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PatriotsThrottle the Jets 38-3 in Finale, Observations

Steve Balestrieri
December 31, 2018 at 6:42 am ET

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We’re on to the bye week… isn’t it crazy how perceptions change? The Patriots are considered to have had a downer of a season. And yet they’ve won 11 games are getting a bye in the first round of the playoffs because of their thumping of the Jets this afternoon in Foxboro.

Yes, before any of Negative Nancy’s are quick to remind everyone, which I’m sure the hot take artists already are…the Jets mailed this one in. This had none of the intensity we’ve come to expect from the Patriots-Jets games, however, that isn’t what’s important.

What is important, is that the Patriots had a job to do today and that was they had to take care of business, win the game to secure a bye week for the team and then prepare for the Divisional Round. Check and check.

Bill Belichick was happy, he was giving much longer answers than normal and despite his normal dour expression, knew that the team performed exactly as they should have. He said it best when discussing the game in his post-game presser when he asked about the significance of the win and the season.

“There were some good things, and there were some things that could’ve been better – but in the end, we are where we are,” Belichick said. “Essentially we won next week because we won today.” Boom… mike drop.

We don’t know how far this team will go, but we say that every year because the playoffs are a one-game elimination where anything can happen, but in the end, as Belichick said, they are where they are. That is one win away from an eighth consecutive AFC Championship Game.

On Friday we posted our keys to the game and key matchups where we broke down the game positionally. And we hit on some and missed on others.

But here are our observations from today’s game:

Brady Spread the Ball Around:

That doesn’t seem like a big point because it seemed like he always did that. But lately, he’d been too locked into certain players. Not so on Sunday. There was a much more even spread to things and that ended up with one of Brady’s best games in a while.

Brady finished 24-33 (72.7%) for 250 yards with 4 TDs and 0 INTs with a passer rating of 133.8, which was his highest rating since Week 3 of 2017 against Houston. Other than overthrowing a wide-open Chris Hogan in the end zone, he was very sharp and made several really nice throws, his best was the touchdown pass to Rex Burkhead for an 18-yard touchdown.

Chris Hogan, who we were about to put on a milk carton, was rediscovered in the offense today and was targeted 11 times and had six catches for 64 yards. He was wide open in the left half of the end zone where Brady badly overthrew him from the 18, or his numbers would have been even higher. But today was a very welcome sight.

Julian Edelman and Phillip Dorsett each had five catches, James White chipped in four as the production was spread around pretty evenly. Rob Gronkowski had two catches for 24 yards but had a 30-yarder wiped out by a penalty.

We said we wanted to see the ball spread around more…and they did exactly that. And when they do that, this offense is much harder to game plan around.

Running Game Still Clicked:

The Jets had a sound game plan this week, they knew the Patriots were going to try to run the ball, as they did against the Bills last week. And with the passing game scuffling, they were going to take their chances there. So, they were bringing a safety up into the box at the snap and by bringing that extra body up, made it harder for the running game to find the room at the line of scrimmage. But it opened up room in the passing game, where Brady (as we mentioned above) was very efficient.

But regardless, Josh McDaniels kept things moving along and still found ways to keep the running game going. The Patriots were still able to grind out 131 yards on 30 carries and before three Brian Hoyer kneeldowns, they were averaging 4.96 yards per rush. That creativity is what they’ll need in two weeks and beyond.

While Sony Michel had just 50 yards on 14 carries, he once again came very close to breaking a couple of deep runs. He finished off a very solid rookie regular season with 931 yards rushing and that was with no preseason action and in just 13 games.

The Jet sweeps called by McDaniels were once again very effective, a total of four for 40 yards. Two by Julian Edelman for 24 and two by Dorsett for 16. James White added a really nice 21-yard run in the mix.

Defense Did a Good Job of Keeping the Jets Out of the End Zone:

The Jets were banged up at wide receiver but Sam Darnold threw for nearly 350 yards and three scores last week against Green Bay. And regardless of who is on the field, you still have to make plays.

