New York Jets vs New England Patriots; The Season Finale
That was arguably the worst possible week to play the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland is playing their best football of the season. The Browns have gotten comfortable with Joe Flacco at quarterback and, more importantly, Flacco has gotten comfortable in the Brown’s offense. The Cleveland defense has been solid all season, and it is now feeding off the success of their offense. As hard as it was to go on the road and face the Browns, it still should not have been as ugly as it was. The New York Jets have nothing to play for, and it showed. It was an unprofessional effort. I am hopeful the extra prep time this week will lead to much better in New England.
In week three, the Jets lost to the Patriots by a score of 15-10. The offense got almost nothing done against the New England defense. The Pats held the Jets to just 171 total yards. Mac Jones threw for 201 yards and a touchdown, while Zach Wilson completed just 18 of his 36 passes for 157 yards. The Patriots limited the Jets to just 38 yards on the ground in what was a key to the game and the victory for New England.
Sunday’s game will likely feature two new men under center. Mac Jones has been benched in favor of Bailey Zappe. Zach Wilson was benched and came back to play but is now injured, and his status is uncertain. While the quarterbacks may be different than in their first matchup, Bill Belichick figures to follow a similar script in Sunday’s finale in New England. The Patriots will overload the line of scrimmage and force the Jet to throw the ball to win the game. It has been a successful game plan all year for Jet’s opponents. Belichick will confuse the Jet quarterback, whoever it may be, and the Patriots will try to force mistakes giving their punchless offense a chance to score in a favorable field position.
This game feels a little bit like the annual Army vs. Navy game. Neither team comes into the game with a lot of offense, and they have no intention of taking any chances. In many years, the winner of the Army Navy game is the team that breaks through late with a big run or an uncharacteristic pass or trick play that flips the field. The similarities between the games end there. While there is never any question as to the desire of the teams when Army and Navy clash, we have to wonder where the hearts of the Jets and Patriots are coming into Sunday.
Sunday’s game will tilt decidedly toward the team that wants it more. The teams are evenly matched. Both starting quarterbacks from the first meeting are unlikely to play, and it’s unlikely they will be with their respective teams in 2024. Both teams are led by coaches whose futures are in question. The stories outside this game and the uncertainties around each team overshadow the game, which is of little significance to the season.
There isn’t much to go on to pick this game. It’s hard to say which, if any team, can find the motivation needed to play. In the absence of an on-field edge, I’ll just go with history.
New England (-2.5) 17 New York Jets 10