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Patriots at Jets Preview: The Battle for AFC East Supremacy

I've been saying it all week, every single Jets-Patriots game is like a violent box of chocolates, you have absolutely no clue what you are going to get. I have no clue what is going to happen out there tomorrow. It could be a hard fought game typical of AFC East battles where a winner emerges in the fourth quarter, it could be a lopsided defeat, or it could be the game where the Jets decisively take out the Patriots and claim the AFC East for their own.

I don't want us to get overly arrogant, but I feel the Jets can hang with this team in spite of our previous defeat in Foxborough. Everything through our team history both recently and overall is evident that the Jets can take on and beat the Pats. The 52-52-1 overall record against each other, the fact that both teams have won 3 of the last 6 meetings, everything about these teams shows that we are each others greatest weakness. This has all the makings of the best divisional match up in the entire league all season.

It will be different then last time. The entire team expects to play with the exception of Brodney Pool. While I'm deeply disappointed in the loss of the one Jets safety with solid coverage skills, when you sign Pool you need to be prepared for him to miss a few games. They've pulled it together without him before and they can do it again. The most notable difference on the Patriots is that Jerod Mayo will return and Brandon Spikes will be out at LB. Patrick Chung may or may not play which could be pivotal for the Jets. It's worth noting that the Pats wealth of injuries last meeting did nothing to help the Jets.

Winning this game will require a balanced attack and many, many first downs. The Patriots defense always leaves the opportunity for victory. Perry Fewell and the New York Giants proved that Tom Brady's offense can be shut down last week, let us follow their example. The Patriots have outperformed the Jets in every offensive capacity, while the Jets are a defensive behemoth compared to NE's worst ranked squad.

Full breakdown after the rundown and the jump. Feel free to leave your comments, thoughts, concerns, predictions etc. below.

The Rundown

New England Patriots @ New York Jets -- Sunday, Nov. 13th, 8:20 p.m. EST

Get tickets here!

Location: Metlife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ.

Coverage: Nationally broadcast on NBC. Sirius XM 93.

Record: The all time series including postseason is tied 52-52-1.

What happened last time? The Patriots beat the Jets somewhat handily a few weeks ago, 30-21.

Injury report: 

Jets Out: Brodney Pool is listed as Questionable but will not play. Shawn Nelson is questionable. Everyone else will play. 

Patriots Out: LB's Brandon Spikes and Dane Fletcher will miss the game. Questionable: Kyle Arrington (CB) foot, Patrick Chung (S) foot, Shaun Ellis (DE) rib, Kevin Faulk (RB) knee, BenJarvus Green-Ellis (RB) toe, Gary Guyton (LB) shoulder, Jerod Mayo (LB) knee, Taylor Price (WR) hamstring, Sebastian Vollmer (T) back, Ryan Wendell (C) concussion. 


Offense: The Jets are 28th in overall offense, 11th in points, 22nd in passing and 25th in rushing. NE is 2nd in yards, 5th in points, 1st passing and 16th in rushing.

Defense: The Jets are 7th overall, 6th against the pass, and 21st against the rush. New England is 32nd overall, 32nd against the pass, and 9th against the run.

If you ask me this is a must win game. Jets can still win a playoff berth or even the division if they lose, but the rest of the season will be an uphill battle. Conversely, a win over the Pats puts them on the fast track for the division with a super soft schedule for most of the rest of the way. A win means they will make the playoffs, a loss means they will be one of those middle of the pack teams that struggles to make the playoffs and loses to teams with good QB's. Jets have demonstrated over the past couple of years that being one of those teams will get you far but not all of the way. If you want to be a winner, you need to beat a winner. You need to at least split with your greatest rival, or you are second rate. I feel it is far and away the most crucial of the remaining games.

Patriot(s) to watch: The entire backfield

Last meeting, the Pats tried and were fairly successful in keeping us honest by balancing out their offensive attack. The Giants showed last week that if you put on enough pressure and shut down the running game, Brady and friends will have trouble keeping pace, even against a mediocre secondary.

If they can capture the Giants formula of shutting the team down up front then imagine how our top rated secondary could carve up the Pats? Every week someone jumps on my back for saying it, but there is nothing desirable about our rushing defense. Rushing defense is a huge part of why we lost last time. Rushing offense and defense has picked up and is improving, but until the Jets start getting out of the bottom half of those two categories you cannot reasonably expect to beat your rival with the #1 offense in the league.

In the secondary keep your eyes on CB Kyle Arrington, who has been both a good tackler and quite the ball hawk this year. Arrington is beatable, but I expect him to be the biggest threat at intercepting any errant throws Sanchez may toss his way.

Jets X-factor: Shonn Greene

On the flip side of the ball, similar improvements must be made in order to win. I don't think this is any time to let up on the running game. With Mangold back at 100% health we can give another shot at running it down their throat. A successful day from Greene and Tomlinson would be half of the battle in opening up the passing game. It's as simple as that. If we run well enough against the Pats to open up their consistently worst ranked pass defense I just don't see how we could lose this thing.

Potential Jets MVP: Dustin Keller

As bad as the Pats passing defense has been, they are far and away their weakest at the more balanced positions of LB and Safety, especially this week due to injury. If by some stroke of luck Chung is out on top of their battered Linebacker corps, everything will be in place for Keller to have a monster game. All of the power of the Patriots secondary lies in Kyle Arrington and Devin McCourty, who will have their hands more than full with Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress. If Keller is overly successful and they have to consistently bring help from the secondary, the overall running and passing games of the Jets will benefit. Jeremy Kerley could experience similar success on downs where the Jets drop a receiver in the slot.

Prediction: Jets 30 Patriots 24

Since a strong offensive performance from the Jets is necessary, I'm going to be optimistic and say that we get it. With Mangold back (at 100%) and even just an above-average running game, the Patriots may find a wholly different opponent then the one they faced a few weeks ago. The lack of our best coverage Safety is troublesome, but I'm willing to bet the Jets defense can contain Brady & friends enough to give the offense the opportunity it needs against the overall 32nd ranked defense in the NFL. I will admit I'm uncomfortable with a game where the Jets are favored over the Pats in the opening line, it just seems wrong. The Patriots merely lost to two very good teams. Never underestimate the Patriots ability to pile up points very quickly, but there are several factors that favor the Jets. If the guys in green can pull it together, the Jets will indisputably lead the division with the Pats working from behind the rest of the season. This is critical.