It’s the second Jets week of the season, and this one is hugely important for New York. Not that this game is ever really irrelevant, since the Jets usually play the Patriots a good game. But they’re fighting for a playoff spot, and they’ll need this win to put them in the best position to make the playoffs. Right now, they’re the first guys out at the 7th seed.
I expect this one to be even closer than the first time around. Ryan Fitzpatrick, for some odd reason, has really come on as a good starting quarterback this season. Part of me really believes that they’re playing with borrowed time on Fitz, as he’s never put a full season together and typically has fallen apart in years past. But you don’t throw 26 touchdowns and win 9 times thus far for nothing. It helps, of course, that he has Brandon Marshall, who has played like a top five receiver in the league this season.
In the first meeting, the Patriots forced a fumble on the first drive, but that was it. Fitzpatrick has turned it over 13 times total this season (12 interceptions), which is less than his career average of 18 times in seasons where he has started at least ten times. I get that his turnover numbers aren’t necessarily where they usually are, but you don’t just stop turning the ball over in the NFL when you’re in your thirties. The Patriots have to take it away at least twice in my eyes, and that starts with the defensive line. Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich need to get to the quarterback unlike the first matchup between these two teams. I like the way New England’s secondary has played for most of this season, but it’s tough to stick with guys like Marshall and the reliable Eric Decker for so long.
Offensively, Josh McDaniels’ offense looked good but not great against a bad Tennessee team last week. In the first go-around against the Jets, they ran something like 9 times, and Tom Brady had 4 of those. I get it’s the strength of the Jets’ defense to stop the run, but I’d almost call more runs purely for the sake of clock management. As long as Marshall can be kept off the field, I’m happy. I also want to see that because I’m really impressed with James White as a receiver out of the backfield, so I’d like to see if they have anything with him in terms of carrying the ball. He’s a strong, quick runner as a receiver, so as long as he’s decisive, I don’t see why he can’t be a good runner, too. Good things have happened when he has the ball in his hands, so it makes sense to get it to him.
What doesn’t make sense is how McDaniels has insisted on calling several pass plays per game that are more than 25 yards down the field when it isn’t a strong suit of his quarterback, but he does. And it’s rarely worked out. So maybe, I don’t know, stick to the short and intermediate passing game that has made Brady a name for himself over the course of his career? Let the Danny Amendola’s, Keyshawn Martin’s, hell, even the Rob Gronkowski’s of the world do what they do best- make a catch and get yards after the catch.
I still like the Patriots to win (as I do almost every week), but it’ll be close for the pure sake of the Jets having more to lose than New England. The Jets are fighting for their playoff lives here, and they’re quickly running out of chances. I want to see this man, specifically, really sad at the end of the game.
It’s always tough to go into the Meadowlands, but give me the Pats by 3.
Cover photo courtesy of nocoastbias.com.
Fireman Ed photo courtesy of Reddit.