Patriots

J.C. Jackson nervous but confident heading into Patriots' playoff debut

J.C. Jackson nervous but confident heading into Patriots' playoff debut

FOXBORO -- How the Patriots will try to match up with Chargers receivers isn't clear at the moment, but wherever J.C. Jackson ends up, he'll be confident.

It's how he's been all season, and it's worked. He's worked into the starting lineup in one of the best secondaries in the league, and he's performed above and beyond his draft position. (He, uh, wasn't drafted.) Why change now?

"I feel like nobody could catch a pass on me, that's my mindset," Jackson on Wednesday. "Whoever I'm guarding, whoever's in front of me, that's my job. Make sure he doesn't catch the ball."

Who's our best guess as to which Chargers receiver that will be?

Philip Rivers has a receiving corps at his disposal that has the potential to be among the most dangerous the Patriots have seen this year.

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Keenan Allen is the team's clear-cut No. 1, as he sees a whopping 26.4 percent of throws sent in his direction. At 6-foot-2 and about 210 pounds, he has the size to be able to play outside, but he sees almost half of his targets (47 percent) from the slot as one of the sport's best route-runners.

Mike Williams is the Chargers' big-play threat, and has looked the part over the course of the last few weeks with eight catches on 14 targets for 114 yards (14.3 yards per catch) since Week 16.

Allen returned from injury that week against the Ravens and since then has caught 13 passes on 18 targets for 159 yards (12.2 yards per catch).

If the Patriots want to handle the duo the same way they handled Minnesota's back in Week 13, then maybe Stephon Gilmore will live outside the numbers with Williams (as he did, for the most part, with Stefon Diggs) while the Patriots double Allen inside with Jason McCourty or Jackson and a safety. 

Tyrell Williams is L.A.'s No. 3 and Jackson could find himself in a one-on-one matchup there as well.

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If the Patriots feel good about Jackson on Mike Williams one-on-one -- and there's reason to believe they should -- then they could have Gilmore follow Allen. 

Jackson has taken over the No. 2 corner role in the Patriots defense in recent weeks, he's cemented himself as among the league leaders in quarterback rating against, and Bill Belichick sang his praises last month for the improvement he's shown in his rookie season.

"Steady," Belichick said. "Steady grinder. One day at a time, just trying to get better. If he makes mistakes, try to correct it. He works at it, usually shows some improvement in that area, go on to something else. 

"But, his durability, his consistency and just being out there every day practicing, doing things, getting corrected, getting better, working on them the next day. I mean, that’s really how you improve. So, practicing and being durable and being consistent, it goes a long way."

As far as he's come, and as confident as he is, Jackson admitted there will be butterflies Sunday. There already are.

"Of course I'm nervous; it's my first playoff game," Jackson said. "I'm nervous but I'm ready. It's a 'ready' nervous."

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NFL Twitter explodes with reaction to Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes' reported contract

NFL Twitter explodes with reaction to Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes' reported contract

Patrick Mahomes has fully committed to the Kansas City Chiefs.

The superstar quarterback, who led the Chiefs to a Super Bowl LIV triumph last season, reportedly has agreed to a massive 10-year contract extension worth $450 million. ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported the news.

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Mahomes is the best player in the NFL and, at only 24 years old, could lead the Chiefs on a dominant run of success over the next decade. In his two seasons as the Chiefs' starting quarterback, Mahomes has a 24-8 record, a 4-1 playoff record and a Lombardi Trophy. He also won Super Bowl LIV MVP and the 2018 NFL MVP.

Given his age, talent and potential, it's not surprising that NFL Twitter was pretty fired up about Mahomes and the Chiefs extending their partnership through 2031 (he has two more years remaining on his current contract).

Here's some of the best Twitter reaction to Mahomes' massive contract extension.

NFL rumors: Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes agrees to huge 10-year contract extension

NFL rumors: Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes agrees to huge 10-year contract extension

The Kansas City Chiefs are going to be a tough opponent for the New England Patriots and the rest of the AFC for many years to come.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes reportedly has agreed to a massive 10-year contract extension, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Mahomes has two more years left on his current deal with Kansas City, so this extension would keep him with the Chiefs for 12 more seasons.

The Chiefs won their first Lombardi Trophy in 50 years last season when Mahomes led a fourth quarter comeback against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV. Mahomes won Super Bowl MVP, adding to the NFL MVP he won during the 2018 campaign. The 24-year-old quarterback has thrown 76 touchdown passes with only 17 interceptions in the last two seasons (30 games played).

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Mahomes is the best quarterback in the league, and his résumé through three pro seasons -- the last two of which he's been the full-time starter in Kansas City -- is absolutely astounding.

What does this news mean for the Patriots?

Well, the Chiefs aren't going anywhere. Kansas City will continue to be a top contender in the AFC as long as Mahomes is healthy. He has a 25-8 record as a starter in the regular season, in addition to a 4-1 playoff record that includes a Super Bowl title.

The Chiefs also have been one of the league's highest-scoring offenses (32-plus points per game) in the league over the last two seasons, and no lead is safe when Mahomes has the ball. The Patriots found that out first hand during the 2018 AFC Championship Game in Kansas City. New England held a 14-0 halftime advantage, and it also led 24-21 and 31-28 late in the fourth quarter before losing both and having to play overtime. Former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady won the game in the OT period with an incredible touchdown drive on the first possession.

The AFC title win in 2018 was one of two victories for the Patriots in three matchups versus Mahomes. New England beat him twice in 2018 and lost in the 2019 regular season when the Chiefs earned a 23-16 Week 14 win at Gillette Stadium.

The Chiefs will play the Patriots again in the 2020 regular season in a Week 4 matchup at Arrowhead Stadium. You can bet the Patriots and Chiefs will play plenty more times throughout the length of Mahomes' reported extension, and it would be pretty fun if some of those games came in the playoffs.