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Patriots-Jets Week 17 Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
December 31, 2020 at 10:09 am ET

Patriots-Jets Week 17 Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?(PHOTO: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
Posted: Dec 31, 2020 10:09
🕑 Read Time: 5 minutes

The Patriots will be done with the 2020 NFL season after this game, and no one will be sorry to see it go. It has been a trying, frustrating season for New England as they’ve dealt with a lot of personnel losses, injuries, and substandard play this year. There will be a lot of questions to be answered, and we’ll get to those ASAP, however, there remains one game left on the slate. 

This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS and can be seen locally on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Tom McCarthy will handle play-by-play duties with Jay Feely as the color analyst. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.

The Patriots have beaten the Jets nine times in a row and can sweep the season series with Gang Green. Since Bill Belichick has taken over the reins in 2000 (which was the last time the Jets swept the Patriots), New England has owned this matchup going 32-11.

The Patriots (6-9) were beaten by the Buffalo Bills 38-9 on Monday Night Football as the defense couldn’t stop the Buffalo offense led by Josh Allen. 

The Jets (2-13) won their second game in a row, putting them effectively out of the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes by beating Cleveland 23-16. Sam Darnold threw for two TDs and Jamison Crowder threw a 43-yard TD as well. 

We here at are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2020 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

So, here is our look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots RBs vs Jets Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots’ running game continues to do well, despite the absence of an even slightly complementary pass game. With Damien Harris shelved with an injury, Sony Michel has performed better than he has since his rookie season. James White, Cam Newton, and rookie J.J. Taylor have all contributed to the rushing attack. 

The Jets have defended the run well this season, allowing just 108.4 yards per game this season (10th in the NFL). Last week, the Jets held Nick Chubb to just 45 yards rushing, his lowest output of the season. 

Despite this, look for the Patriots offensive line to spring a little bit of daylight for the backs, and Newton, who could be playing in his final game in New England. It should be a good battle to monitor. 

Patriots WRs vs Jets Secondary – Razor’s Edge New York

The Patriots’ passing game remains a mess, on Sunday they had a net total of 56 yards passing combined from Newton and Jarrett Stidham, their worst game yardage-wise of the season. However, the first time around against the Jets, Newton had his third-best output of the year, completing 27-35 passes for 274 yards. 

As bad as the Patriots have been throwing the ball, the Jets have been equally as bad at defending it. They rank 29th, allowing a whopping 278.1 yards per game but the pass defense, and their overall play has been better since jettisoning DC Greg Williams. 

Look for the Jets to play better pass defense this time around, especially giving much closer attention to Jakobi Meyers who burned them for 12 catches and 169 yards in the first meeting. How much will we see Stidham on Sunday? Starting him makes no sense at this point, so he may see some action, but I wouldn’t expect to see him until the 2nd half unless something untold happens. 

Next up the New York offense:

Jets RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New York

The Patriots’ run defense is getting gashed by everyone, they allowed “only” 130 yards against Buffalo because Josh Allen was throwing the ball all over the field with impunity. Whenever Buffalo needed a key first down, they were getting it on the ground. Now, with Lawrence Guy, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Terez Hall, and rookie Anfernee Jennings possibly out for this week’s finale, who’s going to stop the run? 

The Jets will be without Frank Gore, and La’Mical Perrine (COVID-19)  but even though they are very limited with Ty Johnson, Josh Adams and Sam Darnold scrambling out of the backfield, this will be another key area to watch. If the Jets can run like everyone seems to do, then it will open up substantial passing lanes for Darnold. 

Jets WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge New York

The Patriots’ secondary was definitely missing Stephon Gilmore last week as Stefon Diggs had his way with J.C. Jackson. Jamison Crowder isn’t exactly Diggs but he’s certainly versatile. Last week against the Browns he had 92 yards on seven catches, he threw for a 43-yard touchdown, and had 14 yards rushing.  To say he should be the focus of the pass defense is like saying the Titanic had an “ice problem”. 

Crowder will be an intriguing matchup to watch, the 5’9 receiver is a handful and if they can stop him then the battle is half-won. Denzel Mims will be another matchup to watch on Sunday, Braxton Berrios and TE Chris Herndon round out Darnold’s top weapons to monitor. 

QB pressure was seemingly non-existent on MNF. If the Patriots don’t bring the heat on Darnold, expect a long afternoon. 

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots Nick Folk and Jake Bailey are having outstanding seasons for the Patriots, certainly, it has been one of the bright spots on a forgettable 2020.  Donte Moncrief and Gunner  Olszewski return kicks and the coverage units are excellent. 

The Jets’ Sam Ficken is solid, if unspectacular but punter Braden Mann is nowhere near a weapon like Bailey. This is a matchup that, on paper, should give the Patriots a big advantage. 

Next up, who wins and why…


This is a game that has the Patriots reeling, scoring one TD in three games while the Jets have won two in a row. Given the hate that Bill Belichick has for the Jets organization, I expect the Patriots to come out like this is a playoff game. It would have been an interesting situation had the Jets been in the position to draft Trevor Lawrence with a loss, how Belichick would have handled this game. But now we’ll never know. 

Keys to the game from a Patriots perspective:

Get the Young Guys Involved – With an eye toward 2021, get J.J. Taylor involved…and maybe in the passing game. Speaking of the passing game, actually getting TEs Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keane involved would be a huge plus. And it should be a focal point on the offense this week. 

Stop the Run – The run defense has been a bad headache all year. This week, they may be even more short-handed with several defenders possibly out. If Johnson and the Jets run effectively, this will be another loss. They need a big game from a fading John Simon and Chase Winovich on the edge, and someone to step up inside.  

Get After Darnold And Force the Issue – The Patriots’ pass rush has been MIA, and as much as Simon and Winovich have to set the edge, they have to get pressure on Darnold and not allow him 5-6 seconds of surveying the field flat-footed. If that entails blitzing some secondary players on occasion, then so be it. But having a repeat of MNF against the Jets is a bitter pill to contemplate. 


I am looking for Darnold to erase the “seeing ghosts” fiasco of last season. The Patriots’ offense has been woefully bad the past three weeks. Short-handed on defense, it could be a Ty Johnson/Darnold show in Gillette. Could the Patriots lose to Gang Green at home on Week 17 and lose double-digit games for the first time since 2000? Yes…  Jets 27-13

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on Streamyard as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from discuss the latest Patriots news and breakdown game analysis


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About Steve Balestrieri

A former US Army Special Forces NCO and Officer, Steve has been following the Patriots since their days at Fenway Park. Steve has worked in the film industry and wrote as an Military Editor at, as a reporter for the Millbury Daily Voice, Millbury-Sutton Chronicle, and the Grafton News. He's also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Posted Under: 2020 Patriots Season
Tags: Bill Belichick Braxton Berrios Cam Newton Denzel Mims Jakobi Meyers James White Jamison Crowder New England Patriots New York Jets NFL Patriots Patriots edge rushers Sam Darnold Sony Michel

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