Sunday, October 21, 2012

Gameday Deciding Factors: Jets at Patriots


The New York Jets and New England Patriots' rivalry has been a bit closer the last few years than people might give it credit for. After the teams split regular season meetings in 2008, 2009 and 2010, New England swept the Jets in 2011. However, the Jets ousted the Patriots in Foxborough in the 2010 playoffs.

While players and coaches from each team have been pouring compliments on the opposition through the media all week, they'll surely be out for blood Sunday in a game that is always saturated in emotion.

Red light, Greene light. The Patriots' run defense is one of the NFL's best kept secrets, as it is giving up just 3.4 yards a carry to opposing running backs. That's a far cry from the 5 yards a carry the Indianapolis Cots are surrendering, though Jets running back Shonn Greene's 161-yard, three touchdown day against Indy last week was still impressive. With Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight riding the pine due to injuries, Greene will get a hefty load of carries against New England as Gang Green tries to control the clock and keep the Patriots' No. 1-ranked offense off the field.

Third is the word. The Jets' defense is allowing the opposition to move the chains on 46 percent of third downs. Meanwhile, the Patriots' offense is converting third downs at a 47 percent rate. That discrepancy could show up in a big way in this one if the Jets allow New England to run the ball successfully on first down. (Photo: Karen Cardoza, Flickr)

Patriots' still-weak secondary. New England's weakest link, as it has been for years now, is its pass defense. Through six games, the Patriots have given up 33 passing plays of 20 yards or more, which is seven more than the next-worst team in that category. Also, no team has surrendered more passing touchdowns than New England. The Jets will likely be playing from behind for the majority of this one, so the onus will be on quarterback Mark Sanchez to exploit the Patriots' weak secondary.

Mismatch at tight end. Darrelle Revis isn't around for the Jets to put him on New England's hot receiver, whether he's outside, in the slot or even at tight end. That means New York's top two cornerbacks in Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson will strictly play outside, leaving the safeties and linebackers to deal with tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. That could spell trouble for a defense that has preached increased speed at linebacker but has yet to show it. Safeties Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry need to come up big.
A week in Jets and Patriots posts at AFC East Daily:

Week 7 AFC East game picks: Jets at Patriots

Wilfork says Mangold is the best center in the NFL

Ryan, Sanchez wary of Patriots' big man Wilfork

Around-the-Web AFC East power rankings - Week 7

Brady, Belichick assess Jets' Revis-less secondary

Patriots seek improvement in red zone offense

Rout of Colts allowed Jets to 'save a ton of calls'

3-3 AFC East deadlock 1st since new divisions in '02