If you listen to some pundits, you would think a Jets win over the Patriots would be equally as shocking as Seattle's win over New Orleans last weekend. The way some people are talking, it might seem like it would be as shocking as the Miracle on Ice. To be fair, it would be an upset. The Patriots had the best record in the league this year and are at home. It will not take a monumental event, however, for New York to come away with a win.
We all know what happened Week 13. Going into it, I felt like people would blow the result out of proportion no matter what happened. A Jets win would have given people unrealistic expectations about a cakewalk to the Super Bowl. A close loss would have made people doubt. The blowout loss made people think there was next to no chance of a long run. That's not really accurate, though. The Jets don't have to make up six touchdowns tomorrow. The score is 0-0 against a divisional opponent, which is an equalizer since both teams know each other well.
Look up and down the rosters. The Patriots have a big edge at quarterback. Is there anywhere else they really have a lot more talent? I can't think of many. I can think of spots where the Jets clearly more talent.
What is the recipe for success for the Jets? It is to establish the run game, control the ball, and try to wear down the other defense. It is to keep the other offense off the field. It is to give Mark Sanchez safe throws to get him into the flow of the game. It is to exploit the matchup edges on the outside by taking well-timed shots when the defense starts making an effort to stop the run. When I wrote that the Jets will need more out of the passing game than they got last week, I didn't mean I thought the Jets should try and go up tempo on offense. I just meant that they ran it at will and needed nothing. If the Patriots sell out like the Colts did, they will have more success against the run, but it will open things up on the outside. The Jets will need to take advantage to get the Pats from constantly moving men up. We have seen it happen in the past.
On defense, it means playing good coverage, which is a strength. It means stopping the run. It means blitzing effectively, not a given, but something we have seen work at times this year. The Jets have a top defense.
For some teams, this would mean doing something special. For the Jets, it is really playing their kind of game. What I described is New York Jets football. This team struggled to find an identity for much of the season, but it found the identity starting with the Pittsburgh game. It is basing everything on the run and defense and picking spots to punish the other team through the air. If Mark Sanchez gets hot as he did against the Bears, you can open things up a bit more, but this phiolosophy has guided the team in victories over the Steelers and Colts. This strategy isn't an adjustment like it would be for other squads.
The Jets need to execute their plan and play to their strengths. They need to turn this game into a street fight instead of a track meet. That means grinding out tough yards, banging the receivers around, and roughing up Tom Brady. Do not take cheap shots, but if it is borderline, get an extra shot in and make him feel uncomfortable even if it means risking a penalty.
New York does not need something out of the ordinary. This team does not necessarily need a nonoffensive score or something to have the game of their life (these would certainly help, though). What the Jets need to do is have everybody play well. If they do that, they will be right there. They can win the game. If they do not, they will have problems. I would say the same thing of New England. If the Pats execute their plan, they will be right there. If they bring their B or C game, I have to disagree with the pundits who seem to feel even New York's A game would not be enough to produce a Jets win in that event. New England would likely be in a bit of trouble.