If the Jets can't get anything going through the air, it is tough to see this one ending in anything but a blowout—no matter how the other two key matchups on this list go.
Jets' Passing Offense vs. Patriots' Passing Defense
New York is 30th in passing yards. New England is 28th in passing yards allowed. Something has to give.
The Patriots faced similar circumstances their last time on the field in a late loss to the Seahawks. They ended up allowing Russell Wilson to throw for 293 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
And even with that performance, Seattle was 31st in passing yards this week. The Jets will need to have similar success.
The Patriots are going to score their points. So the Jets will have to keep up somehow, and while their struggling ground game looked drastically better last week, the Patriots have been solid against the run.
New York's pass offense must show up.
Patriots' Ground Game vs. Jets' Rush Defense
Not so distant memories of a fierce Jets run defense spelling certain doom for opposing run games feels like a lie now given how woeful that run defense has become.
The Jets are 28th in rushing yards allowed, 26th in yards allowed per rush, 27th in rushing touchdowns allowed and Football Outsiders ranks the Jets' overall rush defense at 24. The point is: This run defense is struggling, which is now terrible news when facing New England.
The Patriots' running game has taken over games this year. They actually have more carries per game than any team in the NFL.
New England will happily hand the ball off often if New York cannot slow the Pats' ball-carriers down, and if that occurs, the Patriots will be able to control the clock, dictate the flow of the game and then walk away with a victory.
Nick Mangold vs. Vince Wilfork
If you are a fan of high-quality play in the trenches, this matchup has likely been circled on your calendar because it doesn't get much better than center Nick Mangold going against NT/DT Vince Wilfork.
These two guys are arguably the best at their respective positions; they are familiar with each other and they are key to their teams' success.
Mangold is listed as questionable for the game with an ankle injury, but it is hard to imagine him not finding a way to get on the field for this huge game, and the Jets need him to.
Assuming Mangold and his injured ankle are able to perform near his normal excellence, this matchup should be a wash with each player having their moments. If Mangold is not able to play near 100 percent, the Jets are in for a long day.