New York Jets vs. New England Patriots: 10 Predictions for Monday Night Football
We are nearing the biggest regular season game in a long time as on Monday night, the 9-2 Jets and Patriots will battle in Foxboro.
There are an infinite amount of story lines and side shows for this game, and it can be broken down from all sorts of angles.
This will be a huge game concerning playoff seeding. The loser can fall from the one seed and home-field throughout the AFC playoffs to the six seed and playing Wild Card weekend on the road. That's what's at stake in this game between Bill Belichick and Rex Ryan.
Which quarterback will have the better game? Will the Jets great secondary be able to stop Tom Brady and will Mark Sanchez be able to throw against a bad Patriots defense?
Check out the predictions for all of that plus much more as you keep reading.
Here are 10 predictions for the game.
Which Offense Will Look Better?
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The Patriots have always been a great offensive team with Tom Brady at quarterback, and they have always had the advantage over the Jets. This season, if the Patriots have an offensive advantage, it's not that huge.
The Jets have big playmakers this season and can score as much as the Patriots on any given Sunday (or Monday).
The Jets enter this game with the second-best ground game, better than the Patriots, and the Patriots have the better passing game.
The Patriots' offense will always look better in a game because Brady will make the highlight throws and smooth plays.
But don't let that overlook what Mark Sanchez and his offense can do. Sanchez didn't have a good game against the Bengals on Thanksgiving but other than that game, he's had a pretty good season.
The Patriots will look better on offense, but the Jets could end up having the better night.
Which Quarterback Will Have the Better Game?
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This question can't be answered unless you take a look at how the defenses are playing. This game could be high-scoring as the Patriots can score but have an awful pass defense.
By asking which quarterback will have the better game, it's based mostly upon stats. If you're looking at efficiency, Brady is your answer. But if you're looking at stats, Sanchez will put up the better ones.
Although Brady is going to make plays, especially with advantages with his tight ends, the Jets do have a great secondary. Brady will throw to a high completion percentage, but once in a while Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie will make some stops.
On the other hand, Sanchez should put up the overall better stats based on the Patriots last-ranked pass defense. They've allowed an average of 288.5 passing yards per game, which is 32nd in the league.
Look for Sanchez to take advantage of that with his go-to-receiver in Santonio Holmes, and Braylon Edwards should also be involved. Also, against an awful pass defense, perhaps Dustin Keller will have a good game.
Take Brady for efficiency and Sanchez for overall stats (i.e. completions, passing yards, QB rating).
Can This Game Actually Be Won on the Ground?
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With so much focus on both team's passing attacks, can this game actually be won on the ground? Maybe for the Jets it can be but not so much for the Patriots.
Bill Bellichick will be sticking to his air game as his team is 16th in rushing, and the Jets defense is fourth in stopping the run.
In the Patriots' 45-24 win on Thanksgiving over the Lions, their leading rusher was BenJarvus Green-Ellis who ran for 59 yards on 12 carries. They had three players with more receiving yards than that.
The way the Jets stop the run near the line of scrimmage and with the Patriots not having a legitimate rusher, the Patriots can't win on the ground.
The Jets, though, can and may win on the ground. They'll still try to take advantage of the Patriots pass defense, but it doesn't mean Shonn Greene can't gain some yards on the ground.
He's taken the majority of carries over LaDainian Tomlinson, and the Jets can try to mix it up to confuse an already bad Patriots defense.
This game probably won't be won on the ground, but if it is, the Jets would be the winners.
Which Quarterback Will Be Pressured More?
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We all know by now that the Jets big defensive problem is getting to the quarterback. If they don't blitz, they don't get there, and you'd figure they'd have trouble against Brady.
Meanwhile, Sanchez didn't have a great game against the Bengals, but his offensive line doesn't allow too many sacks.
If this game is not high-scoring or lopsided, then one quarterback was pressured. By observing the situation, Tom Brady should be the one to be pressured more.
Not because Sanchez is better than him or anything that silly, but because there's a reason the Patriots allow so many passing yards. That means they allow quarterbacks to get too comfortable in the pocket.
Generally, Sanchez is able to show great escapability, and he hasn't faced a pass defense this bad.
In all likelihood, neither quarterback is going to be pressured and there'll be a lot of long passes. But if one will be more than the other, it'll be Brady.
Let's put it this way: if Sanchez comes up small, there's cause for concern.
How Big of a Problem Will Patriots Tight Ends Create?
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The Patriots have a rare situation of having two good receiving tight ends. Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski have provided a huge lift for Tom Brady, adding more to his passing arsenal. Both guys are only 21-years-old and can both block and make catches.
The two key players in the Jets secondary—Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie—normally cover wide receivers. In this game, Revis would cover Wes Welker and Cromartie would cover Deion Branch.
The problem is, the Jets don't do well covering tight ends. In Week 11 against the Texans, the Jets allowed tight end Joel Dreessen to record 106 receiving yards.
Kyle Wilson and Dwight Lowery can cover those two tight ends with Drew Coleman and Jim Leonhard perhaps helping out, but the task hasn't been easy for the Jets.
