As Bill Belichick says, it's "Jets Week." Often, it's one of the most interesting times of the year in New England.
Since Bill Parcells left New England for New York in the mid-'90s, the Patriots and Jets have been at each other's throats. There have been classic games along the way, including a playoff win for the Patriots in 2006 and a big win in overtime at Gillette Stadium by Brett Favre in 2008.
The Patriots try to play it cool whenever it's time to get ready for New York, but even quarterback Tom Brady -- the coolest customer in the locker room -- admitted this isn't just another game.
"When we play them, it seems every game comes down to the end," Brady said. "Over the years, there's been a lot of transition with players and coaches and so forth. They've got a good team. They've got a very good defense. Last year we didn't do so well down there, so we've got to go down and try to score more than nine points. That's what we're thinking about offensively."
The rivalry may have reached its apex last year when Rex Ryan took over coaching duties for the Jets and boldly claimed he's "not here to kiss Belichick's rings," in reference to the Patriots' coach, who has won three Super Bowls in New England.
The Jets snuck into the playoffs last year as a wild card and advanced to the AFC Championship. This past offseason, they added several key players to strengthen their defense and were even featured on HBO's "Hard Knocks" series, which goes behind the scenes at a particular team's training camp and reveals a lot of inside details.
Ryan's outgoing -- and, depending on who you ask, obnoxious -- personality appears to have rubbed off on the Jets, who are as confident as ever despite losing their first game in New Meadowlands Stadium last week to the Baltimore Ravens on Monday.
Likewise, Brady is confident the Patriots won't fall victim to whatever the Jets throw at them Sunday since they're now more accustomed to what Ryan likes to do with his defensive and offensive schemes.
"I think I definitely have a better feel for them this year than I had last year," Brady said. "Last year, you weren't really sure who the guys would be. We had played Rex's defense before but never with Jets personnel. Seeing how they played their guys and the strengths of their guys, we have a better feel this year.
"Of course, you've got to go out and execute still, and everything they do, they do very well. They're big. They're physical. That game the other night, that was two great defensive teams playing. We've got to stand up to them. That's what it comes down to. We're pretty physical, too, and we've got to really stand up to their presence."
SERIES HISTORY: 100th regular-season meeting. Jets lead series, 50-48-1. Given the overall competitiveness between the two teams, it should come as no surprise that they've split the last four meetings. The Patriots won last year at home and lost at the Meadowlands. The last time they beat the Jets on the road was Sept. 14, 2008, a 19-10 win. All-time, the Patriots are 24-26 on the road against the Jets.
NOTES --Even with a lousy finish on the road last year, the Patriots still remain one of the NFL's top road teams over the past decade.
Since 2000, the Patriots are 51-29 away from home, which is the third best road record in the league behind Indianapolis and Philadelphia.
Last year was an uncharacteristically poor season for the Patriots on the road; they finished 2-6 away from Gillette Stadium while winning each of their home games. One of those road wins came in London, where they were the designated road team.
--Since free agency began in 1993, the Patriots are the only team in the league to win more than half their games in nine consecutive seasons.
They're also the fifth team to win more than half of their games in nine consecutive seasons since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, joining the 49ers (16 in a row), Dallas (16), the Raiders (11) and Pittsburgh (nine).
--While the all-time season series between the Jets and Patriots is deadlocked at 50 wins apiece, the rivalry has been fairly lopsided since Bill Belichick began coaching the Patriots.
Since 2001, the two teams have played 19 times with the Patriots winning 14 of those games. They're 12-3 against the Jets since 2003 and have only allowed them to score more than 17 points just twice during that span.
The caveat is the Jets have won two of the last four meetings against New England and two of three overall, including a win at Gillette Stadium in September of 2009.
Brady's The Key
--Quarterback Tom Brady has been a big part of the Patriots' recent success against the Jets.
In 16 starts against New York, Brady is 13-3. The only team he's beaten more times in his career is Buffalo, whom he's defeated 15 times.
Brady has an overall 88.6 passer rating against the Jets with 3,578 yards, 18 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. He's only thrown two interceptions in his last five games against New York.
It Starts With The Division
--Sunday is the first of eight division games for the Patriots this season, and they'll be looking to continue their decade-long tradition of dominance in the AFC East.
Since 2001, the Patriots own a 43-13 record against their division rivals, which is the best intra-division record of any team in the NFL over the last eight seasons; they finished 4-2 against their division rivals last season.
The only teams who come close to sharing New England's dominance within its own division are Indianapolis (41-16 against the AFC South and AFC East during that same stretch) and Pittsburgh (41-17 against AFC North foes).
First Time Is Special
--Second-year LB Gary Guyton celebrated his first interception in style last weekend, returning his pick of a Carson Palmer pass 59 yards for a touchdown in the Patriots' 38-24 win.
Guyton is the first Patriot linebacker to return an interception for a touchdown since Adalius Thomas' 65-yard score against San Diego in 2007.
--The Patriots achieved a rare feat last weekend by scoring touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams, including Gary Guyton's interception return for a touchdown and Brandon Tate's 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the second half.
The Patriots hadn't returned an interception and a kickoff for a touchdown in the same game since 2002 when Kevin Faulk scored on a kickoff and Tedy Bruschi returned an interception 48 yards for a touchdown in a win against Oakland.
BY THE NUMBERS: 3 -- The number of consecutive seasons that the Patriots' offense has finished in the top five after finishing third in 2009, fifth in 2008 and first in 2007.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The road environment is very different than our friendly home crowd, who when I looked up, half the stadium was gone when we were up 21 points early fourth quarter, which I wasn't so happy about. I don't think the Jets fans leave early. They're going to be loud the whole game. Communication is always an issue." -- QB Tom Brady on the challenges the Patriots will face on the road against the Jets this weekend.