After everyone is full of turkey, or if you are Canadian like me and just like football, the NFL has an AFC East rivalry game featuring the (7-3) Patriots and the (4-6) New York Jets. There is definately no love loss here as this is one of the better rivalry in the NFL. We all no the story lines – Belichick vs Rex, Brady vs Jets defense, Sanchez vs Tebow… and so on. Both teams are coming off their most dominant performance of the season, and look to establish their playoff positioning in this one. The Patriots are fighting for the #1 seed while the Jets look to break away from the crowd for the wild card fight.
The Patriots are beginning life without superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was injured on the Pats 59th point of last weeks contest blocking an extra point. He has a broken forearm and is apparently out 4-8 weeks. We know how tough Gronk is, so I wouldn’t suggest dropping him – as he could be a go for your playoff weeks.
The Patriots will be getting Aaron Hernandez back from injury, and look for a Daniel Fells and/or Visante Schianco to do the blocking duties for Gronk. The Pats have so many offensive weapons, so look for Brady to continue getting his receivers targets and for someone else to step up in Gronks place. Last week it was Julian Edelman emerging, and Brandon Lloyd owner’s are hoping it’s Lloyd’s turn this week.
Welker will look to get open in a tough matchup against the Jets
Defense and Special teams were the key for the Patriots last week in beating the Colts. They scored on two interception returns, including newly acqured Aqib Talib’s welcome to Foxborough. Julian Edelman also added a special teams score. Look for the secondary to be tested, but able to do better against Mark Sanchez, who showed he could move the ball on them in their opening meeting.
Their first contest came down to the wire, and was almost an upset. Sanchez played his best game of the season at home falling 29-26 in overtime. Although the Patriots have won 15 of their last 19 against the Jets, they are often a physical, hard fought battle.
Sanchez will need to continue to move the ball, which will be hard with the minimal weapons that he has. The key to be to establish the run, and hope some of their receivers can get open. Having Dustin Keller back will help, but Jeremy Kerley will be the focal point of the offense.
The Patriots will look to shut down the run, which they have all year, allowing 99 yards a game. Look for the Jets to become one dimensional and Sanchez having to throw the ball all over the field to get the job done – something that he is capable of doing, but highly unlikely.
The Patriots have a nice three headed running attack with Stevan Ridley being the trusted back. The Jets haven’t been able to stop anyone on the ground, giving up over 144 on the ground, and look for that trend to continue, as Ridley will soften them up for Brady to carve out.
The key matchup with be Tom Brady vs the Jets secondary. Antonio Cromartie has been good since Darelle Revis has gone down. Usually he draws Wes Welker in this matchup, and if this is the case, look for Brandon Lloyd to have himself a nice game. The Jets only give up 200 yards a game through the air, but Brady in a whiz and that passing attack is potent, even without Gronkowski. Look for Brady to battle, and pick his spots in a tight contested game.
I like Patriots to win on the road and continue their push for top seed in the AFC!