By Tom Kiss
The 2007 season has been a major disappointment for the New York Jets, as they have limped to a 3-10 record while looking lost on both sides of the ball. Conversely, everyone knows what kind of year the 13-0 Patriots are having. The Patriots have looked like a well-oiled machine this year, and this game is one that they have looked forward to since week 1.
You can bet that after Mangini launched “spygate” on Bill Belichick, Belichick certainly would like to embarrass Mangini and the Jets. With inclement weather on the way the Jets may get a bit of a break with snow leveling the playing field a bit. Aside from that they may not have much on New England. The most interesting aspect of this game will be to see how the Jets play for Mangini. Last season, the Jets beat the Patriots in Foxboro (still the last time they have lost at home) following a loss to the Pats after which Belichick basically blew Mangini off for a post game handshake. If the Jets play hard and keep it close for a while, it will show that Mangini has not lost this team.
When the Jets have the ball:
Offensively the Jets must do a better job of extending drives. It seems like the Jets never have the ball anymore and despite the fact that the defense has been playing better they can’t be successful when they are always on the field. Kellen Clemens will have to play more like he did late against Baltimore and Pittsburgh for the Jets to have a shot. Clemens (61.1 rating, 4 TD 9 INT) has to play smarter and more efficiently if he wants to parlay this year into a starting job next year. The receiving core has to stop dropping passes, a mysterious trend that was non-existent in ‘06.
Thomas Jones and Leon Washington have run the ball better the last few weeks, as the offensive line has seemed to become a bit more solid. This will not be an easy game to run the ball in, but as long as the Jets mix in the two backs as well as a little inside/outside running they may be able to have an impact on the ground.
When the Pats have the ball:
Defensively, the Jets will play better than most expect, especially if there is a lot of snow on the ground. Unlike most years, the Pats aren’t built to win in these snow games, being built more like a dome team with speedy wide outs to run deep patterns down the field. The Patriots running game has not been what it once was and it could hurt them. It’s not to say the Pats can’t run the ball well, it’s just that they haven’t had to rely on it to win games this year. The Patriots rank 14th in rushing yards this season, led by Laurence Maroney with 526 yards rushing.
Tom Brady has been having a well documented magical season as he is just 5 TD passes shy of passing Peyton Manning’s record of 49 and Randy Moss needs only 3 TD catches to catch Jerry Rice’s mark of 22 so don’t be surprised if the Pats try and get closer if not pass those marks this week. The Jets pass rush has been much better the last few weeks, the secondary is starting to come together as Darrelle Revis is getting more experienced and comfortable at covering NFL wide outs.
Match up of the game: Darrelle Revis vs. Randy Moss
Revis has been progressing well, and like David Harris, it looks like the Jets made a good selection with him in the draft, but Randy Moss will present the toughest challenge of his young career.
NYJ 10 – NE 28