New England Patriots: Why Today's Showdown vs. Jets Will Define Season

Pranav TadikondaCorrespondent IOctober 21, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 13:  Tom Brady #10 of the New England Patriots against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on November 13, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Coming off of a bitter loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the New England Patriots find themselves at a critical point in their season. New England will face off against the New York Jets today at Gillette Stadium.

When the Pats' game against the Jets is in the books, the Patriots' record must read 4-3. New England cannot afford to dip under .500 for the second time this season. 

After losing to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 3, the Pats held a losing record for the first time in nearly ten years. The next week, they faced the Bills, and in the first half, New England looked sluggish at best.

However, they came out firing after halftime and ended up scoring 45 second-half points. The way the Patriots play against the Jets must mirror the performance of the second half of the Buffalo game. The Pats must put the game away before the half. They need to get Rex Ryan and the Jets coaching staff to rip their hair out.

A strong win could propel the Patriots through their bout with the Rams in London next week into the bye week. The Pats' week off could help heal several injuries and get the team ready for a tough stretch in December that includes the upstart Miami Dolphins and elite squads such as the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers

On the flip side, a loss could send the Pats into a downward spiral and turn them into one of the biggest underachievers of the season. The season started out with Super Bowl aspirations, and a loss to the Jets could seriously dampen their hopes of winning the final game of the NFL season.

There is no debate that the Patriots have more NFL talent than the Jets, but Rex Ryan's squad is always a threat to upset a strong team. The Pats and Jets have split their past eight meetings.

Bill Belichick must get his team inspired and ready to play today. Blowing out a fierce rival could pick up some momentum for New England and send them on a winning streak through the end of the season. 

It is essential for the Patriots to burst out of the gate and dominate this game from start to finish. Anything else could end up being disastrous.