New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) passes under pressure during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson is sacked by Carolina Panthers outside linebacker Shaq Thompson during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Mac Jones and Zach Wilson are providing some fresh-faced buzz to an old AFC East rivalry that has gotten rather stale.
All eyes will be on the rookie quarterbacks Sunday at MetLife Stadium when Jones' New England Patriots square off against Wilson's New York Jets. And both young signal callers will be looking to avoid an 0-2 start.
''I mean, it's not fun to lose, so just learning from what we could have done better is definitely just the only thing you can do, really,'' said Jones, whose Patriots fell 17-16 to Miami last Sunday. ''You can sit there and feel bad for yourself for a little bit because you're human and that's what you're supposed to do, or you're in the wrong profession. But you've just got to move on.''
Jones, the No. 15 overall pick out of Alabama in April, was the first rookie quarterback to start a season opener for the Patriots since Drew Bledsoe in 1993. And he was solid, going 29 of 39 for 281 yards and a touchdown while being constantly pressured.
''We lost, and that's what people remember,'' Jones said. ''So we've just got to move forward.''
Same for Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick, and the Jets, who fell 19-14 to Carolina and their former quarterback Sam Darnold. Wilson was sacked six times but remained unfazed late in the game when he gave New York a chance to get back into it.
''I mean, it is tough, but it's part of the job, right?'' Wilson said. ''That's why we sign up to play quarterback. ... Having stuff in your face, you've got to be able to play. That's a part of the quarterback position. You can't just say, `All this pressure, I can't do my job.'''
The Patriots have won the last 10 meetings and swept the series against the Jets 21 times - including 12 under coach Bill Belichick - and five straight overall. The last time New York won the Jets pulled out a 26-20 overtime victory in Week 16 of the 2015 season.
When both Wilson and Jones were still in high school.
''A lot of people feel that logo carries a lot of weight, which essentially it kind of does,'' Jets wide receiver Corey Davis said of the Patriots. ''But we're not really worried about that. It's really about us and what we do, not them.''
Rookie quarterbacks facing the Patriots haven't typically fared well the past two decades. Wilson gets his first shot this time around for the Jets.
Belichick enters Sunday's matchup with a 21-6 record against first-year QBs since he became Patriots coach in 2000. Before losing to Miami's Tua Tagovailoa in Week 15 last season, New England had won nine straight against rookies QBs.
Wilson and Davis have shown quick chemistry, with the veteran receiver catching five passes for 97 yards and two touchdown in his Jets debut.
But you can be certain Belichick has also noticed. And he'll likely key in on taking a top target away from New York's game plan - something he has been known to do throughout his career.
''That's where that chess match with coach Belichick always happens,'' Jets coach Robert Saleh said. ''And you've got to pick and choose your battles and stay sound and committed to what you're doing and get ready to play chess with one of the best chess players in the world.''
New York is getting Jamison Crowder (COVID-19 list) and Keelan Cole (knee) back this week after they missed the opener.
''There's going to be a lot of opportunities for other guys to get open if they want to double a guy,'' Saleh said. ''If they want to double a guy, there's going to be opportunities in the run game for that to break.''
Both Jones and Wilson are coming off NFL debuts in which they both faced a high amount of pressure.
The Dolphins tried their best to push Jones into poor decisions, forcing him into a fumble on the game's opening drive and blitzing him 21 times for the day.
Only Dallas' Dak Prescott was blitzed more often (33), and only Tennessee's Ryan Tannehill (12) and Wilson (10) took more than the nine hits Jones did last week. Wilson's six sacks were tied for the most in Week 1 along with Tannehill.
Wilson will enter Sunday's matchup missing a starter on his offensive line with left tackle Mekhi Becton sidelined at least a month with a knee injury. George Fant is sliding over from right tackle, while Morgan Moses will start on the other side.
Changes are also possible for the Patriots after starting right tackle Trent Brown began the week limited after he left their opener with a right calf injury.
RUNNING ON EMPTY
The running game is a key factor in the Jets' offense operating smoothly under Mike LaFleur, but New York managed just 45 yards at Carolina. Only Green Bay with 43 against Detroit had fewer last week.
With the offensive line struggling to make efficient lanes, Tevin Coleman finished with 24 yards on nine carries. Ty Johnson had 15 on four attempts and Michael Carter just 6 on four carries.
''We're right there,'' Fant said. ''It wasn't like we weren't in a spot we needed to be. It's like one or two things here and there that could've sprung a run.''
AP Sports Writer Kyle Hightower contributed.
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Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase caught eight passes on 10 targets for 201 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's 41-17 rout of the Ravens. He led the team in catches and receiving yards in Week 7. Bengals QB Joe Burrow and Chase showed great chemistry on Sunday, connecting for an 82-yard touchdown in the third quarter. The 21-year-old has had an impressive rookie campaign, hauling in 35 receptions, 754 yards, and six touchdowns over seven games. Chase is a borderline WR1 against the New York Jets in Week 8.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow completed 23-of-38 pass attempts for 416 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception in Sunday's 41-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens. He connected with tight end C.J. Uzomah for two touchdowns and fired an 82-yard score to wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase. In his sophomore campaign, the 24-year-old has been excellent, throwing for 1.956 yards and a 17:8 TD: INT ratio over seven games in 2021. Burrow is a borderline QB1 against the New York Jets in Week 8.
