Originally written on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 11/17/14

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 10: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks on in the first half against the Baltimore Ravens during the 2010 AFC wild-card playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

So many things happen during a season, and here comes a huge something. The New York Jets managed to climb out of a 2-3 hole to get 5-3, while the Patriots have lost their past two games to fall to 5-3. Both are tied with Buffalo for the lead in the division. This game will determine who gets to move on and who will just about go home.

Tom Brady has been in a mini slump, Bill Belichick is still cutting like its training camp and the defense still thinks the season hasn’t started yet.

Sunday is the biggest game to date and it will be the deciding factor of how successful or unsuccessful the Patriots will be this year.

In 2009, that game was the Indianapolis Colts (the infamous 4th and 2 game), and when they collapsed in Indy, they never recovered. In 2010, that was the 2nd matchup with the New York Jets and they went on to win the division and a 1st round bye (we know they lost in the first round, but that game set them up with all the advantages).

The Jets are the Patriots biggest AFC East rival and their convincing win over Buffalo last week confirms that the Jets are ready for this showdown. The Patriots seem to be going backwards.

There’s no more time to tweak, no more one week cushion or second chances. The loser will dig a hole for themselves and the Patriots, who have lost their previous two games, can’t afford to lose, period.

Tom Brady is going to have to handle the slot and overload blitzes without thinking too much. The wide receivers have to get separation. The coaches have to get the running game going early to get play action going to help the receivers get that separation. The offensive line has to protect Brady better than the past 4 weeks and the tight ends have to come up big. If there is a time for Chad Ochocinco to win back some love from the fans, he can start right here.

The defense has to stop playing like scared sacrificial lambs and start being wolves. By cutting Albert Haynesworth, Bill Belichick sent a message to his team, “this is it guys, us against the world”. Now we’ll find out who can right the ship or who is bailing early.

It seems like common sense, but common sense isn’t as common as you might think. The Patriots know how the Jets are going to defend them. It comes down to who wants it more.

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