Who: New York Jets @ New England Patriots
When: 4:25 p.m. EDT
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA
Media: TV – CBS, DirecTV – 712, Radio – ESPN 98.7 FM, Sirius – 86, Sirius XM – XM 226 Internet Audio – NFL Fieldpass.
Their Previous Meeting: The last time these two teams met, for a time it appeared as if we may have actually had ourselves a game but leave it to New England to slowly chip away at the Jets’ defense and capitalize later in the game. It started seemingly harmless as New England was limited to two field goals in the first quarter. The Jets caught a break when Tom Brady was caught on an embarassing penalty in the end zone that resulted in 2 points for the Jets. A few minutes later, Mark Sanchez ran two yards to give the Jets their first lead of the day. However, with 1:20 remaining, New England marched down the field against the Jets’ defense ending with Rob Gronkowski scoring on a 18 yard pass from Brady giving New England the lead heading into halftime and ultimately cementing their victory. The Jets’ offense struggled mightily in the third quarter scoring no points while New England scored on a field goal following a muffed punt by Joe McKnight and towards the end of the quarter, Gronkowski was the recepient of another Brady pass from 5 yards out. The Jets showed some signs of life at the begining of the fourth quarter with Sanchez hitting Plaxico Burress on a 7 yard pass to narrow the score to 16-23 however, the defense couldn’t stop New England from thereon and the offense fell off the map completely. Deion Branch made it a two possession game on a 8 yard pass and Rob Ninkovich put the icing on the cake with a 12 yard pick six of Sanchez to give New England a convincing 37-16 win.
Jets: NT Kenrick Ellis (Back–Questionable), WR Clyde Gates (Shoulder–Questionable), WR Stephen Hill (Hamstring–Probable), TE Dustin Keller (Hamstring–Probable), WR Jeremy Kerley (Finger–Probable), S LaRon Landry (Heel–Probable), C Nick Mangold (Ankle–Questionable), RB/KR Joe McKnight (Ankle–Questionable), G Brandon Moore (Hip–Probable), LB Calvin Pace (Shoulder–Probable), NT Sione Po’uha (Low Back–Doubtful), RB Bilal Powell (Shoulder–Doubtful), QB Mark Sanchez (Low Back–Probable), LB Bart Scott (Toe–Probable), G Matt Slauson (Knee–Probable), S Eric Smith (Knee–Doubtful), and LB Bryan Thomas (Hamstring–Probable).
Patriots: DL Rob Brace (Foot–Out), RB Brandon Bolden (Knee–Out), S Patrick Chung (Shoulder–Questionable), WR Julian Edelman (Hand–Questionable), S Steve Gregory (Hip–Out), TE Rob Gronkowski (Hip–Questionable), TE Aaron Hernandez (Ankle–Questionable), LB Dont’a Hightower (Hamstring–Questionable), DT Kyle Love (Knee–Probable), G Logan Mankins (Calf/Hip–Questionable), OL Nick McDonald (Shoulder–Questionable), CB Sterling Moore (Knee–Questionable), OT Sebastian Vollmer (Back/Knee–Questionable), WR Wes Welker (Ankle–Questionable), and LB Tracy White (Foot–Out).
Jets: QB Greg McElroy, WR Clyde Gates, RB Bilal Powell, S Eric Smith, G Caleb Schlauderaff, NT Sione Po’uha, and NT Kenrick Ellis.
Patriots: S Patrick Chung, S Steve Gregory, RB Brandon Bolden, LB Tracy White, G Logan Mankins, DE Jake Bequette, and DL Ron Brace.
Game Captains: OG Vlad Ducasse, LB Marcus Dowtin, DT Mike DeVito, and FB Lex Hilliard.
Post Scriptum: The password to the chatroom is case-sensitive and must be entered as shown: wherespoochie
With all four AFC East teams with .500 records and two of the most storied rivals coming together head-to-head in what is bound to be another epic clash, there has been no shortage of story lines this past week. For the Jets, per the usual routine as we have come to realize, Tim Tebow was largely on the agenda this week regarding his role with Bilal Powell out and Joe McKnight potentially out for the contest. For the Patriots, their heartbreaking loss to Seattle raised some interesting questions and how they are likely “out for blood” against the Jets. In spite of the hype, what can we truly expect? The truth is, it’s really anyone’s guess but we can draw some conclusions using statistics.
The first statistic is the number 5 as in New England has the 5th best ranked defense in the league right now. With the additions of promising rookies Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower, the Patriots’ running defense has made it nearly impossible for opponents to run the football against them. The next stat is the number 28 as in New England’s pass defense is ranked 28th in the league, nearly at rock bottom. Kyle Arrington has been just one of many culprits however, his statistics particularly standout because he has allowed quarterbacks to have a perfect QBR against him. Not good. The injury sustained by Steve Gregory has hurt them at the safety position and the inconsistent play by Devin McCourty isn’t doing them any favors. Despite this, the Jets do face a bit of a problem. While it would seem logical to take their chances and throw against New England’s defense, the Jets’ identity has been to run the ball. And you can bet in order to keep the Patriots’ TOP low and to lessen the risk of a turnover, the Jets will try their hardest to open up lanes and force New England to prevent the run especially after the week Shonn Greene had against Indianapolis. Which leads to the issue of which Shonn Greene shows up. The one that pancaked the Colts’ defense? Or the Greene that struggled to find lines and gain any significant amount of yards. Add in that back-up Bilal Powell is out and Joe McKnight is out, or at the very least will see a very limited snap count, that leaves you with fullback Lex Hilliard, the unproven yet potentially able Jonathan Grimes and Tim Tebow–although it’s one thing when you’re taking a direct snap and running but taking a handoff and finding open lanes? Color me skeptical. As much as it may pain some people to hear it, the Jets very well may need to put more of the onus on Sanchez, who has begun to develop some good chemistry with receivers not named Santonio Holmes or Dustin Keller, and allow him to test New England’s porous secondary and take advantage if he can. During Rex’s tenure, New England has always had, in my opinion, a suspect secondary and at times we’ve seen that exploited while on other days the Jets have made them look like All-Pros. It will be ultimately up to the coaches to find some sort of balance but if something if working better than another don’t shy away from it, use it to your advantage until they can prove they can stall the offense.
The Jets defense is pretty much the exact opposite of New England as they are ranked 6th in opponent passing yards and 28th in rushing. But we’re also talking about Tom Brady. Obviously, the Jets are down an island defensively and with Brady having a multitude of different receivers to throw, the task will be tall which is ultimately why we might see more zone coverages with some man-to-man. Ultimately, the onus will be on the defensive line to generate pressure on Brady and make him force throws and to silence New England’s running attack–pull a page out of the Seahawks’ playbook while you’re at it. The safety play will be vitally important in determining the outcome of this game as will the play of Antonio Cromartie who has stepped up his game in the absence of Revis and has become an all-purpose threat on all three sides of the ball. The linebackers will also be an important factor and the speed of guys like Demario Davis and Marcus Dowtin, if he sees snaps, will be important too. This won’t be an easy task and I certainly do not envy gameplanning for New England especially in such a pivotal matchup that could have lasting consequences as the season wears on. However, emerging with a victory is not out of the realm of possibility as the Jets have shown they will not go down with the ship without putting up a good fight and this is shaping up to be another memorable contest.