Game Breakdown: The Divisional Game

GWR analyst Nick St. Denis breaks down Sunday's divisional playoff game against the Patriots.

Some things to watch for on the New England side of the ball when the Patriots host the Jets Sunday.

A Patriots' strength –

New England leads the league in turnover differential at +28. That's 11 more than the Steelers, who are second in that category. The Patriots have 25 interceptions and 13 fumble recoveries on defense. For a unit that began the season so poorly, the Pats defense is now the most opportunistic in the league.

A Patriots' weakness –

As one of the best third-down teams on offense, the Pats are the worst third-down unit defensively, giving up third-down conversions 47 percent of the time. If the Jets get into third-and-short situations, they should be able to either push the pile or hit a pitch-and-catch quick slant for a first down.

When the Patriots are on offense –

New England is the only team that didn't reach double-digits in fumbles this season. That's pretty incredible. They've been able to win because they possess the ball well. The Jets absolutely need to get a big turnover, whether it's a fumble recovery or a costly interception. A momentum-changer in favor of New York while the Pats are on offense is critical because even if the NYJ hold the Patriots to a bunch of punts, New England will still be maintaining field position.

When the Patriots are on defense –

Which will have a bigger impact: the aforementioned strength or weakness? That depends on what kind of third-down situations the Jets get themselves into. If they run the ball on first and second down in order to set up a third-and-short, they'll have the option of a quick pass or power run. If they end up in third-and-long because of incomplete passes on first and second down, the Patriots will have opportunities to attack the ball and get turnovers.

Matchup to watch –

The Jets offensive line vs. big ol' Vince Wilfork. New England has something the Jets have lacked since losing Kris Jenkins in Week 1 – a large body on the defensive line that takes up multiple blockers. How the Jets handle Wilfork in the run game will be critical for the Jets to sustain long drives and keep Tom Brady off the field.

Final thoughts and Nick's picking –

New York will need a near-flawless performance in order to overcome the Patriots in Foxboro. I think the game comes down to a 4-point New England lead at under two minutes with the Jets needing a touchdown – not a field goal – in order to win it. Tomlinson breaks a big one and they score with under a minute to go, and Braylon Edwards picks off Brady on a Hail Mary as time expires. Jets win, 27-24.


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