The Patriots made one minor move this week, releasing DB Josh
Victorian from the practice squad and replacing him with rookie CB
As for personnel, the Patriots won't have any
major changes, other than the fact rookie RB Stevan Ridley will likely
get the bulk of the carries with Danny Woodhead still struggling with
an ankle injury.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis certainly hasn't been
forgotten, but Ridley has emerged as a promising newcomer, and the
Patriots will continue to give him the ball as long as he racks up
GAME PLAN: Right now, both teams are having
defensive problems. Since the Patriots have done nothing to solve their
pass-rush problems, which include, among other things, a lack of
creativity in the defensive game plan, it's hard to imagine they'll
come up with any new wrinkles in time for Sunday's tilt with the Jets.
Mark Sanchez is struggling mightily, but the
Patriots can't stop the pass, so perhaps this would be the week to be a
bit more aggressive with the pass rush. From an offensive standpoint,
the running game is beginning to flourish, led primarily by rookie
Stevan Ridley. Expect the Patriots to continue to pound the ball
against the Jets' 27th-ranked rush defense.
What will the Jets do? Air it out, of course.
Until the Patriots prove they can stop anybody, the Jets will do what
every other team has tried to do through four weeks -- win a shootout
against the league's best quarterback. Keep an eye on Santonio Holmes
and Plaxico Burress, who could make a few big plays for New York.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Jets CB
Darrelle Revis vs. Patriots WR Deion Branch. Revis is still the game's
premier cover corner. Even if he's not getting interceptions, he's
basically taking a team's No. 1 target out of commission, leaving the
opposing quarterback with limited options. If Tom Brady can't work the
ball to Branch, he'll go elsewhere (Wes Welker), but it helps to have
as many options as possible. We'll see if Revis is up to the challenge
of shutting down one of Brady's most reliable targets.
Patriots RB Stevan Ridley vs. Jets LB Bart Scott.
The Jets sure do talk a good game, Scott included, but they've had
problems stopping the run, whereas Ridley has emerged as a breath of
fresh air in the backfield for New England. It's time for Scott and the
Jets to step up; the task of shutting down a promising rookie shouldn't
be too much for him to handle.
Jets QB Mark Sanchez vs. Patriots head coach Bill
Belichick. Not your traditional match-up on paper, but it's no secret
Sanchez got the best of the Patriots in last year's playoff game. The
young quarterback is coming off a horrific performance against
Baltimore. Meanwhile, the Patriots are allowing more yards than any
team in football, and they still have no semblance of a pass rush. Will
the Patriots come up with something to keep Sanchez's struggles going,
or is this the week the Jets' franchise quarterback gets back on track?
The Jets finally officially put OLB Bryan Thomas
(torn Achilles') on injured reserve after Rex Ryan said he would probably be out for
the season. It's unclear who will replace him as the starter.
The Jets have been trying out blocking TEs, but
haven't signed one yet. They apparently are unhappy with the
inconsistent play of TE Matt Mulligan.
GAME PLAN: The Jets offense
merely would like to score some points for itself after being
responsible for 24 of Baltimore's 34 points Sunday. Mark Sanchez
& Co. should be able to do some things against a New England
defense ranked at the bottom of the NFL in both total and passing. The
Patriots are tied for 18th in rushing defense, but are allowing 4.8
yards per carry and will be without standout LB Jerod Mayo (knee). The
Jets will have to change up their defensive plan from the brilliant one
they conceived in January, when they blitzed rarely and blanketed the
Pats with coverage.
That's because New England is running the ball
better now, as rookie Stevan Ridley and BenJarvus Green-Ellis totaled
172 rushing yards at Oakland on Sunday.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Jets WR
Santonio Holmes vs. Patriots CB Devin McCourty -- Holmes hasn't been
catching as many passes as he would like, but he could be primed for a
big day here. McCourty, a first-round pick last season, has regressed
from his Pro Bowl campaign as a rookie. He already has allowed three
touchdown passes this season, after permitting only five in the 2010
regular season. The Jets haven't been able to go vertical very often
this season because of leaky pass protection, but might able to do so
against New England's bottom-ranked defense.
Jets CB Darrelle Revis vs. Patriots WR Wes Welker
-- In the past, Revis only has covered slot receiver Welker
occasionally, but it's very possible the Jets could switch that up
considering Welker has been by far the Patriots' most productive
receiver early in 2011. His 40 receptions are more than twice as many
as anyone else on the Pats' offense. Plus, Welker has been going
vertical more often, as shown by his 99-yard touchdown and 15.4-yard
average. Jets' nickel corners and safeties traditionally have had
trouble with Welker, so why not turn him over to the team's superstar?
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