This article has been re-printed from JetsDaily.com
It is just over one day until kickoff, and I for one am amped up. So let’s get to the game. But first, I’d like to get one thing out of the way.
I hate the New England Patriots.
I hate Bill Bellichick. I hated Tom Brady. I hate the way they are still winning games (including over the Jets) with a guy who hasn’t started a game since high school. I hate their fans, who usually root for the Boston Red Sox, another disgusting team. I hate that smug attitude. I hate players like Rodney Harrison and Vince Wilfork, cheap shot artists whose antics are ignored because of the media’s man-love for the Patriots. Hell, I hate the fact ESPN is in Connecticut, also known as Patriots country.
But most of all, I hate their success, both in Super Bowls and against the Jets.
Their three Super Bowl victories in the new millennium are two more than the Jets have in their history. They were the first 16-0 team in NFL history (though the ending was so fitting and so sweet).
Most importantly, the Jets haven’t beaten them a home in eight seasons, and they haven’t had much more success in New England. Victories in 2006 and 2002 were extremely satisfying.
I’m far from alone in those sentiments, too. Clearly, Eric Mangini and Mike Tannenbaum are sick of being the Pats’ patsies. Brett Favre, Alan Faneca, Damien Woody, Kris Jenkins, and Calvin Pace prove that. So does newcomer Ty Law.
Even Shaun Ellis admits he feels the Patriots do not respect the Jets. And why should they? After all, the Patriots have simply been a different class of football team lately.
Jets fans look fondly upon the 2002 season when the Jets were 9-7, won the division and one playoff game. We blame Doug Brien for costing us a shot at the AFC Championship game in 2004.
Patriots fans are disappointed with a season in which they went 19-1.
That’s the difference right now between the Jets and the Patriots, and it’s a big reason for an inferiority complex that began with the “Same Old Jets” and has continued with the recent one-sided rivalry with the Patriots, whose rise to power is intertwined with the Jets, as Mo Lewis’s hit on Drew Bledsoe gave Brady the job, and Bellichick infamously resigned after one day as the “HC of the NYJ,” only to take the same job up north.
But all dynasties eventually collapse. And Tom Brady’s gruesome injury is certainly a catalyst. But if the Jets want to be the team to dethrone the Patriots, the team must step up and take the division from them.
Thursday night’s game is that opportunity. It’s not a must-win, but it’s hard to imagine the Jets winning the division while getting swept by the Patriots.
It’s also a major mental block because if this team truly thinks it can be the best, it has to beat the best. Yes, they play the Titans next week, and a win there would cushion the blow if the Jets were to lose this week, but there is no doubt which game is more important to the team's psyche.
The Jets are third in the NFL in sacks and second in points. The team is gelling more and more each week, and for the first time in years, the running game is something opposing teams have to fear and respect.
The Patriots' are missing several starters, including Brady, Harrison, and Adalius Thomas, so the time to strike is now.
The task at hand is not easy. Thursday nights in Gillette Stadium are not conducive to opponents coming away with victories. The Patriots are 6-3 and playing well. But if the Jets want to accomplish big things this year, the objective is simple.
Beat the Patriots.
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