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Jets at Patriots Game Preview

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The New York Jets head into a short week with a record of 1-5, and 0-5 against quality opponents. Gang Green is in dire need of a momentum-changing victory that will take the NFL by storm and end the teams slump. A Thursday night primetime matchup between the Jets and AFC East rival New England Patriots could be just what the doctor ordered, or conversely it could continue the Jets losing streak and put the squad in a position where it is all but eliminated from contention. This is the sort of game that inevitably ends with you or your loved ones drinking heavily, either in celebration or miserable defeat.

Where Each Team Is

The Patriots have finally taken the lead in the AFC East with a 4-2 record after a crucial victory over the Buffalo Bills. I feel like if I were from Western New York I would receive an unsolicited lecture from some avuncular figure in my life about horseshoes and hand grenades every single year. If a children's book author hailed from Rochester, they would have written "The Little Train That Almost Could...4 Consecutive Times." But enough using historically depressing teams to feel better about the very modern problems facing the Jets. The Patriots and Bills are winning some games. The Jets are not.

After multiple disastrous outings against the likes of some of the finest and best managed cities in America such as Detroit, Gang Green experienced a bit of a resurgence against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. Geno Smith displayed poise and even though he was ultimately outpaced by Manning's forehead and his merry band of lethargic stoners pro-bowl caliber teammates, the Jets offense showed signs of improvement. On a semi-related note, can you believe there's actually a team called the Denver Nuggets? I didn't either at first, but the friendly guy that answers the phones for the NBA assures me that there is in fact a team going by that name and to please stop calling. Crazy, bro.

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Sister Site: Pats Pulpit

Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA.

Field: Open air, FieldTurf.

Coverage: CBS & NFL Network will share joint custody of this baby and fight jealously for its affection.

Weather: To quote my obnoxious, banal roommate from the mid-2000's; "IT'S GON RAIN." Also, he was quite insistent that I "Git 'R Done" which to this day I still don't understand how to accomplish. Highs are in the mid-70's.

Read a much better and more comprehensive breakdown of the game time weather forecast from a more esteemed writer here.

Record: Patriots lead the all-time series, 56-53-1.

What happened last time? Jets beat the Patriots by a score of 30-27 in overtime on October 20th, 2013.

Who is favored? Patriots by 10.

Injuries

Jets

NAME POSITION INJURY MON. TUE. WED. GAME STATUS
Amaro, Jace TE Knee LP FP FP Probable
Bush, Josh S Quadriceps LP DNP DNP Doubtful (CUT)
Colon, Willie G Knee LP FP FP Probable
Decker, Eric WR Hamstring LP LP FP Probable
Giacomini, Breno T Low Back FP FP FP Probable
Harris, David LB Shoulder LP LP LP Probable
Harrison, Damon DL Ankle FP FP FP Probable
Johnson, Chris RB Ankle FP FP FP Probable
Mangold, Nick C Shoulder LP FP FP Probable
Nelson, David WR Ankle LP FP FP Probable
Reilly, Trevor OLB Knee DNP DNP DNP Out
Salas, Greg WR Wrist/Ankle DNP DNP DNP Out
Walls, Darrin CB Knee LP FP FP Probable


Patriots

NAME POSITION INJURY MON. TUE. WED. GAME STATUS
Mayo, Jerod LB Knee OUT OUT OUT OUT
Ridley, Stevan RB Knee OUT OUT OUT OUT
Connolly, Dan G Concussion DNP DNP DNP Questionable
Ebner, Nate DB Finger DNP DNP DNP OUT
Fleming, Cameron OL Finger DNP DNP DNP OUT
Stork, Bryan OL Concussion DNP DNP DNP Questionable
Brady, Tom QB Ankle LP LP LP Probable
Browner, Brandon CB Ankle LP LP LP Questionable
Collins, Jamie LB Thigh LP LP LP Questionable
Easley, Dominique DL Shoulder/Knee LP LP LP Questionable
Hightower, Dont'a LB Knee LP LP LP Questionable
Jones, Chandler DE Shoulder LP LP LP Probable
McCourty, Devin S Rib LP LP LP Probable
Slater, Matthew WR Shoulder LP LP LP Questionable

Rankings

Jets: On offense the Jets are 30th in points scored, 30th in overall yards, 32nd in passing yards and 12th in rushing. Not only are the Jets easily one of the worst offenses overall and through the air in the NFL, Denver selling out against the run versus the Jets dropped them out of the top ten rushing attacks. The Jets can't pass and they can't score. Until they reverse this trend, Gang Green will lose.

