The New England Patriots entertain bitter AFC East rivals the New York Jets with both teams planning on walking out of Gillette Stadium with a winning record and the divisional lead. The two teams seasons couldn’t be more different yet they both find themselves tied for the lead in the east at 3-3. With the Pats flying back from Seattle humbled after a 1 point loss and the holes in their young secondary looking bigger each week. The Jets are coming off a big win against Andrew Lucks Colts. The Jets finally got their ground and pound game working which you need to do when you have Sanchez at QB but Jets fans shouldn’t get carried away as it was only against the Colts and running on the Patriots defence is a completely different prospect with a big and talented front 7 which includes one of the best if not the best run stuffer in the NFL in Vince Wilfork and 2 big hitting linebackers in Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes.
This match up has a lot of different aspects that could have an impact on the decision and here are a few of them:
1. Rex Ryan has to change his game plan against this New England offence. HIs plan in recent years has been to flood the backfield with defensive backs and press the wideouts at the line of scrimmage. This will not work this season as New England will gladly run the ball out of its base multiple-tightend set whenever a defence comes out in its nickel and dime packages. I really think people are underestimating just how good Steven Ridley is and the potential he has. Unlike Green-Ellis last season Ridley makes people miss and he is a true primary back.
2. One key match up is Brandon Lloyd vs Antonio Cromartie. With no Revis this year Cromartie is having to cover the best wide out on the field every week and he’s done a pretty good job completely shutting down the likes of Andre Johnson of the Texans but he did struggle last week against the Colts which is typical of Cromarties hot and cold form.
3. Sanchez improving? Its only two games but Sanchez has mostly made good decisions but this is Mark Sanchez and who knows which Sanchez will turn up today? Everything the Jets need to do to get a W this week will fall onto Sanchez’s plate as if they go ground and pound that will be playing right into Belichick’s hands. WIth Sanchez having to throw this week he could get some good numbers with New Englands poor secondary but with the Pats finally having a pass rush mostly thanks to rookie DE Chandler Jones who is leading the hunt for the Defensive Rookie of the year award, Sanchez could get beat up a little which in turn will lead to inaccurate throws and turnover possibilities.
4. The Patriots no-huddle offence has been ridiculous this year with Jets linebacker Calvin Pace claiming its so quick its borderline ‘illegal’. Brady stung this defence in week 10 last season with his no-huddle in a 37-16 pasting. The truth is if this hurt the Jets last season its going to hurt them even more this time around with Lloyd lining up giving the offence a vertical threat and Ridley in the backfield adding a running game which the Pats lacked last year.
5. Hernandez is on the injury list but so is most of the Patriots team so expect him to play and have a big impact today with fellow tight end Gronk having his biggest game this season in my opinion. If these two produce and Lloyd continues to make plays this could be a long day for this Jets defence.
6. One last quick point, if this game goes down to coaching the Patriots will walk it.
The Patriots win this one.