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Patriot Games: Jets tussel with the Brady Bunch in Foxborough

November 20, 2009

Patriots coach Bill Belichick has been the talk of the NFL and blogs this week following his controversial fourth-down call that led to a disheartening defeat.  His critics around Foxborough may be willing to forgive him quickly if his Patriots achieve a different kind of redemption Sunday.

New England is looking for revenge after a 16-9 defeat to the New York Jets in week 2.  The Jets defense suffocated Brady and the Pats, holding the Quarterback to an under 50% completion rate.  However, after their offense sputtered in the loss two months ago, the Patriots will have a chance to all but bury the struggling Jets in the AFC East if they can improve to 6-0 at home.

Sunday’s defeat to the Colts ended New England’s three-game winning streak and put a dent in its chances of gaining a first-round playoff bye. However, the Patriots (6-3) still hold a two-game lead on New York and Miami in the East as they try to reclaim the division they won five straight times from 2003-07.  A victory over the Jets (4-5) would help strengthen that bid, giving them a three-game advantage and the tiebreaker over New York. The Patriots will be especially hungry after they were held below 10 points for the first time since 2006 in their early loss to the Jets.

That was Brady’s second regular-season game following his return from major knee surgery, and the 2007 NFL MVP seems to have regained his swagger. He’s passed for more than 300 yards in four straight games, throwing 13 touchdowns and four interceptions.

Revis got the best of Moss, Brady, in week 2

Wide receiver Randy Moss has been equally as impressive, raking in 525 receiving yards and six TD’s in the four games.  If you remember, Moss was shut down by standout cornerback Darrelle Revis, and held to just four catches for 24 yards.   This matchup is bound to be the main even Sunday, and it got quite awkward when Revis was asked about his week two matchup with Moss. 

“We’re going to see how well we prepare and how much better we understand what they’re doing,” Brady said. “It’s a good scheme, and it’s been proven for a lot of years that it’s a good scheme, and the players of the Jets have really seemed to adapt to it.”

Despite Brady’s praise, the Jets defense has looked like some stank swiss cheese lately, and hasn’t been nearly as dominant since an impressive 3-0 start.  New York still ranks third in the NFL in total defense, but no Jet fan has forgotten how Rex’s crew let MJD and the Jaguars slice them up for a game-winning drive last Sunday. 

Another problem for the Jets has been their rush defense over the past six games.  The Jets’ last six opponents have averaged 126.0 yards on the ground, with the team going 1-5.

Linebacker Bart Scott admitted that the team is now humbled, but added ““Nobody expects anything out of us. We’ve just got to go about our business.”

The offense hasn’t been much better, especially in the passing game where the Jets are ranked 27th in the NFL.   Even the Jets top-ranked rushing attack has been held under 4.0 yards per carry the last two weeks.

Mark Sanchez has been inconsistent, but still impressive at times, yet needs to improve on his accuracy and decision-making.  The Sanchise ranks 27th in the NFL with a 66.5 passer rating. 

Of course the Jets made headlines for other reasons this week, including introducing their new sponsor Kleenex after Rex Ryan cried in a team meeting Monday.  All jokes aside, Rex will never doubt his squad and reiterated that on Monday.

“At the end of the day, I always say somebody is going to have egg on their face,” Ryan said Monday. “So far, it looks like me. But, I’m betting on me. I’m betting on our football team.

“Trust me, I’m going to work to the best of my ability to find answers. Whatever it is, I believe we’ll find them. I know our task is hard, but it’s not impossible.”

No visiting team has been able to win at Gillette Stadium this season, but the Jets have won two of their last three in Foxborough. They beat a Brady-less team 34-31 last Nov. 13.

New York is trying to win three straight overall against the Patriots for the first time since a four-game run from 1999-2001.  It will be tough, but stranger things have happened.  Wouldn’t it be just like the Jets to lose to a mediocre Jaguars team at home, then go out and beat the hated Pats on the road?  Of course, they would then probably lose to the Panthers the following week, but lets take it one game at a time. 

Key Matchup:  Wes Welker vs. Dwight Lowery/Lito Shepphard.

Prediction: Patriots 27, Jets 20. 

News and Notes: Safety Jim Leonhard, despite having surgery Monday, thinks there is a chance he could play, but is still doubtful.  If Jimmy can’t go, David Harris will call the defensive plays for the Jets and  Eric Smith will replace Leonhard in the starting lineup.  Also, it looks like Vernon Gholston will once again be inactive for Sunday.  Jerricho Cotchery seems to be Westoff’s favorite to return punts Sunday, giving Darrelle Revis rest to cover Moss.  Thomas Jones took the floor at a players only meeting and gave an impassioned speech (no tears were shed) about this week being the Jets last chance and that if they lose they need to face the reality that major changes could be coming this off-season.

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