Even though the Jets can't stop anyone from running on them, don't look for the Patriots to just line up and pound the ball on the ground. Any team that Hank Poteat starts for is susceptible to the pass. No offense to Poteat, but he couldn't even get on the field for the Patriots and that's when New England had injuries in the secondary. Expect Tom Brady to exploit his former teammate early and often.
Darrelle Revis is really coming on in his rookie season. The young corner was physical with Terrell Owens on Thanksgiving Day and will need to do the same to Randy Moss. Two areas where the Jets struggle are depth at cornerback and getting to the passer. That means Brady will have time in the pocket and Wes Welker will have a big advantage over whoever is covering him in the slot. In other words, the Jets defense better hope for 50 mph winds because that's the only way it's going to slow down New England's air attack.
--For the second week in a row, the Patriots have changed their practice schedule. Instead of a regular Wednesday practice, the team instead held a walkthrough inside the Dana-Farber Field House.
PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES:
--QB Tom Brady was named the AFC's Offensive Player of the Week. In New England's 34-13 win over Pittsburgh, Brady completed 32 of 46 passes (69.6 percent) for 399 yards with four touchdowns and a 125.2 passer rating as the Patriots improved to 13-0. Brady led a New England offense that totaled 421 total net yards and 34 points against the Steelers, who had the NFL's top-ranked defense. Brady's 399 passing yards are the second highest of his career and he has posted four of his top five career single-game yardage totals this season. The veteran signal-caller's four-touchdown performance on Sunday brings his season total to 45, which is the third-highest single-season total in NFL history.
--WR Jabar Gaffney wasn't much of a factor during the first half of the season with the new trio of receivers lighting up scoreboards. But once defenses made adjustments and paid more attention to Randy Moss and Wes Welker, Brady has started looking Gaffney's way more. Gaffney has caught 21 passes for 300 yards and three touchdowns in his last six games, saving his best performances for late in the season for the second year in a row.
--TE Benjamin Watson has been the forgotten man in New England's high-flying passing game. In his last five games, Watson has only registered a total of 129 receiving yards and didn't record a touchdown over that span.
--The Patriots have placed DL Mike Wright on injured reserve with a foot injury, putting an end to his 2007 season.
--QB Matt Cassel, WR Chad Jackson, OL Ryan O'Callaghan and LB Chad Brown, DB Ray Ventrone and CB Tim Mixon wore black jerseys at practice Thursday, indicating they were named practice players of the week for their work leading up to the Steelers' game.
The Patriots offense should be able to do anything it wants in this game. The Jets are terrible when it comes to defending the run and aren't much better against the pass. That's a problem when facing an offense that's on the verge of setting the league's scoring record. Laurence Maroney has a chance to have his biggest day on the ground this season. Meanwhile, Tom Brady will be able to sit back in the pocket and hit Wes Welker, Randy Moss and Donte' Stallworth all game long. It's up to the Patriots to decide if they want the Jets to die a slow death or a quick one. The only thing that's certain is New England will move the ball on the Jets defense.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Patriots WR Randy Moss vs. Jets CB Hank Poteat. Has there ever been a bigger mismatch in the history of team sports? Moss is one of the game's premier receivers, while Poteat was a backup corner when he was in New England. Uh-oh. Expect to see rookie Darrelle Revis on Moss as well, but regardless of who the Jets have covering him, Moss should have a big day against this secondary. And when New York double-teams Moss, Welker and Stallworth will eat the Jets defense alive.
Patriots NT Vince Wilfork vs. Jets C Nick Mangold. This is turning into one of the AFC East's better matchups. Wilfork should be headed to his first Pro Bowl at season's end and Mangold may be joining him in Hawaii. It's imperative that the Jets get some semblance of a running game going to take pressure off their young quarterback. Mangold has had success against Wilfork in the past, so this will be a war all day long.
--G Stephen Neal (shoulder) had limited participation in Thursday's practice. Neal missed last week's game against the Steelers.
--S James Sanders (ankle) had limited participation in Thursday's practice. If Sanders can't go on Sunday, former starter Eugene Wilson would likely get the nod.
--TE Benjamin Watson (ankle) had limited participation at practice on Thursday. Watson hurt his ankle against Pittsburgh and if he's out on Sunday, the Patriots will likely use more multiple receiver sets.
The Jets shook up their defensive starters against Cleveland. DE Shaun Ellis started, but was at OLB on the first play in place of Victor Hobson. Ellis lined up at both DE and LB during the game. Sione Pouha started at NT instead of Dewayne Robertson, and Brad Kassell started at one ILB spot instead of Eric Barton.
However, all the players who did not start still saw extensive time in the rotation.
With the release of Darian Barnes, the Jets have no fullbacks on the roster. Stacy Tutt (knee) is on injured reserve. They have instead been using tight ends Sean Ryan and Joe Kowalewski as H-backs and fullbacks at times.
PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES
--WR Laveranues Coles (ankle) was limited in practice Thursday but is expected to play against New England.
--WR Jerricho Cotchery (finger) was limited in practice Thursday but will play against New England.
--QB Kellen Clemens (thigh) is on the injury report for the first time since becoming the Jets' starter. He practiced full Thursday and will start at New England.
--NT Sione Pouha got his first start of the season against Cleveland. Pouha has the potential to be a good run stuffer for the Jets.
--WR Justin McCareins (thigh) was limited in practice Wednesday. He was hurt against Cleveland but was able to return to that game.
The Jets need to put more pressure on Tom Brady than they did in the first meeting, when he completed 22 of 28 passes and wasn't sacked once. They likely will double-team WR Randy Moss, but that could leave them vulnerable to WR Wes Welker, who had a touchdown reception in the season opener against New York. On offense, the Jets need to run the ball effectively to alleviate some of the pressure on QB Kellen Clemens. Bill Belichick's schemes have confused many veteran quarterbacks, and Clemens could have a tough time in only his seventh NFL start.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Patriots WR Randy Moss vs. Jets CB Darrelle Revis. Revis started on opening day in his NFL debut, and although he didn't cover Moss exclusively, he had his problems against him. Moss finished with nine receptions for 183 yards and one touchdown. The Jets likely will look to double-team Moss, but unless they get pressure on Brady (the Jets had no sacks in the first meeting), he should have time to find the superstar wideout.
Jets RB Thomas Jones vs. Patriots run defense. New England's run defense is only 14th in the league, and the Jets will probably look to run the ball to try to keep some pressure off Clemens, plus slow down the Patriots' blitzes. Jones has four 100-yard games this season, including a 106-yard effort against Cleveland in the last game. Jones had 99 yards on 23 carries versus the Patriots as a Chicago Bear last season.
INJURY IMPACT: WR Laveranues Coles (high-ankle sprain) is expected to play, but he could again be limited, as he has been for the last two games. Although he led the Jets in receptions against both Miami and Cleveland, he wasn't on the field for his normal amount of plays, and that could be the case again this week at New England.
WR Jerricho Cotchery (finger) returned to action against Cleveland and seemed to have no problem catching the ball despite the soft splint on his broken right index finger.
HOT TOPIC: Pats vs Jets Game Thread