Summary The Pats hold statistical advantages over the Jets in almost every area, but the Jets' underrated offensive skill position players, savvy Qb/O-coordinator, and dynamic special teams' play will make for a closer game than expected. The Pats may suffer some hiccups and inconsistency due to youth and inexperience at key positions, but the end result will still be a Patriot victory, though not the blow-out the home crowd hopes for. Data. According to footballoutsiders.com, the Jets have the best receiver in this game (Jericho Cotchery #25, Caldwell #32, Coles #49, Brown #59), the best rb (Leon Washington #9, Dillon #21, Maroney #29), and the best pass-catching TE (Chris Baker #5, Watson #26, Graham #27). Interestingly, though David Thomas fails to make the main list due to limited opportunities, he rates as the highest ranked pass catching TE in the entire NFL. The Pats have the best receiving rbs (Faulk #11, Maroney #16, L. Washington #18). Tom Brady is the #11 Qb, Pennington #14. The Pats O-line ranks #11 at run-blocking, #13 at pass protection; the Jets' O-line ranks #25 in run blocking, #17 in pass protection. The Pats' front 7 ranks #8 against the run and #9 at pass-rushing; the Jets' front 7 ranks #32 against the run and #25 at pass-rushing. Overall, on Offense the Pats rank #7 for the whole season, #8 over the past 8 weeks (the #6 passing offense, #8 rushing offense). The Jets rank #15 for the whole season, #14 over the past 8 weeks (#12 passing, #18 rushing). Overall, on Defense the Pats rank #8 for the season, #5 over the past 6 weeks (#7 against the pass, #10 against the run). The Jets rank #26 for the season, #25 over the past 8 weeks (#21 against the pass, #32 against the run). On Special Teams, the Pats rank #8 overall, #9 over the past 8 weeks. However, the Pats are sub-par in the FG kicking game, and in the punting game. The Jets are #5 overall, #5 in the past 8 weeks, and excellent across the board in all areas on special teams except punt returns. The Jet Threat. The Jets have underrated skill position players in an offense that has been orchestrated well by Pennington and Schottenheimer. The key offensive players who can hurt the Pats are Washington, Cotchery and Baker. Coles was knocked silly by Z. Thomas in Week 16, and seems to still be suffering the after-effects, in addition to having a very overrated year production-wise. Washington is very underrated as a runner considering the marginal Jets' O-line, and is an upper echelon threat as a receiver out of the backfield. Baker has excellent, reliable hands, and Cotchery is on the verge of #1 receiver status and is actually better than Coles. Cotchery may be the key player in this game for the Jets, and the Jets are likely scheming a way to attack James Sanders due to his inexperience and lack of speed. Pennington, this year, has almost performed as well as Brady. The Jets' defense, however, Mangini's baby, is as putrid as the Pats' defense was last year before BB took it over down the stretch. Pennington, Schottenheimer and special teams coach Westhoff are the keys to the Jets' success. The Jets' supposedly improved defense is benefiting from the ball control offense run so successfully by Pennington against a very weak schedule. The Pats' offense The Pats' offense struggled last game against the Jets. In this game, to move the ball most effectively, the Pats should (1) throw the ball to Faulk and Maroney out of the backfield, Thomas as a TE, and Caldwell at Wr (2) run the ball with Dillon as a feature back, spelled by Maroney. Watson, Graham, Brown have become inefficient pieces in the passing game. Interestingly, much maligned rookie Chad Jackson, in limited opportunities, has been more effective than most think, catching 68% of the passes thrown to him. If he could have stayed healthy, produced at the current rate and had 50 passes thrown his way, he would have qualified as the #8 receiver in the NFL in production per play. The potential is there folks, and he may get a small opportunity on a designed play in this game. How the Pats can lose The Pats can lose this game is a few ways. 1) Allowing a big play to Cotchery or Washington due to a defensive breakdown (2) allowing Chris Baker to be a red zone target (3) poor punting and FG kicking by the Pats (4) allowing long kickoff returns to Justin Miller (5) playing professional juggler Ben Watson over David Thomas (6) fumbling, which they did as much as any team in the NFL over the course of the season. Conclusion Not everything will go right, and not everything will go wrong. Cotchery and Washington will make a few plays, Justin Miller will have a good run back or two; The Pats main weakness may be youth and inexperience at key positions: David Thomas, James Sanders and Maroney may stumble a bit in their first playoff games, Gostkowski may miss a makeable FG. These possible gaffes could turn a game which should be a blow-out into something at times uncomfortable for the home crowd. The final score will be 24-16 Pats.