Tag Archives: Quincy Enunwa

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

Steve Balestrieri
December 28, 2018 at 6:30 am ET

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The New England Patriots finish off their 2018 regular season with a home game against the traditional rivals, the New York Jets. As the season closes, once again the teams are moving in opposite directions. The Patriots captured the AFC East for the 10th season in a row and the 16th time in 18 years. The Jets are fighting to keep Todd Bowles’ job.

A Patriots win on Sunday also guarantees a first-round bye in the playoffs for a record ninth consecutive year, no other team has more than four straight byes. But it wouldn’t be the end of the regular season where Manish Mehta, one of the Jets’ beat writers didn’t predict the impending doom of the Patriots dynasty in 2019 with the ascension of the Jets… This is as new as the tired “tomato can” myth.

This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS on Sunday, at 1:00 p.m. and can be seen locally on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Ian Eagle will handle play-by-play duties with Dan Fouts as the color analyst. Evan Washburn will work from the sidelines. 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 (10-5) are coming off of a much-needed win over the Buffalo Bills 24-12 after dropping two in a row. Sony Michel led the way with 116 of New England’s 273 rushing yards against the #9 defense against the run.

The Jets (4-11) are coming off a heartbreaking 44-38 overtime loss to the Packers. They blew a 15-point 4th quarter lead but were victimized by 16 penalties, several of them of the “questionable” variety. Sam Darnold, however, had his best day as a pro, completing 24-35 for  341 yards with 3 TDs and 0 INTs for a passer rating of 128.4.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2018 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game.

Series History:

The New England Patriots and New York Jets will meet for the 120th time, including three postseason games, since the series between the AFC East rivals began in the old AFL in 1960. New England leads the series 64-54-1 overall. The Patriots are 34-25-1 all-time at home against the Jets, including 14-4 at Gillette Stadium. Since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994, the Pats have owned a 35-16 record against Gang Green. Last year the Pats earned their 18th series sweep over the Jets and can earn #19 with a win on Sunday after their win in the Meadowlands in Week 12.

Here is a 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 hit on all cylinders last week as they churned out 273 yards against a tough Bills defense. Sony Michel has had a very nice rookie season grinding out 881 yards on 195 attempts for a 4.5-yard average with six touchdowns. He still has a shot at a 1000 yard season with a big game on Sunday. He’ll be joined by Rex Burkhead, James White and James Develin in the backfield

The Jets aren’t as good as the Bills defense is at defending the run. They allow 126.0 yards per game on the ground which is 26th in the league and 4.6-yards per rush. They missed having Leonard Williams in the middle last week after getting ejected for taking a swing at the Packers Brian Bulaga.

Look for the Patriot to try to run Michel between the tackles again. The big men on the nose, Mike Pennel and Steve McClendon will have to be aware of the wham blocks the Patriots used on the Bills last week. The OLBs Brandon Copeland and Jordan Jenkins are going to have to stay home and not crash down inside or the jet sweeps by Cordarrelle Patterson (if he’s available) and Phillip Dorsett will be very effective. Williams against Shaq Mason should be a big matchup to watch.

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

The Patriots passing game has really sputtered lately. The rumors that Tom Brady has a medical issue (sprained MCL) on his knee continues to persist. And, since the Rob Gronkowski touchdown in Miami where he went down after throwing the ball, he simply hasn’t looked the same. Josh McDaniels is pulling out all the stops to generate some life in the passing game. But without Josh Gordon, Brady only targeted Edelman and Patterson at the WR position, Gronkowski at TE, White, and Burkhead at RB. Chris Hogan and Dorsett were not targeted at all.  

The Jets defense is also 26th in the league against the pass allowing an average of 254.7 yards per game. But they have been outstanding on third down and have the 2nd best 3rd down defense in the league allowing only 33.1 percent of opponent’s 3rd downs to be converted.

We’ll be watching the matchup between Edelman and Buster Skrine in this one closely. How well this matchup goes for the Patriots as well as the one between Gronkowski and Jamal Adams will decide the game for New England. We’ll see if the Patriots get James White back in the flow of the offense this week, But I really don’t expect a half dozen throws to be spread between Patterson, Hogan, and Dorsett this week.   

Next up the J-E-T-S offense:

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

The Jets running game has taken some major hits with Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell both being put on IR. That puts the onus on 2nd year RB Elijah McGuire from Louisiana-Lafayette. He’s struggled and is averaging just 3.2-yards per rush in 2018 with three touchdowns. He’ll be backed up by the small but speedy Trenton Cannon from Virginia State. Despite the offense rolling up 38 points a week ago, neither was particularly effective on the ground.

The Patriots were better against the run last week, limiting the Bills to just 72 yards which 30 of were scrambles from Josh Allen. They put Danny Shelton back in the lineup and they really need the big body who can two-gap in this defense. The Patriots have allowed 113.3 yards per game which is 13th in the league.

It will be tough for the Jets to smash the ball with McGuire this week; they’ll have to get creative by mixing things up with the speedster Cannon to get things going. But I look for the Patriots to do a good job against the Jets running game.

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

The Jets passing game is getting better down the stretch as the light has seemed to come on for the rookie Darnold since he returned from his injury. His last three games he’s gotten progressively better and threw the ball very well last week against Green Bay in the overtime loss throwing for a career-high 341 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions.

He has Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa (missed last week) and Jermaine Kearse (hasn’t practiced this week) on the outside, with TE Chris Herndon and RBs McGuire and Cannon out of the backfield. This will be a big game for the rookie as he wants to end on a hot streak and this is the team he was drafted to play against.

The Patriots are 23rd in yardage allowed thru the air but are currently 7th in opposing passer rating. At home, the Patriots opposer passer rating is just 77.8. They’ve found a gem in UDFA J.C. Jackson who is really coming on this season to go along with Stephon Gilmore, Jonathan Jones, and Jason McCourty at corner.

The Patriots may try to throw some different looks at Darnold, as he’s never faced him before and try to confuse him. Depending on who’s healthy on Sunday will determine the matchups outside for the Jets. Look for Darnold to target Herndon often who is really coming on nicely this season and Anderson who is coming off a huge day against the Packers.

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New York Jets

The Patriots special teams, specifically their coverage units have been up and down this season. This is an area where the Jets can take advantage. Andre Roberts does the work for the Jets in both the punt and kickoff return games and he is as dangerous as anyone they’ve faced. Roberts had a 99-yard TD and a 51-yarder last week and had another big one called back for a penalty.

