Sunday, October 20, 2013

Four Point Stance: Patriots at Jets


The New England Patriots (5-1) lost the leader of their defensive front two weeks ago, the leader of their second layer last week and will be without the leader of their secondary this week. The New York Jets (3-3) don't feel sorry for them.

Gang Green hosts their division rival Sunday in somewhat of a must-have game. The Jets, coming off a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, have a tough stretch the next three weeks before their bye and can ill-afford to fall below .500 for the first time this year.

New England gets a shot in the arm with the return of tight end Rob Gronkowski but will be without top receiver Danny Amendola -- as it has for nearly the entire season. The Patriots are riding the high off a last-second victory over the New Orleans Saints and would exponentially improve their odds at yet another divisional title with a win over the Jets.

When the Jets have the ball:
The absence of defensive tackles Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly and linebacker Jerod Mayo should provide ample opportunity for the Jets' running game to roll. However, the Jets won't shy away from the pass, especially with star cornerback Aqib Talib out. Rookie quarterback Geno Smith was pretty good for three quarters in Week 2 against the Patriots but threw three interceptions in the fourth quarter en route to a tight loss. Smith can't replicate those mistakes with a Patriots offense on the other side that is finally playing at the pace it's accustomed to.

When the Patriots have the ball:
New England has the third-least efficient red zone offense in the NFL, which showed in its last meeting against the Jets. In Week 2, the Patriots went 0-for-3 against Gang Green inside the 20-yard line. That won't happen again. Tight end Rob Gronkowski is slated to make his season debut and instantly upgrades the Patriots' chances at in that department. The Jets' defense has been hot through six weeks in nearly every category but turnovers, and it looks to pick off Tom Brady for the first time in two years.

Antonio Cromartie. The Jets' top cornerback is looking to rebound from a very poor start to the season, and the Jets need him to come up big against the Patriots. He'll be guarding a handful of different receivers throughout the game and must hold up in man coverage. Rookie Dee Milliner is returning from injury and will get help on the other side of the field, leaving Cro to fend for himself.

When Rex Ryan took over the Jets in 2009, he instantly sparked an even rivalry with the Patriots, but that fire flamed out after a couple years. In his first two years as head coach, Ryan split with the Patriots in the regular season, and his Jets beat New England in the playoffs in 2010. The Patriots, however, have won each of their five meetings since. Tom Brady owns a 18-4 record against the Jets, and New England holds the all-time edge at 54-52-1.

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