Watching Patrick Mahomes this season has made Tom Brady feel like an old man.
At least old enough to remember a much different era for young NFL quarterbacks.As a rookie in 2000 Authentic Travis Frederick Jersey , Brady remembers being nowhere near seeing the field as a starter."I was sitting in the stands, eating nachos before games. I wasn't playing," he joked this week.Now he looks around at a league in which Mahomes is one of several young quarterbacks in their first or second year starting for teams. Brady also started his second season, but it was hardly the plan as he replaced an injured first stringer, Drew Bledsoe."Football was different then," Brady said. "I think now in some ways pro football is more glorified college football...the transition is a more similar game than it used to be when I first started."It's an atmosphere that has allowed Mahomes, who will be starting for Kansas City when the Chiefs (5-0) visit New England (3-2) on Sunday night, to emerge as the most electrifying quarterback in the NFL this season.Mahomes leads the NFL with 14 touchdown passes through Week 5 and has won each of his first six NFL starts, dating back to his lone start last season. With a win against the Patriots, Mahomes would become the sixth quarterback since 1970 to win his first seven career starts.It's put the second-year Texas Tech product under the microscope in his first year Kansas City's full-time starter, following the offseason trade of Alex Smith to Washington.While Mahomes said running the jet sweeps and run-pass option plays he did in college has helped with his transition, he also spent a fair amount of time studying Brady's approach in New England."My coach in college was Kliff Kingsbury, and he actually was a backup for Brady at one point, and so he showed me things that he liked with Tom and his pocket movements and stuff he did within the pocket that I've tried to put in my game a little bit," he said.While Chiefs coach Andy Reid won't disparage Smith, he acknowledges Mahomes brings a lot of intangible qualities to their offense. Reid also is cognizant that the season is still young.The 23-year-old is not a rookie, but he basically is, Reid said."He's going through an NFL season — his first one — and there are all kind of challenges that come with that, and no bigger one than this week," Reid said.Here are some things to watch for in Sunday night's game:NOT AN UNDERDOGDespite Kansas City's unblemished record, the Patriots enter Sunday's game as a three-point favorite. It's for good reason. Since 2001, 41 times a team has visited Foxborough with a better record than the Patriots. In those games New England is 30-11.Since starting the season 1-2, New England has outscored opponents 76-31 over its last two victories, at home vs. Miami and Indianapolis.MILESTONE WATCHBrady has an NFL-record 199 career regular-season victories and can become the first quarterback in league history to reach 200 for his career. He enters this week tied with Colts kicker and former teammate Adam Vinatieri for the most career wins in the regular season and playoffs combined with 226.BRING THE NASTYThe Chiefs' maligned defense forced Jacksonville into five turnovers last week, not to mention showed a mean streak for the first time all season. Defensive tackle Chris Jones took it a bit too far, getting ejected for throwing an elbow at a Jaguars lineman after a play."I don't even remember what happened," Jones said with a wry smile. "But we're not going to let anyone push us around."INJURY WOESThe Chiefs signed ex-Browns linebacker Nate Orchard and journeyman Frank Zombo to help with pass-rushing depth. Justin Houston has a hurt hamstring, and fellow pass rushers Dee Ford and Tanoh Kpassagnon have been banged-up, which left only rookie Breeland Speaks available."Tanoh will have a chance to play," Reid said, "but we just have to make sure we are OK in that spot just in case."MATCHING WITSThe game features the two winningest active coaches in Bill Belichick (281) and Reid (199); Belichick is 5-2 lifetime against Reid. "I mentioned this before," Reid said Authentic Leighton Vander Esch Jersey , "when you play good football teams, you love that challenge. You spend a lot of hours doing what we are doing. You love the challenge of it, and I think as players and coaches you cherish those things. It is a neat part of the business."AP Sports Writer Dave Skretta contributed to this report.Crunching stats: Looking back at Cowboys’ win over Lions, and projecting forward The stats from the Dallas Cowboys much-needed win over the Detroit Lions fall right in line with what we saw: The best offensive game of the year for the Cowboys, combined with another game where the defense had some problems with the challenge of an excellent quarterback on the other side. But the positives outweigh the negatives. That is always a good thing. So let’s jump in to what we can glean from the overall picture.The receiving corps looks like it has firmed up.Particularly in the sense of who are the primary targets. Most of the time, the Cowboys go with a single running back on the field, which leaves four spots to be filled by some combination of wide receivers and tight ends. That group of receivers will vary a bit depending on the play called. But combining the snap counts with the targets and balls caught shows us who will be doing most of the work going forward.Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesHere are the top receivers, with their targets, catches, yards, and the number and percentage of snaps they were on the field.Ezekiel Elliott: 4 targets, 4 receptions, 88 yards (1 TD), 53 snaps, 77%Cole Beasley: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 53 yards, 38 snaps, 55%Geoff Swaim: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 39 yards (1 TD), 64 snaps, 93%Allen Hurns: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 30 yards, 47 snaps, 68%Michael Gallup: 5 targets, 2 receptions, 45 yards, 40 snaps, 58%Rod Smith was the only other player who caught a pass, in relief of Elliott. Tavon Austin and Rico Gathers each had one target without a catch. And that’s it.It is pretty clear. Your starters Youth Deonte Thompson Jersey , regardless of who is actually on the field for the first play of the game, are those five names that had all but one of the receptions in the game. And the roles are beginning to shake out. Swaim is obvious as the TE1, with Zeke even more so as RB1. Beasley and Hurns are the possession receivers, while Gallup looks like the primary deep threat, which is going to mean less catches but more impact for each. There still is work to do, as Hurns, Gallup, and Austin all had drops while Gathers seemed to mistime his jump in the end zone. But there is now a workable plan going forward for the receivers.The return of the 214 connection.21 and 4, AKA Zeke and Dak, were back in the winning form of their rookie year. Elliott clearly looked like the best running back in the league with a career best output in yardage from scrimmage, and is back at the top of the rushing list, where he belongs.Prescott is not the stat-generating monster Elliott is, but he never has been, and doesn’t need to be as long as Elliott is playing at such a high level. What he did against Detroit is put up the kind of numbers he had during his first season and a half, going 17 for 27 with two TDs and no INTs, and more importantly, completing two passes that traveled over 30 yards in the air. Dak is not the most potent threat as a quarterback, but he once again was a valid one that reestablished the synergy with the big-time running attack. If he continues to produce at about the same level as he did against a Lions defense that has a good secondary, then the Cowboys can be at or around that 400 yards per game level of production that is something of a threshold for a very good day on offense.And special note must be made of the play on the last drive that didn’t show up as a stat. It was when the ball was stripped from Prescott, and he had the presence of mind to scoop it up, run toward the sideline, and dump the ball off to get to a third and three rather than third and a whole bunch. It likely saved the day for the Cowboys. It is one sign that Prescott is maturing as a QB.3 sacks, 4 quarterback hits.As in how many times the Lions got to Dak, and one of those sacks was when he was scrambling and went out of bounds just short of the line of scrimmage. He did get taken down one other time, but there were two defensive penalties on the play that nullified that one. Still, he got hit a lost less than last week, due to much better protection from the offensive line. That has to boost his confidence, although he is still moving back when he should be climbing the pocket. He obviously needs to work on that. Maybe the reduction in hits will help him gain the faith to do so.As for run blocking, 183 yards rushing speaks for itself.4 for 4.That was the line for Brett Maher’s field goals. He kept Dallas close by getting some points even when too many drives fizzled in the Detroit end of the field, and of course nailed the game winner. Re-live it, why don’t you?It is too soon to say that the decision to release Dan Bailey was the correct one, but the early returns are certainly good.1:39 left in the second quarter Womens Zack Martin Jersey , 2:59 left in the third quarter.That is when the Cowboys scored their two touchdowns. What’s important about it?Coming into this game, Dallas had scored no touchdowns in the second and third quarters. They had only managed nine points altogether in those quarters. In one game, they exceeded that total and broke the TD drought. This is something that can get overlooked, but is a major step that needs to be replicated going forward.5 for 12 (42%) and 1 for 3 (33%)Time for some concerning numbers, namely the Cowboys’ third down and red zone efficiency stats. Those are not good, although the third down rate was nearly twice as good as it was for the first three games. There is clearly room and need for improvement.What has changed is that the job Scott Linehan did with the game plan and calling plays on Sunday now gives us some hope he can continue to improve things. There is still some debate about just whether and how many times he actually put in some of those new wrinkles, but he clearly dug much deeper into his playbook and with considerably more success than in the first three weeks. He just needs to keep that up.8 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 tackles for a loss, 3 QB hits.Time to look at the defense. That is the stat line for one DeMarcus Lawrence, at the time of this writing the league leader in sacks. That is a remarkable performance. The rest of the Hot Boyz were not nearly as effective, but sacks are often a result of team effort on stunts, blitzes, and just occupying other blockers. Still, DLaw is making a case as the most valuable defender in the league right now. And soon, someone is going to back a truck up to his house and unload a ton of contract money. Hopefully, it will be the Cowboys.13 total tackles.The combined stats for Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. That’s not spectacular, but for the first time in what seems forever, the Cowboys took the field without Sean Lee, and did not look like they were falling apart on defense. Two highly questioned draft picks are panning out very well.0.As in the number of times Matthew Stafford tried to throw a pass in the direction of Byron Jones.Pretty much says it all.307 yards passing.That is what Stafford did throwing the ball. It was almost too much, but turned out to not quite be. Plus with the many pinpoint throws that Stafford was making, often against Chidobe Awuzie, who couldn’t have done much else without drawing a flag, it felt like that number should have been higher. It was a case of what the defense did being just enough given the performance of the offense. Close games are something you want to avoid in the NFL, because over time, they are a 50/50 proposition. But getting a win in one is always a great outcome. Dallas just doesn’t want to get in many more of them.Those are some stats that stuck out for me. The sum of them all is that the team is headed in the right direction - for now. The task facing Dallas going forward is to keep moving that way. The next few games will let us know the truth of the matter, and there are some real challenges coming down the road. But for now, things are good. The Cowboys are still very much alive in the NFC East as the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants both had losses. At this point in the season, that is a good place to be.