AFC Divisional Playoff Preview: New York Jets at New England Patriots

Adrian FedkiwAnalyst IIIJanuary 16, 2011

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 02:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates a touchdown by teammate BenJarvis Green-Ellis in the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins on January 2, 2011 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

It's Round Three of this tussle between these two bitter rivals.  

The Jets handed the Patriots their first loss of the season in week two, 28-14, but in a much anticipated week 13 rematch, New England embarrassed the Jets 45-3 in Foxborough, MA. 

The Jets continue to squawk, and the Patriots continue to keep to themselves with kickoff less than hours away

Jets Pass Offense vs. Patriots Pass Defense

NYJ 202.6 YPG (22) vs. NE 258.5 YPG (30)

Bill Belichick keeps finding talent in the draft. Devin McCourty, The Patriots' 27th overall pick, is a Pro-Bowler as a rookie and finished the season with seven interceptions, one off the league lead.

Like McCourty, the rest of the secondary is rather young and feisty, especially safeties Brandon Meriweather and Patrick Chung.  

The Patriots pass defense seemed to struggle, finishing the year ranked 30th. but that statistic doesn't tell the whole story.  Their opponents have to throw the ball because they're always behind.

Against a young secondary, let's see if the Jets veteran wide receivers, Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards, can expose New England's youth.

Also, will Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez be able to lead New York back in the game if they fall down early?

Jets Rush Offense vs. Patriots Rush Defense

NYJ 148.4 YPG (4) vs. NE 108.0 YPG (11)

The Jets rely on a power, smash mouth running game with two solid backs in Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson. Greene has gotten the bulk of the carries down the stretch, but this is postseason play.  

The Jets have to do what they did last week against Indianapolis, limit the possessions and keep Patriots quarterback Tom Brady off the field.

The Jets gained 169 yards on the ground last week on 38 carries, they'll need to do something similar to come out on top and advance to the AFC Championship game for the second year in a row.

Patriots Pass Offense vs. Jets Pass Defense

NYJ 200.6  YPG (6) vs. NE 240.4 YPG (11)

Tom Brady is so good at slowly matriculating the football down the field.  He finds the one on one matchups and gets the open receiver the football.

Each of New England's receivers bring something different to the table.  Wide receivers Wes Welker and Julian Edelman are great in the screen game and they make people miss in space.

 Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski are a fine pair of rookie tight ends.  Gronkowski is great in the red-zone, while Hernandez is a guy who helps move the chains on third down.  Deion Branch does a little bit of everything and Brandon Tate is strictly a vertical threat.

This game will test the depth of the Jets secondary.  Darrelle Revis is the best corner in the league and Antonio Cromartie is a decent starter, but the Patriots have so many weapons that it will be hard for New York to keep up for four quarters.

Kyle Wilson, Dwight Coleman, Brodney Pool and Eric Smith must be excellent in order to stop Brady. 

Yes, the Jets have to blitz Brady relentlessly, but he gets rid of the ball so quickly that it can be tough to get to him.

Patriots Rush Offense vs. Jets Rush Defense

NYJ- 90.9 YPG (3) vs. NE 123.3 YPG (9)

New England runs the ball strictly to keep opposing defenses honest.  The Patriots can be tricky.  They'll line up running back Danny Woodhead as a receiver and then bring him into the backfield and run the ball.

The Patriots offensive line gets good push up front. 

Their screen game is a de facto running game.

We know how good the Jets are against the run.

Jets Three X-Factors

1. LaDainian Tomlinson

2. Mark Sanchez

3. Santonio Holmes

Patriots Three X-Factors 

1. Tom Brady

2. Jerod Mayo

3. Devin McCourty 

Prediction: New England 31 New York 20

It'll be closer than the week 13 game in Foxborough, but I just don't see Mark Sanchez being able to get the job done in the fourth quarter when he'll be needed most.


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