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.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (ankle, knee), wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) and kicker Robbie Gould (quadriceps) all missed practice on Wednesday. Kittle and Gould sat out on Monday night. All three could be game-time decisions in Week 11 against the Cardinals, making it tough on fantasy owners with the late afternoon start. Ross Dwelley and Chase McLaughlin shouldn't be in starting lineups, despite the great matchup, if Kittle and Gould miss a second straight game. Kittle is a must-start if he's active, but you'll need to have a backup plan. Sanders might have the best chance of playing and is being listed as day-to-day for now. Deebo Samuel, Kendrick Bourne and Marquise Goodwin would have bigger roles if Sanders is ruled out, but only Samuel should be trusted for starting lineups.
Baltimore Ravens rookie wide receiver Marquise Brown (ankle) was limited in practice on Wednesday. Brown was targeted just four times in the blowout win over the Bengals in Week 10 and played limited snaps, but he made them count for 80 yards and his fourth touchdown of the season. The speedy deep threat should be fine to play in Week 11 in another great matchup against Houston's banged-up and inconsistent secondary. Brown is a boom/bust receiver in a run-first offense, but he has a good chance to hit his ceiling as a WR3 again this weekend.
New Orleans Saints Pro Bowl offensive guard Andrus Peat (arm) underwent surgery on Wednesday for a broken arm that he suffered in Week 10, and he's expected to be out for six weeks, according to a source. It's bad news for a Saints offense that surprisingly struggled to protect quarterback Drew Brees against a bad Falcons offense last Sunday. It's a downgrade for Brees and running back Alvin Kamara moving forward, but they should be able to rebound nicely in Week 11 against the Buccaneers.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Jordan Howard (shoulder) was listed as a limited practice participant on Wednesday. Howard should be able to play coming off the team's by week, but his practice participation the rest of the week should be monitored. If he plays against the Patriots in Week 11, Howard will remain on the RB2/3 borderline as Philly's top back. If he's limited or sits out this weekend, rookie Miles Sanders would have RB2 upside as a potential three-down back.
Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle (shoulder) and rookie wide receiver Parris Campbell (hand) both missed practice on Wednesday. Doyle has scored in back-to-back weeks while accumulating 66 yards on six catches. He's been a touchdown-dependent TE2 for fantasy owners while sharing time with Eric Ebron. His Week 11 status will be important, as Ebron would be firmly on the TE1 map against the Jaguars if Doyle isn't able to play. Campbell had surgery on his hand, missed last Sunday's game and is expected to miss at least one more game. Zach Pascal and Chester Rogers have been the team's top two receivers the last several weeks, but that could change if T.Y. Hilton (calf) is able to make his return. It's unlikely that Campbell will make much noise the rest of the way with Hilton and Devin Funchess (clavicle) coming back soon.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard (knee) wasn't listed on the Week 11 injury report after reportedly suffering a sprained knee in the Week 10 loss to the Ravens. It's good news for the Bengals offense, but it probably won't matter this weekend against the Raiders. If anything, Bernard's presence is bad news for Joe Mixon. Bernard has had zero standalone fantasy value behind Mixon for the winless Bengals. He's merely a weak handcuff option for those that own Mixon.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Alex Erickson (back) did not practice on Wednesday. Erickson has benefitted from A.J. Green (ankle) not playing at all this season, securing 25 of 38 targets for 343 scoreless yards in eight games. Still, he hasn't been fantasy relevant as the No. 3 receiver in an offense that is now being led by rookie quarterback Ryan Finley. With Green looking likely to miss another game in Week 11 against the Raiders, Stanley Morgan Jr. might be needed to step up in three-receiver sets behind Tyler Boyd and Auden Tate.
Chicago Bears rookie running back David Montgomery (ankle) is on the Week 11 injury report and was limited in practice on Wednesday. It's likely nothing serious, but it's worth keeping an eye on heading into the weekend. The rookie hasn't been great in his first year, averaging 3.6 yards per carry, but his volume out of the backfield can't be argued with. He'll be on the RB2 map for Sunday night's game against the Rams if he's active. If he's surprisingly ruled out, Tarik Cohen will have RB2 upside in this backfield.
Chicago Bears tight end Trey Burton (calf) did not practice on Wednesday. Burton has been a non-factor in both real life and fantasy in 2019, catching just 14 passes (24 targets) for 84 yards in eight games. He's gone catchless on just two targets the last two weeks, so he's obviously not on the fantasy radar even if he's healthy. Adam Shaheen and Ben Braunecker would split tight end repetitions in Week 11 on Sunday night against the Rams if Burton is unable to suit up. Neither would be attractive TE2 streamers in this dysfunctional offense.
Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson (toe) is still "out with injury," according to interim head coach Bill Callahan. Tight end Vernon Davis (concussion) remains in the league's concussion protocol coming out of the bye week. Thompson has been out since Week 6 and has no timetable for a return from his turf toe injury. With Derrius Guice now back, Thompson's value has dried up in PPR leagues in this bad offense. Davis has been out since Sept. 29 and also has no timetable for return. He needs to be on the waiver wire in all leagues. Jeremy Sprinkle hasn't been able to take advantage of his opportunity in Davis' absence, and that will likely continue with rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins under center the rest of the way.
Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich said that wide receiver Devin Funchess (clavicle), who was put on Injured Reserve after the season opener, returned to practice on Wednesday ahead of Week 11 against the Jaguars. Funchess had three catches for 32 yards against the Chargers in Week 1, and he could have a significant role down the stretch for the Colts in a crowded receiver room that features T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal, Chester Rogers, Marcus Johnson and Parris Campbell. He could return to game action sometime within the next three weeks, but whether he can handle contact in practice will be the determining factor. For now, continue to leave Funchess to the waiver wire.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (hamstring) missed practice on Wednesday. Thielen is headed for his second straight missed game with the team's bye week coming in Week 12. You should prepare to be without him in Week 11 against the Broncos. Stefon Diggs has had two slow weeks with Thielen injured, and that could continue this Sunday with Chris Harris Jr. expected to shadow him. Olabisi Johnson, Laquon Treadwell and tight ends Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr. should continue to see bigger roles in the passing game if Thielen misses another contest. Check with his practice status the rest of the week.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (shoulder) practiced in full all week and was taken off the final injury report for Week 11 against the Browns on Thursday night. Conner will return after missing the last two weeks, and he should be in a workhorse role in a solid matchup against Cleveland's weak run defense. Consider James a solid RB1 in his return, while Jaylen Samuels will move to a backup role. He's only worth considering in deep PPR leagues as an RB3/flex with Conner back in the fold.
Cleveland Browns tight end Ricky Seals-Jones (knee) was able to practice in full on Wednesday, but he's questionable for Thursday night against the Steelers in Week 11. Defensive end Olivier Vernon (knee) missed practice all week and has been ruled out. RSJ sat out in Week 11 and will be a game-time decision. He has just nine catches (14 targets) for 155 yards and two touchdowns in five games this year, so you should be looking elsewhere already. Demetrius Harris would have a bigger role if Seals-Jones doesn't play, but he's merely a desperation TE2. Vernon's absence is good news for Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and running back James Conner.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr will be on the streaming radar in Week 11 as the lowly Cincinnati Bengals travel to the West coast for Sunday's game. The Bengals Defense has been awful this season, giving up the third-most fantasy points to the QB position, including five-straight 20 or more point performances. On the flip side, Carr seems to be improving every week in his second season under head coach Jon Gruden as he's sporting career-bests in completion rate (70.8%), and QB rating (104.4). The only worry for the veteran this week is if the offense leans more on Josh Jacobs and the ground game as the Bengals are just as bad at defending the run as they are the pass. Carr has displayed a high floor so far in 2019, but the ceiling will be much higher than usual in this salivating matchup.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett (leg) flew back to Seattle on Wednesday after spending the last two days in a hospital, according to a source, and the expectation is that Lockett will be ready to face the Eagles in Week 12 after having the bye week to rest up. The 27-year-old had a dud of a game with three catches for 26 yards on Monday night in the win over the 49ers. He doesn't always see a lot of volume in this run-first offense, but he's as efficient as they come and can blow up any given week, evidenced by his 13-catch, 152-yard, two-touchdown game in Week 9 against the Buccaneers. He'll have WR1 upside against Philly's secondary in Week 12 if he's able to get cleared.
New York Jets chief executive officer Christopher Johnson said that head coach Adam Gase will return next season despite a current 2-7 record. "I want to assure you there will be no changes in coaches here," Johnson said in an opening statement to reporters. "Adam has the trust of this team. He has the trust of Sam [Darnold]. He has Joe [Douglas'] trust. He has my trust. He's a good man, he's a good coach." Gase has led a very poor offense so far in 2019, with both quarterback Sam Darnold and running back Le'Veon Bell having extremely frustrating seasons. The Jets, however, have a chance to win two in a row in Week 11 in a good matchup with the Redskins.
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said that wide receiver A.J. Green (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday. Green was close to making his season debut in Week 10 before experiencing swelling in his ankle after practicing early in the week. He looks to be on the wrong side of questionable for Week 11 against the Raiders, too, and the Bengals might even shut him down for the rest of the season. Green is still worth stashing in deeper leagues, but you shouldn't expect much from him even if he returns to this winless Bengals squad. For now, Tyler Boyd, Auden Tate and Alex Erickson will continue to operate in three-wide sets.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross (collarbone) was cleared to practice on Wednesday and was designated to return from Injured Reserve. He's been out since Oct. 2 after breaking his clavicle in Week 4 against the Steelers. Ross will be eligible to return in Week 14 if he doesn't suffer any setbacks in practice. The first-round pick had 16 catches for 328 yards and three touchdowns before his injury in Week 4. With the fantasy playoffs typically going from Weeks 14-16, Ross won't be one to add to rosters in redraft leagues. It's debatable how much upside he'll even have on this currently winless Bengals team when he returns, especially if rookie Ryan Finley remains under center.
Carolina Panthers cornerback James Bradberry (groin) returned to practice on Wednesday after missing the Week 10 loss to the Packers. The Panthers will need Bradberry this Sunday in order to slow down Falcons top wideout Julio Jones. Jones' matchup will get much tougher if Bradberry is shadowing him this weekend, but the veteran wideout will remain a must-start in fantasy leagues, especially with tight end Austin Hooper (knee) missing up to a month.