On defense the Jets are 25th in points allowed, 6th in overall yards allowed, 15th in passing defense, and 8th in rushing defense. The Jets have lost their prestigious position as one of the leagues best run defenses. While the Jets don't do any one single thing at an outstanding level on defense and the unit surrenders far too many points on average, the Jets quietly remain one of the best defensive units in terms of average yards surrendered per game.

Patriots: On offense the Patriots are 11th in points scored, 17th in overall yards, 15th in passing yards; and 18th in rushing yards. The run offense might take a step back with Stevan Ridley headed to injured reserve, but Shane Vereen and a committee of hungry backs should eagerly fill his shoes. The Patriots score a lot of points, but besides that on average they aren't especially threatening on paper.

On defense the Patriots rank 11th in points allowed, 5th in yards allowed, 3rd against the pass, and 14th against the run. With a secondary led by Darrelle Revis consistently ranking among the top 5 pass defenses every week, Geno Smith and the Jets offense will more than have their hands full. Smith typically does not produce well against the better secondaries.

AP Pro Ranking has the Jets falling to 29th overall, and the Patriots ranked 10th.

Attacking the Patriots

Playing the averages, the Patriots are worst against the run. Pounding the rock and refusing to abandon the ground game could potentially open up the pass, especially if the Pats are forced to stack players in the box against what has largely been a formidable rushing offense, last week notwithstanding. It's unlikely the Jets can create many mismatches against the New England secondary, especially with Greg Salas out, so Smith will need to be very accurate when he drops back to pass or this game could quickly get out of control.

Tom Brady isn't what he used to be. He's still a great player, but his regression is easily measurable and visible to even the more casual football viewers. Whether an effect of his lack of weapons or not (you're preaching to the choir, New England fans), Brady's production is slipping as he approaches the football-ancient age of 40. The Jets have a defensive line suited to get to Brady in the backfield several times. You don't need to sack Brady to disrupt the New England offense; simply hitting him as he throws is enough to turn the Patriots offense on its head and neutralize the pass.

Jets X-Factor

I feel like I've already reached my quota/limit for Eric Decker mentions as X-Factor in a single season. Salas is out, Kerley is seemingly overwhelmed, and David Nelson is unworthy of such a designation. So my offensive X-Factor goes to Jace Amaro by default. After a breakout game against Denver, the Jets rookie tight end's performance appears directly related to that of the offense. As Amaro goes so does the passing game. If you're a Jets fan, hope for Amaro to play very well.

Brady has been reliant on tight ends to complement his limited receiving options, consistently falling to Rob Gronkowski and Timothy Wright, his second and fourth leading receivers, respectively. It will be interesting to see how Calvin Pryor and Dawan Landry respond to such an athletic and productive set of tight ends. It's unlikely David Harris or Demario Davis can effectively cover Gronkowski, and safety or nickel help will be critical at some point. Landry, Harris, and Davis are the teams leading tacklers. Sound tackling will be crucial to the potential success of the team. The Patriots dink-and-dunk passing attack could be rendered ineffective if their receivers are neutralized promptly after the catch.

Patriots to Watch

Julian Edelman is the favorite target of Tom Brady, hands down. Edelman has 14 more receptions than the next-most targeted receiver on the team, and over 60 more receiving yards. Gronkowski is the favorite scoring threat with 4 touchdowns, followed by Brandon LaFell and Timothy Wright. Shane Vereen was a popular target out of the backfield long before Stevan Ridley went down with a knee injury. Brady relies on Edelman, LaFell, and Gronkowski in the open field and turns to his reserves and tight ends in the red zone.

The Patriots have 7 different players with interceptions on the season, compared to only 2 interceptions against them by opponents. Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones, and Dont'a Hightower all have multiple sacks on the year. Jerod Mayo was the teams undisputed lead tackler, with double the combined tackles of anyone else on the Patriots defense. It remains to be seen if anyone can fill those big shoes on the field, but while the Pats lack a standout player besides Mayo on defense there are no lack of players contributing. At least 15 different players on the Patriots defense have a sack or turnover to their credit.

Bro's Bottom Line

Another tough game in rapid succession for the Jets. Although against another challenging opponent, this game doesn't have the same feeling of being already resigned to a Jets loss like the match-ups of recent weeks. The Patriots are a good team that can't quite capture the greatness of years past, and the Jets are as hungry and desperate right now as they ever will be. Defeating the Patriots tonight would throw the AFC East back into contention for all 4 rival teams. A defeat would mean the Jets have (in the very best scenario) room for one more loss for the entire rest of the season to remain in contention, and their bye is still weeks away. It's hard to believe it, but this is a must-win game for the Jets in week 7.

New England might be heavily favored, but don't count Gang Green out of this game just yet.

Send your questions, comments, and hate mail via mr.zack@gmail.com or @JeffParksNY on Twitter. Thanks for reading.