The Jets coverage units have been good and that too will be an area to monitor as the Patriots return game has been steadily improving this year. Patterson, if healthy is always a player to watch. The Patriots have blocked three punts in the last three games.

Next up, who wins and why…

Prediction:

Keys from a Patriots perspective this week: And they’ll be looking for a bye week with a  victory on Sunday. The Jets are just playing for pride…and jobs in 2019

Show Up Early, Start Fast: The key for New England is to start fast and get out to an early lead on the Jets who are just 4-11 and whose coach is about to be unemployed. If they can get a quick 10 or 14 points in the early going, it may be all that many of the Jets players need to check out mentally and beginning their offseason plans.

The last thing they need is to have the opposite happen. If the Jets jump out to an early lead or hang around it will give them hope of pulling an upset and knocking the Patriots out of the #2 seed. At that point, they will be playing with house money.

Make the Jets Offense One-Dimensional: The Jets passing game and Darnold have been much better in the last three weeks. But even veteran QBs have trouble when their offense is tilted either one way or the other.

If they can get New York in third and long scenarios often enough, they can dictate the way the game is going and dial up some of their blitzes. The Patriots have actually been very good at getting pressure without blitzing, (top 5 but they haven’t been able to generate enough of those into sacks.

Brady Has to Spread the Ball Around: The Patriots can’t just target two WRs in the passing game. That is a recipe for losing in the playoffs. He has to get Hogan and Dorsett involved in the passing game, and this week will be a perfect time to start getting them jump started. That and get James White a bigger piece of the pie. The Jets linebackers, especially outside have been disappointing this year. It could be an area to take advantage of this week.

New England will lean on Sony Michel and the running game once again. Look for a nice afternoon from White in the passing game as they win franchise victory #500 and get the bye, then watch the scoreboard.  Patriots 27-17

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Patriots-Jets Week 12, Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
November 23, 2018 at 6:45 am ET

The New England Patriots come off their bye week and take on the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. Both teams are coming off a needed rest after getting beaten badly the week before.

With the teams moving in different directions, this one will take on a familiar feel. The Patriots are gearing up for the stretch run while the Jets are trying to save Todd Bowles job. But the last several games against the Jets, especially on the road have been very close encounters.

This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS on Sunday, November 25 at 1:00 PM ET and can be seen locally on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Ian Eagle will handle play-by-play duties with Dan Fouts as the color analyst. Evan Washburn will work from the sidelines. 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 (7-3) are coming off of a much-needed bye week. Prior to that, they traveled to Nashville and were beaten by Tennessee. Now they’ll look to right the ship and prepare for a stretch run

The Jets (3-7) are also coming off of a bye week after a disastrous 41-10 drubbing by Buffalo. The Jets have lost four in a row and Coach Todd Bowles is on the hot seat.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2018 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game.

Series History:

The New England Patriots and New York Jets will meet for the 119th time, including three postseason games, since the series between the AFC East rivals began in the old AFL in 1960. New England leads the series 63-54-1 overall. The Patriots are 29-29 all-time on the road against the Jets, including 5-3 at MetLife Stadium. Since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994, the Pats have owned a 34-16 record against Gang Green. Last year the Pats earned their 18th series sweep over the Jets
with a 24-17 road win on Oct. 15, followed by a 26-6 victory at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 31 to close out the regular season.

Here is a 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 has been decimated by injuries this season. Jeremy Hill and Rex Burkhead were placed on IR, Sony Michel sustained an injury in the preseason, then again versus Chicago but has returned and should give the team a great boost. When he’s been healthy, he’s been very good, averaging 4.3 yards per carry.

The Jets are kind of in the middle of the pack defensively against the run, they are 20th in rushing yards allowed but 13th in yards per attempt. It begins with the big men in the middle with nose tackles Mike Pennell and Steve McClendon. They have to be stout at the point of attack. If they are, inside linebackers Darron Lee and Avery Williamson are free to make plays.

With getting Shaq Mason back and Michel an extra week of getting back into the fold will help matters for the Pats running game which has been inconsistent. Look for Michel to get a lot of work between the tackles this week with Cordarrelle Patterson to see a few snaps as well.

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

The Patriots passing game has also suffered thru bouts of inconsistency this season but getting the offensive line back healthy will definitely help their protection issues and TE Rob Gronkowski is slated to return this week. If he’s anything close to 100 percent, he is a force multiplier for the NE offense. He scored two TDs in the first meeting last year in NJ and he’ll see a lot of Jamal Adams in this one. Tom Brady knows he has to do a better job of spreading the ball around to his receivers, Josh Gordon, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, and Phillip Dorsett.

The Jets defense is currently tied for 15th in the league against the pass allowing an average of 242 yards per game. But they have been outstanding on third down and have the 2nd best 3rd down defense in the league allowing only 33 percent of opponent’s 3rd downs to be converted.

Watching the matchup between Gordon and Morris Claiborne and Edelman and Buster Skrine in this one closely. How well each of these goes for the Patriots will greatly determine how successful the offense does on Sunday. Of course, Gronkowski’s health and status are of major significance. Brady should have a good game throwing against the Jets secondary, but the difference between another close one and a comfortable win is having a healthy Gronkowski. Look for James White to be targeted a lot in the red zone this week.  

Next up the J-E-T-S offense:

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

The Jets running game has been a mirror image of how their games have gone. When they’ve won, they ran the ball extremely well including a season-high 323 yards against the Denver Broncos in their blowout win. When they don’t run the ball well, including their last four games, they’ve lost. They use Isiah Crowell as their feature back since Bilal Powell went on IR. If Sam Darnold is able to suit up (foot injury), he’ll be someone to monitor for scrambling out of the backfield.

The Patriots have been better against the run lately, although they gave up 150 yards on the ground against Tennessee. Kyle Van Noy has really stepped up as well as Lawrence Guy. But the team really needs a much better, consistent effort from Malcom Brown and Danny Shelton.

This is the key to the game offensively from a Jets perspective. They have to protect Darnold who struggled before his injury. They want to keep the game close and pound the ball with Crowell to keep Brady and the offense off the field. It will also allow for better 3rd down situations as well as open up play-action passing down the middle.

