The Premier game of the week comes on Monday Night Football as the 9-2 (5-0 away from home) New York Jets travel to the 9-2 (5-0 at home) New England Patriots for their second match up of the season. This might just be the biggest regular season match up to happen this season as two of the three joint holders of the best record in the NFL face off.
The winner of this game will likely go on to be the #1 seed in the AFC while the other will be limited to a wildcard spot at the most. So alot is on the line for both teams as they continue their rivalry.
The team that wins on Monday night may very well win because of their QB making a play near the end or constructing a game winning drive. Both quarterbacks have looked more then capable of doing that recently, bar Sanchez's last game against the Bengals.
This season Sanchez has improved greatly and has threw game winning touchdowns in the closing seconds a couple of times already. He has been greatly helped by a much improved receiving core, specifically Santonio Holmes. Holmes has been a revelation for the Jets offence since coming back from his suspension gaining 491 yards in just five starts.
Brady was winning Superbowls before Sanchez was even in the league, so he of course comes in with a huge experience advantage. But Brady has been on excellent form recently throwing nine touchdowns to zero interceptions in the three games since the Cleveland game. Brady has done this by spreading the ball out to all his receivers instead of trying to rely on one deep threat.
Though a good QB would be nowhere near as effective without at least a decent run game. Both teams have been good the ground this year, but both teams have also been good against the run with only one rusher gaining over a 100 yards against either of them.
The Jets backfield has had a pleasant surprise with Ladainian Tomlinson turning back the clocks to gain over a 1,000 yards from scrimmage this year. Partnering Tomlinson in the backfield is Shonn Greene who has gained 575 yards on the ground on his own. The two of them will go up against the New England run defence that has held runners like Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson in check.
The New England running game has been spearheaded by two runners the Patriots picked up off the street in BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead. In fact they picked Woodhead up after he was cut by the Jets themselves. The two of them have combined for 13 offensive touchdowns and 1,258 yards from scrimmage between them. The Jets defence however is excellent against the run ranking fourth in the NFL against the run, allowing only 86 yards a game on the ground.
Both teams will have to try and defend the pass relatively well to slow down opposing offences.
The Jets have a very talented secondary led by All-Pro corner Darrelle Revis. Not only that but Revis is backed up a former All-Pro corner himself in Antonio Cromartie who has three interceptions on the season.
The Patriots secondary isn't quite as talented as the Jets ranking dead last against the pass, however what the Patriots have excelled in is making key plays at critical times. Devin McCourty's pick on thanksgiving and James Sanders pick against Peyton Manning just to name a couple. Making those kind of plays against the Jets will be crucial.
Both teams are very good in the turnover battle with the Patriots joint second in the NFL with plus eleven and the Jets tied sixth with plus seven. The team that wins the turnover battle on Monday will likely win the game as you can't afford to make many, if any, mistakes against teams as good as the Jets and Patriots.
Both teams have 20 take-aways, with Devin McCourty (pictured) accounting for a quarter of the Patriots total. However the difference lies in the give-aways with New England giving the ball away only nine times to the Jets thirteen.
The main reason for this is QB play as Brady has thrown only four interceptions to his 23 touchdowns while Sanchez has thrown twice the amount of interceptions in eight to only 16 touchdowns.
In the end I think the game will be extremely close and come down to who makes the most mistakes or who has the ball last.
And the key point I am focusing on in picking a winner is which quarterback will make a mistake, and picking between Sanchez and Brady you have to believe Sanchez is more likely to make a mistake.
Score Prediction: Jets 28-31 Patriots