The run defense was solid all day, the only aberration was a scramble from Darnold that went for 28 yards. Elijah McGuire was bottled up for the entire first half, at one point having nine carries for nine yards, one of which went for 17, so he essentially had eight carries for -8 yards when the game was still in doubt. He ran better in the 2nd half but by then the Pats had gone to lighter fronts to get after Sam Darnold who was forced to throw more.

Darnold finished 16-28 for 167 yards with 0 TDs, 0 INTs and a passer rating of just 74.6. The Patriots were blanketing his WRs, especially Robby Anderson who was covered by Stephon Gilmore (3 catches, 24 yards). After that absolute stinker in Miami, the defense held Pittsburgh to 17 points, Buffalo to 12 (with a garbage time TD) and the Jets to three. That’s trending in the right direction.

Gilmore and Trey Flowers have had outstanding seasons. And the Pats secondary has been one of the strengths of the team this year. There is still some question about the middle of the DL in the running game, but with Danny Shelton back inside, we’ll see how that works out.

In the six games since they came off the bye, they’ve held all of their opponents (except Miami) to 17 points or less.

Turnovers Are Always a Welcome Sight:

The defense has been pretty opportunistic this season forcing 28 turnovers (18 interceptions, 10 fumble recoveries) the most the team has had since 2013. They forced three more on Sunday, Trey Flowers punched the ball out of McGuire’s hands in the first half, which they turned into a touchdown shortly after. Adam Butler knocked the ball out of Darnold’s hand which Kyle Van Noy scooped up and returned 46-yards for a TD (which will thrill a certain 2-6 radio show) and Jonathan Jones stripped the ball on the Jets final offensive play before Hoyer’s kneeldowns.

This is important because these things to tend to snowball one way or the other. When a defense isn’t getting any turnovers, they seem to go a long time without one. When a defense starts to get a bunch, that trend also seems to snowball…in a good way.

Another stat to consider is that the defense also had another 10 turnovers by stopping the opponent on downs.

Now We Wait …and Watch:

The Patriots came out of the game relatively unscathed, Devin McCourty suffered a concussion, but he’ll have two weeks to get ready for whoever gets the nod, and that game will be here in Gillette Stadium on Sunday, January 13 at 1:05 p.m.

The Patriots will play either the Texans, Ravens or Chargers, whoever is the highest remaining seed. The Patriots and the Chiefs get the bye and Kansas City, by clinching the top seed in the AFC will draw the lowest remaining seed.

The games should be interesting to watch this week, but we’ll be watching and trying to look at how this crazy 2018 NFL season continues to play out.

We’re on to the bye week…

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.

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.

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

Steve Balestrieri
December 29, 2017 at 10:28 am ET

The New England Patriots finish off the 2017 regular season by taking on the New York Jets in Foxboro’s Gillette Stadium.

The teams have moved in different directions since the last time the teams met in Week 6. Both entered that game at 3-2 and since, the Patriots are 9-1 and are in line for the AFC’s top seed. The Jets are 2-8 since that matchup and are left looking for answers.

This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS on Sunday, December 31 at 1:00 p.m. ET and can be seen on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Jim Nantz will handle play-by-play duties with Tony Romo as the color analyst. Tracy Wolfson 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 (12-3) took care of business last week by defeating the Buffalo Bills 37-16. Dion Lewis rushed for a career-high 129 yards as the Patriots ground out nearly 200 yards on the ground. The defense held the Bills to just three field goals.

The Jets (5-10) lost to the Los Angeles Chargers 14-7 as they limp to the season’s finish line but still are playing hard for coach Todd Bowles. They’ve been in all of their games this season and looking to the future.

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 are meeting for the 118th time. The Patriots hold a 62-54-1 edge overall. The Patriots are 33-25-1 all-time at home against the Jets. The Patriots have won the last three matchups and the past two wins by Gang Green have been in overtime. One of which was in 2015 with the famous “pushing rule” game which cost the Patriots home field advantage in the playoffs but wait, the Pats get all the calls right?

