After suffering 12 straight losses to the Patriots, the Jets find themselves in an unfamiliar position. They are on a roll and New England is struggling. Can the Jets overcome the offensive injuries they suffered last weekend and put the Patriots to the sword? Despite owning the better record and the home field for this game, DraftKings Sportsbook has New England as 2.5 point favorites.
New England has a bit of a quarterback controversy going on at the moment, as fourth round rookie Bailey Zappe arguably outplayed Mac Jones when he filled in for him in recent weeks. Against the Bears, though, both players got playing time and they each struggled as they combined to throw three interceptions.
For Sunday’s game, New England is reportedly going back to Jones, who was 10-7 as a starter last season and threw 22 touchdowns with just 13 interceptions. He’s been less effective this year so far with two touchdown passes and six interceptions and may still be dealing with the effects of the high ankle sprain that sidelined him for a couple of weeks.
Zappe has completed 71 percent of his passes, although a lot of these have been behind the line of scrimmage. They have a more experienced backup in Brian Hoyer but he is currently on injured reserve.
New England has had pretty good continuity on their offensive line until last weekend. Starting right tackle Isaiah Wynn, who had been banged up anyway, was scratched for Monday night’s game against the Bears and then center David Andrews suffered a late concussion.
Wynn is questionable again this week, but might not resume his starting role anyway as he had given up eight penalties and three sacks in the first six games. Veteran Marcus Cannon had started in place of the former first rounder against the Bears but Yodny Cajuste could also be an option. Cajuste, who started two games last year, was just activated from injured reserve.
James Ferentz will start at center for Andrews, who has been ruled out. Ferentz has started six games in his career, with New England winning three of those.
The other tackle, Trent Brown, has given up a team-high four sacks and has seven penalties in seven games, so he’s had his issues too.
At guard, Michael Onwenu is on the right and first round pick Cole Strange is settling into his role on the left. Onwenu might be their best run blocker.
Another rookie, Chasen Hines, who was selected in the sixth round, was just added to injured reserve so New England elevated undrafted rookie Kody Russey from the practice squad. He could back up Ferentz.
At running back, Rhamondre Stevenson thrived while Damien Harris was out injured and is currently 7th in the NFL for rushing yardage. He’s also shown an improved all-round game with 25 receptions so far. Harris returned on Monday night, although the pair combined for just 47 yards against the Bears.
Last season, both Harris and Stevenson averaged 4.6 yards per carry. Harris ended up with over 900 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns.
New England also have two rookie backs - fourth rounder Pierre Strong and sixth rounder Kevin Harris - on the roster but they’ve combined for just 10 rushing yards on four carries.
Jakobi Meyers is once again the Patriots’ leading receiver in yards and catches. Kendrick Bourne has been a disappointment this year after racking up 800 receiving yards in 2021 though. He has just 11 catches.
Nelson Agholor and DeVante Parker haven’t been very productive so far but they’ve shown some bit play abilities. Agholor is averaging 16 yards per catch and Parker is averaging over 21 per catch. Agholor is listed as questionable though.
Second round rookie Tyquan Thornton is off to a slow start with seven catches, while Matthew Slater and Rayleigh Webb have just been used on special teams so far. Webb, an undrafted rookie, made his debut against the Bears.
New England has just two tight ends on the roster. Hunter Henry had a big season in 2021 with 50 catches including nine touchdowns but he has just 14 catches so far. Jonnu Smith has 10 catches off the bench.
New England plays a mixture of 4-3 and 3-4 fronts but will be without one of their contributors this week as last year’s second round pick Christian Barmore has been ruled out.
Lawrence Guy, Davon Godchaux and Carl Davis should get the majority of the reps on the inside this week. Guy just returned from an injury in the Bears game but Davis and Godchaux have struggled to hold up against the run.
Deatrich Wise, who primarily lines up outside, has five sacks and has been generating some good pressure this season.
Off the bench, Daniel Ekuale has contributed in a rotational role but sixth round rookie Sam Roberts hasn’t played much and undrafted rookie DaMarcus Mitchell hasn’t played at all yet.
New England’s best defensive player has been Matthew Judon, who had 2.5 sacks against the Bears to take him to 8.5 on the year. He had 12.5 last season. Judon injured Zach Wilson on a hit last season, so the Jets will be keen to pay close attention to him.
Ja’Whaun Bentley is the team’s leading tackler for the second year in a row and Jahlani Tavai has also started the last three games at linebacker. They are missing Kyle Van Noy, though; a productive starter who they made a cap casualty in March.
Mack Wilson is still listed as a starter but he’s struggled in a part time role. Raekwon McMillian has also seen some reps at inside linebacker, while Anfernee Jennings and Josh Uche have been used as rotational edge defenders. Jennings and Uche are both listed as questionable for Sunday though.
Jamie Collins recently signed to New England’s practice squad for his fourth stint with the team. He was elevated for the Bears game and could feature again on Sunday.
New England lost JC Jackson in free agency so their starters at corner are currently listed as Jonathan Jones and Jalen Mills. However, Mills has struggled this season and Jones is listed as questionable for Sunday. Their best corner this year has actually been fourth round rookie Jack Jones, who has two interceptions, including a pick-six, and four pass breakups, despite only starting two games.
Myles Bryant has been the main slot cornerback although New England does also operate a lot of three safety sets where one of the safeties will man the slot.
The starting safeties are listed as Devin McCourty and Kyle Dugger with Adrian Phillips also having started six games. Phillips intercepted four passes last year. Dugger has been ruled out and Phillips is listed as questionable so Jabrill Peppers is likely to see more playing time.
Third round rookie Marcus Jones has seen some action at cornerback but cornerback Shaun Wade and safety Joshuah Bledsoe have played just 14 snaps between them and safety Brenden Schooler has only played on special teams.
Punter Jake Bailey is having a rough year as he’s 31st in the league for gross average and dead last in net average. Bailey had three punts blocked last season but his gross average was over four yards higher than it has been in 2022.
Kicker Nick Folk, an ex-Jet, has only missed two field goals this season, both of which came in games New England won anyway.
In the return game, Marcus Jones is a potential threat who averages 13.5 yards per punt return. He could also feature as a kickoff returner, but Strong seems to have that role at the moment. Bryant is listed as Jones’ backup as the punt returner.
New England has uncharacteristically given up over 20 yards per punt return so far, despite perennial pro bowler Matt Slater being enlisted as a primary gunner. The other gunner, Schooler, has outproduced him so far this year. Their most productive tackler, Cody Davis, went onto injured reserve before last week’s game.
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