By: Derek Havens
The New England Patriots go on the road to face the division rival New York Jets in week seven.
The Patriots must overcome their latest injury on defense after losing linebacker Jerod Mayo to a torn pectoral muscle last Sunday.
(USA TODAY Images)
The Patriots moved to 5-1, after a dramatic finish in last week’s 30-27 victory over the New Orleans Saints. Since 2003, the Patriots have been an NFL best 36-8 in October. They hope to continue their winning ways this Sunday.
On the flip side, the Jets have started the year 3-3. They are coming off a disappointing 19-6 lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers. To New York’s credit, they have tarted the year much better than many predicted.
This is already the second meeting between the AFC East rivals. In their week 2 meeting, the Patriots won in a 13-10 dogfight. If the Jets want a legitimate shot at the division title, this is a must win or they would fall four games behind the Pats. New England has won the last five matchups.
Here’s a look at how both teams can get a victory Sunday:
How The Jets Win:
Pressure 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. Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson 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.
Run It Up The Gut: After the loss of Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo to season ending injuries, the Patriots are susceptible to runs up the middle. If there’s one thing the Jets have going for them on offense, it’s the ability to run. Tailback Bilal Powell has been solid, averaging 4.1 yards-per-carry on the ground this season. New York should run it up the gut until the Pats prove they can stop it. Once they establish the run, it should open up passes downfield for rookie quarterback Geno Smith.
Make It a Dogfight: Under head coach Ryan, the Jets aren’t afraid to win ugly. New York wants to gain early momentum, get the crowd involved and make the game a grind. Ryan challenged the fans to create a ruckus atmosphere. If they can make some plays early and the crowd brings some energy, they will make it a close game.
How The Patriots Win:
Keep It Clean: New England’s week two performance against New York was anything but pretty. While the team and fans aren’t complaining about getting the win, it would be tough to win that way on the road. 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 would make this a lopsided contest.
Stay Balanced: When the Patriots have been at their best offensively this season, they have had a balanced attack. They are averaging 120.5 yards-per-game on the ground through six weeks. New England executes the play-action passing game to perfection. Expect the same this Sunday if they can establish the run. Easier said than done, however, as the Jets defense has only allowed 75.7 yards-per-game this season; second in the NFL.
Quick Passes: The Jets want to get pressure, no question about it. This is the second week in a row the Pats have faced a Ryan style defense. The offensive line struggled last week, resulting in way too many hits on Brady. In fact, it’s been a bad start for the offensive line to this point in the season. The Patriots need to get the ball out quickly to not only negate the Jets pass-rush, but also get their offense in rhythm. This will slow down the Jets front seven from moving into New England’s backfield too fast. A quick pass offense, at least to start, will provide a trickle down effect favoring New England.
Prediction: Patriots 23, Jets 13
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