New England’s top 10 players through Week 9: Matthew Judon’s shocking ranking?

We knew the defense would be good. But not so good.

Special teams were expected to be better than average.

We’re not surprised the New England Patriots are around a .500 team at 5-4.

But no one expected Mac Jones be bad. Especially this evil.

Despite their starting quarterback injury, prime-time bench and brutal regression, the Pats aren’t out of the AFC playoff picture as they enter their bye week. With a 1-3 record and with Jones sidelined with a sprained ankle, things looked bleak in early October.

But rookie Bailey Zappe has won back-to-back starts, Matthew Judon started producing as the NFL Defensive Player of the Year and, finally, Jones returned to record two wins. Going 4-1 in its last five games, Bill Belichick’s team still has hopes of qualifying for the playoffs for the second straight season.

Stats-centric geeks at Focus on professional football assessed New England midway and gave ratings to their top 10 players through Week 9:

ten. CB Marcus Jones (71.9) – A weapon like a kick-returner, the rookie was upstaged by fellow rookie cornerback Jack Jones.

9. S Jabrill Peppers (74.6) – Become healthier and better by safety week.

8. WR Jakobi Meyers (75.1) – Despite missing two games with a knee injury, leads the team in catches (40) and receiving yards (457).

seven. LB Matthew Judon (75.5) – That’s why we don’t treat PFF like the bible of football. Judon leads the NFL with 11.5 sacks.

6. DL Deatrich Sage (76.2) – Playing 80% of snaps defensively, he’s already set a career high with 5.5 sacks and is on pace to break his best season with over 40 tackles.

5. LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (78.0) — The Pats’ leading tackle on a defense that kept both the Detroit Lions (0 of 6 on fourth down) and the Indianapolis Colts (0 of 14 on third down) out of the zone goals.

4. CB Jonathan Jones (79.1) – While opposite corner Jalen Mills was average and beaten by a rookie, he’s one of the best defense playmakers (blocked punt and a Pick Six in Week 8) .

3. RG Mike Onwenu (86.0) – With Isaiah Wynn falling off the ground and first-round pick Cole Strange appearing to have hit the rookie wall, Onwenu has been the best offensive lineman on the team.

2. CB Jack Jones (86.9) – The fourth-round rookie came with questions about character, but was sparkling off the court and dazzling. His coverage speed and ball skills are already a game-changer.

1. RB Rhamond Stevenson (89.6) – Now clearly the No. 1 running back ahead of Damien Harris, he improved his blocking and reception in addition to leading the team with 618 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

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