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.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers draws a Week 12 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers, who have allowed only 142.5 passing yards a game, best in the league. Rodgers has thrown for at least 250 yards and two touchdowns in just four of 10 games this year, as the Packers have gone more run-heavy at times. There's no doubt the 49ers have been good, though Rodgers will be just the fourth quarterback they've faced who ranks in the top-10 in QB fantasy points. The 35-year-old will be under duress against the league's best pass rush and could take off and run several times- the 49ers have allowed the seventh-most rushing yards to QBs. Rodgers is talented enough to do damage, but he's just a low-end QB1 this week at best.
Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett's suspension appeal was upheld by the NFL, and he is suspended for the rest of the season and postseason. He can apply for reinstatement when the season ends. Garrett lost his cool at the end of last Thursday's game and hit Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in the head with his own helmet. Garrett claimed in his appeal that Rudolph used a racial slur before the incident, but Rudolph is denying those allegations. Losing Garrett the rest of the way is a big blow to Cleveland's defense, but they'll remain a strong streaming consideration with the Dolphins coming to town in Week 12.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (ankle) is not at practice again on Thursday. Green was close to returning to action a few weeks ago, but a setback has now made it questionable as to whether he'll even play at all in 2019. As of right now it looks like that won't happen, so most fantasy owners have dropped Green in recent weeks. Even if he were to suit up down the stretch, he wouldn't be a recommended starting option with the playoffs quickly approaching. Auden Tate (concussion) looks doubtful for Week 12 against the Steelers, so Tyler Boyd, Alex Erickson and Stanley Morgan Jr. could comprise three-receiver sets. Look elsewhere for fantasy production.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receivers Auden Tate (concussion) and Stanley Morgan Jr. missed their second straight practice this week on Thursday. With A.J. Green (ankle) likely to miss another game, Cincy's receiving corps is in dire straights. Expect Tyler Boyd and Alex Erickson to be the top two receivers, but they won't have much fantasy appeal with rookie Ryan Finley looking bad under center the last two games. Rookie Damion Willis would be the No. 3 wideout if both Tate and Morgan are unable to play. This is obviously a situation to avoid at all costs.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (calf), who is questionable for Thursday night against the Texans, believes he's good to go. The Colts don't have any issues with him not practicing and playing in Week 12. The Texans have been game-planning for him to play and expect him to be on the field. You'll still want to check the inactives later just to make sure, but Hilton will immediately return to WR2 value against a team that he's typically destroyed in the past. Houston's secondary continues to be vulnerable again in 2019 as well. Hilton's return boosts quarterback Jacoby Brissett's outlook, while it will hurt Zach Pascal the most.
Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (foot) wasn't seen at practice on Thursday for the second straight day. Freeman is expected to miss at least another game, so he should be planted firmly on benches for Week 12 against the Buccaneers. Tampa has surprisingly been one of the best against the run in 2019, so backup Brian Hill shouldn't be expected to do any better than his disappointing performance in Week 11 in place of Freeman. Hill should be considered a low-end RB3 as the leader of this backfield until Freeman is ready to return.
New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton finds himself in a tough spot on Sunday, even with injuries to Evan Engram (foot) and Sterling Shepard (concussion). The rookie wide receiver has been a revelation as Daniel Jones' deep-ball option, but the Bears are the fourth-best defense in the NFL against the pass and have only given up four touchdowns all season. More problematically, the average yards per target against the Bears is only 7.36 yards, which is fourth-fewest in the league. With a strong secondary and a fierce pass rush, quarterbacks get the ball out quickly on underneath routes, which are not the type Slayton runs. He's more of a WR4 and wouldn't be playable if Shepard returns to action.
New York Giants kicker Aldrick Rosas hasn't been much of a fantasy option all year, but he's certainly not going to be one against the Bears. Chicago has allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing kickers, and the short-handed Giants offense will likely find it hard to move the ball against the Bears Defense. Look for value in another place.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (foot) is back at practice on Thursday after sitting out on Wednesday. Jones was just being rested as a precaution on Wednesday. He'll be just fine to face the Buccaneers in Week 12. The veteran hasn't scored since Sept. 22, but he should be peppered with targets with tight end Austin Hooper (knee) out another game, and Tampa's secondary continues to get roasted this season. We'd be surprised if Jones didn't go over 100 yards or score a touchdown in Week 12. He's a must-start.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley gets a surprisingly strong matchup on Sunday against the Bears. Despite the widely-held belief that the Bears are an elite defense, they actually rank 23rd in PPR fantasy points allowed to running backs at 25.7 points per game. They gave up 29.8 points to Todd Gurley and a struggling Rams offense last week, and the Giants figure to have spent the bye week trying to get Barkley back on track after his historically bad 13-yard game last week. Fire him up with confidence in season-long leagues, and he might a solid DFS option since he's likely to be under-owned.
