By: Russ Goldman
The Patriots are back in action on Sunday to face the Jets at MetLife Stadium. Here are Five Things for you to look for in this match-up.
1. Can the Patriots offensive line protect Tom Brady in this game? The Patriots offensive line has been very inconsistent this season in protecting Brady, and they will be tested again this week against the Jets. Last week they gave up five sacks to the Saints, and also allowed Brady to get hit often.
This Jets defense has sacked the quarterback 20 times this season, and defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson already has five sacks by himself. The Jets have an aggressive defense, and the offensive line needs to do a much better job this week.
2. Can the Patriots wide receivers take advantage of a suspect secondary? The Jets front seven is rock solid, but they can be taken advantage in the back of the defense. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie has established himself as a number one corner, but he was dealing with an injury last week, and might not be 100 per cent against the Patriots.
The Patriots could have a real hard time running the ball, but if the offensive line can protect Brady, there could be openings for the Patriots wide-outs to make a difference in this game.
3. Can the Patriots stop the run on defense? The Jets are average running the ball as they are 14th in the NFL with 115.5 yards per game on the ground.
However, with the injuries that the Patriots have on defense which include season ending to Jerod Mayo, and Vince Wilfork, I am concerned that a running team like the Jets, could control the play, and the clock on the ground.
The Patriots run defense is currently 24th in the NFL, and is a major concern right now. If the Patriots cannot stop the run, it could be a long day for the team.
4. Can the Patriots defense force Geno Smith into mistakes? The Jets quarterback is improving, but still plays like a rookie. He already has ten interceptions, and also has three fumbles lost.
The Patriots continue to be excellent in causing turnovers, so if they are patient, they just might be able to cause a few mistakes in this game, that could make all the difference in the world. Against the Steelers, Smith had two key interceptions that were both factors in the loss for the Jets.
5. Can the Patriots win the battle on special teams? I think this unit gets overlooked sometimes, but against the Jets, their play could be vital. The Jets just added a dynamic kick and punt returner with the signing of Josh Cribbs. He can change the game, if he returns a punt or a kick-off for a touchdown.
For the Patriots, they have some players on special teams playing very well. Punter Ryan Allen continues to improve, and against the Saints, his net average was 47.5 yards per punt.
Kicker Stephen Gostkowski also had a very good game against the Saints, as he converted the longest kick of his career at 54 yards. Many of his kick-offs continue to be downed or kicked out of the end-zone. On top of that, Julian Edelman continues to be a dynamic punt returner. Overall, the special teams of the Patriots have a chance to be a positive factor in this game.
Now, on to the game, I am always wary of every AFC East Divisional game, and this one I expect to be close. However, I have a feeling that the Jets will make a few costly mistakes in this game, so I am predicting a very close victory for the Patriots.
If you are looking for more of an extensive preview of this game, please take a listen below to Patriots Fourth And Two.