Week 16 Preview: Patriots vs. Jets

In this AFC East divisional showdown, we will preview the week 16 match-up between the New England Patriots and New York Jets.

The New York Jets (4-10) travel to Gillette Stadium to face off against the New England Patriots (12-2) in their second face-off of the season. The Jets, who have had a down year after finishing 10-6 last season, will look to upset the Patriots as New England is fighting for the number one overall seed in the AFC for the playoffs. Injuries and poor play have ravaged the Jets this season as they will be sending out second year quarterback Bryce Petty again as their starter. The Patriots, outside of Rob Gronkowski, have managed to stay healthy for the most part throughout the 2016 season. In a clear mismatch on paper, we will take a closer look at the match-up.

The Patriots once again tout one of the best offenses in the NFL this season. They are fourth in the NFL in total yards per game (389.9) and the sixth best scoring offense (26.1). This offense is led by star quarterback Tom Brady, who has helped the Patriots throw for the fourth most passing yards (273) per game this season and the seventh most passing touchdowns (26, tied) this season. Brady by himself is one of the best statistical quarterbacks this season despite missing four games. He is second among quarterbacks in yards per passing attempt (8.24) and passer rating (109.7) while throwing for only two interceptions in 12 games this season. Even at age 39, he has proven to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league this season and considered by most as a serious MVP candidate.

Brady has had some excellent play from his wide receivers this season, helping to soften the blow of losing Gronkowski. Julian Edelman has the fourth most receptions this season among all players (85) on the fifth most targets (137). He also has the 15th most yards after the catch (343) among wide receivers. Outside of last weekend's game against Denver, Malcolm Mitchell has 27 targets, 21 receptions, 263 yards and four touchdowns over the past four games. Chris Hogan leads the NFL with 19.1 yards per reception while also having 19 targets, 14 receptions, 240 yards and two touchdowns over the past two games. Not to forget his pass-catching running backs, James White has 14 receptions and 145 yards over the past four games while Dion Lewis has 14 receptions for 85 yards since returning five weeks ago.

For their run attack, New England is seventh in the NFL with 117 yards per game and tied for fourth with 16 rushing touchdowns this season. This is led by LeGarrette Blount, who is seventh in the NFL with 1,060 rushing yards while leading the NFL with 15 rushing touchdowns. He also has been heavily relied upon this season as he is fourth in the NFL with 265 carries this season. Even more remarkable may be that he only has two fumbles this season in 14 games. Lewis has also been a reliable source of rushing yards since returning. That includes 109 yards on 19 carries over the past two games (5.73 yards per attempt). Going up against one of the better run defenses in the league, this will be an interesting match-up. 

The Jets have disappointed as a below-average defense statistically this season after doing well last season. They are 16th in the NFL with 351.7 yards allowed per game and tied for sixth in most points allowed per game (25.6). They have given up the 11th most passing yards (251.8), the fourth most passing touchdowns (27, tied) while being tied for the second fewest interceptions (seven) and having the second fewest sacks (23). Their run defense is giving up the 14th most rushing yards per game (99.9) but are tied for fifth in fewest touchdowns allowed (eight) while leading the league in forced fumbles (11). They are also tied for eighth with 3.9 yards per rushing attempt allowed.

For the Jets, their offense hasn't been much better this season. They are tied for 24th in the league with 224 passing yards per game, tied for 26th with 14 passing touchdowns while leading the NFL with 22 interceptions thrown. New York has the eighth lowest yards per attempt (6.7) while having a league worst 68.3 passer rating. Both Brandon Marshall (57 receptions, 760 yards) and Quincy Enunwa (52 reception, 746 yards) have at least 50 receptions and 700 yards receiving while Robby Anderson has 29 targets, 14 receptions, 240 yards and two touchdowns over his past three games. 

Their run offense is a bit better, tied for the 12th most rushing yards per game (111.7) and tied for 19th with 10 rushing touchdowns as a unit. Starting running back Matt Forte is inactive for this game with a knee injury, so Bilal Powell will be working as the team's primary runner today. He has 45 rushing attempts over the past two games with 229 yards and two touchdowns. He also has 16 receptions for 112 yards over the past two games as well, showing that the team has no issues using his as a complete three-down back.

The Jets will face off against a Patriots defense that has given up the 10th fewest totals yards of offense this season (336.0) and the fewest points per game (16.6). The Patriots have given up the 17th fewest passing yards per game (248) along with being tied for 11th fewest touchdowns (19) and collecting the 11th fewest interceptions (nine, tied) this season. New England's pass rush has picked up in recent weeks, now having the 12th most sacks this season (32, tied).

Their run defense has been much better recently. They are giving up the fourth fewest rushing yards (87.9) this season along with being tied for the second fewest rushing touchdowns allowed (six). The Patriots have also forced 10 fumbles this season, tied for second in the NFL while being tied with the Jets for eighth in fewest rushing yards allowed per attempt.

Overall, the Patriots come into this game as the much better team on paper but both of their losses this season have come at home. The Patriots have also had trouble in the past with AFC East opponents, including narrowly beating the Jets earlier this season 22-17. As the Patriots push towards securing the number one seed in the AFC for the playoffs, the Jets stand in their way in this rainy showdown.


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