This is it! This is the game Rex Ryan and the Jets have wished for since the 45-3 monstrosity of Week 13—a chance for redemption in the postseason where it's win or go home.
As the saying goes: be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it. And the Jets got it!
On Sunday, January 16th, the Jets and the Patriots will suit up and go to battle for the third time this season with an AFC Championship berth on the line. The story lines leading up to this showdown are the same as the previous two:
Rex is running his mouth; Belichick has given nary a soundbite
Tom Brady has been his cool, calm and collected self; Mark Sanchez has been humble.
Antonio Cromartie gave us his true feeling about pretty-boy Brady.
But in the end, it all boils down to who has more points on the scoreboard after 60 minutes.
The Jets made a small statement by defeating the Colts and backing up some of Rex's bravado, but this game... the Jets are all in! A win on Sunday will be a big "I told ya so" for Rex and all his talks of being Super Bowl-bound will not seem so far-fetched anymore.
Here are five reasons the Jets will win and five reasons the Jets will lose this Sunday.
The Jets are riding a wave right now. The had a huge blowout win over Buffalo (yes I know the Bills are terrible, but it was still a must-win game for the Jets) and followed it up with a big playoff win versus Peyton Manning.
The Jets are in a groove right now and everything is clicking. The defense is playing well, the offense is playing well and mistakes are being kept at a minimum.
If the Jets are hitting their stride, they picked the right time to do it!
Is Sanchez up there with Tom Brady? No, it's not even close. But he is much improved from last season and is playing well right now.
Although his numbers are mediocre, Sanchez has proven he can step up and lead his team when needed. If the game is on the line and the ball is in his hands, Jet fans have hope he will come through. He's done it multiple times this season—he did it against the Colts last Sunday and there's no reason to think he can't do it again in Foxboro.
Rex Ryan has already admitted his game-plan for the last meeting with the Patriots failed miserably. It looked good on paper, but was a dud in reality.
Rex won't be making that mistake again. He showed last week against the Colts that he can dial down his overly aggressive, blitz-happy style of defense in favor a more conservative pass protection package and it paid off.
After two games with the Patriots, Rex has all the tools he needs to create an effective game-plan that should be successful... as long as the players execute!
In the Week 13 debacle, LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene combined for a meager 23 carries. On the other hand, Mark Sanchez had 33 pass attempts... we saw how well that worked. The Jets were one of the best rushing teams in the league this year (ranked 4th overall), and their lack of using the running game in Week 13 was one of the biggest reasons for their failure.
Last Sunday against the Colts, the Jets used the running game to dominate the time off possession and it opened up some beautiful passing options for Sanchez. Unfortunately, Sanchez was inconsistent with his passes (though he came up big when he had to).
The Jets need to follow this formula to win on Sunday. Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards are one of the best tandem of receivers in the NFL. Sanchez needs to utilize them on big passing downs created by a strong running game to set the pace and eat the clock.
Let's face it... no one is expecting the Jets to win this game. The Jets are eight-and-a-half point underdogs and the Patriots' undefeated home record bolsters confidence to pick New England to win.
If the Jets do lose, it is not going to be looked at as a shock. It will force Rex and the Jets to eat some crow, but it will not be deemed as a letdown or some kind of tragic collapse.
The Patriots on the other hand: if they lose, it would be a failure of epic proportions.
The Patriots are undefeated in Gillette Stadium. They were the only team to win every home game this season. The fans in Foxboro are crazy, the atmosphere is crazy and opposing teams want nothing to do with this place.
The Pats had one of the statistically worst defenses in the league this year. I blame that mostly on its relative youth. But numbers can be misleading.
The reason the Pats look worse on paper is their dismal first half numbers. In the first eight games of the season, they gave up 23.5 ppg and forced only 14 turnovers.
In contrast, the last half of the season was considerably better. In the final eight games, the Pats only gave up 15.6 ppg and forced 24 turnovers.
The Pats will be coming into this game after a bye week... a perk earned from locking up the No. 1 overall seed.
Some teams (like the Jets) don't fare well after extra rest. They seem out of sync and sluggish... like the extra time off made them lax.
Not the Patriots.
The Pats will utilize the extra rest to make sure they are all in peak condition both mentally and physically.
Although I think Brady is an arrogant, prima donna pretty-boy with no personality, the fact remains he is the best QB in professional football. He will, hands down, be the league MVP this year.
Brady IS the Patriots. He knows how to win with this team, he makes all the player around him better and he can pick apart any defense (be it the 85 Bears or the 2000 Ravens) on any given Sunday.
Take Brady out of the mix and the Patriots are an average team. If you put any other QB in the league under center in NE (with the exception of Peyton or possibly Brees), this team is 9-7 at best.
Belichick is another guy with the personality of a wet mop, but he is the best coach in professional football. That fact cannot be disputed in any way.
The guy is a football genius who can outwit any other coach in the league at will, and with an extra week to prepare for this game, it will only make him more dangerous.
While I do not believe that this game will be the one-sided affair it was the last time the Jets and Patriots met, I do think the outcome will be the same. Namely, a Patriots victory.
Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are in unstoppable mode right now and I don't see anyone beating them this season. Unfortunately, I forsee them hoisting the Lombardi Trophy once again at the conclusion of Super Bowl XLV.
The Jets won't lay down like dogs in this game and will put up a hell of a fight. I think this game is going to come down to a last minute Tom Brady drive for the game winning TD or at least put them into easy FG position for Shayne Graham to kick the Pats into the AFC Championship.
Patriots win 27-24.