By: Russ Goldman
The Patriots are coming off of a disappointing 24-23 away loss against the Seattle Seahawks. They are looking to bounce back at home on Sunday against the New York Jets at Gillette 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 Sunday on WBZ-TV at 4:25 PM EST. You can also listen to the game on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston.
GAME NOTES: The Jets are coming off of a convincing 35-9 home victory against the Colts. The visitors are now 3-3, and even with the Patriots in the AFC East.
On defense, even without Darrelle Revis, the Jets are still very strong in pass defense, as they are only giving up 209.3 yards per game, and are sixth in the NFL. However, they have been terrible in rush defense, as they are giving up 150.5 yards per game, and are currently 28th in the NFL in this category.
The real strength of this defense has to be the linebackers, and David Harris I feel is one of the best in the game. In the secondary, a player that has really stepped up has to be cornerback Antonio Cromartie, and he already has three interceptions this season.
On offense, this unit is really struggling, and it starts with their leader. Quarterback Mark Sanchez is currently at 49% for pass completions which is horrible, and his pocket presence has been poor this season.
In the running game, Shonn Greene has not progressed to become an elite running back, and only has a 3.5 yards per carry average. He will need to have a better average against the Patriots if he expects the Jets to win.
The Patriots have not been able to finish off a few opponents this season, and they will need to against a Jets team that might be a little down, but will be ready to play. I see the Patriots winning this game, but it might be harder than many fans think.
Here are my “five keys” which I believe could play a role in a potential victory for the Pats.
1. The Patriots need to run early and often in this game. With the Jets being 28th in the NFL against the run, this is a no brainer. I would take the approach the Patriots offense had against the Broncos, and run it until the Jets can prove they can stop it. I expect Stevan Ridley to have a huge game.
2. The Patriots need to feature the “hurry up offense” in this game. Apparently there has already been some chatter from a Jets player complaining about this style of offense for the Patriots. If one player is discussing it publicly, it tells me that it could be on more of the players minds.
This offense can set the tempo, and get this unit moving at a nice pace, and it also can tire out a defense. I say you feature it often as I have a feeling it will help the Patriots control the game.
3. Wes Welker needs to be featured in the passing game. Without Revis, you could see Cromartie lined up on Welker, and this could be a mismatch. Cromartie does seem to struggle against the quicker receivers. Even if the Jets put Kyle Wilson on Welker, he should have the ability to get open often in this game, and move the chains.
4. The Patriots need to take away Jets tight end Dustin Keller in the passing game. As I have stated week after week, the tight end is the security blanket for many quarterbacks. Keller I feel is one of the best, and is back after being injured in the beginning of the season.
In the past, Sanchez has gone a great deal to Keller to move the chains. The Patriots did a great job against him last year, and will need to do it again on Sunday.
5. Chandler Jones has to be a disruptive force on the defensive line for the Patriots. As stated earlier, Sanchez has very bad pocket presence, and can get happy feet. If Jones can put pressure on the quarterback, it could lead to mistakes in the passing game for the Jets.
Last season, Andre Carter had a great game against the Jets, and really got after Sanchez. If Jones can do the same, it could go a long way in helping a struggling secondary.
Now, I know that many might think this could be a rout for the Patriots. I just don’t see it that way, as both teams know each other so well, and I expect the Jets to bring their best.
With that said, I see the Patriots getting a late touchdown in a game that could be very tight. I am predicting a 24-17 Patriots victory against the Jets.
What are your predictions? Feel free to post them in the comments section below.
Also, please feel free to listen to a preview of the upcoming game from the radio show Patriots Fourth And Two.