Franchise Head to Head Record: Patriots lead 52-51
Patriots won the first game this season 29-26 in OT, a game that was the Jets game to win.
Both teams are coming off big wins, in very different ways. The Jets needed a win in the worst way having lost 6 of their last 8 games and went into St. Louis and took care of business. The Patriots hosted rookie phenom Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts and blew them out 59-24. Thanksgiving night is a prestigious time to play, primetime in a huge division rivalry. If the Jets win, they will be back in the playoff hunt, while if the Patriots win they continue to build a huge lead in the AFC East and could end the Jets hopes of making the playoffs on Thursday.
As always the Patriots offense is in the top 5. They are #1 in points per game, yards per game, 1st downs, and have the least amount of turnovers out of any team in the league. Tom Brady is having another Pro-Bowl year completing 65% of his passes and has thrown for nearly 3000 yards with 21 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions.
Wes Welker is leading the team with 73 receptions for 890 yards, but only 2 touchdowns. The reason for his low amount of touchdowns is because TE Rob Gronkowski has 10 touchdowns and he’s Brady’s top target in the red zone. However, in this past weekend’s blowout of the Colts, Gronkowski broke his forearm on an extra point and is out for 4-6 weeks. This is a huge blow for the Patriots and Brady, however, Aaron Hernandez is expected to be back this week. He is not Gronkowski. Instead, he is a more athletic and explosive TE with better speed. He isn’t the large imposing target that Gronkowski is, but he’ll definitely have a role in the offense if his ankle is completely healthy. Another rising star has been Julian Edelman. The former college quarterback has a knack for making big plays on offense and special teams. Brandon Lloyd is just starting to build a chemistry with Tom Brady. He now has 46 receptions for 526 yards and it looks as if Brady is able to trust him and his route running enough now to throw him the ball on key 3rd down plays.
On top of the multitude of weapons in the passing game, the Patriots have had a very good year running the football as well. Led by Stevan Ridley(185 carries, 842 yards), the Patriots have scored 16 touchdowns on the ground. Other backs include Shane Vareen as a power back, and Danny Woodhead as the shifty back who is also a huge threat out of the backfield catching passes. Woodhead poses the biggest threat to the Jets because if the Jets need to cover him with one of their below average speed linebackers, they could be in trouble. The Patriots 4th running back Brandon Bolden has been suspended by the NFL for violating the NFL substance abuse policy.
Jets Defense vs. Patriots Offense ADVANTAGE: Patriots
The Patriots defense is the polar opposite of their offense. They are ranked in the bottom 5 in yards per game, 1st downs, yards given up in the air, and 31 in passing touchdowns against. The run defense is much better and is ranked 10th in the league in that category. The reason for this is their from 7 are all Pro-Bowl caliber players. Rookie Chandler Jones(questionable with ankle injury), Vince Wilfork, Kyle Love, and “Jet killer” Rob Ninkovich lead the front 4. These 4 along with backup DE Jermaine Cunningham have accounted for 17 of the 21 total team sacks for the Patriots.
The linebackers are led by Jerod Mayo who has 55 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, an interception and a sack. Brandon Spikes is another athletic hard hitting linebacker in the run game. Dont’a Hightower as a rookie is having a good year for the Patriots as well. However, the area in which they struggle is the passing game. They do not cover very well, which attributes to the Patriots low ranking against the pass this year.
Defensive backs led by Devin McCourty and newly signed corner Kyle Arrington have struggled yet again stopping the pass. The Patriots brought in Aqib Talib to help in the secondary and he has already recorded an interception in the first and only game he has played this year. The Jets had tremendous success throwing against the Patriots back in October, but the Patriots were without their two starting safeties, Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory. Both of those guys are average at best in the pass game, but very physical safeties that the Patriots definitely missed. The Patriots have 13 interceptions this year, 11 from the secondary. Other guys to take note of is CB Tavon Wilson(4 interceptions, leads team), Alfonzo Dennard(3 interceptions). These are the nickle and dime package corners who jump all over out-breaking routes. Their aggressiveness has burnt them as a whole. With the emergence of Chaz Schilens and the consistent effort by Jeremy Kerley, the Jets will have to exploit this flaw. If the Jets plan to win this game, it will have to have a sound passing game plan to supplement a good push up front in the ground game.
Jets Offense vs. Patriots Defense ADVANTAGE: Patriots
The punter for the Patriots is Zoltan Mesko who’s averaging 42.5 yards per punt.
The place kicker is Stephen Gostkowski who is 21-25 this year on field goals, missing 3 from 40-49 yards.
Devin McCourty returns kickoffs for the Patriots and has brought back one for a touchdown, which was the last Jets game. Julian Edelman(punt return TD) and Wes Welker return punts for the Patriots.
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