It would be nice if the Jets could establish the run early and take a lot of pressure off their rookie quarterback. I think Bill Belichick will do whatever it takes to prevent that from taking place. The Pats will probably stick eight or even nine in the box to force the Jets to throw the ball. Mark Sanchez made the Texans pay and eventually forced them to respect his arm, which opened things late for Thomas Jones.
This is not a vintage Pats front seven, especially with Jerod Mayo sitting this one out. Mayo is vying with David Harris for the title of top young inside linebacker in the division. Mayo had 20 tackles on Thursday night in Foxborough back in 2008. That will leave Eric Alexander and Gary Guyton to man the inside. This leaves a pair of matchups as key. Nick Mangold against Vince Wilfork is always an elite battle. So will be Ty Warren against Brandon Moore and Damien Woody.
Jarvis Green is a quality starter, replacing the departed Richard Seymour at defensive end. The Bills broke some runs going after him. I wouldn't expect the Jets to test him much. Gang Green loves to run right to Warren's side, away from the left, where D'Brickashaw Ferguson's limitations in the run game are a factor. The Jets are going to challenge Wilfork and Warren, sending Tony Richardson and pulling Alan Faneca to the side often. If they can control the pair up front and hit the second level, there will be favorable matchups and opportunities for Thomas Jones to break big gains. This will force safeties Brandon Merriweather and James Sanders to call the box home. Merriweather and Sanders are going to spend time in the box, but if the Jets run effectively, Bill Belichick will have to play there more than they want. It will open up a lot for Mark Sanchez, and the rookie looks like he can exploit it. Of the outside linebackers, Adalius Thomas is very good against the run, but Tully Banta-Cain and Derrick Burgess are strongest against the run. Pierre Woods did have a big game against the Jets last season.
I expect Brian Schottenheimer to have a few tricks up his sleeve. Plenty of gimmick looks out of the Seminole formation and perhaps some run-pass options for Brad Smith to try and catch the Pats off guard. The Jets had some success out of an option look with Smith two years ago.
I'm thinking this game comes down to Mark Sanchez. I see the Pats doing everything they can to stop the run. If New York establishes the ground game early, it could be a really really fun day for the New Yorkers.