With the Patriots having four quality receivers to go to, that may be able to put them over the top in the big plays department. Not that the Jets don't have some quality receivers of their own.
Will The Jets Take Advantage of Being in the Red Zone?
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The way the Patriots' defense plays, you can bet the Jets will reach the red zone a couple of times. But, will reaching the red zone lead to getting into the end zone? Perhaps. The Lions, who aren't a terrible offensive team, took advantage in the first half against the Patriots.
The Jets earlier in the season seemed to always settle for field goals, but that was before Holmes became a huge option for Sanchez.
Now, they score some more touchdowns but virtually get in the end zone every time in the fourth quarter. When they need a touchdown late, they come through.
In order to have success and come out on top in this game, the Jets will need to put up seven instead of three. The Patriots score a ton of touchdowns as Brady has thrown 23 and Sanchez has thrown 16. It can be the difference in the game, so in other words, Sanchez must be on his "A" game.
And in this game, he'll most likely find Holmes or Edwards a couple of times for the big score. The Lions scored three touchdowns in their game, and Holmes has scored four touchdowns in his last three games after scoring none in his first four with the Jets.
Look for some red zone production from Sanchez and his receivers.
Which Team Will Start the Game Faster?
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If one of these teams doesn't get off to a quick and energetic start, then something is wrong with them. This game is exactly what you want to play for. Two teams in the same division who hate each other, going at it with the division and bragging rights on the line.
But, which team will get off to the faster start? You'd have to go with the Patriots. First of all, the game will be played in Foxboro where Tom Brady has won 25 straight starts.
Both teams need to win the game but the Patriots need to a little more. They lost to the Jets earlier in the season and want to avoid dropping both. If the Patriots win, they have a leg up on the division. If the Jets win, they'll have the division virtually wrapped up with head-to-head and overall record advantages.
Therefore, look for the Patriots to come out firing even if they don't have the ball first. Look for some Tom Brady highlight reel passes and a quick offensive series as the Patriots look to show the Jets they're still the kings of the AFC East.
The Jets normally get off to somewhat slow offensive starts, although they're undefeated on the road this season.
The Patriots should have a little more motivation than usual so they should look pretty good right from their first offensive possession.
Which Team Has More Potential at a Blowout Victory?
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Either low scoring or high scoring, expect this to be a close game. But if one team has more potential at a blowout victory, it's the Jets. This isn't being Jets-bias, it's being realistic. The Jets have guys to lock down Brady's receivers.
The Patriots would've lost their last game if they were facing the Jets. The Lions looked great in the first half and even in the third quarter, as they took the game into the fourth quarter tied at 24-24. They just didn't have enough to sustain their success as to why they're a 2-9 team.
The Jets are a 9-2 team and with the playmakers they have, they can potentially tear apart the Patriots defense to run away with things.
It most likely won't happen, but it'll be up to Tom Brady to make his share of plays to keep up with what the Jets should be doing.
A wild card in all of this is the Jets' Brad Smith. He scored two touchdowns in the Jets win over the Bengals—one on a kick return and one on an end-around. He just adds even more to an already solid Jets offense.
This should be a close, high-scoring affair but don't be totally surprised if the Jets build a nice lead. Knowing the Jets, they'll be the ones to get blown out when everything is going well on national television.
Can Antonio Cromartie Stop Deion Branch?
The Jets are going to have to put the clamps on Deion Branch. He had a huge game against the Lions on only three catches. He produced 113 yards out of those catches and two of them were for touchdowns.
Assuming Cromartie covers Branch with Revis on Welker, Cromartie is going to have to stop him because Branch can be dangerous.
He wasn't really doing a whole lot with the Seahawks but since he's returned to the Patriots, he's been a good option.
The most receiving yards he had in a game in Seattle was 60 but he's already gone past that four times in New England. He's had 70 or more yards in each of his last three games so it's not just Welker and the tight ends to keep an eye on.
Branch could have the best game of them all and can beat the Jets single-handedly. The Cromartie-on-Branch matchup will be an important one to watch.
Who Will Be 10-2 When the Game Is Over?
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Although it was well documented in this slideshow that the Jets can beat up on an awful Patriots pass defense, they aren't going to win the game. Don't overlook this game being played in Foxboro and the combination of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
Sure, the Jets beat the Patriots this season and haven't been dominated by them in recent years, but you can't go against the home dominance of the Patriots. Plus, the Patriots never lose to a team twice in one season.
The Jets are going to put up points but at the end, their secondary won't be able to completely shut down Tom Brady and his receivers. Reason being, eventually not having a good pass rush will come back to bite a team.
The Jets have been getting away with allowing teams to fight back by still beating them in the fourth quarter. This Patriots team is too good to not close a game out and if they lead this game late or it's close—which it will be—they'll win.
The only shot the Jets have at winning is if they have a 10-plus point lead with two minutes remaining. It won't kill the Jets chances in the division as they would split the season series and only trail in the standings by one game, but they'll fall to 9-3 and suffer their first road loss of the season.
Final score: Patriots 34, Jets 30