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.
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.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman gave a nice jolt to the offense when Tyreek Hill (hamstring) and Sammy Watkins went down earlier in the season. However, they were both healthy the last few weeks. Hardman has seen his usage take a hit because of that, but that might change once again. Hill went down after the first drive during the Week 11 victory over the Chargers. However, Hardman was only targeted four times and caught two of them for 13 yards. The Chiefs head into a bye week in Week 12, so that might give Hill enough time to recover. Otherwise, Hardman could be on the flex radar with Hill sidelined. When Watkins and Hill are healthy, Hardman is only worth using in deep leagues.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams (ribs) was not able to do much damage during the Week 11 victory over the Chargers. Williams rushed four times for seven yards and caught one pass for six yards. He left during the second quarter due to a ribs injury and didn't return. Veteran LeSean McCoy and Darrel Williams took over the running back duties from there. Both players scored a touchdown in this one, but that pattern is unlikely to continue. The Chiefs head into a bye week in Week 12, so it remains to be seen if Williams will miss any time from this ribs issue.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce was by far the best offensive player on the field Monday against the Chargers. Tyreek Hill (hamstring) went down early and that forced Kelce into an even bigger role than normal. Kelce caught seven of 10 targets for 92 yards and one touchdown in the Week 11 victory. He's now hauled in three touchdowns over the last four weeks, so fantasy owners are loving that. Kelce heads into a bye week in Week 12, but then gets a juicy matchup against the Raiders, a team he crushed earlier in the season.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Darrel Williams was not expected to do much heading into the game, but saw more action due to injuries. Lead back Damien Williams (ribs) left in the second quarter and did not return to the game. Veteran LeSean McCoy saw more action as well, but it was likely because of the injury to Williams. The third string back Williams saw 11 attempts for 35 yards and one touchdown. The Chiefs head into a bye week, so Williams probably won't have much fantasy value going forward. He's not worth an add in basically any format despite a decent fantasy output here.
Kansas City Chiefs running back LeSean McCoy was a healthy scratch during the Week 10 loss to the Titans, but returned here. McCoy carried the ball seven times for 29 yards and a touchdown in the Monday night victory over the Chargers in Week 11. Damien Williams (ribs) left the game early in the second quarter, so that helped McCoy see more action than usual. Darrel Williams saw 11 carries, so the Chiefs backfield is a messy situation right now. The Chiefs head into a bye week in Week 12, so fantasy owners will have to wait and see what happens next. McCoy should only hold low-end flex value in most formats going forward.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was not the MVP type of QB that fantasy owners are used to watching. He completed 19 of 32 passing attempts for 182 yards and one touchdown with one interception. It was a career-low in passing yards for Mahomes in the Week 11 win over the Chargers. Mahomes ran five times for 59 yards on the ground. Losing Tyreek Hill (hamstring) in the first drive of the game didn't help at all. The Chiefs head into a bye week, but fantasy owners shouldn't be worried about Mahomes' performance going forward. It was a shaky game for Mahomes, but he'll bounce back fine against the Raiders in Week 13.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said that it "has not been looking good" on getting rookie wide receiver Jalen Hurd (back) back this season. Hurd suffered a setback recently and probably will not come off Injured Reserve to play in what has become a lost rookie season. Hurd has a chance to make some noise in 2020 and beyond next to rookie standout Deebo Samuel, so he's a good candidate to stash in dynasty/keeper leagues. Emmanuel Sanders will remain the team's No. 1 wideout the rest of the way, with Samuel gaining steam. All of Marquise Goodwin, Kendrick Bourne, Richie James and Dante Pettis just can't be trusted in this run-first offense.
Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay said he expects wide receiver Brandin Cooks (concussion), who has missed the last two games, to return in Week 12 on Monday night against the Ravens. It's great news for Cooks owners and for quarterback Jared Goff, who has struggled mightily the last two games. However, Cooks will be a risky boom-or-bust WR3 against a much-improved Baltimore secondary if he returns on Monday night. The deep threat would be more appealing if Robert Woods (personal) misses another game, but that's probably unlikely.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams (ribs) suffered an injury on Monday night against the Chargers and is questionable to return. Williams ran the ball just four times for seven yards before leaving the game in Mexico City. He managed one catch for six yards on his only target in the passing game. It's frustrating for Williams' fantasy owners after he had taken over this backfield in recent weeks, but now LeSean McCoy might be back in the fold as the primary rushing option for KC if Williams is forced to miss time. Darrel Williams would serve as the change of pace for McCoy if Williams' injury is significant. Check back later for more updates on Williams' injury.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper (knee) is "still fighting through" a knee injury that had him limited in practice last week. He looked to favor his knee on a seven-yard reception in the first quarter of Week 11's win over the Lions and played just 41 of 74 offensive snaps. Cooper was also being shadowed by cornerback Darius Slay, so that didn't help matters. It was a disappointment for Dallas' No. 1 wideout, as he caught just three passes for 38 yards in the win. Week 12 will be tough, too, with Stephen Gilmore and the Patriots on tap on the road. Cooper's injury and limited playing time last week is concerning, but he should remain a matchup-proof WR1 with the way he's played in 2019.