After a dominant victory over the Buffalo Bills, the Jets set their sights on division rival New England Patriots. Both teams sit at 5-3, and the divisional title could be at stake in this crucial contest. Gang Green has to click on many cylinders in order to defeat Tom Brady and company, but here are the five main keys for the Jets this Sunday.
The Jets have had their struggles on the ground this season, due to injuries to key offensive lineman and the lack of an effective passing game. However, New York has improved it's "ground and pound" style over the last few weeks, as Shonn Greene and company have managed to find holes through some tough defenses. The Jets rushing attack was superb against the Buffalo Bills, because of a change of pace created by using multiple backs. If the Jets can establish an effective running game early on Sunday through the efforts of Ladanian Tomlinson, Shonn Greene and Joe Mcknight, then it could open up play-action for Mark Sanchez against a struggling Patriots defense.
One of New York's major struggles this season has been the inability to score early on in a game. The Jets rank among the bottom feeders in first quarter points this season, and it has cost them games against solid opponents. Last week, Gang Green opened up firing on all cylinders offensively, but a Mark Sanchez red zone interception squandered their efforts. If Rex Ryan and company can strike first this Sunday, then it will gain confidence for both the offense and defense, while also setting the tone for the night.
One of the Jets main strengths is their great special teams. New York boasts one of the most explosive kick returners in football in Joe Mcknight. The USC product already has four returns over fifty yards this season. Kicker Nick Folk has also been terrific this year, as he has made all but one field goal. New England can struggle on special teams at times, so it is important that the Jets have an upper hand all night in this phase of the game.
Rex Ryan and company know that getting pressure in the pocket is one of the most effective strategies against Tom Brady. The elite quarterback has struggled at times against an effective pass rush, as proven by the Jets playoff win last January over the Patriots. Knocking down and disrupting Brady can throw him off tempo, making him more inclined to make mistakes. Therefore, a devastating early pass rush could be a momentum builder early and lead to a big play.
As proven by the Pittsburgh Steelers a few weeks ago, one of the keys to beating New England can be controlling the time of possession. Mark Sanchez and the rest of the offense need to avoid the dreaded three and out this week and keep the chains moving. The Pats secondary is weak, so an effective passing game will do wonders for New York. If Gang Green can control the clock, then the vaunted Jets defense receives extra rest and Brady is thrown off tempo. The Patriots are just an average team with Tom Brady sitting on the bench.