Before we start, if anyone would like to buy a heavily used leather couch that only slightly smells like a cat went to the bathroom all over it, drop me an email. Disclaimer: Someone may have died on the couch. No refunds.
Where Each Team Is
The Jets are in desperate need of a win over their division rival in order to stay relevant in the AFC East after a very tough game (and uninspired effort by the entire team) against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Jets offense was virtually non-existent last week and could not keep pace with a Steelers team that finally found a little bit of traction in an otherwise disastrous season.
The Jets still have a shot against division foe New England who appears to be even less healthy overall than the last time the two teams met weeks ago. The Patriots will be missing some of their most valuable players at several positions on both offense and defense. While we here at GGN always preach taking the high road and never celebrate injury, the undeniable truth is that these players absence gives the Jets a chance to win they likely otherwise would not have had, and New York must capitalize on this in order to preserve their chances this season.
Random Fact: Vinny Testaverde once saved a group of school children from watching the movie Glitter.
Sister Site: Pats Pulpit
Location: Metlife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ. Home of the 0-6 New York Football Giants.
Field: Open air, artificial turf.
Coverage: CBS. Your grandparents favorite network to leave on while they nap.
Weather: Partly sunny with a High of 63. I attempted to reach The Weather Girls to see what were the chances of it raining men but they were not available for comment.
Record: Patriots lead the all time series 54-52-1.
What happened last time? The Patriots narrowly beat the Jets by a score of 13-10 earlier this year.
Who is favored? Patriots are the 3.5 point favorites.
(Players designated "Probable" status are omitted)
Out: Greg Salas (WR) Knee, Santonio Holmes (WR) Foot.
Out: Tommy Kelly (DT) Knee, Danny Amendola (WR) Concussion, Leon Washington (RB) Ankle. Doubtful: Aqib Talib (CB) Hip. Questionable: Dan Connolly (G) Concussion, Brandon Bolden (RB) Knee, Matt Slater (WR) Wrist, Julian Edelman (WR) Thigh, Marcus Cannon (T) Shoulder, Tavon Wilson (S) Hamstring, Rob Gronkowski (TE) Back.
Jets: On offense the Jets are 29th in points, 20th in overall yards, 22nd in the air and 14th on the ground. The Jets have settled in as a mediocre-to-below-average offense except in terms of rushing where they are barely above average. The Jets are consistently week-to-week one of the poorest scoring teams in the NFL. Even with an exceptional defense the Jets cannot win if they do not start scoring more often.
The Jets ranking on defense is more or less inversely proportional to those on offense. On defense the Jets are consistently one of the best teams in the league. The Jets are 14th in points allowed, 4th in overall yards allowed, 12th against the pass and 2nd against the run. The low yardage statistics both overall and against the run are largely thanks to players such as Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and Damon Harrison dominating the point of attack up front. The Jets poor numbers against the pass and scoring can be attributed to poor play in the secondary and regression from the likes of Antonio Cromartie.
Patriots: The Patriots are statistically also a mediocre to below average offense, believe it or not. The Pats are 22nd in points scored, 14th in overall yardage, 19th in passing yards and 11th in rushing yards. The Patriots have had a surprisingly balanced offense that has taken a step back in terms of power, while Tom Brady retains his trademark of winning games at the last second no matter what he has to work with on offense.
On defense, the Patriots are a stout 3rd in points allowed, 14th in overall yards allowed, 13th against the pass and 24th against the rush. The Patriots defense, while still average at best in most facets, has gradually improved over the years and bought the offensive unit more flexibility in performance.
AP Pro ranking has the Jets at 19 and the Patriots ranked 4th.
Random Fact: I'm writing this from a computer at a museum where I'm supposed to be performing community service.
Attacking the Patriots
The Jets best chance of victory lies in their strong rushing attack. The Patriots defense is statistically weakest against the run, and this was before the Patriots many losses on defense such as Kelly, Vince Wilfork, and Jerod Mayo. Bilal Powell will have a chance to establish himself as a premier back both on his team and in fantasy football leagues. Mike Goodson's short year is over after he barely had a chance to contribute, while Chris Ivory has been less than impressive with the snaps he has been given.
Geno Smith has shown he can exploit weaknesses in the secondary and will need to do so again given the presumed absence of Aqib Talib. Geno will need to move the ball effectively in order to keep pace with Tom Brady.
The Patriots have relied on the rush more consistently this season than in years past, but the offense will have their hands full trying to run against the Jets front seven. This will lead to many pass attempts by Brady as the rushing effort will likely be for the most part fruitless. Whether or not the Pats forced one-dimensionality will be a good thing depends on our GGN:
Antonio Cromartie needs to harness the raw talent he displayed last year in the absence of Darrelle Revis. Comartie has become more physical and will make critical tackles which were issues in the past, however his coverage abilities appear to have regressed and Cro has gotten beaten for both deep plays and on the short pass consistently this season.
Stephen Hill will need to build on his rapport with Geno Smith and emerge as the number one receiver with Santonio Holmes continuing to deal with health issues. Jeff Cumberland has displayed potential so far this year and will also need to build on past production in order for the Jets to be successful in the passing game.
The so-called "Sons of anarchy" (Harrison, Wilkerson, Richardson) and Quinton Coples need to be their typical disruptive selves in the backfield. A good pass rush could really change the trajectory of this game.
Patriots to Watch
Julian Edelman is the Patriots most productive receiver and New England's passing attack hinges upon his success as a receiver, however Kenbrell Thompkins has emerged as a new favorite target of Brady and the teams biggest scoring threat in the air. Aaron Dobson is another emerging weapon on offense and potentially may have increased targets this Sunday given the absence of Danny Amendola. Austin Collie and former Jet Matthew Mulligan are supporting players for New England.
Stevan Ridley will more than likely be stuffed up front early and often by the Jets front seven, although LeGarrette Blount has a similar YPC and may be called upon in relief in scoring or short yardage situations.
Chandler Jones is probably the most formidable player in the Patriots front seven who is not currently injured. Jones leads the team in sacks with 4.5 and is one of the teams more active tacklers. Devin McCourty and Kyle Arrington will be trying to fill the shoes of Aqib Talib.
Bro's Bottom Line
The Patriots will never be a pushover team or an easy victory, no matter how badly they are reeling from injuries at the time. Tom Brady could win with the dog that played Air Bud and Braylon Edwards as his top targets. With that said, the Jets are well known for splitting with the Patriots in many seasons, and there was never more ripe an opportunity to snatch victory from a top-tier team like there will be for the Jets on Sunday.
The Jets have been hanging tough in the NFL this year in spite of fielding a shell of a team, especially on offense. There's really no reason to believe that an erratic team that plays to its opponents like the Jets couldn't shock some people this weekend. The Patriots will likely never be as weak as they are now so long as Brady is leading the team, so now is the time. Rex Ryan has shown he can out coach the Patriots on his best day. Geno Smith has shown he can be an offensive player of the week against a weakened team. While a loss by the Jets would not be damning nor would it be the end of the season, a win for Gang Green could completely change the trajectory of the season for both teams.