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

The Jets passing game is currently mired in 29th in passing yardage averaging just 206.1 yards per game. However, as we saw in Tennessee if the Patriots defense doesn’t show up ready to play, they can be abused quite easily. Darnold has been learning on the job as a rookie, completing 55 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. His two biggest targets are banged up, Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson are both dealing with injuries and even if they play won’t be 100 percent.

The Patriots are 26th in yardage allowed thru the air, but that statistic is just a bit misleading as they are currently 10th in opposing passer rating. However, the inconsistent pass rush (just 15 sacks) can haunt them at times. Facing a less than stellar offensive line this week that has allowed 29 sacks, the Pats have to dial up some pressure and perhaps force Darnold into some errors.

The Jets will look to target the middle of the field and attack the linebackers in space. That’s where opponents have been most successful. If Darnold is able to go, the Pats defense will try to mix up their looks and show him some different things he hasn’t seen before. It will be interesting to see if Obi Melifonwu is active and sees the field this week. He could help with covering TEs and possibly play the “big nickel” safety/LB role that the Patriots like to use. This would be a good week in easing him into the system.

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New York Jets

The Patriots special teams, specifically their coverage units have been uncharacteristically poor this season. This is an area where the Jets, like the Titans, can take advantage. Andre Roberts does the work for the Jets in both the punt and kickoff return games, where the NE coverage units rank 29th and 31st respectively.

The Jets coverage units have been good and that too will be an area to monitor as the Patriots return game has been steadily improving this year.

Next up, who wins and why…

Prediction:

This rivalry goes back to the earliest days of the old AFL before the merger and the old cliche “throw out the records of each team” is an apt description. These games are usually close, rarely with a team winning by more than 10 points. So with that in mind…

Keys from a Patriots perspective this week: And if they look similar to the Tennesse game, that is because they are.

Show Up Early, Start Fast: We keep harping on this while on the road, but the Patriots have been awful in the first quarter (outscored 58-16 in road losses) of road games this season. In Nashville, they allowed the Titans 17 points in the first 10 minutes of the game, and that team was averaging less than that for an entire game.

This Jets team is free falling right now. They’ve lost four in a row and are openly talking about playing for their jobs for next season. They’re ripe for the plucking, which also makes NE ripe for another kick in the teeth. Another slow start and allowing the Jets to either hang around or take the lead is a disaster waiting to happen. They’ll feel an upset coming on and will play accordingly. It will also get the crowd, loud and boisterous.

The Pats need to actually show up ready to play in the first quarter and put the Jets on their heels and get them playing catchup.  

Force The Ball into Darnold’s Hands: The Jets are 29th in passing (yes I remember the Titans were #30). They aren’t built from playing from behind. The Jets offense isn’t prolific throwing the ball and have turned it over a lot. Darnold and McCown have tossed 16 interceptions this year.

Putting them into a position where they have to throw will allow Brian Flores and Bill Belichick to dial up more pressure for the pass rush and hopefully generate a turnover or two.

Third Down/Red Zone Woes Have to Cease: The Jets have the #2 defense on 3rd down in the NFL, getting into 3rd and manageable is key for Brady this week. And while they’ve moved the ball well most of the year, the red zone play on both sides of the ball has to improve. Defensively the Patriots need to force the Jets into three and outs.

They need to get aggressive on both sides of the ball this week and force the issue with the Jets. Something to consider, despite the games being close in score, Tom Brady is 25-6 against the Jets during his career.

New England will rediscover their running game with Sony Michel and force a couple of turnovers to pull away late in the game.  Patriots 27-14

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

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Quincy Enunwa: The Patriots Are Vulnerable This Year

Steve Balestrieri
May 1, 2018 at 12:00 pm ET

Is it 2010 or 2018? Raise your hand if you’ve heard this every spring for the last decade. “The Patriots are vulnerable this year, and this MAY be the year Team “X” dethrones them.”

Yawn, Rinse, Repeat. Yes, both the Jets and the Bills picked up what they are finally hoping are franchise quarterbacks this season and for teams that have been looking up in the standings for the past two decades in the AFC East, the spring is always one of hope.

In an interview on CBS Radio Friday, Quincy Enunwa told Brandon Tierney and Tiki Barber, the hosts of the show, that he believes the Patriots are “vulnerable” heading into next season. The Jets receiver later doubled down on SiriusXM NFL Radio. First Enunwa stated that he was merely responding to a question in that interview, but then couldn’t help himself and added that he sees no reason why New York can’t win the AFC East.

“Obviously, I just wanted to agree,” Enunwa said. “I think they may be. But I also think that we’re capable of finally dethroning them. I think that we’ve always been. It’s just about getting over that hump of finishing games. Not to add more bulletin board material for them, but I think for us, we’re hyper-confident and believe that we can do that.”

Hope is running high in New York, both in the city and in Buffalo where the Jets landed Sam Darnold as their quarterback of the future while the Bills drafted gunslinger Josh Allen from Wyoming as their own.

The Jets have really been searching for a franchise quarterback since the days of Joe Namath…yes that long. Darnold was expected to be the first player off the board during the 2018 NFL Draft but in a surprise move, the Cleveland Browns selected Baker Mayfield as their choice. Mayfield was the odds-on favorite to go to the Jets but instead, Gang Green had Darnold fall into their lap, with many considering him the top QB in the draft.

Will Darnold start this season? Not if the Jets are smart. They have an experienced bridge in place in the ageless Josh McCown. While McCown isn’t going to light the world on fire, he’s solid, will not give games away and can serve as a good mentor to Darnold. They would be best served to let Darnold learn the team’s offense and let him find his way into the NFL for his rookie season and not throw him straight out there.

Of course, if the Jets were smart, they wouldn’t be making statements like this, that we’ve heard every year it seems. Darnold may very well be the real deal and be a top quarterback for several years to come. But will he come into the league and light it on fire from Day 1? The chances of that are doubtful.

But he will have Enunwa who missed the 2017 season because of neck surgery. But the Jets wide receivers aren’t going to scare a lot of opposing team’s defensive coordinators.

Part of Enunwa’s confidence springs from the fact that it is widely reported that the supposed “rift” between Bill Belichick and Tom Brady has grown wider and that the relationship between the two is the worst that it has ever been.

The last game Brady played in? Without top wide receiver Julian Edelman who missed all of 2017, he passed for 505 yards against a very good Philadelphia Eagles defense. Edelman is back and they’ve added some other key pieces to the mix.

