Patriots - Jets: Preview Week 11

The Patriots are coming off a bitter loss to the Indianapolis Colts, while the Jets had a similar experience losing to the Jaguars. Both teams look to get back on track, but the Patriots are at home, where Tom Brady holds a 20-0 regular season record.

New York Jets (4-5) at New England Patriots (6-3)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/22/09
VENUE: Gillette Stadium
SURFACE: Fieldturf
WEATHER: Forecast
TV: CBS (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms)

PREDICTION: Patriots 23-15

KEYS TO THE GAME: The current version of Tom Brady is far more comfortable in the pocket than the one the Jets applied constant pressure on in a 16-9 Week 2 victory. Brady is no longer worried about his surgically-repaired knee, and he also has trusted WR Wes Welker, who missed the first meeting. A bigger key for the Patriots will be the mental state of their defense after blowing a 17-point fourth-quarter lead in Indianapolis. The Jets will test the stamina of New England's thin defensive line by pounding away with RBs Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene. With rookie QB Mark Sanchez still up and down, the Jets need to provide a strong ground presence.
Need to know: The teams have met 100 times, including playoffs, with the Jets holding a 50-49-1 advantage. ... The Jets' last four losses have been by a combined 14 points.


--SS Jim Leonhard (thumb) didn't practice again Thursday and isn't expected to play Sunday. Eric Smith likely will replace him in the starting lineup.
--CB Darrelle Revis, who filled in for Leonhard on punt returns against Jackonsville after Leonhard was injured, likely will not handle those duties at New England. Coach Rex Ryan believes he is too valuable as a lockdown corner to risk injury on special teams.
--KR Justin Miller, who was inactive Sunday, had an "outstanding" practice Thursday, Ryan said. It's possible that Miller could handle both punt and kickoff return chores Sunday.
--LB Vernon Gholston, who has been relegated to a reserve role after starting the first four games in the absence of the suspended Calvin Pace, has missed practice both Wednesday and Thursday with a hamstring injury suffered last week. He is not expected to play Sunday.
--RB-KR Leon Washington met with reporters for the first time since suffering a compound fracture of his right leg at Oakland on Oct. 25. He was upbeat and expects to play next season. The typical recovery time for such an injury is from six to 12 months.

--LB Tully Banta-Cain did not practice Thursday due to a groin injury sustained in Sunday's loss to Indianapolis. His status for Sunday is in doubt.
--G Stephen Neal reported no side effects from the head injury he suffered Sunday, though he still didn't practice Thursday, so it's unlikely he'll be ready for this weekend's game.
--WR Julian Edelman participated in a limited portion of Thursday's practice. He returned to the field last week and should be good to go barring any setbacks.
--RB Sammy Morris was limited in practice Thursday due to his knee injury, but it doesn't appear he'll be ready to make his return to the lineup this weekend.
--LB Rob Ninkovich is suffering from a knee injury and did not practice Thursday. He injured himself last weekend and may be unavailable for Sunday's game.


Darrelle Revis doesn't quite see eye-to-eye with New England coach Bill Belichick.

No, Revis isn't one of the legion of NFL pundits disagreeing with Belichick's bizarre decision to go for it on fourth-and-2 against Indianapolis last Sunday. This is slightly more personal.

Just as Randy Moss did after being limited to four receptions for 24 yards by Revis in the Jets' win over New England on Sept. 20, Belichick disputed the notion that Revis exclusively played man-to-man against Moss.

"Really, they played a lot of over the top coverage with Revis and (Kerry) Rhodes," Belichick said. "They played over the top of him quite a bit, not always, but quite a bit."

"Everyone saw the game," Revis said. "Everybody knows I was in man coverage, that was the case. (Moss) is supposed to say that because (that) wasn't his day, he got shut out and was frustrated about it, which is cool. I don't have anything against him. I still think he's one of the best receivers in the league. When we go up against each other, it's great competition. So, if he says that, he does, that's on him. But we play them twice a year and I have to see him just as much as he has to see me."

And they will see each other again Sunday when the Jets (4-5) visit New England (6-3) in a must-win for the Jets to stay in the AFC playoff picture. Moss has been on a roll lately, with 28 receptions for 524 yards and six touchdowns over his last four games. And unlike in the first meeting between these teams, the Patriots also will have Wes Welker on the field. He missed the first game with a knee injury.

"Looking at that film this week," Revis said, "I think that I had a good game plan, covering him the best way, just switching up certain things off coverage, a little bit of press, just making sure I'm giving him different looks. Just watching the past couple games they've played, they're doing different things with him now in their offense, so I'll probably have to switch my game up when I watch more film this week on him."

Revis added that the Patriots currently are putting Moss "in more places to get him the ball. He's been in the slot a little bit more, so defensive backs can't get their hands on him. He can get a free release, and sprint down the field and (make) acrobatic catches. ... It's (up to) me to change up my game plan a little bit on him."

And, for the record, Belichick does respect Revis' game.

"Revis is a good player," Belichick said. "He matches up against basically every team's best receiver. He's tall for a corner. He has good length, good size, very good ball skills, runs well, good quickness, good on the jam, good tackler, good run-force player. He's a good, solid all-around player. He doesn't have any weaknesses. He does everything at least good, if not real good, compared to the other players in his position throughout the league. He's a smart guy, (he's) instinctive. He has a good feel for zone coverage. He does a good job of freeing up and helping sometimes when he isn't threatened by the route, the receiver or a formation."

And of course, Rex Ryan is even more effusive.

"All I can say," the Jets' coach said, "is we've got the best corner in the league and I don't think there's any dispute about that."

Games are often won or lost in the trenches. Sometimes they're won on special teams, too.

The Patriots haven't made a dent in the return game on either side of the ball this season, whether it's been returning kicks and punts or preventing the opponent from doing the same.

They still haven't replaced cornerback Ellis Hobbs, whom they traded to Philadelphia during the offseason. Several candidates have tried to duplicate Hobbs' explosiveness, but no one has proven to be a carbon copy just yet.

The next player on the list is Terrence Wheatley, a second-year corner from Colorado who did the job in college and might now have the chance to carry that role into his NFL career.

Wheatley tried his hand in the return game last week, yet he didn't field any kickoffs; he instead blocked for Matthew Slater, who has had his ups and downs on special teams since his career began last season.

"It was pretty exciting," Wheatley said. "That was something that we had talked about. It's nice to be back there again. It's really pretty simple: Make sure you catch the ball, don't drop it. And then just follow your blocks and run hard."

Wheatley had been inactive for the first six games this season until his addition to the lineup Sunday in Indianapolis. Will this be the start of a new role for the second-year defensive back? Only time will tell.

"It's really not my call," Wheatley said. "All I can do is really keep doing what I've been doing every day. If they feel like they need me, then they need me. Whenever they feel like they need me, I'm ready to go. If they feel like they don't, they don't."

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