Players to Watch
WR Braylon Edwards- He’s a homerun threat who could pose serious problems against the Patriots young defensive backs. He scored one touchdown against the Patriots the first time around, and will look to have another good game against them tonight.
RB LaDainian Tomlinson- He is the Jets leading rusher but also has been a big part of the Jets passing game, and a solid option for Sanchez out of the backfield. He doesn’t necessarily need carries to make his presence felt on offense. His legs have been winding down a little bit as the season has worn on, so watch for the Jets to utilize Tomlinson on screens and quick passes, where Tomlinson has space to work.
CB Darrelle Revis- He injured his hamstring trying to cover Moss during the first meeting with the Patriots, but with Moss gone his attention will likely shift to Wes Welker. Welker is Brady’s favorite target, and Welker’s effectiveness is a big determinant in how successful their offense is. Revis is known for his ability to cover elite receivers, but it will be interesting to see how he fares against one of the best route-running possession receivers in the NFL. Limiting Welker’s effectiveness is the first priority in stopping Tom Brady.
Key Matchup: Mark Sanchez vs. Patriots Secondary- Sanchez had his best game against the Patriots this year, but this time around will likely be a tougher test. No one is better at fixing their past mistakes than Belichick, so it will be interesting to see if Sanchez can beat the unfamiliar formations that he is likely to see. He’s thrown at least one interception in his last 6 games, and mistakes will kill you against an always capitalizing Patriots team. Will Ryan limit Sanchez to a game manager, or if he will let him try to replicate the success he had last time against New England? I'm betting the latter.
Why the Jets Will Win- The Jets have been squeaking by average opponents as of late, but Rex Ryan should have no problem pumping up his team against the Pats. Gillette Stadium is one of the toughest places to play, especially in December, but the Jets are a team built to play in the cold, with their excellent running game, and brutal run defense. If Mark Sanchez can limit his mistakes, and the pass defense can shut down Welker, I think the Jets will be able to sweep the Patriots this year. The offense is good enough for 3 touchdowns against the Patriots, which will be good enough for the W.
Prediction: Jets 24, Patriots 20