't have a lot of depth might consider dropping Butker. The Chiefs offense is strong and Butker gets plenty of chances each week. It's not wise to drop Butker for the upcoming bye week, unless you have no other options.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins was expected to have a solid game after having reliable performances the last few weeks. Instead, Watkins was only able to haul in two of three targets for 26 yards in this one. Tyreek Hill (hamstring) left after the opening drive, but Watkins wasn't able to capitalize. The Chiefs were able to get the win in Week 11, but Watkins didn't do much to help that. Kansas City has a bye week in Week 12, but then has a strong matchup against the shaky Raiders secondary. However, at this point in the season it's tough to trust Watkins. Fantasy owners should consider him a WR3 going forward.