Keys To The Game: Patriots Host The New York Jets

Derek Havens
October 20, 2012 at 01:45am ET

Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower returning to practice field an encouraging sign
Why was Patriots LB Kyle Van Noy doing pushups at a bowling alley?
Patriots owner Robert Kraft owns no concerns that Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are missing OTAs
New NFL policy lets players who don’t want to stand for anthem stay in locker room
Former Patriots rip NFL’s new anthem policy

The New England Patriots face the division rival New York Jets on Sunday and most fans consider week seven's contest a "must win". After starting the season a mediocre 3-3, the Pats find themselves in a four-way tie with their AFC East divisional opponents. Here are my three keys to the game and prediction for Sunday's match-up. -

Three Keys:

- Limit The Big Plays: Plain and simple, big plays are killing the team right now; specifically in the secondary. The Pats have let up 33 plays of 20 yards or more this season through six weeks of action. Last week, the Seattle Seahawks had six and they're currently ranked 31st in passing offense. Something has got to change and it needs to start this week.

- Protect Brady: We all know Jets head coach Rex Ryan is willing to gamble, and he knows he cannot let Tom Brady sit clean in pocket for 60 minutes. As much as I love Brady, he really seems to struggle when he is hit a lot and so it is crucial New England's offensive line s prepared for whatever defense the Jets through at them on Sunday.

- Take Advantage of Every Opportunity: The Pats have left a lot of points on the field this season, especially in their three losses. The team must do a better job in the redzone, somewhere they mightily struggled against the Seahawks. Those who have followed the Pats this year, have seen how missed opportunities have come back to haunt them at the end of the game so maximizing their possessions could be the biggest factor overall.

If the Patriots can accomplish these keys, I believe they'll not only win the game, but take control of the division.

Prediction: Patriots 27, Jets 16.

Do you have a Twitter account? Be sure to follow me: @PatriotsHaven!