The Patriots aren’t going anywhere this season. They’ve won the division for the past nine years in a row in 15 of the past 17. Their consistency has been the hallmark of Belichick coached teams where it seems you can pencil them in for 12 wins a year. You want to knock them off, then step up to the table.

Hope springs eternal, especially this time of year. We get it. The Jets are excited, they have a new quarterback and the confidence to rise up and make people take notice. But do it on the field, not in the media. But after the Patriots bye week, the Jets will get their chance on November 25, the teams will meet for the first time in 2018.

Maybe Darnold will already be under center for the Jets. Then do your talking.

Five Patriots Players To Watch Against the Jets

Steve Balestrieri
December 24, 2016 at 8:07 am ET

The Patriots return home for their last regular season home game of 2016. The next time fans see the Pats at Gillette will be the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

The Patriots are 12-2 and could clinch the top seed in the AFC today with a win coupled with either a Raiders loss or tie. The team remembers the late season swoon in the final two games, losses to both the Jets and Miami which cost them home-field advantage. They won’t be wanting that to happen again.

The Jets are 4-10 and playing out the string. The season has been a crushing disappointment for Todd Bowles crew. He was admitted to the hospital yesterday in New York with an undisclosed illness and may not be there on the sidelines later today. But they’d love nothing better than putting coal in the Patriots Christmas stocking again this year.

Here are our five players from a Patriots perspective to watch on Sunday:

QB Tom Brady: Brady popped up again on the injury report this week with a thigh injury. Although it is considered minor, anything to do with #12 will bear watching. Brady didn’t have big game numbers wise last week, but a lot of that was by design as the team opted to use a bigger approach to the running game.

This week, look for the offense to get back into their normal balance. And that begins with Brady. The Jets secondary has been suspect this season which the lack of pass rush hasn’t helped.

Look for Brady to try to get the passing game back in gear quickly today. They’ll want to get out to a quick start and to do so will require Brady to be sharp. With plenty of weapons that can be brought to bear, he’ll spread it around.

LB Dont’a Hightower: Hightower is also dealing with an injury, a knee issue that was clearly bothering him in Denver. But it is reported that he’ll play thru it again this week. Hightower is the Patriots main man in the middle of the defense. He’s the guy that cleans up the play after the defensive line slows down the run at the point of attack.

The Jets have been very successful lately at running Bilal Powell with Matt Forte hurting. Powell is a guy that has hurt the Patriots in the past and they’ll want him keeping the pressure off the inexperienced Bryce Petty at QB.

The Patriots will want to naturally put the ball in Petty’s hands and force him to beat them. And that means stopping the running game. Hightower will be a big part of the defense in that aspect. Going against a beat-up Jets offensive line, he’ll be a key player to watch especially if they decide to blitz him up the A-gap.

RB LeGarrette Blount: Blount wasn’t the focus of the Patriots running game last week in Denver, they opted for the smaller, quicker Dion Lewis to go against the Broncos defense. Although Lewis will again get a lot of reps today, look for the focus to be back again on the Pats’ big man on the ground.

With the focus on having the balance back in the offense this week, they’ll want to hammer the ball inside with Blount and keeping the Jets defense honest and keep them from blitzing on obvious passing situations.

Look for Blount to get upward of 20 carries today against the big, physical front of the Jets. And that should be a recipe for success, the more carries Blount gets, it means that the Patriots should be in control of this one.

CB Malcolm Butler: The Patriots secondary has had their issues with the Jets big wide receivers in the past. Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker (IR) and Quincy Enunwa have given them problems in the past. And their first line of defense will be deciding on who Butler covers.

Butler did an excellent job at limiting Emmanuel Sanders last week save for a few garbage time catches. The Jets still have Marshall and Enunwa and with Decker out, Robby Anderson has been a favorite target of Petty. In his last two games, he’s caught six passes for 99 yards and added four catches for 80 yards against the Dolphins.

It will be interesting to see who the Patriots turn their most attention to. But Butler has been their best corner all season and he’ll be the guy they trust the most, regardless if he has over the top safety help…right, Emmanuel?

WR Malcolm Mitchell: The wide receivers other than Julian Edelman were mainly used as decoys a week ago. Mitchell and Chris Hogan were tasked with pulling the Broncos corners away from where they intended to go. With so many weapons, it is a good problem to have. Now they’ll want to get all of them involved in the passing game again.

While Edelman will remain the primary target for Brady on most downs, Mitchell, as well as Hogan will be important players to watch in the passing offense today. The rookie wide receiver from Georgia has been a nice addition to the offense this year. He’s earned Brady’s trust and they know he can be counted upon in crunch time.

Against the Jets last month, Mitchell caught two touchdowns on passes from Brady. The second one, after the two-minute warning, gave the Patriots the win over the Jets. Both coincidentally were against Darrelle Revis. That won’t be forgotten by the Jets, especially Revis as they prepare for this week’s game.

For that reason alone, Mitchell would be a player to watch today, but with him becoming a more valuable role player in the offense, he’ll be looked to by Brady to provide some key catches at important parts of the game.

Stay tuned to PatsFans.com as we’ll have up-to-the-minute breaking news as well as post-game analysis.

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

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Patriots – Jets II Keys, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
December 23, 2016 at 6:00 am ET

The New England Patriots return to the friendly confines of Gillette Stadium in Foxboro for their final regular season home game to take on the New York Jets. The game is scheduled for Saturday Christmas Eve, at 1 p.m.

CBS will televise this week’s game and it can be seen locally on WBZ Channel 4 in Boston. Ian Eagle will handle play-by-play duties with Dan Fouts as the color analyst. Evan Washburn will work the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The SportsHub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Cappello.

The Patriots (12-2) improved to 7-0 on the road this season with a convincing 16-3 win over the Denver Broncos. Dion Lewis rushed for 95 yards and the Pats got three turnovers while holding the Broncos to just three points and shut them out for the final 53 minutes of the game.

The Jets (4-10) were hammered by Miami last week. Career backup Matt Moore threw for four touchdowns in the win. QB Bryce Petty was hit hard and had to leave the game but is expected to play this weekend.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2016 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.

Series History:
The Patriots and Jets meet for the 116th time on Sunday in an intense rivalry that dates back to 1960. The Patriots hold a slight all-time 60-54-1 edge in the series that has been incredibly even and always tough.

