New England Patriots
Starting with the release of DL Albert
Haynesworth, this has been a busy week for the Patriots in terms of
The team also released DB Malcolm Williams from
the practice squad and added S Ross Ventrone, LB Mike Rivera and DB
Josh Victorian. S Josh Barrett is now on injured reserve with a
season-ending calf injury and LB Niko Koutouvides and WR Tiquan
Underwood were added to the active roster.
The release of Haynesworth is no surprise due to
his struggles, but it's noteworthy considering his veteran status.
Koutouvides and Underwood were with the team during training camp, so
they have some understanding of the system.
GAME PLAN: The numbers don't
reflect it yet, but the Jets are one of the league's top defenses, and
they're starting to come into their own following a slow start to the
New York ranks eighth in the league in total
defense thanks in large part to its secondary, which remains among the
league's best. The Jets have had a hard time stopping the run, which
could force the Patriots into trying to establish their running game
early in the aftermath of what happened last week against the Giants.
The possible return of Kevin Faulk would be a big
help this weekend. Faulk's presence allows the Patriots to be more
diverse offensively, particularly with screen passes or inside
handoffs. Their ability to run will dictate how Tom Brady performs in
On the flipside, their secondary is still a mess,
so expect the Jets to try to air it out early. Everyone else has had
success with this approach, and the Jets don't figure to be the
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Jets' CB
Darrelle Revis vs. Patriots WR Wes Welker -- Revis is still the
league's top cornerback, and though he won't spend the entire game
covering Welker, expect him to draw this assignment on occasion since
Welker is Tom Brady's No. 1 target. Revis is more accustomed to
shutting down big-play deep threats, but the Patriots don't have anyone
outside of Welker and Deion Branch who demand that kind of attention,
so this will be a case of one man trying to defend two.
Patriots' NT Vince Wilfork vs. Jets' C Nick
Mangold -- This is one of the best one-on-one matchups you'll see all
year in the trenches. Without Albert Haynesworth, Wilfork figures to
command more attention from opposing linemen. If Mangold does his job,
the Jets will be able to run up the middle, which, at times, has been a
sore spot for New England's defense. Either way, this matchup will go a
long way in determining who has the upper hand Sunday.
Patriots' CB Devin McCourty vs. Jets' WR Plaxico
Burress -- Unlike the Patriots, the Jets have a tall, rangy deep threat
who can stretch the field vertically. Burress isn't nearly as
consistent as he was in his prime with the Giants, but he has a
three-touchdown game this year, so with the right timing he can be a
threat. McCourty has struggled all year and could have a long night if
Sanchez and Burress are in sync.
New York Jets
The Jets last week signed TE Shawn Nelson, who was
waived by Buffalo on Sept. 3. Nelson, a fourth-round draft pick in
2009, played parts of two seasons for the Bills and the Jets believe he
has plenty of potential as a receiver. He is trying to learn the
playbook on the fly, so it's unclear how soon he could make an impact.
They haven't made any moves with the 53-man roster
since, although they waived DT Jarron Gilbert off the practice squad.
The Jets had been trying to convert Gilbert to a blocking TE, but the
experiment apparently didn't work.
--S Brodney Pool (sprained left knee) sat out
practice Thursday for a second straight day. His availability for
Sunday's game against New England is uncertain.
--RB-KR Joe McKnight (toe) sat out practice
Thursday for a second straight day. His availability for Sunday's game
against New England is uncertain. If McKnight can't play, CB Antonio
Cromartie will handle kickoff-return duties and rookie RB Bilal Powell
will be the third running back. Powell has yet to be active for a game
--C Nick Mangold's healthy return to the Jets'
lineup has made an obvious difference. The Jets lost both games he
missed because of a high ankle sprain, but are 5-1 otherwise.
--QB Mark Brunell is one of very few non-punters
handling holding duties in the NFL. Special teams coordinator Mike
Westhoff believes one of the reasons K Nick Folk is having a terrific
season is because of his good chemistry with Brunell and LS Tanner
--CB Darrelle Revis likely will cover slot
receiver Wes Welker a majority of the time Sunday, as Revis did in the
Jets' loss to the Patriots last month. Jets coach Rex Ryan says Revis
is one of the few NFL corners who can be equally effective both outside
GAME PLAN: The Jets must do a
better job against RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who rushed for a
career-high 136 yards in the Patriots' 30-21 win over the Jets on Oct.
9. A malfunctioning running game would allow the Jets' pass rush to
turn up the heat on Tom Brady, who is not having a great season by his
lofty standards. Brady has 20 touchdown passes, but his two
interceptions in the loss to the Giants on Sunday gave him 10 picks
halfway through the season.
His career-high for interceptions is 14, in 2002,
2004 and 2005. The Jets could use a faster start on offense, after not
getting a first down until the second quarter of last month's game. The
Jets also need to make some big plays on special teams.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Jets WR Santonio
Holmes vs. Patriots CB Devin McCourty -- Holmes had four receptions for
60 yards in the first meeting, including a 21-yard touchdown grab that
cut the Jets' deficit to 27-21 in the fourth quarter. McCourty has been
targeted often by opposing teams, and has allowed four touchdowns this
season after permitting only five in his Pro Bowl rookie campaign last
Jets CB Darrelle Revis vs. Patriots WR Wes Welker
-- In past years, Revis only covered slot receiver Welker occasionally,
but he had most of the responsibility for Welker in the October
matchup. Revis did his usual excellent job, except for one huge play,
when Welker split Revis and S Eric Smith for a 73-yard reception that
set up the Patriots' second touchdown. There was a miscommunication
between Revis and Smith on the play, but Revis says it was his fault.
Patriots - Jets: Game Plans & Matchups
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