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When the Jets and Patriots met a month ago, the Patriots handed the Jets their third straight loss and made people question whether the Jets would even make the playoffs, let along make good on Rex’s usual preseason guarantee. Now the Jets have the chance to do the same thing right back to the Patriots.
The Jets have been hot lately, and they are undefeated at home this season. They’ve won the past two meetings at home against New England and on Sunday have a great opportunity to give the suddenly vulnerable Patriots their third straight loss, which would be their first since 2002.
“Both teams are going to be humming for this one, no question,” Rex Ryan said. “You can sugarcoat it all you want, but they know they need it and we know we need it. Both teams are going to be hungry.”
During their three game losing streak the Jets gave up at least 30 points and fell two games behind the AFC East lead. Three wins later and New York is 5-3 and back into a tie for 1st with Buffalo and New England. The defense looks like the defense of old, circa 09’ and 10’, allowing only 38 points and forcing 8 turnovers in the past three games. Their last win was a convincing one 27-11 over the Bills last week.
“We definitely have been getting better these last three weeks,” Ryan said. “But we’re going to see how much we’ve improved.” While the defense is playing better they will still face a tough task against Tom Brady and the Patriots who are ranked second in the league averaging 437.3 yards per game.
However in the Patriots past three games they’ve failed to score more than 20 points. Against Pittsburgh two weeks ago they managed only 213 yards total and didn’t score in the first half last week against the Giants. They also committed four turnovers against New York last week which is the third time they’ve done so this year compared to only 1 turnover through their final eight games last year.
Tom Brady isn’t having his best year as he already has 10 interceptions which is the third most in the league compared to only four all of last year. “Just decision making,” Brady said. “I’ve just got to make better decisions.” The problem for the Patriots though hasn’t been the offense. There issue is the defense which is dead last in passing allowing 314.0 yards per game and is the only team allowing 300+ passing yards in the league.
“I think everybody can do a better job,” Bill Belichick said. “That includes everybody — it includes me, it includes all the coaches, it includes all the players. There’s room for improvement for all of us.” The Patriots cut Albert Haynesworth on Tuesday who they had brought in hopes that he could help improve their defensive front.
They also brought in wide receiver Chad Ochocinco hoping he could give them some sort of a vertical threat, but he hasn’t made a catch in three games. Last week Brady targeted him five times. “He’s continued to do a great job in practice in his role that he’s really carved out for himself,” Brady said, “and he’s going to continue to be out there and, hopefully, make a bunch of plays.”
The patriots will need him to start making plays to give them a some semblance of a deep threat, because due to his lack of production the Patriots have had to rely extensively on Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski. With Welker likely being matched up against All-Pro corner back Darrelle Revis his job will be even tougher this week.
Welker had a big 73 yard reception in the last meeting against the Jets, it came when he was lined up opposite Revis. He was otherwise held to a very pedestrian day only catching four balls for 51 yards. “Sometimes I was throwing him on the ground, sometimes he was catching some balls on me,” Revis said. “I call him the ‘Energizer Bunny’ because he never stops — it doesn’t matter what you do to him, he just keeps on coming and coming.”
The key for the Patriots last time the two met was the run game. BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed for 136 yards and two touchdowns and the Patriots racked up 152 yards on the ground. The Jets defense has been playing well against the run lately, though they are still ranked 22nd giving up 123.0 yards per game. They will be getting defensive end Mike DeVito back who is a big part of their run defense so that bodes well for the Jets.
Though the Patriots pass defense is bad, the Jets will continue to rely on their run game as they have the past few games. Shonn Greene has stepped up and the Jets are averaging 130.7 yards over the three game win streak up from 76.2 before. A lot of the resurgence has to do with All-Pro center Nick Mangold fully healing from injury.
The return to the run game has also helped the passing game as Mark Sanchez has 7 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions with a 63% completion rate over the past four games. Sanchez has done well at home against the Patriots posting a 114.5 passer rating and a 2-0 record.
With the recent struggles of the Patriots and the Jets playing well lately and at home the game will be a close one. The Jets should be able to learn from the Steelers and their New York NFC counterparts and be able to keep Brady off balance in the passing game. Unless the Patriots get another big day from the run game the Jets will be hard to beat at home.
When it’s all said and done the Jets should be able to hand the beleaguered Patriots their third straight loss and move into first place in the AFC East. Final Prediction: Patriots 24 Jets 27
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