The Philadelphia Eagles defense struggled again in a Week 7 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. In a 33-22 loss, the Eagles defensive unit allowed Derek Carr to throw for 323 yards and let multiple Raiders runners combine for over 100 yards on the ground. They did not record a sack or force a fumble, but they did end up with one interception. All of that made for a fantasy score of -2.0 in standard scoring, the fourth time this season where they've scored one point or less. This is not a defense worth starting in fantasy, regardless of their opponent. They can be left alone on the waiver wire.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Quez Watkins made two catches in a Week 7 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. Watkins saw four targets, catching half of them for 37 yards. Watkins is playing an important role on the Eagles offense, but this is not a passing game that can support multiple fantasy-relevant wide receivers. With tight end Dallas Goedert and rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith ahead of Watkins on the passing tree, Watkins is not much more than a hold-and-hope asset in most fantasy formats.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders (ankle) is undergoing X-rays on his injured ankle, but head coach Nick Sirianni doesn't think Sanders suffered a broken ankle in the Week 7 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. Sanders was carted off the field and was quickly ruled out with his ankle injury. While he may have avoided a broken ankle, it doesn't mean that he won't be forced to miss time moving forward. The 24-year-old has been a huge disappointment so far this year and had six carries for 30 yards before his injury, adding one catch for minus-three yards. Quarterback Jalen Hurts led the team with 13 carries for 61 yards, but Boston Scott had seven carries (two more than rookie Kenneth Gainwell) for 24 yards and a rushing score after Sanders left the contest. Gainwell was second on the team with eight targets, catching four of them for 41 yards and a touchdown. If Sanders misses time, Scott and Gainwell figure to share the backfield, with Scott being the early down back and Gainwell playing in passing situations.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jalen Reagor finally did something useful in a Week 7 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. Reagor was targeted twice, catching both for 25 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown came on a 17-yard catch in the fourth quarter to bring the Eagles within two scores. Last year's first round pick has two touchdowns on the year and hasn't totaled more than 25 yards since Week 3. He's been jumped on the receiver hierarchy by Quez Watkins and does not need to be rostered in most formats.
Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott attempted and made two extra points in a Week 7 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. Elliott did not get a chance to attempt a field goal, leaving him with just two fantasy points in most scoring formats. Elliott is a decent enough NFL kicker, but he's kicking at a very low volume in this offense and doesn't have the big leg upside to make him worth starting in any formats. He can be left alone on the waiver wire.
Philadelphia Eagles rookie running back Kenneth Gainwell scored a touchdown in a Week 7 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. With starter Miles Sanders (ankle) forced to leave the game early, Gainwell and Boston Scott took over in the Eagles backfield. Both of them worked behind quarterback Jalen Hurts, however, who once again led the Eagles in rushing yards and attempts. Gainwell ran the ball five times for 20 yards and added four catches for 41 yards and a touchdown. He saw eight targets and scored on a 13 yard catch in the first quarter. If Sanders is forced to miss time, Gainwell should get the first crack at leading the Eagles running back room with Scott working behind him. Gainwell is likely to be one of the top waiver wire adds heading into Week 8.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert led the Eagles in receiving yards in a Week 7 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. After the Eagles traded Zach Ertz to the Arizona Cardinals, Goedert worked in an alpha-TE1 role in this one. He was the only Eagles tight end to see a target. He was thrown to five times, catching three for 70 yards. It was a decent game for Goedert, but more importantly it was a sign of things to come. Without Ertz around, Goedert should be an easy TE1 every week.
Philadelphia Eagles rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith caught five passes in a Week 7 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. Smith led the Eagles in targets, seeing nine balls thrown his way. He came down with five, gaining 61 yards. Smith continues to see WR1 usage but just hasn't done much with his plentiful targets of late. He gained 122 yards in Week 4 but has gained just 169 total since then. He may be a decent buy-low target in redraft leagues right now, there should be big weeks ahead for the rookie.
