On Sunday, Tom Brady will lead his 12-2 Patriots into the unfriendly confines of Met Life Stadium to take on the New York Jets. The Jets are healthy and will take a four game winning streak into Sunday’s contest. Jet fans want revenge, and with the recent resurgence of the Jet offense, are smelling blood.
The Patriots on the other hand have been dealing with a bunch of injuries, and although they are regaining some health, they remain banged up. They lost to the Denver Broncos 30-24 in week 12 without Danny Amendola and Ron Gronkowski. In week 13 they were upset by the Philadelphia Eagles 35-28, despite the return of Amendola. Getting both Amendola and Gronkowski back turned their fortunes around as the Patriots rebounded with victories over the Huston Texans and Tennessee Titans the past two week. The Patriots final game of the season comes Sunday against the Jets.
Much of this game depends on what Bill Belichick and his coaching staff to do in this game. With the Pats already standing at 12-2 and having clinched the AFC East divisional title, the Pats may decide to rest many or all of their stars for the finale. If that is the case, the Jets would likely be afforded an easy victory by default.
This is a divisional rivalry however, and the Jets will likely see the Patriot starters for at least a little while on Sunday. This rivalry, as any Jet fan will tell you, is a fierce one, with very few good feeling between the participants.
The Jets played the Patriots tight in the beginning of the season, and are currently playing better offensively then they were in week 7. Back in October’s game, Ryan Fitzpatrick was still trying to get comfortable with the Jet receivers and Chan Gailey’s offense. Things should pan out well for the Jets this time around if they can execute the game plan.
The first time around, Todd Bowles and Chan Gailey had the perfect game plan in place and the Jets executed it well into the fourth quarter. This time around the game plan shouldn’t change much, and if the Jets can play a complete four quarters of football, they have an excellent shot at bringing down the win and staying statistically alive in the play off hunt.
In the last game, the Jets defense shut the Patriot run game down early, forcing Tom Brady to attempt 54 passes against a toughly built Jet secondary. The Patriots were held to an astonishing 16 yards on the ground, with Tom Brady leading the way with 15 yards on 4 carries. LeGarrette Blount was held to -3 yards on the day. The Jet front seven shut down the run and came after Tom Brady with everything they could muster, sacking Brady three times in the game.
The Jets will have to do much the same this time around. Shutdown the run and pressure Brady at every turn. This time around however, the Jets are a better team. In October, Sheldon Richardson was just getting back from his four game suspension for violating the league’s drug policies, and wasn’t at the top of his game. Richardson is playing at a very high level now, and his fellow play makers along the defensive front have followed suit as well.
Leonard Williams was only playing part time and still adjusting to the NFL back in October. Through his rookie year, Jet fans can easily attest to this young man’s development. He’s playing with a greater level of confidence and the Patriots would be wise to take notice. Muhammad Wilkerson is having a huge year, setting his career high in sacks, and shutting down the run just as well as he always has. Wilkerson has 12 sacks on the year and has put up five sacks in the last 4 games. He missed chalking up his thirteenth sack several times against Dallas, so expect the big man to be looking to make up for it against the Patriots.
This game is always brutal in the trenches, but this Sunday promises to be a battle. The Patriots may not have as much to lose as the Jets do, but this is a long running rivalry and pride runs deep in both these franchises.