The Patriots hold a 32-25-1 edge overall at home and have won 9 of the last 11 meetings. The Pats won a close 22-17 win in the Meadowlands in the first meeting this season as Tom Brady hit Malcolm Mitchell with the game-winning touchdown pass with less than two minutes to go. Mitchell had a pair of touchdowns in the game.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots 2016 Opponents, A Second Look at the Jets

Steve Balestrieri
December 22, 2016 at 6:49 am ET

Jets Are Beaten Up and Looking At Another House Cleaning

The Patriots return home for their final home of the 2016 regular season when they take on the New York Jets on Saturday. The Christmas Eve kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. at Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots (12-2), defeated the Broncos 16-3 in Denver as Dion Lewis led a Pats running game that controlled the clock and the tempo. He gained 95 yards on 18 carries. LeGarrette Blount scored his NFL leading 15th rushing touchdown and the defense forced as many turnovers as points allowed.

The Patriots win clinched the AFC East for the eighth year in a row, and the 14th in the last 16 seasons. They sit alone atop the AFC with the top seed ahead of Oakland by a game and two over the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Jets (4-10), are just playing out the string this season. After barely missing the playoffs a year ago, there was much hope for a big season in 2016 but injuries, poor play at key positions and some questionable coaching decisions leave the Jets in a bad way with two games to go.

Here are our Second Five Impressions of the Jets:

Offensive Line is Decimated by Injury: The Jets left guard James Carpenter, who will start this week against the Patriots is the only remaining starter from the start of the 2016 season. The Patriots from 2015 feel your pain, but this year, it was the Jets bad luck to be hit hard by the injury bug.

In 2015, the Jets stayed healthy, remarkably so, with starters missing just 20 games due to injury. The Jets used only 60 players during the season, making Todd Bowles first year at head coach a smooth one. But 2016 has been a disaster, especially at the offensive line. Jets starters have missed 81 games this year and they’ve been forced to use 70 players, the most in the NFL.

The Jets offensive line was once one of the league’s best. Now, it is a collection of aging, beat-up players, well past their prime. LT Ryan Clady was brought in to solidify things this season. He landed on IR. Center Nick Mangold will miss his ninth game, RG Brian Winters was just placed on IR and RT Breno Giacomini will miss his 11th game and is on IR as well.

The probable starting unit on Saturday is very short on experience. ESPN’s Rich Cimini put out this startling tidbit this week. LT Ben Ijalana has 11 career starts, LG Carpenter has 69 and is the only opening day starter left. Center Wesley Johnson has seven, RG Dakota Dozier will be making his first career start and RT Brandon Shell will be making his second.

Maccagnan Needs to Clean House…Again: The Jets followed a path that many teams do when changing a head coach, as they did with the hiring of Bowles. They overpaid a bunch of veterans with the “win-now” approach attempting to re-ignite the fan base and put the new coach in a favorable position.

It backfired. The Jets are once again in salary cap hell and currently are already over the 2017 salary cap as it is currently projected. This is a defense that very much underachieved in 2016 and with an offensive line badly in need of an overhaul.

We mentioned the OL above as being beaten up. It is also showing its age and needing an influx of youth. Clady, 31 has played in just 27 of a possible 64 games in the past four years. Cutting him would save about $10 million in cap space. Center Nick Mangold is now 33 and cutting him would save $6.7 million. Breno Giacomini is 32 and cutting him would save the Jets $4.5 million. And that is just the offensive line.

The Jets secondary is looking at a number of hits too. It begins with Darrelle Revis, who is now picked on by opposing teams. Rather than shy away from “Revis Island”, opposing WRs are booking their stays there and piling up big stats. He’s maybe going to move to safety, but paying a safety $15.3 million? Buster Skrine and safety Marcus Gilchrist will be looked at as well for either renegotiation or being cut. DL Sheldon Richardson is another player that if they cut or trade can save the Jets $8 million.

The spending spree the Jets went on two years ago when they cut Rex Ryan loose didn’t pay dividends and will force them to go thru a ton of turnover in 2017.

Petty Should Be Back Under Center: After taking a scary looking hit in the Dolphins game, it looked like QB Bryce Petty’s audition for the 2017 starting job was going to be cut short. He took a tremendous hit in a sandwich by Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake last week and was forced to leave the game.

But he was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice and should be under center when the Jets visit Foxboro this weekend. If so, Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the backup. This year’s 2nd round draft pick Christian Hackenberg is said to still be nowhere close to NFL ready so in essence, the Jets really have no idea what they have in him.

Petty, who will wear a protective chest pad under his shoulder pads has had flashes of nice play intermingled with the expected poor decisions that plague QBs in the first year of starting. His completion percentage to his two big targets Quincy Enunwa and Brandon Marshall will have to improve. He’s completed just half of his throws to Enunwa and less than a third to Marshall.

Richardson Adds to Already Bad Situation on Snapchat: As if the Jets needed any other distractions. Jets’ safety Rontez Miles captured DL Sheldon Richardson on his phone doing a short video which he then posted on his Snapchat account.

“Snapchat takeover gang gang in this (expletive),” Richardson said on camera. “You know, pre-game (expletive). Where the hoes at, though.”

The final few seconds of the video are fuzzy at best, but Richardson appeared to say “(expletive) this game,” or “(expletive) this guy.”

Coach Todd Bowles wasn’t pleased and said he spoke with Richardson and that the situation was handled in house. Richardson appeared unfazed by the uproar, however. He was under fire earlier this season for another off-field incident when he was arrested in suburban St. Louis in 2015 for racing his Bentley, at times as high as 143mph with a 12-year old relative in the car while fleeing police.

Injuries Impacting Special Teams: The trickle-down effect to all the injuries that the Jets have suffered is that eventually, they make their way down to their special teams. And it is making its mark on the Jets kick return units.

The Jets kickoff return team has eight different players who weren’t even on the team or part of the 53-man roster at the beginning of the 2016 season. Where teams usually try to find a solid unit and work them into a smooth performing machine, that has been lost to the Jets this year.

This week’s game will bear close watching on the Special Teams’ units as with so many new and different faces, the Jets may be at a disadvantage here. Nothing can turn a game around so quickly as a big STs play. And although all of the Patriots – Jets games since the “Butt Fumble” game have been remarkably close, this one has the potential to be a lot less close.

