It's going to be very difficult for the New York Jets to win this divisional round matchup against the Patriots. After all, it wasn't too long ago that the Jets lost 45-3 in Foxborough in a game that ultimately decided where this Sunday's game would be played.
Yes, the Jets defeated the Patriots in Week 2 by two touchdowns with Darrelle Revis out of the game in the second half. But that game was played in the Jets backyard and the Patriots are an improved team defensively since then.
Tom Brady has had perhaps the best season of his Hall of Fame career, having not thrown an interception since October. Since throwing two interceptions in a game against the Ravens, which the Patriots still won in overtime, Brady has thrown 26 touchdown passes without a single interception, breaking the record for consecutive touchdown passes thrown without a pick.
So, even with the combination of Darrelle Revis and big-mouthed Antonio Cromartie, don't expect a pick by a member of the Jets secondary. That eliminates a huge part of what the Jets could do on defense against some talented Patriots receivers.
It also means that Revis will not be locked onto one man, but rather move around the field to try and confuse Brady. That, though, may not even work.
How will this game turn out?
So, what can the Jets do? They're running into a legendary quarterback, playing perhaps the best football of his career, and a coach who is rarely out-coached.
What the Jets will have to try and do is limit Brady's possessions. It worked against the Colts in last week's wild-card game victory.
The Jets used their ground and pound to success in Indianapolis, including a huge 17-play drive that killed nearly 10 minutes in the third quarter. The best thing about that was they scored a touchdown and made the most out of what could've been a disappointing waste of a drive.
They'll have to do the same—or at least try to—this week. The Patriots aren't supposed to be good at stopping the run, but as previously mentioned, they've gotten better at it. That doesn't mean the Jets can't use LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene to run it down their throat and kill some clock.
Even if they do run the ball effectively, there will be two huge keys for the Jets to actually win the game. One is making sure to score points in the red zone and not turn the ball over. Score points meaning touchdowns, not settling for a cheap three.
The other key will be getting stops of Brady at some point. Yes, he may have less plays than the Jets, but if the Jets defense never stops him, he'll still put up huge points.
The Jets ran 16 more plays than the Colts (Jets 70, Colts 54), but even with that and a nice defensive effort, the game still came down to a last-second field goal attempt. That shows you how close games could be, especially against a team 14-2 in their building, so an all-around effort will be needed from the Jets.
There is a reason to believe the Jets could win this game, and a reason to believe they can't. Why could the Jets win? Well, it's true that the Patriots have ran off a ridiculous amount of consecutive wins at home in the regular season, but they did get blitzed 33-14 in last season's wild-card playoffs at home to the Ravens.
Why believe the Jets can't win? It's hard to imagine after the Monday night debacle in Week 13 that the Jets could outplay the Patriots on the road, and outplaying them will be a must for any chance at the upset.
Keep in mind, the experts are giving the Jets as little a chance to win this game as they gave the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. This season's Jets may be better than that Giants team and you never know if Brady will have an off game like he did that Sunday in February.