An Early Look: Monday Night

An early look at the game plan as the 9-2 New York Jets travel to New England to face their biggest AFC East rival, the Patriots.

Moments after the Jets completed their 30-minute demolition of an overmatched-in-every-facet-of-the-game-save-for-self-aggrandizing-clowns-and-their-monumental-efforts-in-self-promotion Bengals squad Thursday night, Rex Ryan snarked that Monday night's opponent, the Patriots, were "clearly the best team in football. That's what it looks like. That's what everyone says—except me." Later, Ryan would call the matchup between 9-2 AFC East rivals the NFL's "game of the year."

We agree. Simply, if the Jets win, they will be in position to win the division and have home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. Should New England win, it will mean that both teams, and possibly Pittsburgh , depending on what happens in their annual blood letting with Baltimore Sunday afternoon, will be in a neck-and-neck end of the season sprint for the division and home field.

It is in this atmosphere that Green And White Report decided that it would be worthwhile to weigh the Jets and Patriots strengths as an appetizer leading into Monday night's main course. So without any further ado:

WHEN THE JETS HAVE THE BALL: If the Jets are to win the game, look for the Ground and Pound offense to implement its will on the NFL's 16th best rush defense. The Jets are second in the league in rushing offense, averaging 148.1 yards per game.

Should the running game force the young Patriots defense to move safeties closer to the line of scrimmage, Mark Sanchez and the Jets receiving corps could torch the NFL's worst pass defense (288.5 passing yards allowed per game).

WHEN THE PATRIOTS HAVE THE BALL: Tom Brady is simply authoring a MVP-caliber season. Brady has completed 66.3 percent of his passes for 2,703 yards and 23 touchdowns while only being intercepted four times.

The Patriots trade of Randy Moss has allowed Brady the opportunity to spread the ball around. Historically, Brady, who grew up idolizing Joe Montana, used multiple receivers. This year is no different. Rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez (36), Deion Branch (33), Rob Gronskowski (24) and former Jet Danny Woodhead (24) have all had strong pass-catching years. Brady's go-to receiver is Wes Welker. The slot receiver has 65 catches for 592 yards and six touchdowns. B

How does the Pats' pass-first offense play into the Jets' defensive philosophy? Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie will be matched up with Welker and Branch all night long.

The Patriots offensive line has only yielded 15 sacks and 35 hits of Brady this season. Indianapolis (13) and the New York Giants (12) have had their quarterbacks sacked fewer times while the Jets (33) and Titans (31) have allowed fewer hits on their signal callers. But can the Patriots' offensive line neutralize the Jets' pass rush? The Jets have 24 sacks in 11 games despite national analysts' criticism of the franchise's lack of a natural pass-rusher.

New England has a middle-of-the-pack rushing attack. The Patriots' running back by committee has combined for 1,237 yards on 291 carries. They have scored 13 touchdowns and, most impressively, have not lost a fumble.


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