By: Derek Havens
The New England Patriots host the New York Jets to kickoff week two of NFL action.
The AFC East division rivals meet for the first time this season with 1-0 records, despite sloppy week one performances from both teams. The Rex Ryan led squad have a different face at quarterback this time around, with rookie Geno Smith at the helm of New York’s offense.
Smith, a second-round selection out of West Virginia, offers a lot of athletic ability and a pretty good arm as well. It will be interesting to see if the Patriots keep a similar game plan as they did last Sunday, facing yet another mobile signal-caller.
During Smith’s conference call with the New England media, I was impressed with his ability to go through the Pats defense and discuss several individuals in detail; even talking about safety Steve Gregory’s time with the San Diego Chargers before coming to the patriots two years ago in free agency. It might not sound like much, but it shows the rookie is doing his homework.
Defensively, the Jets offense presents several challenges. New York has a pretty good pass defense, led by cornerback Antonio Cromartie. Third-year defensive lineman, Muhammed Wilkerson, anchors the front seven and has already given the Patriots some bulletin board material for Thursday’s clash saying on WFAN radio, “We’re going to go to Foxboro and get this win… “We’re going to be 2-0.”
There’s a history with these two teams and it’s going to be another good division showdown yet again. In the NFL, it’s a two way street. Here’s a look at how both teams can come away with a victory Thursday:
How The Jets Win:
Pressuring Brady: A lot of people are intimidated by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, but Rex Ryan is not one of them. The Jets will bring pressure and try to disrupt New England’s passing game. Wilkerson could cause some problems with interior pressure and I would wager New York brings more than four guys on the blitz more often than not. If they can generate some pressure, they will stay in the game.
Score Points: No, this isn’t a joke. The Jets have had trouble with their offense and the unit has been totally dysfunctional at times. Last season, the team averaged only 17.6 points per game. Smith will need to provide a spark and New York will have to put up more than 20 points to win. Even with the Patriots immense struggles in week one, the team still managed to score 23 points. Their ability to get the ball in the end zone and not settle for field goals could be a huge factor in the contest.
Make It a Dogfight: Under head coach Ryan, the Jets aren’t afraid to win ugly. New York wants to come in and gain momentum, take the crowd out of the equation and make the game a grind. A dogfight would seem to favor the road team and would make the Patriots fight for the victory that much more.
How The Patriots Win:
Keep It Clean: New England’s week one performance was anything but pretty. While the team and fans aren’t complaining about getting the win, there are a lot of mistakes to correct. As previously mentioned, the Jets would love to make the game a dogfight. And while the Pats wouldn’t back down from the challenge, playing a clean game would vastly raise their chances of winning. Limiting the turnovers, converting more touchdowns in the red zone and protecting Tom Brady could make this a lopsided contest.
Quick Passes: The Jets want to get pressure, no question about it. The offensive line struggled in Buffalo, resulting in way too many hits on Brady. The Patriots need to get the ball out quickly to not only negate the Jets pass-rush, but also get their offense in rhythm. A quick pass offense, at least to start, will provide a trickle down effect favoring New England.
Force Turnovers: Last week, the Patriots defense played a solid game all around. Unfortunately, the offense kept putting them in bad situations. The opportunistic New England defense will be facing a lackluster Jets offense and could find themselves in position to force a few takeaways. If the Pats can force a few turnovers and create extra opportunities for their offense, they will be in good shape Thursday night.
Prediction: Patriots 27, Jets 16
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