By: Russ Goldman
The Patriots (5-3) are coming off of a 24-20 home loss to the Giants, and are back in action on Sunday to face the New York Jets (5-3) at MetLife Stadium. Here’s a preview with my five keys to the game that I hope will lead to a Patriots victory.
WHERE TO WATCH: The game will be shown live today on WHDH Channel 7at 8:20 PM EST. You can also listen to the game on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston.
The Jets are coming off of a an impressive 27-11 road victory against the Buffalo Bills. After losing to the Patriots, the Jets have won 3 in a row, and are tied for 1st place in the division. They will be looking to get a leg up in the division on Sunday night.
On defense, the Jets are continuing to have a top 10 aggressive defense. The defensive line is improving, and features an underrated player in defensive end Mike DeVito.
The real strength of the defense is with their linebackers. The inside linebackers are rock solid with David Harris and Bart Scott. However, their outside linebackers can really bring the pressure led by Calvin Pace who has 3 sacks so far this season.
The secondary of the Jets is led by possibly one of the best players in the league in cornerback Darrelle Revis who already has 4 interceptions. Also, his partner at cornerback is Antonio Cromartie, and he is having a nice season as well with 3 interceptions.
On offense, the Jets have really gone back to “ground and pound” and Shonn Greene is the feature back getting the ball. He is a tough running back, and already has over 500 yards this season.
They also have accomplished receivers lead by Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress. The player to watch out for in this game is tight end Dustin Keller who can really move the chains on third down.
The wildcard in this game is quarterback Mark Sanchez. When he plays a controlled complimentary game, the Jets can be a very difficult opponent. He already has 13 touchdowns, and has cut down his interceptions as he only has seven so far this season.
The Jets are playing very well coming into this AFC East battle at MetLife Stadium. I see this game as being extremely close, and could be won in the final minutes. The Patriots will have their hands full on Sunday night.
Here are my “five keys” which I believe could play a role in a potential victory for the Pats.
1. The Patriots offensive line needs to protect Tom Brady. This key will continue to be featured until the Patriots do a better job in protecting the quarterback. In the last 3 games, they have done a sub-par job, and will be again challenged by an aggressive Jets defense. They will need to know their assignments, and watch out from blitzes coming from basically everywhere.
2. The Patriots need to establish the run against the Jets. The Jets are not strong right now at stopping the run as they are ranked 21st in the league. If the Patriots can get BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Stevan Ridley going, like they did during their match-up a few weeks ago, it could really open up the middle of the field in the passing game.
3. The Patriots need to get their outside receivers involved in the game. I know Chad Ochocinco has not been productive this season, but his role in this game could be important. I expect the Jets to try take away the middle of the field. If that is the case, the Patriots need production from Ochocinco or Taylor Price. Whether these players make catches or not, the Patriots should take shots outside of the numbers in this game.
4. The Patriots defense needs to stop the Jets “ground and pound” running game. Shonn Greene will carry the load for the Jets, and the Patriots defense needs to contain him. The Pats defense has done a great job against the run this season as they are currently 9th in the league only giving up 102.2 yards per game. If the Patriots stop the run, they will force Sanchez to beat them through the air.
5. The Patriots need to contain Dustin Keller. The Patriots in the last match-up did an exceptional job at stopping Keller. He can be the security blanket for Sanchez, and has the ability to extend drives. The Patriots need to take away the quick 3 step drop passes to this player.
I have to admit that I think this is a tough spot for the Patriots as the Jets are at home and playing very well. I expect this to be a very tight game, but in the end I see the Jets pulling this out with a late field goal. I am predicting a 24-21 loss for the Patriots against the Jets.
What are your predictions? Feel free to post them in the comments section below.