Preview: Jets (1-0) @ Pats (1-0)

I don’t remember the last time the Patriots weren’t favored going into a game. No one is ever like, “Yay! We’re playing the Patriots this week! We’ve got this one!” They’re the fastest, most consistent team in the NFL. Facing them in Foxboro on a short week seems dooming…except this week. For the first time in a while, the Bellichick Bunch actually look a bit vulnerable, particularly on offense. Tom Terrific doesn’t have Brandon Lloyd, Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, or Rob Gronkowski (for now) out there now. Instead, he’s throwing to Michael Hoomanawanui, Josh Boyce, Matthew Slater, Kenbrell Thompkins, and Julian Edelman. The only veteran and NFL household name of the bunch is Edelman. And two of the big play makers for the Pats narrow win against the Bills, Shane Vereen and Danny Amendola, won’t be playing Thursday night. This is the perfect opportunity for the Jets to build off their impressive defensive performance against the Buccaneers. But you know Bellichick is brainstorming a way to exploit where the Jets are most vulnerable…their rookie quarterback, Geno Smith.

Expect another big game from TE Kellen Winslow

When: Thursday, September 12, 2013, 8:25 pm, (NFL Network)

Where: Gilette Stadium, Foxboro, MA

Injury Report-

Jets- Out: QB Mark Sanchez (shoulder), DE Quinton Coples (ankle), WR Jeremy Kerley (concussion) Questionable: TE Kellen Winslow (knee), TE Jeff Cumberland (chin), WR Santonio Holmes (foot). Probable: CB Antonio Cromartie (hip)

Patriots- Out: RB Shane Vereen (wrist-Put on short term IR), WR Danny Amendola (groin) Doubtful: TE Rob Gronkowski (back, forearm) Questionable: RB Leon Washington (thigh), RB Brandon Bolden (knee), WR Aaron Dobson (hamstring), TE Zach Sudfeld (hamstring) Probable: RB Stevan Ridley (shoulder)

Game Keys:

Get to Brady (Duh)- Mo Wilkerson said yesterday, “As long as we get to Brady, we’ll be fine.” It’s the games where they’re able to get to Brady in the pocket and rattle him that they take home the W. It’s critical to pressure Brady who has been THE key to New England’s offense for 13 seasons now. He’s a dangerous quarterback and he is 6-3 against the Rex Ryan-led Jets, but he’s not well armed this week as I mentioned earlier.

The rookie and the run game- Belichick is going to have fun scheming how to bring Geno down. He’ll figure out a way to shake him up in a way Greg Schiano didn’t on Sunday. Marty Mornhinweg needs to run a game that won’t put too much pressure on his rookie quarterback. Establishing a running game would certainly do that. The problem is it was basically non-existent against the Bucs. We’re going to need to see more holes open up on the o-line and overall better performances from Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell to see a Jets win in the Pats home opener.

Turnovers- Make them happen and don’t let them happen to you. It’s basic. It’s a key to victory every week whether or not we actually write it out. Smith only had one interception last week, which was perhaps a pleasant surprise after his performance against the Giants. The Pats have forced an interception for the past 28 games and we certainly shouldn’t expect the streak to stop now, but keeping the number low is critical. Expect the Pats to get creative on third down to create turnovers for the inexperienced man under center.

X-Factor:

Kellen Winslow- Mark Sanchez and Dustin Keller were tight on and off the field and it seems a similar relationship is forming between Smith and Winslow. Winslow, who was a Patriot for one game last season, had a strong debut for the Jets last Sunday, catching 7 passes for 79 yards and a touchdown. Look for him to, again, be Smith’s go-to man.

The Pick: My gut is very much saying the Jets are going to pull off a stunner. The Pats are 12.5 point favorites. That’s just not going to happen, especially with New England’s depleted offense. If the Jets don’t get the win, the Pats margin of victory won’t be that vast as long as their defense remains solid. I see this game being another step in proving they shouldn’t be last place in the power rankings.

Jets: 24-21

Watch The Green and White Breakdown: Week 2

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