Check back with us later in the week as we’ll break down the key matchups for the game right here on PatsFans.com.

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

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Patriots – Jets Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
November 25, 2016 at 9:00 am ET

The New England Patriots travel to the NJ Meadowlands to take on the New York Jets in the first of two divisional matchups between the two teams. The game was initially scheduled for Sunday Night Football but has been flexed by the NFL to a 4:25 p.m. kickoff.

This week’s game will be televised by CBS and can be seen locally on WBZ Channel 4 in Boston. Greg Gumble will handle play-by-play duties with Trent Green as the color analyst. Jamie Erdahl will work the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The SportsHub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Cappello.

The Patriots (8-2) improved to 5-0 on the road this season with a 30-17 win over the San Francisco 49ers. Tom Brady was the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for the 27th time in his career with a four touchdown-zero interception effort. LeGarrette Blount led the running game with 124 yards on 19 carries.

The Jets (3-7) are coming off their bye week. Two weeks ago, they lost to the LA Rams 9-6 as QB Bryce Petty in his first NFL start subbing for an injured Ryan Fitzpatrick could only lead the Jets to a single touchdown drive. Fitzpatrick is healthy this week and has been given the nod by coach Todd Bowles as the starter.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2016 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.

Series History:
The Patriots and Jets meet for the 115th time on Sunday in an intense rivalry that dates back to 1960. The Patriots hold a slight all-time 59-54-1 edge in the series that has been incredibly even and always tough.

The Jets hold a slim 29-27 edge overall at home. The Patriots have won 8 of the last 10 meetings, however. The teams split a pair of close games a year ago. The Patriots held serve in Foxboro with a 30-23 win and the Jets in the Meadowlands won a 26-20 overtime win on December 27. The Patriots won the toss and deferred, and Fitzpatrick led the Jets to a quick touchdown drive

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots 2016 Opponents, 5 First Impressions of the Jets

Steve Balestrieri
November 23, 2016 at 8:51 am ET

Toss Out Jets Disappointing 2016 On Sunday

The Patriots go back out on the road on Sunday afternoon as they’ll go down I-95 to the NJ Meadowlands to take on their heated rival, the New York Jets. It will be the first meeting between the two teams this season and the games are always close and hard fought. Forget about the records when these two teams meet.

The Patriots (8-2), are coming back from the West Coast and a win over the San Francisco 49ers 30-17 on Sunday. LaGarrette Blount ran for 124 yards on 19 carries and Tom Brady threw for four touchdowns and zero interceptions, the 21st time he’s done that in his career.

The Patriots hold a two-game lead in the division over the 6-4 Miami Dolphins who have won five in a row. The Pats are now tied for the best record in the AFC with Oakland but the Raiders now hold the tie breaker for the time being, given their win over Houston.

The Jets (3-7), were thinking playoffs after last season’s 10-win season but a tough early season schedule coupled with poor QB play has Todd Bowles’ group looking down at another disappointing finish. They went from QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to Geno Smith, back to Fitz, and gave rookie Bryce Petty the start before their bye week in the loss to the Rams. Now, Bowles is going back with Fitzpatrick this week.

Here are our Five First Impressions of the Jets:

Bowles Going With Fitzpatrick, the right move this week: The QB carousel for the Jets is swinging back to Ryan Fitzpatrick this week and Bowles is hearing it from not only the media but Jets fans as well. And in part, the criticism is justified.

The Jets went thru a protracted salary negotiation with Fitzpatrick this spring/summer and the QB ultimately bet on himself with essentially a big one-year deal. That has failed for both the QB and the team. Fitzpatrick has struggled mightily this season and leads the league in interceptions with 13 despite playing in less games than most of the starting QBs in the NFL. And with Fitzpatrick not in the Jets plans after this season, the time is right to see what they have in Petty.

Petty started Week 10 while Fitz rested a knee injury and played fair in a 9-6 loss to the Rams. He completed 19-32 for 163 yards with a touchdown and interception. Bowles, however said now that Fitzpatrick is healthy, that he’s the starter and gives the Jets a better chance to win. And he’s right.

We’ve seen Fitzpatrick play poorly, he’s a gunslinger and will take chances that may seem foolhardy at times. We’ve also seen him play well and that is the guy the Jets are hoping can turn things around this week. Facing a Patriots team with Bill Belichick, even with a defense that has been scuffling along lately, Petty in just his second NFL start was bound to see looks that he wouldn’t recognize and would no doubt struggle.

Bowles doesn’t care about the media and fan criticism. His job is to win football games. And his job depends on that. There is still time to do a proper evaluation on Petty. The Jets aren’t going to make the playoffs, even if they were to run the table. And the cries of derision for him on Monday will turn to cheers from the fickle fans if Fitzpatrick can coax a victory over the Pats this week.

Bilal Powell is the “X-Factor” for Gang Green This Week: The Jets brought in veteran running back Matt Forte this season and he’s the primary running back for Gang Green this season. He’s rushed for 732 yards and the Jets are 3-0 when he carries the ball 25+ times. But he’s been used less as a receiver this season than in his time with the Bears. That player has been Bilal Powell and he has the capability to be a game changer for the Jets this weekend.

Powell only carried the ball 40 times this season but has racked up 272 yards and a touchdown, good for a stellar 6.8-yard average. He’s also hauled in 36 passes for 240 yards and a score. He’s gotten hot in the past two games with 11 pass receptions and the Jets only score against the Rams.

Last year he had just 12 touches against the Patriots in the Meadowlands but went for 90 yards with seven rushes for 56 and five catches for 34 yards in the OT win. With a NE defense struggling to defend the wheel route and backs out of the backfield in general, look for the Jets to get him involved early and often.

The Patriots Must Account for Williams on Every Snap: The Jets have underperformed as a group this year, but for Leonard Williams, their top draft choice of 2015, the season has been a success. Williams leads the Jets with six sacks and is tied for the team lead in QB hits with 15.

Although the Jets as a unit have registered only 19 sacks (two less than the Patriots), NY defensive line coach Pepper Johnson thinks his group has played well. “They’re playing very well. These guys made me defensive line coach of the year last season,” he said, (awarded by ProFootballFocus). “I think they’re doing better this year.”

Williams leads a very stout Jets run defense that allows just 85.4 yards per game and has 10 tackles for a loss included in his stats this season. While there have been some issues with his teammates Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson, specifically their tardiness in the news, Williams has soldiered on and is the guy the Patriots OL must account for on every play.

