When Boston goes against New York in any sports contests, emotions will be high. This will be no different when the New York Jets take on the New England Patriots.
The most surprising part of the upcoming chapter of this great AFC rivalry is that both teams have the same record.
However, New England’s three losses have been by a combined four points, while the total margin in Jets’ defeats has been 57 points. This is one reason why New York is viewed as a struggling franchise, while the Pats are still thought of as a Super Bowl contender.
Here is everything you need to know about the matchup.
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Mass.
When: Sunday, October 21, 4:25 p.m. ET
Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM, Sirius 86 (New York), 98.5 The Sports Hub, Sirius 93 (New England)
Spread: Patriots -10.5 (according to Sports Book)
Jets Injuries (via ESPN, as of Oct. 17)
RB Joe McKnight—Questionable—Ankle
WR Clyde Gates—Questionable—Shoulder
S Eric Smith—Questionable—Knee
DT Kendrick Ellis—Questionable—Knee
RB Bilal Powell—Out—Shoulder
Patriots Injuries (via ESPN, as of Oct. 17)
WR Brandon Lloyd—Questionable—Shoulder
S Steve Gregory—Questionable—Hip
WR Julian Edelman—Questionable—Hand
LB Tracy White—Questionable—Foot
RB Brandon Bolden—Questionable—Knee
QB Tom Brady—Probable—Head
TE Aaron Hernandez—Probable—Ankle
What’s At Stake
The Jets roll into this matchup facing low expectations, and a loss for them would be entirely expected. A win would be a massive boost in the team’s confidence, but ultimately, it is unlikely to make a difference in the larger picture of this season.
But the Patriots are in a must-win situation. Losing to their biggest rival at home and dropping to 3-4 on the season would be a catastrophe, and the team must avoid this scenario.
Shonn Greene exploded for three touchdowns last week against the Indianapolis Colts, and many fantasy owners will be hoping for another epic week from the Jets running back. However, an inconsistent offensive line and the likelihood of New York having to play catch-up throughout this game are factors that will keep this from happening.
For the Patriots, motivation from last week’s loss and a rivalry game should lead to a productive day for many of the team’s fantasy stars. If Tom Brady gets in rhythm early, Brandon Lloyd (if he plays), Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker may all make their fantasy owners happy this weekend.
Jets Player to Watch: Antonio Cromartie, Cornerback
The Jets defense took a massive blow when it lost Darrelle Revis for the season, and in the last two weeks, it has relied on Cromartie to be in on every defensive play, as noted by Football Outsiders. The team has even played him at wide receiver on occasion due to several injuries at that position.
Cromartie is an incredible physical talent, and is now in a position where he must step up and perform at a high level in each game for the Jets defense to succeed. For the team to have any chance against the Patriots, Cromartie must play extremely well.
Patriots Player to Watch: Tom Brady, Quarterback
While it is fairly obvious that one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever throw a pass is the player to watch, this is especially true this week. With the Patriots’ season in a sticky place heading into a rivalry game, the team will look to its on-field leader for an inspiring performance.
This is a game where Brady must deliver a fantastic performance. He has a history of stepping up in important games, and this trend will continue on Sunday.
What They’re Saying
The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay called this matchup “The Super Bowl of Bruised Egos” and believes both teams will timidly take the field on Sunday.
Is there a shakier conflict this coming NFL weekend than the Jets at New England? Both teams are 3-3, flawed, frustrated, in need of cocoa and a blanket. The Patriots are a presumed Super Bowl contender that has been undermined by a fishy defense. The Jets are a Spike TV sitcom that somehow shares the AFC East lead despite several soul-crushing losses.
ESPN’s Teddy Bruschi, who is extremely familiar with this rivalry, speaks from experience when he states that there may be fireworks on the field, but there will not be any sound bites from the New England players leading up to the game. Per ESPNBoston.com:
This is just the week when coach Belichick addresses the team on how to address the media. He will rarely do that but he knows the emotions of the players can sometimes come out with a microphone in your face. So I'm sure he's saying this week, Welker you keep your mouth shut, Brady let's keep it under the vest in front of the press and all you rookies, you don't speak at all.
Key Matchup: Jets Running Game vs. New England Front-Seven
New England’s rushing defense is vastly improved from last season and currently ranks sixth in the NFL in yards allowed per game on the ground.
New York's only hope in this game is to get Shonn Greene in rhythm in order to take pressure off of Mark Sanchez and the lackluster passing game. If the Jets do not find success on the ground early, this game will be a blowout.
Prediction: New England 31, New York 7
Despite having the same records, New England is a far more talented team and that will show in the final score of this game.