Stephen Gostkowski was put on Injured Reserve three weeks ago, but apparently that wasn’t the last of the ‘ghosts’ on the Patriots roster. Mic’d-up QB Sam Darnold could be heard on the Jets sideline, lamenting how he’s “seeing ghosts” — a moment of honest reflection that was instantly memed, mocked and shot viral around the football-watching world. To everyone’s delight, the Twitter response was swift, pretty funny, and it did not disappoint.
Now, ghosts are one thing, but the Boogeymen are something else entirely. Linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Dont’a Hightower were both visibly excited at hearing how effectively their ‘backerhood, known as ‘the Boogeymen’ agitated and disrupted Darnold and the Jets offense all night long. No satisfying these beasts, however. They’re just getting hungry for more.
With the defense beginning to get recognition for their aggressive style and historically dominant play, there is still a faction out there whining about the low level of competition the Pats have faced so far. John Clayton is just one of the many voices attaching this caveat to New England’s impressive record:
The AFC is clearly down overall, and while it looked like it had two powerhouses in the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs, the Patriots haven’t really played anyone, and the Chiefs lost two home games in a row before superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes went down with a dislocated kneecap that may keep him out for three to six weeks.
To that criticism, all the Patriots can do is dominate the teams on their slate — which they have done. The next six games had been labeled ‘the meat of the schedule’ when it was released back in April. That ‘meat’ includes the Week 8 matchup vs. Cleveland to face a much-hyped Browns team with a loaded roster and led by young, exciting quarterback Baker Mayfield. The early odds favor the Patriots by 12.5. Caveats and all, I’ll take the win and cover on Sunday.
Around the AFC East:
New England Patriots (7-0) vs. Cleveland Browns (2-4)
Buffalo Bills (5-1) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4)
New York Jets (1-5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4)
Miami Dolphins (0-5) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4)
Kansas City Chiefs (5-2) vs. Green Bay Packers (6-1)
Indianapolis Colts (4-2) vs. Denver Broncos (2-5)
Houston Texans (4-3) vs. Oakland Raiders (3-3)
Tennessee Titans (3-4) vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4)
Los Angeles Chargers (2-5) at Chicago Bears (3-3)
Cincinnati Bengals (0-7) at Los Angeles Rams (4-3)
Baltimore Ravens (5-2) - Bye Week
1st - Staff (AP Pro32).
1st - Lindsay Jones (The Athletic): We forgive you if you turned off Monday Night Football early because the Patriots needed less than a quarter to show all of us that, yep, there was no way they were going to lose to the Jets, and they wouldn’t make it close. Final score? 33-0. It was actually more lopsided that the teams’ first meeting last month, a 30-14 Patriots win. We keep waiting for New England’s schedule to get more competitive, but it really looks like New England is in a league of its own right now.
1st - Consensus (Bleacher Report): Sometimes, it just doesn’t seem fair.
From the moment the New England Patriots took the opening kickoff and drove the length of the field for a touchdown, there was never a shred of doubt the defending champions would take care of the New York Jets and move to 7-0 on the season.
With the Pats continuing to battle injuries at the skill positions, it was the run game and defense that carried them to victory. Young running back Sony Michel scored a trio of touchdowns, while the defense continued to pile up big plays at an astounding rate.
For the game, the Patriots allowed just 154 total yards. New England picked off New York quarterback Sam Darnold four times, turned the young signal-caller over again on a strip-sack and notched a safety when he bobbled a snap. Linebacker Kyle Van Noy was an ankle-graze away from returning the fumble for a score. ...
Those weapons aren’t healthy yet, but after the addition of veteran wideout Mohamed Sanu in a trade with the Atlanta Falcons, they are better. Like we said, sometimes it just doesn’t seem fair.
1st - Pete Prisco (CBS Sports): They keep on rolling with few challengers in the AFC. And we really haven’t come close to seeing the best of this group yet on offense. The defense is special.
