The Patriots and Jets, filled with distractions early in the season, seem to have both gotten their acts together to make a legitimate run for the AFC East crown. The Jets, lead by Brett Favre and Thomas Jones, will have their hands full, as Matt Cassell is coming into his own, and Bill Belichick has dominated the Jets' star QB in his Patriots tenure.
What To Look For
Look for the Patriots to throw to Moss in double-coverage. The Patriots need the middle of the field open, and getting the ball to Moss will forced the secondary to move a few steps back to open up room. Don't be surprised if Moss isn't a factor the entire game.
Look for the Patriots to use Faulk and Welker on screens. The Jets defense has a very big guy in the middle in Chris Jenkins, and fast linebackers and safeties. With the addition of Ty Law, its going to make for a tight field. The screens will be good because their linebackers aren't really big, and good blocking will create successful big plays down-field.
Look for the defense to drop back on Favre. The field is soggy, and the 3 down-linemen for the Patriots have been tough on the run even when outnumbered at the line. Look for a couple of blitzes to rattle Favre, hoping a mistake will ensue from the rainy weather conditions tonight.
Patriots will give the Jets the Nickels and Dimes. Not the defensive schemes, but the ability to seemingly go up the field with 3 & 4 yard plays. Richard Seymour, Ty Warren, and Vincent Wilfork will need to place some pressure at the line, and shut down the 3rd & shorts.
Look for Favre to pass the torch to Thomas Jones. Jones has become a one-man wrecking machine when the ball is in his hands. Leon Washington is a great supplemental playmaker. The conditions would suit the Jets better to keep the ball on the ground.
The Jets need to confuse the hell out of Matt Cassell. Linebacker, safety blitzes and more will be storming the pockets, forcing Cassell to make a mistake. Look for some bigger help ( such as Dave Thomas or Heath Evans ) to come and pick up blitzers.
Look for Ty Law to have some influence in the game. This is a great storyline for this game, and hopefully Ty Law can show he can be of use to the Jets. Look for him to connect with Gafney or Welker; Moss is being covered by Darelle Revis.
In Order For Jets To Win
Run the ball. Tire out the Patriots defense. Time of possession isn't as important as running up plays against the defense. If you don't get their hands on their waist by the fourth quarter, it is next to impossible to concoct a good drive against the Patriots late in the game.
Don't f&%k it up, Favre. As I wrote in my article about why Favre is overrated, Favre best serves the offense when he is not the center of it. The conditions for tonight's game isn't great for passing, and Belichick will try to pressure Favre into mistakes in the air. He needs to throw the ball away, and be patient for a guaranteed strike in the end zone.
Get seventeen points in the first half. The Patriots have the ability to take what the offense gives them and come out with a successful 2nd half game-plan. If you don't take the lead on the Patriots, and you don't score seventeen, the game is over.
Make Matt Cassell look like a 2nd string QB again. Blitz him like there's no tomorrow. He has only nine football games under his belt, and barely played through college. He still has inexperience, and no solid running game to supplement him. The Jets need to nullify Welker. Cassell has not proved to be able to hit Moss pass 20 yards deep.
In order for Patriots To Win
Run the ball like mad. Go straight at their best players up the middle. Force them to make plays. And then try to expand the field with screens. Make them chase after the ball.
Don't turn the ball over. BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Cassell have played together for two weeks. Kevin Faulk was notorious for losing the ball when he was a starter. Randy Moss doesn't like getting hit. This is a potion for disaster if the Jets start tugging at the ball handlers during the game. Hold on to the ball. It should only go to the Jets off of a punt or kick return.
Take the lead in the 4th. Force Favre to pass it. Take Thomas Jones out of the game, as well as the clock. Easier said then done, but there are more chances for mistakes when Favre is on the lower end of the score.
Barring any injuries to the Patriots secondary or front-line, the Patriots will be too much for the Jets. Although a great team, the team is built on time of possession and great defense. Patriots are still superior on defense, albeit older, and the Charlie Weiss offensive system seems to keep the offense running, even with the magnitude of injuries.
The Jets have won, but against fairly easy opponents, nearly losing to another one ( The Chiefs ). The Patriots, on the other hand, have been winning without their starting Quarterback, running back, cornerbacks, and safeties for many of these games. I'm going to bank on the Belichick factor again. I have no reason not to.
Patriots 20 Jets 13