Enunwa and Marshall Are the Go-To Guys in the Passing Game: Jets wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa are going to be the two main focuses of the Patriots secondary this week. Both got off to great starts in 2016, but with the slide of their QB play, their numbers are going down in recent weeks. Expect the challenge of playing NE this week to change that in a big way.

Enunwa was a steal for the Jets when they drafted him in the sixth round (209th overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft. He’s caught 38 passes this season for 534 yards and three touchdowns this year, but in recent weeks, the Jets have really missed Eric Decker who was placed on IR. He’s caught just one pass each in the last two games, look for Fitzpatrick to get him involved early this week.

Marshall is on pace for one of the least productive years of his career. The 11-year vet has 43 catches for 601 yards and just two touchdowns after having 62 for 800 and seven touchdowns in 2015. Part of the problem has been the QB play, part on the loss of Decker, but a foot injury suffered early in the season may be the most to blame.

Will the Patriots Try “Revis Island” This Week? No one has slipped more this season than the Jets $70 million-dollar man. However, don’t make a mistake about this, while the Patriots are being given lots of kudos for passing on Revis’ 5-year, $70 million-dollar deal with $39 million fully guaranteed, they still were offering big bucks for the talented corner to return.

But if Revis did show signs of slowing down last year, then he’s definitely sliding in 2016. By his own account, his body is breaking down on him and the the air of invincibility of him is gone. No longer are teams only looking at the other side of the field, they can now specifically target Revis in their game plan. That thought was blasphemous not long ago.

It will be interesting to see if the bye week rejuvenates Revis to play at least for a week, to the level we’ve become so accustomed to. But it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Patriots test the waters of Revis Island this week.

Check back with us later in the week as we’ll break down the key matchups for the game right here on PatsFans.com.

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

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

All-22 Review Patriots – Jets, Not Enough Big Plays for the Pats

Steve Balestrieri
December 28, 2015 at 3:00 pm ET

The Patriots lost in overtime to the Jets 26-20 on Sunday and we’ve been going back over the game tape at some of the big plays of the day.

After re-watching the game a few times since Sunday afternoon, it was a testament to the grit and determination of the Pats that they even took the game to OT. They were outplayed for the majority of the game. There are no moral victories but it was surprising how this one played out especially after being down 17-3 on the road.

So let’s take a look at some of the biggest plays of the day. Some good and some not so good. First with the not-so-good.

Enunwa 48-yard reception: Here’s probably the biggest play of the game; on the second play from scrimmage after overtime began, the Jets had a 2nd and 8 from their own 22-yard line. Enunwa was lined up inside on the left. Tavon Wilson came in for Jordan Richards who was injured making the tackle on the previous play.

The Jets ran a pick play and executed it to perfection; the outside receiver cut inside and rubbed CB Leonard Johnson. Wilson coming up from the safety position, collided with Johnson and both were well out of position.

enunwa 48 yd pass

The three yard pass to Enunwa quickly turned into a game-breaker as he turned on the speed and raced deep into Patriots territory before being forced out of bounds. That put the Jets into immediate field goal territory but it also put the Patriots defense on their heels. And a couple of plays later, the Jets were victorious but this was the big blow from Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Enunwa 48 yd pass

Bilal Powell 11-yard run: The Jets running game was having great success on Sunday at running right at the Patriots front seven, something they weren’t able to do the first time the teams met in Gillette Stadium.

It was something that the Jets were very successful at; their offensive line had a very impressive day. They were teeing off and winning at the point of attack and their pass protection was outstanding for much of the day.

In the first quarter Bilal Powell, who was impressive all day had a nice run of 11-yards right up the middle of the Patriots defense. The Jets offensive line makes a nice hole for him to run in and he accelerates to the second level where he trucks over Duron Harmon and gains a few more yards. It was typical of the Jets running game, especially in the first half.

Powell 11 yrd run2.gif

Gronk 30-Yard Reception: In the first half the Patriots were facing a 2nd and 11 from their own 24-yard line. Tom Brady was in the shotgun with James White in the backfield to his left. Gronkowski is split wide right and covered by Antonio Cromartie.

At the snap, Gronkowski beats the jam at the line of scrimmage and has a step on Cromartie running down the sideline outside the numbers. Brady has great protection and lays a perfectly thrown ball in Gronkowski’s hands. He fights off the attempt by Cromartie to break it up and hauls it in for a 30-yard gain before Marcus Gilchrist is able to come over and support Cromartie.

It was one of several nice plays Gronkowski and Brady hooked up on during the day. Their 26-yard catch and run on a 4th and 9 play on the Patriots touchdown drive was also outstanding. They also had a miscommunication in the third quarter where Brady thought Gronk was going to cut his route short and Gronk kept running a deep pattern. It resulted in an easy interception for Darrelle Revis.

Gronk 30 yd pass

Strip Sack TD by Sheard/Collins: A big play that got the Patriots back in the game was a strip sack by Jabaal Sheard and the ensuing fumble was recovered by Jamie Collins and return for a touchdown.

It was one of the few times that the Patriots got really good pressure on Fitzpatrick all game long and resulted in the only sack of the day for the Patriots. Both Sheard and Chandler Jones got great pressure from the edges and Sheard was just able to hit Fitzpatrick’s hand as he was attempting to let go of the ball.

Sheard sack Collins TD2

The fumble bounced to the right side of the formation where both the Jets and Patriots dove to recover it before Collins scooped it up and ran it in for the score. It marked the second week in a row that the defense has scored and couldn’t have come at a better time.

James White 9-Yard Touchdown Catch: With the Patriots down 20-13 with two minutes remaining in the game, the Patriots had a first and goal at the nine-yard line after converting a 4th and 9 with a 26-yard pass from Brady to Gronkowski.

On this play, White lines up in the backfield to Brady’s left while in the shotgun. At the snap, White runs out on a diagonal like he’s going in the left flat. Linebacker David Harris moves over to quickly cover White but at the line of scrimmage.

White 9 yd TD

White cuts sharply inside where the middle of the field is wide open. The Jets left no one home to cover the middle of the field and White is all alone for an easy pitch and catch from Brady. This was the play that tied the score and ultimately sent the game to OT.

