Week 12: New England Patriots At New York Jets
- QuarterbackTom Brady has put together another scintillating season. He has a plethora of weapons to choose from and he has also been unfailingly accurate and alert. Brady finds the open receiver because he reads defenses so well. He is never overwhelmed by the situation and he makes sure to deliver the ball with velocity and accuracy. That’s why he’s a consistent winnerIt’s been a disastrous season for Mark Sanchez. The Jets were hoping that Sanchez would make progress this season and give them a credible passing game, but he has gone the other way and the Jets can’t compete when they get behind by more than a touchdown. The Jets don’t have the supporting personnel to help Sanchez out very often.
- OffenseThe Pats have been solid on the ground this season thanks to outstanding work by the offensive line and the surprising ability of Stevan Ridley. He is not the fastest or quickest runner, but he finishes his runs and follows his blocks. Wide receiver Wes Welker can always get open and make plays when he is healthy. Julian Edelman will probably take on a bigger role since tight end Rob Gronkowski (broken arm) is out.The Jets have few players who are capable of providing explosive plays. Head coach Rex Ryan is not under the illusion that Shonn Greene is going to break long runs, but he needs the running back to wear down the defense. The Jets receivers are ordinary, but Jeremy Kerley and Chaz Schillens will try to take advantage of the soft New England secondary.
- DefenseThe Patriots know they can’t get any worse at pass defense and the acquisition of talented Aqib Talib could bring them some improvement. If the Patriots have any hope of succeeding in the postseason, they have to find a way to slow down the passing game. Linebackers Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes are hard hitters and good tacklers and New England is solid against the run.The Jets have lost the physical battle on several occasions this season. That’s got to be a shock to Ryan, who prides himself on having a punishing defense. Ryan is not disappointed with the play of linebacker David Harris, who is almost always in the right position and one of the best tacklers in the league. Strong safety LaRon Landry has been an effective tackler and excellent in coverage.
- Special TeamsStephen Gostkowski is consistent and determined. After missing an early-season game-winning attempt vs. Arizona, he looks like a confident and focused kicker. The Patriots punt and kickoff teams have gotten the better of their opponents all season and Devin McCourty is a threat on kickoff returns.Fiery Mike Westhoff has not been happy with the Jets’ special teams play, but overall coverage has not been bad. That’s not good enough for Westhoff, who will retire at the end of the season. Kerley and Joe McKnight have both had returns for touchdowns. Placekicker Nick Folk has been sharp this season.
This looks like a complete mismatch on paper, but the Jets pushed the Patriots into overtime before losing the first meeting between these two teams in October. The Patriots have one of the worst pass defenses in the league, but the Jets don’t have the weapons to take advantage of this weakness.