New York Jets at New England Patriots
Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011 4:30 PM EST
Line: Patriots -9
How do we even begin to indulge in the analysis of this matchup without first discussing the off-the-field matters surrounding this game? The Jets and Patriots are polar opposites, yet both have been successful in their own way. The Patriots are reclusive, while the Jets make it a point to be outlandish with their predictions and feeling of self-righteousness.
Antonio Cromartie had some harsh remarks for Brady earlier in the week, which sparked a Wes Welker press conference laden with foot puns, which in turn led Bart Scott to make physical threats against Wes Welker, along with a hilarious Nick Mangold tweet in reference to Spygate. Got all that? If it seems confusing, it isn’t. The bottom line is these two teams hate each other, making this analysis entertaining, if nothing else.
Keys to the Game
- Mark Sanchez has to keep his cool. The Jets drafted Sanchez to handle the big stage with poise. Many thought they reached to get Sanchez. He was able to knock off the Eagles last week, but Sanchez has seen firsthand how miserable a trip to Foxboro can be. Sanchez threw three interceptions and no touchdowns in their last meeting. While he has made great strides this season, Sanchez has shown that he can revert to his rookie ways if a defense gives him looks he is unaccustomed to.
- Everyone is enamored with the Jets run game, but don’t sleep on the Patriots run game. Danny Woodhead and Benjarvus Green-Ellis lead a rushing attack that can be lethal when teams choose to favor the passing game. The Jets will likely be gunning for Wes Welker this week and Deion Branch is a reliable target. That being said, teams that have seen success against the Patriots have managed to limit the run game. The Jets are stout against the run, but it is no coincidence that their win against the Pats featured a 1.9 YPC average from Green-Ellis, while they watched Green-Ellis run for two touchdowns and 72 yards in the Jets loss.
Who covers on Sunday?
Tom Brady vs. Antonio Cromartie
- Everyone is making a huge deal of the smack talk between Cromartie and Brady, and rightfully so. Brady might not be making outlandish statements, but he is certainly taking note. He was going to favor Cromartie’s side of the field even before the statements were made, as Darrell Revis is as good as they come.
- The Patriots may not have an overwhelming amount of talent as far as their receiving corps goes, but they manage to find production in unlikely places. Aaron Hernandez is likely to be covered by Cromartie, but you can believe that Brady is going to throw directly at him. He took a shot at him earlier in the week by referring to Cromartie as "good" and Revis as "great." Brady is likely to seek out further embarrassment by throwing the ball directly at Cromartie in a blowout victory.
In a game like this it is difficult to decipher between reality and what is smoke and mirrors. The fact of the matter is, the Patriots hung 45 on the Jets in their last go-around and only allowed three. That being said, the Patriots are 1-1 against the Jets this season. Does one performance really validate a nine-point spread?
Pick: New York Jets +9