Patriots - Jets: Game Preview

It's time to put up or shut up as they say on the schoolyard playground. The Patriots travel to East Rutherford to take on division rival New York Jets. Will Bill Belichick's defensive genius combined with Tom Brady's arm be enough to quiet Rex Ryan's pack of wild dogs?

New England Patriots (1-0) at New York Jets (0-1)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. ET
GAMEDATE: 9/19/10
VENUE: New Meadowlands Stadium
LOCATION: East Rutherford, NJ.
SURFACE: Field Turf
WEATHER: Weather report
TV: CBS (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms)

PREDICTION: Patriots 20-13

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Jets need to open things up on offense if they hope to match scores with New England, which appeared to be in mid-season form on offense in its 38-24 opening-day win over Cincinnati. Look for the Jets to take more shots downfield, something they did sparingly against the Ravens. On defense, they may have to back off their usual blitz-happy schemes, as Tom Brady looked sharp on opening day and will be able to exploit single coverage away from CB Darrelle Revis, as Baltimore and Joe Flacco did Monday.

FAST FACTS: The Patriots have finished in the top five in total offense three seasons in a row after finishing third in 2009, fifth in 2008 and first in 2007. ... The Jets had two offensive touchdowns in 18 preseason possessions and did not reach the end zone against the Ravens last week.


Wes Welker's miraculous recovery from offseason knee surgery continued in last week's opener when he caught two touchdowns in New England's 38-24 victory over the Bengals.

Welker tore his knee up last December and had surgery to repair the damage, yet still made it back onto the field for training camp and also started last weekend's season opener against Cincinnati.

The diminutive wideout led the team with eight catches. Sunday's game came roughly eight months after he initially injured the knee. Though he's satisfied with his progress up to this point, Welker would still like to get rid of the knee brace he's been wearing since he returned to the field over the summer.

"We'll see where we're at, I'm definitely ready to get rid of it," Welker said, "but at the same time we're going to be cautious with it. It's a pretty bulky type knee brace, but I'm able to do what I need to do out there, and hopefully soon we'll get it off. I'd like to be without it at some point."

Asked if he's 100 percent, or close to it, Welker declined to put a number on his overall health, but reiterated that he's just glad to be back on the field.

"It takes a full year until I'm me again, is what they say," Welker said. "I'm just trying to take it a day at a time and do what I can with what I've got right now."

Welker's health at this point is important because the Patriots have been without second-year pro Julian Edelman, who has filled in for Welker in the past and actually shares the same attributes (height, speed, presence in the slot, etc.).

As the Patriots prepare to play the Jets, there's no doubt Welker is on New York coach Rex Ryan's mind. Ryan referred to Welker as a "match-up nightmare." Welker thinks that's a stretch, but is undoubtedly looking forward to matching up against a defense considered to be one of the best in the league.

"I wouldn't go that far," Welker said. "I just go out there and try to do my job, try to get open, but I wouldn't consider myself the biggest matchup problem for anybody."

Nine points weren't enough for the Jets to win Monday, and almost assuredly won't be enough against the Patriots either on Sunday, as someone pointed out to quarterback Mark Sanchez on Wednesday.

"I would agree with that," he said with a laugh. "That's a safe assumption. We just need to play the way we know how and the way we're capable of."

That also is offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's mantra after the Jets posted a measly 176 yards of offense and went 1-for-11 on third downs in their 10-9 opening-night loss to Baltimore.

"I'm not concerned. I'm disappointed," he said. "I think the whole group is disappointed. We didn't play as well as we're capable of playing. We need to play better. We recognize that."

And that improvement starts with Schottenheimer, as he admitted.

"There's a couple of (play) calls I'd like to have back," he said. "It probably was not my most aggressive game. When you're struggling on third down (1-for-11), the thing you're going to try to do is manage the sticks a little bit" to get shorter third downs to convert, as opposed to risking longer ones.

As for his conservatism? "In no way shape or form does it have anything to do with Mark," Schottenheimer said. "He's matured enough that he knows when to take shots and when not to."
"I was fine with the game plan last week," Sanchez said. "I'm fine with the game plan this week. I feel great about both of them."
The Jets' two longest downfield passes against Baltimore resulted in an incompletion intended for Jerricho Cotchery, and a 34-yard completion to tight end Dustin Keller that was negated by an illegal shift penalty on wideout Braylon Edwards for not being set at the snap.

Schottenheimer, who denied rumors of a post-game altercation with coach Rex Ryan, said the Jets were expecting a TV timeout before that play, and indicated they were trying to show the Ravens a personnel package to see how Baltimore would match up.

But the officials wound the clock. "So the next thing we knew," Schottenheimer said, "we were trying to get our personnel grouping out there. ... We could've called a timeout. Mark thought he could get it off. He kind of lost sight of Braylon. (Blame) kind of gets spread throughout everybody" on that play.

Much like Ryan, Schottenheimer wants to get Edwards the ball more Sunday.

"Braylon is an emotional guy," Schottenheimer said. "The more we get him involved, the more touches we get him ... he feeds off that."

That's important for a team that seems offensively-starved at the moment.


--OT Nick Kaczur missed practice Thursday for the second day in a row and it appears he won't be in the lineup Sunday in New York.
--CB Terrence Wheatley also missed his second day of practice Thursday due to a foot injury and will likely miss Sunday's game against the Jets.
--WR Julian Edelman was limited in Thursday's practice for the second day in a row with a foot injury. His status is up in the air for Sunday.
--RB Fred Taylor practiced Thursday despite a toe injury. Taylor will be in the lineup Sunday and will likely share the workload at running back with veteran Sammy Morris.
--QB Tom Brady continues to pop up on the injury report despite not having missed any games since 2008. Brady has practiced all week and is listed as probable with a right shoulder injury -- safe to say he'll be the starter on Sunday.

--CB Darrelle Revis was limited in practice Thursday because of tightness in his left hamstring. However, he expects to play Sunday. The Jets' plan is for him to cover New England WR Randy Moss, and if he is not 100 percent, he may not be able to follow Moss for the whole game.
--LB Calvin Pace took off the walking boot on his injured right foot and rode the stationary bike during practice Thursday. The Jets are holding out hope he can play in Week 3 at Miami, but Week 4 at Buffalo might be more realistic.
--S Brodney Pool (ankle) was limited in practice for the second consecutive day. It's still unclear whether he will play against the Patriots. Eric Smith would start again if Pool is inactive.
--CB Kyle Wilson, the Jets' top nickel back, likely will have the responsibility of covering New England slot receiver Wes Welker much of the time Sunday, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said. However, Pettine made it clear Wilson will have help.
--LB Jason Taylor has 9.5 career sacks of the Pats' Tom Brady, the most he has against any NFL QB. Taylor had no sacks but two tackles for loss of RB Ray Rice in the opener.

This preview courtesy of The Sports Xchange

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