Ever since the Jets embarrassed the Patriots in Foxboro back in January, New England fans have circled this first game of the most intriguing rivalry in football on the schedule. Tom Brady said in the offseason that that loss was the worst loss he has ever had, including the Super Bowl 42 loss to the New York Giants. This is clearly a revenge game and the trash talking has already begun. Take a look at some hilarious Jets’ quotes from this week.
Santonio Holmes on the Patriots’ defense: "The numbers speak for themselves about how well they're NOT playing”
Antonio Cromartie: "I hope I'm a target this game"
Note: Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick ordered his team to not engage in trash talking this week. If you need a lesson, just ask Wes Welker. He got the message when he talked about head Rex Ryan’s feet and had his foot in his mouth on the bench.
The New York Jets, on the field, have been dismal the last two weeks. They gave up 200+ rushing yards to Darren McFadden in Oakland. Then, last week, they were down 27-7 to the Baltimore Ravens by the middle of the second quarter. Shonn Greene and New York’s rushing game is 30th in the NFL and are more like ground and pounded then ground and pound. This has forced Mark Sanchez to throw the ball 40+ times a game, thus leading to more turnovers. However, Rex Ryan has built this team to beat one team, the New England Patriots.
Here are my keys to this epic matchup in Foxboro:
The Man in the Middle: New England has had their share of injuries, including losing linebacker Jerod Mayo for up to six weeks. However, here in New York, Jets’ fans are ecstatic that they will likely get center Nick Mangold back after missing the last two games with a high ankle sprain. Without Mangold, New York has been one dimensional and quarterback Mark Sanchez has experienced a lot of trips to the ground. Now that he is back, the Jets can try to run the ball more with Shonn Greene to control clock. Greene has had a disappointing year so far, but he ran for 192 yards in three games vs. the Pats last year.
Tighten Up: The Patriots might also get some good news this week. Tight End Aaron Hernandez might finally be back after missing two weeks with a MCL sprain. He might not be 100% if he does play, but having him on the field means more double tight end formations to spread the field. The Jets always seem to leave the middle of the field open with Eric Smith and Jim Leonhard at safety. Leonhard is the captain of that defense, so they will have to get a good game from him to win. I look for Brady to go back to finding some big pass-catching tight ends.
He’s Finally On Our Side: Last year, the main thorn in the Patriots’ side was defensive end Shaun Ellis. Ellis had five tackles and two sacks in the win back in January. Now, he’s wearing the Patriot red on Sunday. He and Albert Haynesworth have been no-shows on this defense so far this year. In order to win this game, they have to get after Sanchez. Ellis knows the Jets well and might equal his three tackle total from the season so far at least in this game.
PREDICTION: Everyone thinks the Patriots will blow out the Jets in this game, including Las Vegas who has New England as a ten point favorite this week. I think the Jets will cover. New York seems to know how to handle the Patriots with the exception of a 45-3 win for New England back in December. The next two weeks will be tests for this offense going up against the Ryan brothers, who know how to contain Brady with those zones better than anyone. This is going to come down to the 4th quarter and with the game at Gillette Stadium, New England gets the edge.
Shaun Ellis will be the difference on defense and give me Deion Branch on offense against the “target” Antonio Cromartie. Hey Antonio, remember what happened when Antonio Smith talked four years ago? Anyway, the Patriots win a close game.
PATRIOTS 34 JETS 27