Behind Enemy Lines: Pats - Jets WK 7

Patriots Insider Jon Scott answers a half-dozen questions from Jets Publisher Rick Laughland about the Patriots - Jets matchup in Week 7.

1. Do you think this is one of Bill Belichick's best coaching jobs, when you take into consideration Aaron Hernandez's arrest and the injuries to key players including: Wilfork, Mayo, Gronkowski, Amendola ect.?

Jon Scott:  The fact that the Patriots are not only competitive, but they actually lead the division at this point, without their top 5 receivers from 2012 is an amazing feat.  Name one other team in the NFL that could have pulled this off?    Without being a homer, you'd have to think that this is by far the best coaching job the Patriots have done since Belichick arrived.

2. Has the Patriots' offensive identity change? Are they more balanced than in years past or is this just a product of having some explosive weapons out of the lineup?

JS:  The office has completely morphed into something new.  Last year we were accustomed to seeing two TE sets  with Hernandez and Gronkowski creating mismatches that had defenses reeling. With Wes Welker as his safety option on check downs, Brady had little trouble converting third  downs.  Now, the Patriots have no Number one option. The TEs scare no one, and there is on check down.  The team has to try to be more balanced on their attack just to pretend there's a run option so the play-action will work later.

3. How important has Aqib Talib been to shoring up New England's secondary? How has Talib's emergence and McCourty's move to safety transformed New England into a formidable pass defense?

JS: The Patriots will have to shift Kyle Arrington into the starter role, again, and move one of the younger guys into the nickel and dime packages.  That's what will be the big issue for the Patriots, who will fill in on Nickel.  New England lacks depth, it's all young guys in the secondary.

4. In retrospect was it a mistake for the Patriots to let Wes Welker walk during free agency? With the health issues plaguing Amendola do you think New England regrets signing so an injury prone player?

JS: Worst decision by the team ever.  How do you let all 5 guys leave?  Epic Failure by front office.  If the team doesn't make the playoffs, it's all about why the front office ticked off the Welker camp by not signing a guy who meant so much to the Tom Brady run offense.  I'm not saying the FO is inept, but they've made some bonehead moves in the past, and this ranks right up there among the worst, despite trying to maintain cap integrity. Look what Welker's doing in Denver.  He's obviously not past his prime, and the Patriots WR corp is at best a work in progress, at worst, it's an embarrassment.

5. Which team do you see as the biggest threat to New England in the division?

JS: Any team that can stuff the offense with decent coverage can win the AFC East,  The Patriots are nothing special this year.  I think they can be upset by any team in the EWast, but playing rookie QBs favors Belichick's defensive strategies.

Do you think this will be a tighter AFC East race than in years past or with the Patriots run away with it again?

JS: no doubt this will be a tight race. I expect New England to drop games they shouldn't as they make a run for the postseason.

6. Who do you think wins Sunday's matchup at MetLife Stadium? Do you see this as a down to the wire type of game or a blowout one way or the other?

JS: I think the Patriots will win, but not by much.  New England has issues with offense, and the Jets have a tough D.  This game could come down to a tlate turnover to decide the outcome.

Prediction: Patriots 23 – Jets 17

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