The Las Vegas Raiders ruled running back Josh Jacobs (chest) out of the Week 7 game against the Philadelphia Eagles after he was injured during the game, but early indications are that he avoided a major injury, according to a source. The Raiders are on bye next week as well, so Jacobs will have extra time to recover and may not have to miss a game. The 23-year-old had six carries for 29 yards and managed to find the end zone before leaving the game, so at least it wasn't all bad for his fantasy managers on Sunday. He also caught all three of his targets for 39 yards. Jacobs has scored in three straight games after a rough start to the season, and it sounds like he won't have to miss much time, if any. With Peyton Barber a healthy scratch, Kenyan Drake led the team with 14 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown with Jacobs leaving the game against Philly.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts had another solid fantasy performance in a Week 7 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. Hurts attempted 34 passes, completing 18 of them for 236 yards and two touchdowns. On the ground, he led the team in rushes and yards, running 13 times for 61 yards. It was another up-and-down performance on the field for Hurts, but he's the only quarterback in fantasy to score 20 points or more every week of the season (in standard scoring formats). Hurts has shown that he's probably not the long-term answer on the NFL field for the Eagles, but he's a valuable QB1 in all formats as long as he keeps running the ball.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Boston Scott shows up on offense in Week 7 and scored a touchdown, his first of the season. Starting running back Miles Sanders (ankle) was forced to leave with an injury, leaving backfield duties to rookie Kenneth Gainwell and Scott. Scott had been playing exclusively on special teams this season, but ran the ball seven times in this game, gaining 24 yards and scoring a touchdown. His score came on a one-yard plunge at the end of the third quarter. If Sanders is forced to miss time, Scott will likely find his way into a role on offense, but he's unlikely to develop much if any fantasy value.
New York Jets running back Michael Carter has seemingly run away with the lead back job over the last few weeks. The fourth round rookie continued his success against the New England Patriots in Week 7. Carter rushed 11 times for 37 times, but hauled in a team-high eight receptions and 67 yards through the air. The rookie back hasn't surpassed 40 rushing yards in a game since Week 2. Despite that, Carter has continued to have fantasy value in PPR formats. Although, it's uncertain if his fantasy value will continue with rookie quarterback Zach Wilson (knee) likely sidelined next week. Fantasy managers in deep leagues might need to look for another option if Carter's touches decrease.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul (finger, shoulder) is in danger of missing more time moving ahead. The veteran has reportedly been playing through multiple fractures in his finger, and even worse, a torn rotator cuff. However, he didn't appear to be injured by any means in Week 7, at least on the statistical end, as he would record two sacks during the win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Nonetheless, while it's apparent that the 32-year-old isn't as effective as he once was, any further absences would certainly be unfortunate for any fantasy manager participating in formats that utilize individual defensive positions.
New York Jets quarterback Mike White came into the game unexpectedly during the Week 7 matchup with the New England Patriots. Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson (knee) was forced out of the game earlier than expected on Sunday. That forced White into action and he struggled as expected against a tough Patriots secondary. White completed 20-of-32 passing attempts for 202 passing yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in the loss. It's uncertain whether or not Wilson will be able to make the next start versus Cincinnati next week. White might be asked to start and wouldn't be a recommended streaming option in any format.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Rondale Moore had just two catches for 17 yards during the win over Houston on Sunday. Moore had only three targets on the afternoon, one less than he got in Week 6 and three fewer than he had in Week 5. Nonetheless, the rookie should have a few more games of effective play moving forward. However, it's clear he's the No. 4 option behind DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, and A.J. Green, and with Zach Ertz now in town, his place on Kyler Murray's priority list could be even lower. Yet, he's worth a stash, especially in dynasty setups, and could see his value rise if an injury were to occur at some point. Still, his outlook isn't bright against the Packers on Thursday, although the upside is always there for DFS contests.
Houston Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor (hamstring) is set to be designated to return and practice on Wednesday. After the designation, the team will have 21 days to activate him and place him back on the roster or be forced to keep him on the injured reserve list for the remainder of the 2021-22 campaign. Taylor hasn't played since suffering a Grade 2 hamstring strain during the second game of the year against the Cleveland Browns. He played relatively well before succumbing to the ailment and had thrown three touchdowns while maintaining an acceptable 70.5 completion percentage. Although it's unlikely Taylor suits up for the upcoming matchup against the Los Angeles Rams, there is a chance he could be back for Week 9 against the Dolphins. His presence would mean Davis Mills would head back to the bench, while Brandin Cooks could benefit from the play of a more stable signal-caller.
New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton caught 5-of-9 targets for 63 yards in Sunday's 25-3 win over the Carolina Panthers. He returned to action on Sunday after missing the last three weeks due to a hamstring injury. Kadarius Toney (ankle), Kenny Golladay (knee), and Sterling Shepard were ruled out ahead of Sunday's game. The 24-year-old was QB Daniel Jones' top option and led the Giants in targets (9) and receiving yards (63). Slayton's role in the Giants offense will depend on the availability of Toney, Golladay, and Shepard for Monday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver A.J. Green had three grabs for 66 yards in the win over the Houston Texans on Sunday. The veteran was entering this one coming off a 79-yard, one-touchdown effort against the Cleveland Browns in Week 6. Yet, while this wasn't the worst outing from a statistical standpoint, fantasy managers were hoping to capitalize on the favorable matchup in Week 7. Nonetheless, Kyler Murray has shown love to all of his wideouts this season, so it's logical to believe Green will find the end zone some more throughout the year. He's been healthy, which is even more promising news, and he should continue to be considered for any fantasy lineup ahead of Thursday Night Football against the Green Bay Packers.