New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate will be a risky play on Sunday, even with Evan Engram (foot) and Sterling Shepard (concussion) possibly out. The Bears Defense has been 12th in the NFL in points allowed to slot receivers over the last four weeks, giving up only 39 yards per game and no touchdowns over that stretch. Tate might be the Giants' top option, so he figures to accrue better numbers than that, but his upside is severely limited against a good secondary that can focus on him with other guys out. He's more of a WR3 in PPR leagues and a player to avoid in DFS.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor (knee) missed practice for the second straight day on Thursday. Agholor is on the wrong side of questionable unless he returns to practice on Friday. The 26-year-old hasn't really been a fantasy option unless Alshon Jeffery is hurt, and even then he has mostly underwhelmed. He had four catches for 40 yards with Jeffery out in Week 11 against the Patriots. Even if Jeffery misses another game and Agholor is active, he'll be a low-upside WR4/flex this Sunday against the Seahawks. Jeffery has been practicing this week, too, so he could be on track to return. Nobody else in the receiving corps is trustworthy in Philly.
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones is down his top receiving target and facing a top-five defense against the pass this week. That's all you need to know if you're thinking about playing Jones in fantasy. With Evan Engram (foot) out and Sterling Shepard (concussion) still not cleared to play, the rookie quarterback will be short-handed against a Bears Defense that has allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. The Bears meanwhile have the 22nd-best run defense, so Saquon Barkley will be the focus for the Giants. Look elsewhere at quarterback.
Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson (toe) was not spotted at practice on Thursday. If he's officially out of practice, it'll be his second straight missed day ahead of Week 12 against the Lions. Peterson is in danger of missing the game this weekend as he fights through turf toe. Making matters worse for his fantasy value is the return of Derrius Guice last week and the impending return of Chris Thompson (toe), who has returned to practice this week. Even were Peterson to play this Sunday, he'd likely take a back seat to Guice on early downs and could lose even more valuable touches to Thompson. We hope you aren't planning on relying on the veteran back the rest of the way.
Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy said that quarterback Mitch Trubisky (hip) had a good practice on Wednesday, but he's still "day-to-day." Nagy called Trubisky's practice on Wednesday "a step in the right direction." Unless Trubisky has a setback in practice, he should be in line to start under center in Week 12 against the Giants. The matchup is a good one, but Trubisky needs to be far from starting lineups as one of the worst QBs in the league in 2019. He ranks 28th in the league in total yards (1,580) and is also tied with the likes of Teddy Bridgewater, Andy Dalton and Case Keenum with just nine touchdowns all year. Another bad game and we could see Chase Daniel starting in Week 13 or sooner.
The Falcons Defense has been on a tear since the team's Week 9 bye. Over the past two weeks, they have held the Saints and Panthers to a total of 12 points while recording 11 sacks. They also forced four Kyle Allen interceptions in Week 11. This week, the team plays the Buccaneers, who lead the league in interceptions thrown (18) and have given up 36 sacks on the year. While Jameis Winston and company might put up some points on the Falcons as they average 27.7 points per game, the sacks and turnovers should make up for it. The Falcons were so bad defensively for the first half of the year that their defense should be considered a low-end starting option at best, but there's certainly reason to believe they've turned a corner and could put up good production for the third straight week in Week 12.
There is certainly an argument that Atlanta Falcons tight end Jaeden Graham deserves start consideration for Week 12. Austin Hooper (knee) has been ruled out for the game and Graham was the only Falcons tight end to receive a target with Hooper sidelined in Week 11. Furthermore, Julio Jones (foot) is currently questionable for the game and if he sits or plays at less than 100%, Graham would certainly get at least a minor boost. Graham reeled in both of his targets in Week 11 for 23 yards. He was unfortunately out-snapped in the game by fellow tight end Luke Stocker. Stocker played 43 snaps while Graham logged 34. Stocker has nine targets on the year compared with Graham's four. The tight end situation with Hooper out is likely more of a 50/50 split than a one-man show. Avoid starting Graham until further notice.
Atlanta Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo has hit seven of his eight field goal attempts and all six of his extra-point attempts in his two games with the Falcons. This week, the Falcons face the Buccaneers in a game where the team should be in position to score a good amount of points. Koo should see at least two field goal opportunities along with multiple extra-point chances. He's a solid starting option for Week 12.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook (illness) is not expected to practice on Thursday. Westbrook returned to the field last week and caught four of his six targets for just 32 yards in the loss to the Colts. D.J. Chark got all the love from a returning quarterback Nick Foles. Westbrook was Foles' favorite target before he went down in the season opener with a broken collarbone, though, so it's unfair to say that Foles won't be going back to that well at some point moving forward. Westbrook should be fine to play in Week 12 against the Titans. He had five catches for 46 yards against them in the first meeting, and he'll be a WR3 this weekend.
Although New England Patriots wide receiver Phillip Dorsett (concussion) missed practice on Wednesday, there is mid-week optimism that he could be cleared in time to play in Week 12 against the Cowboys, according to a source. Mohamed Sanu (ankle) could now miss multiple games with a high ankle sprain, so the Patriots could be in trouble this Sunday if Dorsett can't play. They'd likely revert to three-receiver sets consisting of Julian Edelman and rookies N'Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers. Harry just made his NFL debut in Week 11, but he'd have more plug-and-play appeal as a flex over Meyers. If he plays, Dorsett will be a risky WR4/flex. Quarterback Tom Brady should be downgraded either way with Sanu now out two to three weeks.