White 9 yd TD3

The Patriots showed some grit coming back from a 17-3 deficit in the Meadowlands and sending the game into overtime, but the Jets produced in the extra session to easily go down the field and score. In reality this one should have never gone to OT so, the Patriots can look to it as a busted opportunity to steal a game they didn’t deserve to win.

We’re on to Miami…

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

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Monday Observations, Patriots Lose to Jets in OT, #1 Seed Still in Sight

Steve Balestrieri
at 6:00 am ET

The Patriots lost a great opportunity to clinch the #1 seed in the Meadowlands of New Jersey on Sunday and ultimately lost to the Jets in overtime 26-20.

The Patriots won the coin toss and Bill Belichick decided to go with his defense which had played well in the fourth quarter in hopes of getting the ball back in good enough field position for the offense which struggled mightily all day long against an excellent Jets defense.

But the Jets made three consecutive big plays, capped off with an Eric Decker touchdown and the Jets, courtesy of the Steelers meltdown in Baltimore against Ryan Mallett of all people, are now in the #6 seed of the playoffs with a game to go.

The Patriots still control their own destiny and with a win over the Dolphins on Sunday would still be the #1 seed for the AFC playoff picture. They have already secured a bye week which, with all the injuries they’ve suffered this season will be a welcome relief.

Right Call, Bad execution:  The Patriots went against the grain with the coin toss in OT and decided to kick. Because they lost now of course, every would-be GM will be scouring to the record books to find fault with Belichick for a coaching blunder. The Jets, in true Jets form partied like it was 1969 and took to trolling the Patriots on Twitter immediately after the game.

Some national writers dusted off the 2009 4th & 2 call against the Colts…. So Belichick makes a questionable coaching decision every six years? But the bottom line is …it was the right call, poorly executed.

The Patriots offense was far from resembling the juggernaut that rolled thru the early season. They were missing their top wide receivers (Edelman and Amendola), their top two running backs (Lewis and Blount) and their top two tackles (Solder and Vollmer…injured on the first series) By the fourth quarter, Vollmer’s replacement LaAdrian Waddle was out with a shoulder injury.

The offensive line’s play was just that, offensive. Brady was being hit at every turn and the running game with no room to do anything was a shadow of what was needed. The Pats managed only 284 yards of offense on the day, a season low. Their 16 first downs were tied for the season low (Denver). They scored a season low 13 points on offense and were 1-10 on third down. Kicking off was the right call.

The only confusion was in the wording; Belichick had already told the referees if the Patriots won the toss they would kick off. Matthew Slater confirmed it with Belichick but when they won the toss, the referee asked Slater, “You want to kick off?” Slater said yes when he should have said, “we want to defend that goal.” What followed was a conversation that sounded like he chose kicking off  was not what was wanted.  The end of the field didn’t factor in the overtime at all anyway. So it was a minor point and Gostkowski kicked it out of the end zone.

But on 2nd and 8 Tavon Wilson in for Jordan Richards who was hurt the play before, collided with Leonard Johnson on a three-yard slant to Quincy Enunwa and it turned into a 48-yard gain. On the next snap Ryan Fitzpatrick hit a leaping Brandon Marshall for another 20 and then followed the touchdown to Decker.

Belichick has never been shy going against conventional “wisdom” and in this case he was right…they didn’t execute. Tip your hat to the Jets offense.

Defense gashed by the run: The Jets running game consistently gashed the Patriots right up the middle. It was one of their poorer games collectively and while many point to Pat Chung being out and Dont’a Hightower being less than 100 percent, it doesn’t give the Jets offensive line and their backs their due.

The Jets ran 27 times for 143 yards and most of the damage was done right up the middle of the defense. The Jets OL was winning the battle at the point of attack and their pass protection of Fitzpatrick was stellar.

The Jets mixed up the running game with Bilal Powell, Stevan Ridley, Chris Ivory and Fitzpatrick with a couple of scrambles.

Keys Proved prophetic: One of our keys to the game was to bring more pressure on Fitzpatrick than the October meeting where he was sacked just twice and frequently had plenty of time to throw. On Sunday he had even more time and the Patriots pass rush was for the most part MIA.

One of the few times they did get pressure, Jabaal Sheard strip-sacked Fitzpatrick and Jamie Collins returned it for a touchdown, their second defensive touchdown in as many weeks.

Fitzpatrick finished 26 of 41 for 296 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. And he was his own worst enemy; on many occasions he had the deep ball open and missed his receivers. The Jets mixed up the short screen game and the deep ball well all game long. Fitzpatrick was given plenty of time to look downfield.

Sunday was a rewind of watching the struggles of the Patriots DBs against taller wide receivers. Last week Dorial Green-Beckham torched them for 6 catches for 113 yards. This week Marshall had a huge game with eight catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns. Decker was a non-factor until late in the game and then made a 25-yard catch before his touchdown reception.

The Jets won that OL-DL matchup….convincingly and if the teams meet a third time, and there is a good chance of that happening, then the coaching staff had better find a way to manufacture a pass rush or they’ll find themselves in a bind.

Milestones: Tom Brady’s touchdown pass to James White in the fourth quarter was his 481st as a member of the Patriots which ties Brett Favre’s record for most in NFL history with one team. Brady ended up 22 of 31 for 231 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He and Gronkowski had a rare communication breakdown in the third quarter as Brady threw and out route and Gronk went deep. It resulted in an easy interception for Darrelle Revis.

Rob Gronkowski caught 4 passes for 86 yards and passed Ben Coates for most yardage all-time by a Patriots tight end.

Sheard’s strip sack of Fitzpatrick was the 28th straight game that the Patriots have registered a sack, the longest current streak in the NFL.

On to Miami: So the Patriots travel down to South Beach, the scene of so many struggles in the past with a chance to wrap up the #1 seed against the Dolphins. They’ll leave a day earlier due to the NHL’s Winter Classic being held in Gillette Stadium.

The fact that were even in overtime against the Jets was a bit surprising as they’d been outplayed by a wide margin for the majority of the game. But the team did show some mental toughness as down 17-3, they rallied to tie the game with under two minutes to go. But in Foxboro, moral victories don’t cut it and a loss to the Jets especially on a day when they opened the door for the Jets to control their own playoff destiny, is particularly galling.

They’ll need some of that mental toughness as they’ll still be short-handed when they face the Dolphins next Sunday. It should be an interesting game….stay tuned.

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

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.