Mac Jones ready to push Patriots? Dolphins pointing up

This isn't to say this contest comes down to Jones outplaying Allen. What this game will be about is Jones proving he can thrive on this kind of stage, when he'll have to make some special plays to help his team win. So far, he's been the perfect fit for a team that has been built to make life easier for him. "Mac is the type of guy who will come in here to compete (and) be the best guy he possibly can," said Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers after Sunday's win over Tennessee. "The guys around him have to continue to do a better job supporting him, and I feel like that is why he's been playing better."

The Patriots often talk about Jones in the context of how he functions within the team. Jones was asked to be a game manager when he beat out Cam Newton for this job in the preseason, and he's proven to be adept at the responsibility. He takes advantage of every weapon around him, including all the acquisitions that came through Belichick's offseason shopping spree (tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith and wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne). Jones also is quick to celebrate the protection from his offensive line and the opportunistic play of that swarming defense.

What Jones realizes is that opponents are going to keep trying to put more of the burden on him. The Tennessee Titans, for example, devoted a lot of effort to stifling New England's running attack. Jones responded by hitting on more explosive plays down the field. It's a safe bet the Bills will come with a similar game plan, as they've boasted one of the league's best defenses all season.

Jones -- who has completed 70.3 percent of his passes, with 16 touchdown and eight interceptions -- already has seen more creative blitzing in recent games. It wouldn't be surprising to see Buffalo come after him more, as well. "I think teams do what they do, and that's definitely a way to hurry up a quarterback, especially a younger quarterback," Jones said after the Tennessee game. "So I'm sure that's something people watch and make sure we have it corrected."

The Patriots already have seen that Jones can handle himself in big games. He played well against both Dallas and Tampa Bay, even though both those contests ended in losses. Jones also is trending in the right direction as a host of young quarterbacks around the league have struggled lately. He hit on 41 of 49 passes in New England's two victories prior to the Tennessee win (a 25-0 romp over Atlanta and a 45-7 beatdown of Cleveland).

Jones basically has been everything Belichick has asked and then some. He's helped return the Patriots to prominence, and the next step in that process involves beating a Bills team that ran through the AFC East a year ago. Jones already has shown that New England can win with him. Next Monday, he might have to prove they can win because of him.

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