The Patriots currently sit tied for first place with the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East standings. Both teams boast a 3-1 record, and the Jets are one game back at 2-2 after getting dismantled in Baltimore by the Ravens last week.
New England is the first team in NFL history to gain more than 2,000 yards in their opening four games. As always, Tom Brady deserves a large share of the credit for this, but for New England, the real standout performer on offense so far is Wes Welker. After only four games, Welker has already caught 40 balls for 616 yards, both NFL records at this stage of the season.
Welker is playing the best football of his career. His 40 catches are very impressive, but not altogether surprising when you take into account that he is the only player in NFL history with three consecutive 110-catch seasons.
The most remarkable aspect of Welker's dominance thus far is his yards per catch average of 15.4; his yards per catch averages during his first four seasons with the Patriots are 10.5, 10.5, 11.0 and 9.9.
Welker looks more explosive than ever. He has recorded 11 plays of 20-plus yards (only Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers has more with 12). Welker has received more playing time as an outside receiver due to the Patriots' heavy use of two-tight end sets.
If the New York Jets are to come away with a victory on Sunday, it is imperative that they put the shackles on Welker.
Luckily for them, they have the best cornerback in the game, Darrelle Revis, to call upon.
Revis is likely to cover Welker for the majority of the game on Sunday since Welker is New England’s top offensive threat. Revis is far better suited to match Welker's exceptional quickness than New York's other cornerback, 6'2" Antonio Cromartie.
Revis' combination of perfect technique, prototypical speed and strength make him a nightmare for any opposing wide receiver. He displays fantastic patience and really understands the concepts of route running, which allows him to stay one step ahead of the receivers he covers.
It will be interesting to watch the chess match unfold, as both Bill Belichick and Rex Ryan each try to put their respective player in the best position to succeed. Welker will be moved all around the offensive formations, so expect to see him outside, in the slot and even in the backfield.
The Patriots will use a lot of pre-snap motion to attempt to give Welker a free release off the line. When Revis does cover Welker expect to see Revis try to jam Welker at the line of scrimmage. He will use his physicality to counteract Welker’s quickness and disrupt his timing.
There will be important battles all over the field on Sunday on both sides of the ball, but none promise to be more compelling or as pivotal as Revis against Welker. If either one of these players can gain a decisive advantage, he will greatly increase his team's prospects of victory.