Let me start by making one thing clear - the Jets are not the Patriots, the Saints, the Packers, the Steelers, or the Manning-Colts - no game is ever a guaranteed victory. That being said, the Jets have a few edges over the Patriots this week. I don't ever factor in "momentum" when determining who can win a game. If you're the better team, you'll be favored to win. The Jets, right now, are not favored to win. But here are the things I think the Jets need to do in order to keep the Patriots down and leave MetLife with a 6th win:
7. Make big plays on both sides of the ball - This probably goes without saying. But Wes Welker has been making the huge impact plays this season that we expected Santonio Holmes to make. By the same token, the 350-lb Vince Wilfork already has 2 INTs on the year. (Huh?) We need more big plays by our big players - we need 50+ yard receptions from Holmes and Burress, 50+ yard rushes from Greene or Tomlinson, turnovers forced left and right, maybe even a few sacks and a kickoff return TD from McKnight or Cromartie.
6. Be consistent on special teams - I have no doubt that Mike Westhoff will use superior schemes on ST. But the specialists need to do their jobs and do them well. I want T.J. Conley punting like Shane Lechler and Jeremy Kerley looking like Devin Hester on punt returns. Folk needs to keep playing strong, and whoever is returning the kickoffs, McKnight or Cromartie, needs to start the Jets at the 40s. The game may be won based on field position.
5. Linebackers play GREAT - I don't care what people say about their "elusiveness": Hit Danny Woodcock and Wes Welker and they will fall. I won't believe that David Harris is an elite LB until he starts hitting like one of the best. Those big, athletic TEs need some LB coverage every now and then, and without it, they might run all over the field.
4. Don't be "cute" with the Offensive playcalling - Memo to Brian Schottenheimer: the Patriots can smell trick plays from a mile away. None of the Wildcat or WR-reverses or double-fakes to RBs are going to work. The Patriots defense may be porous, but it is smart.
3. Stop the run - If I hear one more person refer to that RB as "the Law Firm," I will absolutely lose it. He is a below average player, playing in the perfect offensive system. If (please forgive my heresy) Curtis Martin unretired right now and was the Patriots starter, he could probably get 100 yards in a game. This running attack needs to be exposed and stopped early or else.
2. Make Maybin EARN extra snaps - I was disappointed that in that TD drive by the Bills last week Maybin was there the whole time and failed to make an impact, much less a sack. He needs to be on the field exclusively for long yard, pass rush situations. If he can make an impact at that level MAYBE he can play with the real LBs.
1. Mark Sanchez plays mistake free - Ground & Pound can only get the team so far as we've seen so much these last three seasons. This game will be won or lost on Sanchez's gameplay. If Mark Sanchez plays like he did in the Playoffs, we will win. If he keeps making the same mistakes in the RedZone that he's made the last 2 games, we will lose.