By Tom Kiss
Coming off one of the most dominating performances in Jets history, the 6-3 Jets have the chance to avenge their week two loss to the Pats Thursday night in Foxboro. This is as big a regular season game that I have seen in my 25 years as a Jet fan, and a win here could really get the Jets rolling. It won’t be easy to beat the Pats, who are also 6-3 and tied for the division lead with the green and white. This is a huge game for this organization, and a win here would ease the minds of Jets fans who wonder if Belichick doesn’t have Mangini’s number.
When the Jets have the ball:
The key for the Jets this week is going to be the running game. The offensive line has looked much improved lately, and last week they blew the Rams of the ball constantly. Thomas Jones has been running the ball better than the Jets could have hoped when the traded for him. If the Jets can run the ball half as well as they did last week it will be a great advantage.
Favre threw just 19 passes last week, but you can bet that number will be a bit higher this week. This is the game the Jets brought Favre in for and you can bet he’ll be ready to go. The real question is will Favre play like he has the last two weeks, by which I mean within himself, or if he will try and do too much and get himself in trouble.
When the Patriots have the ball:
The Jets defense has started to look like something special the last few weeks. Kris Jenkins has been superb in the middle, and he is a leading reason as to why the Jets have gone from a glorified track to a stone wall. The Pats could try and run at this defense early and see if they can get something going, but the smart money is on Belichick running occasionally while using the short passing game to move the ball.
That’s where the wild card comes in, Matt Cassel. In the week two game, Cassel managed the game very well and didn’t make a mistake, but that won’t be as easy this time. As the defense has come together, the pass rush has been very effective. Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas have given opposing QB’s fits, and Jenkins has also been effective up the middle. Expect the Jets to use an array of ways to create pressure, including sending corners and safeties.
Match up of the game: Eric Mangini vs. Bill Belichick
This is the match up of the game. Belichick, as much as I dislike him, has done a good job with the Pats this year despite some major injuries. Mangini, despite early struggles, has got this team peeking at the right time. As these two face each other for the seventh time it is their decision making, game management, and ability to adjust that will be the difference.
Prediction: NYJ 20 – NE 19