By Richard Forestano
Jets Staff Writer
September 12th, 2008
The Patriots are now under command of Matt Cassell who hasn't started a football game since High School.
The Patriots are now under command of Matt Cassell who hasn't started a football game since High School.
If you said before last week’s NFL games that Tom Brady would be out for the season, you’d be one step closer to being a Zen Master. Game 1 of the annual matchup against Gang Green’s biggest rival, the New England Patriots, has been the talk of the town and much of the NFL due the Pats losing their golden boy QB Tom Brady to a season ending knee injury, leaving the AFC East and probably the AFC wide open.

As expected, everyone from Brett Favre to Randy Moss to the PR representative has downplayed that the loss of Brady will affect and possibly end the Patriots run at another division title.

“Every time we play them the main goal is to stop the run because when they are moving the ball, running the ball, it gives Brady a lot more opportunities to make plays down the field because you have to beat them playing two dimensionally,” DE Shaun Ellis said. “The idea is to stop the run and make the young quarterback one dimensional.”

The matchup to watch this week is undoubtedly RB Thomas Jones against the run defense of the Patriots. Jones rushed for 101 yards and 1 TD on 22 carries last Sunday against a run defense that was ranked near the bottom of the league in 2007. The Patriots run defense ranked tenth (98.3 YPG).

“I think the Patriots are still the team to beat until proven otherwise,” QB Brett Favre said. “We won one game. We barely beat Miami.”

Randy Moss doesn’t seem to disagree: “I think the New England Patriots have won this division over the last couple years,” he said. “So I think the New England Patriots are still the team to beat.”

Interesting comments from an interesting man.

The last time the Jets beat the Patriots was in Mangini’s first year as head coach of Gang Green when the Jets beat New England at Gillette Stadium 17-14, eventually on their way to a playoff berth. They would go on to lose in the AFC Wild Card Game to New England 37-16. Last year, the Jets limited the then unbeaten Patriots to season lows in net passing (134) total offense (256) and first downs (16) but lost 20-10 in Foxboro.

“It’s the home opener,” C Nick Mangold said. “You get the opportunity to get back in front of the fans in New York. It’s exciting to be back in the stadium and really kick the season off.”

This coming Sunday is the closest the Jets will get to see if they are a true contender early, and not a pretender who spent $140+ million on free agents and draft picks to make a run. If they can’t be a team minus a Pro Bowl future Hall of Fame QB, what does it say?

Jets “O” v.s. Patriots “D”

All eyes will be on QB Brett Favre and his attempt to dissect the 3-4 defense of the Patriots anchored by former Super Bowl Champions LB Teddy Bruschi, DE Richard Seymour, S Rodney Harrison, and many more (too many to keep going). If the Jets O-line can stave off the pass rush and open up holes for Jones, they may have a chance. But I think that it’s going to be too tough a battle to keep Favre upright the entire game. The Patriots will definitely have at least one sack.

Advantage: Patriots

Patriots “O” v.s. Jets “D”

More eyes on the QB situation. Matt Cassel will have his work cut out for him facing a pass rush that is undoubtedly much more powerful than Kansas City. LB Bryan Thomas has as many sacks this season that he had all of last season and NT Kris Jenkins just seems to be everywhere when it comes to stopping the run. The secondary will have a very difficult task in stopping Moss and WR Wes Welker from running all over the field like mad men. This will be the real test for DB Dwight Lowery since he did so well against a speedy Ted Ginn Jr. last week. However, S Kerry Rhodes will have to get more involved if Lowery starts to struggle and coach Belichick starts picking on him. Logically, this advantage would go to the Patriots but no one knows if the Matt Cassel from the rest of the Kansas City will show up or the non-NFL start Cassel.

Advantage: Even

Special Teams

If Wallace Wright has the game that he should have, it’s going to make it even harder for Cassel to make plays deep in his own territory. K Jay Feely put a few kicks into the endzone at practice this week but was inefficient from decent distance on field goal attempts, putting Mike Nugent on the “you better come back soon” watch. Patriots K Steve Gostkowski was solid most of preseason and hit a 37 yard field goal against the Chiefs last week.

Advantage: Even


Even though New England’s golden boy is out for the season, they still have ten more players on the offense that can help Cassel manage the game enough to succeed, as long as he doesn’t get happy feet and throw off his back foot when defenders are in his face. This game is going one of two ways: The Patriots win by two scores or the Jets win close. I’ll go with the latter.

Score: Jets 20, Patriots 17

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