New England Patriots

Report: Zappe to start, Jones unlikely to play vs. Chargers

Malik Cunningham could also see some action on Sunday.

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As expected, Bailey Zappe will take over as the New England Patriots' starting quarterback for the team's Week 13 matchup vs. the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Athletic's Jeff Howe, who initially reported the Patriots were preparing Zappe to start, confirmed on Friday that the 2022 fourth-round draft pick will replace Mac Jones under center. Howe also reported there will be a package of plays for quarterback/wide receiver Malik Cunningham, and Jones is unlikely to play on Sunday barring any surprises.

Last Sunday's 10-7 loss to the New York Giants marked the fourth time this season that Jones was benched in favor of Zappe. Jones tossed two interceptions before being replaced by Zappe for the entire second half.

Zappe didn't fare much better in the defeat, but he did lead one touchdown drive and put the Patriots in a position to tie or win the game in the final seconds. Although Zappe hasn't impressed as the backup this season, the hope is that giving him a chance to start will spark a New England offense that has averaged 11.75 points over its last four games, resulting in a four-game losing streak.

Cunningham has appeared in only one regular-season game for the Patriots, their Week 6 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. The undrafted rookie out of Louisville played six snaps, four of them as a wide receiver. He did not attempt a pass.

The Patriots enter Sunday's game vs. L.A. with a 2-9 record and the third overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Kickoff for the matchup is set for 1 p.m. ET. at Gillette Stadium.

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