1st - NFL Nation (ESPN): Recalibrated expectation: Super Bowl title. File this one under the “lather, rinse, repeat” category, going on about 20 years now. While the Patriots have shown areas of vulnerability through seven games this season, they are still a top contender -- led by the two old standbys, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
1st - Michael McMahon (NESN): “The Boogeymen” will be giving poor Sam Darnold nightmares for a while. Are we ruling out New England actually using apparitions on defense? #GhostGate?
1st - Tom E. Curran (NBC Sports Boston): I thought the Jets would give the Patriots a game. I really did. Somehow, despite diligently chronicling the defense’s path to one of the most impressive seasons in NFL history, I believed Sam Darnold might be able to come up with something against them. I overestimated him. Worse, I underestimated the Patriots.
1st - Dan Hanzus (NFL.com): Same old story. The Patriots have feasted on the Jets for years, and Monday night was no different. ESPN mics caught Jets quarterback Sam Darnold admitting he was “seeing ghosts” in the pocket. We could have guessed that without the wire -- Darnold threw four interceptions and lost a fumble in a game as one-sided as we’ll see all year. Tom Brady and the Patriots offense set the tone on the game’s first possession: a 16-play, 78-yard touchdown drive that sucked the energy out of MetLife Stadium. While Darnold was under constant assault, Brady had all day in the pocket and was rarely harassed by a weak Jets pass rush. One more note on that dominant Pats defense: New England has 18 interceptions, the second-highest total through seven games for a team in the past 30 years. Bill Belichick is running out a historically great secondary.
1st - Darryl Slater (NJ.com): Analysis: What a dominant season.
1st - Peter Botte (NY Post): The Belichicks have outscored opponents 70-7 in the first quarter this season and 223-48 overall after Monday’s latest pasting of the Jets. Tom Brady improved to 29-7 against Gang Green in his career, which begs the “Bull Durham” reference, how did they ever win seven? The Pats can get to the midpoint a perfect 8-0 with another win Sunday against the Cleveland Browns in Foxboro.
1st - Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk): The richest get richer, even though they had to pay a pretty rich price to get Mohamed Sanu.
1st - Jenny Vrentas (SI): The Patriots completely shut down the Jets on Monday Night Football, and then the team announced Tuesday morning that it was trading a second-round draft pick for receiver Mohamed Sanu. Was Bill Belichick negotiating trades on the sideline at MetLife Stadium?
1st - Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): The Patriots easily took care of the Jets on Monday night to keep pushing toward a perfect first half of the schedule. They have some injury issues starting to factor in offensively, but they are making up for it with their loaded defense.
1st - Doug Farrar (TouchdownWire): Monday night marked the fifth time this season the Patriots have opened up a 24-point lead in their seven games. The 33-0 final against the Jets seemed like a fait accompli. Safety Devin McCourty, who picked off a Sam Darnold pass in the first quarter, now has five picks on the season on seven targets. At one point this season, McCourty had four interceptions on three targets. Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, who looked quite good in his return from mononucleosis against the Cowboys last week, had absolutely no answer against a defense that zero-blitzed him into oblivion, and gave him pre-snap looks he couldn’t work his way out of. And given Darnold’s AFC Player of the Week performance against Dallas in Week 6, it’s time to stop the “who have the Patriots played?” argument. This is one of the best defenses in NFL history, it’s probably going to take Bill Belichick back to the Super Bowl, and there doesn’t seem to be a single thing the rest of the NFL can do about it.
1st - Nate Davis (USA Today): If they had to face an AFC all-star team for conference title, how much would these guys be favored by? Let’s set the opening line at less than 32½.
1st - Mark Maske (Washington Post): There’s the Patriots. And then there’s Everyone Else. They have separated themselves from the rest of the league. It’s difficult to be much better than they were Monday night or much better than they’ve been through seven games. In a league that promotes parity, they’ve outscored their opponents, 223-48, for an average margin of victory of 25 points.
1st - Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports): The Patriots’ secondary is really good. We could be watching a group that ends up in the same pantheon as some of the NFL’s most famous secondaries like the Broncos’ “No Fly Zone,” the Steelers’ “Steel Curtain,” the Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom” and a few others. They’re making life miserable on every quarterback they face.