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 steadily getting better as the season goes along and Dion Lewis has emerged as the Pats go-to back. Last week against the Bills, they were missing Rex Burkhead and James White, but Lewis and Mike Gillislee gashed the Buffalo defense for nearly 200 yards.

The Jets, like the Patriots, have had issues stopping the run and have allowed 116 yards per game. In the first matchup this season, New England ran for 125 yards. The key matchups will be how effective the Pats offensive line is at getting to the second level against a good linebacking core.

Lewis will be the main back again, however, with Burkhead on the shelf, Gillislee has missed practice time with a knee injury. If he’s unable to go, we may see more of Brandon Bolden this week.

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

The Patriots passing game is still missing a ton of key players with Chris Hogan, White, and Burkhead out. But the good news is Malcolm Mitchell is back and is slated to play some this weekend. He’ll no doubt have some rust issues but his return is very good news for the passing offense. Matching up with Rob Gronkowski has to be the Jets priority on Sunday. I’d expect to see him doubled this week.

The Jets have done a good job of defending the pass this year allowing just 237 yards per game. They’ve only had two teams pass for 300 yards or more against them this year. Their improved secondary begins with the two rookie safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye who have come in and played much better than anyone could have hoped this early in their careers.Their biggest weakness remains, rushing the QB and if they give Brady time, he should have a big day.

Gronkowski had a big game with two touchdowns in the last matchup and the Jets will have to find a way to slow down the big man. It will be up to the other players on the offense to make them pay if they decide to double Gronk. Brandin Cooks will have to step up this week and make the Jets force coverage toward him.

Next up the Jets offense:

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

The Jets have a very good running back in Bilal Powell and he is coming off a big game last week (145 yards) against the Chargers. Look for the Jets to test the edge of the Patriots defense which has been leaky for much of the season. Powell missed the first game and has usually played well against the Patriots.

The Patriots run defense has had major issues this season defending the run especially on the edge and they’ll be short inside with Alan Branch still out injured. But there are a couple of silver linings this week. Malcom Brown played arguably his best game of the season last week against the Bills and the Patriots just picked up James Harrison. The Steelers all-time sack leader is closer to the end of the road than the beginning but I think he’ll be looked to primarily help with setting the edge here. If he can do that, then his time here regardless of his pass rush ability, will be a success.
We don’t know how much he’ll play this week, but they’ll be a lot of eyes on him and we’ll be focusing on the running game first.  

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

Josh McCown is out for the season and the Jets now have Bryce Petty under center. He has some good weapons in the passing game, Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse outside, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Powell out of the backfield. The problem has been protection this season. Jets QBs have been sacked 43 times in 2017.

The Patriots pass defense has been light years better since the first Jets matchup where McCown threw for 350+ yards. The secondary didn’t have a good week against Buffalo last week and will be looking to enter the postseason on a high note.

Look for Matt Patricia to be a bit more aggressive this week with Petty under center than McCown. We’ll see some safety or corner blitzes and some A-Gap pressure as well.

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots’ Special Teams are among the best in the NFL, they excel in punt and kick coverage and continuously turn in big plays.

The Jets STs units are a step below the Patriots and don’t have the edge anywhere here. But they showed last week that they’ll be aggressive, starting off the Chargers game with a successful onside kick. Expect them to empty the tank this week.

Next up, who wins and why…

Prediction:

This key here from a Patriots perspective is getting off to a fast start. Game time temps are slated to be 10-15 degrees with a wind chill below zero. The Jets, although they’ve played hard all year are playing for nothing but pride. If New England gets off to a quick start, they may just want to fold up tents and get home to watch the ball drop in Times Square.

Turnovers are key here as well. The Jets don’t have a prolific scoring offense so ball control and not turning it over is key here.They can’t give the Jets any short fields and any momentum to pull off the upset.

Look for the Brady and the offense to keep it varied, mixing in the pass and run equally and the defense to get a couple of sacks as well as a turnover of their own…or two.  Pats finish the regular season 13-3. Patriots 34-13

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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.

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: