Rookie quarterback Mac Jones is the Colossus of Week 10


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Rookie quarterback Mac Jones is the Colossus of Week 10

The Patriots passer took top honors as the player of the tenth round, with a round performance in New England’s beating of Cleveland.

For the second week in a row, the NFL gifted us with a series of major surprises on the schedule, accompanied by a handful of beatings as part of matchday 10 action.

At the same time, a few teams are taking advantage of the date to shake off a recent bad start, or solidify themselves with the tag of contenders, in the free start to the second half of the season. One of the latter teams, led by a rookie quarterback, has been doing its homework under the radar in recent weeks, and is there among the clubs that will fight for playoff tickets in the AFC:

All NFL teams, without exception, go through times of transition. Yet consistently successful teams manage to avoid times of rebuilding. This appears to be the case with the Patriots.

A year after seeing Tom Brady be crowned with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the signs are that they have their long-term heir. No, that doesn’t mean New England is going to win the Super Bowl this year. Nor does it necessarily mean that they will win a Super Bowl with Jones after this year, that is not known.

What it means is that it is likely, at least, that the Pats have found a starter for the position, allowing them to move to other positions in the future, with a mission to compete in the seasons to come.

Jones made very little noise from this year’s rookie quarterbacks, particularly compared to Trevor Lawrence or Zach Wilson, or even Justin Fields. New England didn’t have to move up the draft order for Jones, and the bet to stay seems to have paid off, at least after the first half of his first season.

The meeting this Sunday was a great test. The Patriots beat a Cleveland Browns who began the campaign among the win-it-all candidates by beating, and who were apparently on the rise after a remarkable display the previous day, against the Cincinnati Bengals, which seemed to put them back among the protagonists after a disappointing first half of the campaign.

Jones, instead, gave lessons on how to manage an NFL offense, leading the beating over Cleveland, 45-7. He completed 19 of 23 pass attempts for 198 yards with three touchdowns without interceptions, and it didn’t even take a full game of work on his part, eventually giving way to Brian Hoyer as a replacement.

The Bucs are favored by many analysts to repeat as Super Bowl champions, and of course Brady is one of the main reasons, after last season’s impressive display.

Well, don’t look now, but there is only a half game difference between Tampa Bay (6-3), with Brady, and the Pats (6-3), with the heir to Brady. No, they are not directly competing for a postseason ticket, and they could only meet again in an eventual Super Bowl. Yes, the Bucs look like a better team from head to toe, despite today’s surprise loss. But, at least in Week 10, the New England faithful should feel very reassured about the future at the position.

Honorable mentions

Stefon Diggs, wide receiver, Buffalo Bills. There were a significant number of teams that disappointed hugely last week, particularly in betting and pools. One of them was the Bills, who shook a day into oblivion with a round performance, led by Diggs and his eight receptions for 162 yards with a touchdown, in a 45-17 thrashing over their divisional rivals Jets.

CeeDee Lamb, wide receiver, Dallas Cowboys. Speaking of teams looking to reestablish their image as contenders, the Cowboys were not far behind. A date after his worst game in a long time, Dallas came back to life against the Falcons in a landslide 43-3 performance, as Lamb had six receptions for 94 yards with two touchdowns, plus a 12-yard rush on a Sunday when the offense regained its spark.

Patrick Mahomes, quarterback, Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs needed a game like tonight, where all the pieces of the offensive machinery, and a pinch of luck, were back on their side. Mahomes completed 35 of 50 passes for 406 yards with five touchdowns without interceptions, although it is also true that he could have gone home with three interceptions that dropped the Raiders out of hand. Kansas City still hasn’t picked up the highest moment we’ve seen it in the last couple of years, but they’ve taken a giant step up from the last couple of weeks, without a doubt.

Christian McCaffrey, running back, Carolina Panthers. A day without touchowns does not prevent us from appearing on our weekly list, when the game was good enough, as in the case of McCaffrey. The Panthers gave one of the bells of the week, at home to Arizona, with a 34-10 victory, although Cam Newton stole the spotlight with two touchdowns in two plays, which undoubtedly paralyzed the game plan for the Cardinals, McCaffrey was the engine that led the Panthers to victory, with 13 carries for 95 yards and 10 receptions for 66 yards, a performance extremely grateful for its owners in fantasy leagues, even though he did not find the diagonals. The Panthers were shocked when Run-CMC went to the medical store, but his little marginalization of the final stretch of the game seemed to be due only to precaution, after the campaign he has had in the physical issue.

Dak Prescott, quarterback, Cowboys. After an obviously off-beat game last Sunday, Prescott got back on track this afternoon with a 24-for-31 outing for 296 yards and two touchdown passes – both to Lamb – with no interceptions, to which there are than adding a rushing touchdowns. When this quarterback plays like Week 10, and with the weapons at his disposal, it’s hard to ignore the Cowboys as candidates.

Jonathan Taylor, running back, Indianapolis Colts. Another game week for the Colts, and another notable game for Taylor from the backfield. The Wisconsin product went home with 116 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries, plus six catches. The Colts suffered a bit more than was predicted against Jacksonville, but a divisional win is never seen to be fang in this league.

Rhamondre Stevenson, Patriots running back. Jones wasn’t the only standout player on a round afternoon for the Pats, getting a lot of help from the rookie running back. Stevenson carried the ball 20 times for 100 yards with two touchdowns, and had four catches from the backfield, on one of the best days of his rookie season. It has been a season of ups and downs for the Oklahoma product, with some ball safety problems that have taken away offensive opportunities, but today he answered the offensive call in New England and that should earn him future minutes.


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