PREVIEW: Patriots (5-3) @ NY Jets (5-3)
Some things in life are just better in twos: socks, gloves, Miller High Life’s and the Jets and Patriots playing each other. With no disrespect to the team’s in Pittsburgh and Baltimore but the rivalry between New York and New England may just be the best in the sport.
With only their record and standing in the AFC East serving as similarities, the Jets and Patriots are polar opposites. The Jets are the plagued have-nots; their history filled with stories of being this close and other near misses. Currently, they are the out-spoken, hard-nosed personification of head coach Rex Ryan’s ego. The Patriots have been the toast of the town since the anointment of Tom Brady as the NFL’s poster boy. A high-octane offense coupled with a stirringly quite confidence, the Patriots are currently in an identity-crisis of their own — tallying high giveaways while giving away huge chunks of yardage.
The Patriots recent play cannot bode well as they prepare to play the Jets, who are 4-0 at MetLife Stadium this year, in a place they haven’t won with Brady at the helm since 2007.
WHEN: Sunday November 13, 2011 @ 8:20 EST (Can be seen on NBC or heard on 1050 ESPN Radio).
WHERE: MetLife Stadium / East Rutherford, NJ (capacity: 82,500)
SERIES HISTORY: 103rd meeting, Jets lead, 51-50-1 (Postseason: Patriots lead, 2-1)
LAST MEETING: Patriots, 30, Jets, 21, Gillette Stadium (10/9/11)
NOTABLE: The Jets are 8-5 against the Patriots in prime time games. The two teams met exactly three years ago (11/13/08) when New York traveled to New England and defeated the Patriots 34-31 in overtime on a Thursday night.
- JETS — OFFENSE; 24.9 PPG (11th-T), 306.1 YPG (28th), 96.6 Rushing YPG (25th), 209.5 Passing YPG (22nd), 40% 3rd Down rate (13th-T), Sacks Allowed 18 (13th-T). DEFENSE; 20.4 PPG (8th-T), 319 YPG (8th), 123 Rush YPG (22nd), 196 Passing YPG (7th), 43.7% 3rd Down Efficiency (2nd), 18 sacks (18th-T).
- PATRIOTS — OFFENSE; 27.8 PPG (4th-T), 437.3 YPG (2nd), 111.6 Rushing YPG (17th), 325.6 Passing YPG (1st), 47.9% 3rd Down Efficiency, 16 Sacks Allowed (6th-T). DEFENSE; 23 PPG (20th-t), 416.3 YPG (32nd), 102.3 Rushing YPG (9th), 314 Passing YPG (32nd), 43.7% 3rd Down Efficiency, 15 Sacks (25th-T).
- JETS – Rex Ryan / Third season /25-15 Regular Season / 4-2 Postseason
- PATRIOTS — Bill Belichick / Twelfth season / 167-97 Regular Season / 15-6 Postseason
- JETS — OUT – Logan Payne (wrist), Robert Turner (leg), Bryan Thomas (Achilles’). QUESTIONABLE – Shawn Nelson (illness), Brodney Pool (knee). PROBABLE – Plaxico Burress (lower back), Antonio Cromartie (finger), Mike DeVito (knee), Marcus Dixon (shoulder), Kenrick Ellis (ankle), Shonn Greene (head, groin), Santonio Holmes (foot), Wayne Hunter (finger), Nick Mangold (ankle), Josh Mauga (lower back), Joe McKnight (toe), Calvin Pace (groin), Sione Pouha (finger), Matt Slauson (neck), Isaiah Trufant (hamstring).
- PATRIOTS — OUT - Dane Fletcher (thumb), Brandon Spikes (knee). QUESTIONABLE – Kyle Arrington (foot), Patrick Chung (foot), Shaun Ellis (rib), Kevin Faulk (knee), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (toe), Gary Guyton (shoulder), Jerod Mayo (knee), Taylor Price (hamstring), Sebastian Vollmer (back), Ryan Wendell (concussion). PROBABLE – Wes Welker (rib).
- Antonio Cromartie vs. Patriots WRs: No need to worry about whomever Darrelle Revis is covering, you won’t hear from them all day. But Brady will lock on Cromartie and second-year corner Kyle Wilson. The Patriots offense has been lacking that big, over-the-top play instead opting for the underneath plays. This may work out well for Cromartie, who can stay physical within that five-yard limit and harass smaller receivers with his aggressive build and long arms. But remember, Deion Branch burned Cromartie for two touchdowns in their second regular season meeting last season.
- Nick Mangold vs. Vince Wilfork: The Patriots (15 sacks on the season) have zero pass rush, but do a decent job against the run (ninth in yards allowed on the ground). If the Patriots want to disrupt Mark Sanchez, it starts by not letting Shonn Greene get started. If that can happen, the Jets’ play-action won’t be nearly as effective, where Sanchez has felt most comfortable all season. What better way to kill two birds with one stone than the massive Wilfork, who is the team’s best pass rusher, and their stout run stopper.
- Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets – A fairly obvious choice for the team’s x-factor, but bear with me for a moment. As Ben Roesthlisberger showed two weeks ago, the best defense against Brady is a sustainable offense. Keeping Brady off the field is the blueprint to beating the Patriots. Additionally Bart Hubbuch, of the New York Post, found an interesting stat about Sanchez and his influence on a Jets victory. In 22 career wins, Sanchez completing 59 percent with 30 TDs and 13 INTs. In 15 career losses, his line is just 49%/11/26. The definition of an X-factor.
- Devin McCourty, CB, Patriots — He was a beast last year, pulling down a league-high seven interceptions in his rookie campaign. Now he seems lost midst a sophomore slump, barely recognizable on the field as the freakishly athletic corner from Rutgers. Down the stretch last season, he was the reason that the defense, also rated in the bottom-third of the league, was labeled as opportunistic. The Patriots should be worrying less about their problems on offense, where they are filled with savvy veterans, and worry about a young defense. If McCourty can show a glimpse of his level of play from last season, creating a turnover or two, the Patriots may be able to steal a win in New York.
THE PREDICTION: Patriots 23 — NY Jets 21. I know, I know. The Patriots are reeling and the Jets are soaring. But there are a few guarantees in life: death, taxes and Belichick & Brady not losing three games in a row. They won’t win pretty, but they’ll squeak out a win thanks to a timely turnover.