Behind Enemy Lines: A Look At the Patriots

Six questions answered by Patriots beat reporter Jon Scott, who gives us his thoughts on Sunday's big match-ups and his prediction for the afternoon.

Jon Scott of joins GWR for a look at Sunday's clash between two AFC East rivals.

1. Will the Jets secondary be waking up in the middle of the night screaming at the thought of Wes Walker like they did after the Gillette game last year?

Jon Scott: I think the Jets will have their hands full with Welker, but may find a way to contain the damage he does to them now that they know how dangerous he can be. What that will do is to open things up for the Patriots tight ends. We've seen how the Jets' secondary can have issues, and I'd expect the Patriots to do everything they can to maximize Welker - or the tight ends if Moss is blanketed. Still, I'd expect Welker to get the ball, whether it is on screens or over the middle. Don't be surprised if the Patriots test the Jets deep if the defense creeps up to clamp down on the space Welker has available.

2. How good are the Pats' rookie tight ends and are they up to the task of a highly-touted Jets linebacking unit?

Scott: We've seen what the Patriots rookie tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski can do in just one game. One, Gronkowski, scored a touchdown versus the Bengals because he stood a foot over the defender's head for an easy reception. The other, Hernandez, took a short sideline pattern and ran it 45 yards downfield because the Bengals were busy with Moss and Welker. I'd expect Gronkowski to fare well in blocking, but Hernandez may have issues. He's improving, but he's still raw. Getting open in coverage, I don't think will be a big problem for either one.

3. Mark Sanchez made his rep late last year by playing mistake free football en route to the AFC Championship Game. How will New England try to get him out of his rhythm?

Scott: The Ravens gave the league a blueprint of how to marginalize the Jets offense. Mark Sanchez may be a highly touted young player, but Sanchez is still young. He's in just his second full season and he hasn't seen a lot of what the Patriots can do. I'd expect a lot of mixed defenses, with pressure being brought from different directions to try to make Sanchez uncomfortable in the pocket.

One thing the Jets have to prove is if they can still run the ball. Sanchez had some decent passing games, but without the threat of a solid ground game, I don't think many defensive coordinators are going to lose sleep over game-planning for his passing attack. Again, it's reliant on the ground game. If there is one, then I think Sanchez has all the skills necessary to make life miserable for a suspect Patriots secondary.

4. After several years of facing the hard-running Thomas Jones, does the unknown factor of Shonn Greene worry the Pats' defense?

Scott: Anytime there's a change in skill position players for a team, opponents have a learning period. With Green, who has shown flashes, it's about the young guy's ability to perform at a high level on a consistent basis. Honestly, LaDainian Tomlinson looked better than Green so far, and I think the Patriots would have to be just as wary about him in the backfield as Greene.

5. The Jets have talked Super Bowl all post-season, does this bluster and swagger anger the Pats at all or is taken seriously or, is it laughable?

Scott: Having lived in no-man's land here between Boston and New York, I can say with all honesty that there's a lot more hype coming out of the Big Apple than most New Yorker's may realize. The hype of Sanchez, Ryan, Revis is pretty impressive. Many of the media outlets are masters at spinning the news into something bigger than it is. Man-Genius? San-chize? Do the Jets still thing that's the best approach?

It's not that there isn't significant talent in the Jets organization, it's just that the promotion is so over the top, it's going to be hard to live up to. Like a Broadway show, the Jets are big, bold and everywhere you look during show week. I believe the Patriots players, and likely most of the organization sees the same thing. You can talk all you want, but the product you're talking about has to live up to the claims. That's the mentality in New England.

Just look at the Shawne Merriman light-out dance he did. When the Patriots beat the Chargers in that playoff game, the team mocked Merriman for being a showboat. They did the same thing with the Eagles in the Super Bowl, and the whole flapping of the arms. When (or if) they beat the Jets in a big game (a playoff game) I'd expect more of the same. The Pats wait to prove it on the field before they do their trash talking.

6. Given last weekend's outburst, is Randy Moss primed for a big game to redeem himself to Pats' fans and make a statement by playing against Darrelle Revis?

Scott: I said the same on air this week, the whole Revis versus Moss matchup is just one facet of the game. Sure we can get excited to see these guys compete, I know I'm going to be glued to their matchup. Perhaps Revis will have success again, perhaps not, but it will be fun to watch. But that's not the team's mission. It may be Moss' mission after serving notice in public that he's not happy with his contract.

One thing I believe fans should do is to watch how the Jets defense lines up. If they have safeties high, even a single safety, will they need to bring pressure to reduce the time Moss have available to get open? After watching tape, that seemed to be the case. When Moss did win battles it was a moot point because Brady had to get rid of the ball or get crushed by a ravenous Jets front seven. I still think Revis' success is due in large part to the heat that the front seven applies. Revis is scary good, but that pass rush is his best friend.


If the Jets continue to struggle to open holes in the running game, there's little else they have to scare the Patriots with. I'd expect Bill Belichick will try to take the lessons learned from Week One's Jets loss to the Ravens and employ some of the same tactics Baltimore used to shake Sanchez, while containing the run. The Patriots' offense looks much more dangerous than I expected this soon, and that should translate into New England carrying momentum at points throughout the game. Having Welker only adds to that sentiment. In what I think will be another tough, hard-fought game, I can see the Patriots winning by about a touchdown, possibly more. I think they can convert more of their drives than the Jets will.

Patriots 24 – Jets 17

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