The Jets have lost two straight games following a 2-0 start, and the losses have been ugly. They allowed three turnovers to be returned for touchdowns last week against the Ravens, and gave up 234 rushing yards against Oakland in Week 3.
The Patriots aren't playing lockdown defense, either, but Tom Brady has been so good that it doesn't matter how many yards or points they are giving up right now.
In the NFL, as we all know, a team can look unstoppable one week, then turnaround and lay an egg the next week.
Where: Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts
When: Sunday, Oct. 9 at 4:15 p.m. EST
Watch: CBS; DirecTV Channel 714
Listen: 1050 ESPN, Sirius Channel 86 (New York); 98.5 The Sports Hub, Sirius Channel 93 (New England)
Betting Line: New England (-9)
What's At Stake?
For the Jets, everything. They are in desperation mode after two straight losses. The offense has no rhythm at all, and the running game has been a colossal disappointment so far this season. The defense is not shutting teams down the way it used to.
Rex Ryan needs to get his team to believe in themselves again, and one win over the Patriots can bring all that positive preseason energy back to New York.
The Patriots are riding high after a big win in Oakland last week, but their defense has to get better as the season moves along if they want to make a run at the Super Bowl. A win is nice but only if you are improving each week. So far this team is not doing that.
Jets' Injury Report
Wide receivers Santonio Holmes (shoulder) and Plaxico Burress (hamstring) are probable.
Linebacker Bryan Thomas tore his Achilles' tendon and is out for the rest of the season.
Patriots' Injury Report
Running back Danny Woodhead is questionable with an injured left ankle.
Linebacker Jerod Mayo is out six weeks with a sprained MCL.
What They Are Saying
Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News wrote about the Jets' problems running the ball and why things could get better against New England:
Although Greene is off to a slow start (3.1 yards per carry), he's fared well against the Patriots with a 4.3 yards per carry average in three games last season. Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson combined for 119yards on 27 carries in the AFC divisional playoff win in Foxborough a year ago.
For all the Patriots' offensive firepower, Bill Belichick's team has defensive deficiencies that the Jets should be able to exploit if their offensive linemen correct the mistakes that have plagued them early on.
Patriots defensive line coach Pepper Johnson said during a conference call on Tuesday that he likes the way the defense is playing, even if the numbers don't look great:
I’m quite sure that the question is more from stats and not really detail-watching of the game. I’m watching guys do what we are asking them to do. We are actually hitting the quarterback . . . a couple of times we’re late. But we’re hitting the quarterback. We’re just not coming up with the sacks.Can we get there sooner? I don’t know. But I’m not much of a stat person. I just know we’ve been affecting some throws, getting as much pressure as we possibly can in the situations we’re in.
Jets' Player To Watch: Shonn Greene, RB
The Jets are a power-running team, and Greene is supposed to be the foundation of that rushing attack. But he is averaging 3.1 yards per carry so far this season, and the team has had to abandon the run at times this season due to his poor performance.
Greene has to become more of a factor in this offense in order for the Jets to get back to the playoffs this season.
The Patriots defense ranks 19th against the run this season, so Greene should have plenty of chances to break out of his early season funk.
Patriots' Player To Watch: Deion Branch, WR
Wes Welker is great, but the Patriots need another receiver to step up and take pressure off him and give Tom Brady another weapon to throw to.
Chad Ochocinco is not going to be that player, so the onus falls on Branch to step up. He is third on the team in catches with 16 catches. Brady knows him as well as any receiver on this team, and he trusts him as much as any receiver on the team.
The Jets only allow 180 passing yards per game, so Branch has to step up and make some plays for the Patriots if they want to keep up their torrid scoring pace.
Matchup To Watch: Mark Sanchez vs. Patriots Secondary
Mark Sanchez is coming off easily his worst game of the season. He completed just 11-of-35 passes against the Ravens for 119 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. Another game like that and he could find himself fighting to keep his job.
The good news is he gets to go up against by far the worst pass defense in the NFL. The Patriots are allowing almost 369 yards per game.
We all know the Patriots are going to score points. If the Jets want to have a chance to win this game, Sanchez has to forget what happened last week and play like he did the first three weeks of the season.
The Jets are not afraid to go into New England, as we saw last January when they knocked off the Patriots in the postseason. But the Jets are not playing well right now, and it is hard to bet against Tom Brady considering how well he is playing right now.
Patriots 33, Jets 23