Coming off its BYE week, the Jets sit at (3-7), and will host the AFC East leading Patriots (8-2). This is the first of two meetings between both teams this season. The Patriots are gearing up for the playoffs, while the Jets are looking to avoid getting buried by their division rival at home Sunday. If there’s a positive to extract out of this season, it’s the fact that the Jets still have six games left to build a solid foundation for the future.
The season isn’t a wash for Gang Green, most fans with optimism still have hopes that this team can somehow run the table and make the playoffs. In Week 12, that seems like a longshot and winning out means they'll have to beat the Patriots twice. Here’s what to watch for this Sunday during the game:
WHEN: Sunday, November 27, 2016 4:25 p.m. EST
WHERE: MetLife Stadium East Rutherford, NJ
KEYS TO THE GAME:
The Jets need to make plays in the first quarter to have a chance. The Patriots want to bury this team like most Jets fans who’ve been watching this team all year. The Jets are a second half team but that won’t mean anything if they come out sluggish to against the Patriots. A good dose of the Matt Forte and Bilal Powell should help the Jets keep a good pace on offense, and keep Tom Brady off the field. The first few possessions usually tell us what we’re going to see from these Jets, if they show up early they may have a puncher’s chance.
The experience of Bill Belichick provides a challenge for the Jets. He knows how close division games can be and won’t be underprepared for this one. The Jets had an extra week to prepare so pay attention to how fast this team plays and what new wrinkles they implement. Todd Bowles and his coaching staff have nothing to lose at this point in the season. Winning this game might require a creative scheme or bold play-calling. The Jets have played unsure of themselves all year, with a perplexing ignorance to its players’ capabilities. Sunday, the Jets need to put together a complete game plan to win.
Defend short pass game-
The Patriots use the short pass game to get Brady going. The Jets need to play physical in the secondary and make open field tackles. Teams have torched the Jets with the deep ball and have also thrown short against them to neutralize their defensive line. Receivers like Chris Hogan and Julian Edelman are favorite targets of Brady due to their craftiness. The Jets can win this game with strong secondary play just as easy as they can lose it with the opposite. Jets safety Calvin Pryor is a great tackler but New England will challenge his coverage skills after pulling him closer to the line of scrimmage with the short passing game.
Keep WRs Involved-
The Jets are a run first team, but that doesn’t mean they should ignore the receiver position. Too many times the Jets have forgot about Brandon Marshall or Quincy Enunwa over the course of a game. These are the two best weapons they have in the passing game. Robby Anderson and Jalin Marshall can make play but they need the touches to do so. We’ll see if the Jets prioritize getting any of these four players the ball. Ryan Fitzpatrick has a limited arm, but hopefully Chan Gailey doesn’t screen pass us to death.
X-FACTOR- Martellus Bennett
There are reports that tight end Rob Gronkowski won’t play. I’m not sure how much I believe that, but if the Jets are walking to depths of danger if they overlook Bennet. He has been a unique talent since he entered the league. Now that he has a competent quarterback throwing him the ball, there’s no limit to what he can do on the field. He’s gritty and can run or block. Defending him won’t be easy.
Prediction: Patriots 27-16
There’s no chance the Patriots lose this game. However, my heart is telling me the Jets will keep it interesting until late. Brady is too much to deal with, but the Jets will stay in the game with defense. The Jets are snooze fest on offense, looking casket sharp at 3-7. New England wins because they’re the better team.