Jets vs. Patriots 2012: First look at this weekend's matchup

Andrew Burton - Getty Images

Two up-and-down division rivals meet on Sunday as the Jets and Patriots lock horns in Foxboro, with both teams at 3-3.

Make no mistake about it, the New York Jets would have signed for this 100 times out of 100 before this season.

A Week 7 date at New England where the Jets and Patriots are even stevens, playing for an early-season division lead? It's not quite house money, but if you told the Pats that they'd be 3-3 after six weeks, they'd probably be wondering "Well what happened to Tom Brady?"

The Patriots actually have a very solid running game and a slightly improved defense, and yet they're scuttling along so far this season. Late losses to the Seattle Seahawks, Baltimore Ravens and Arizona Cardinals have brought the Patriots back to earth in the AFC and AFC East, a place they're not quite used to being. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick expect more, no question.

For the Jets, things have mostly gone as planned. If you were look at the schedule before the season and pencil in wins and losses down the line, chances are you'd have arrived at 3-3, where Gang Green is now. They've pretty much won the games they were supposed to and have lost the ones they weren't. They're hoping to change that around this week; Vegas has installed New England as 10-point favorites on its books. The question is whether or not the Jets, an injured, bit of a rag-tag group right now, can go in and deliver a big body blow to a New England team that is reeling a bit. Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez have enjoyed some success against New England since they became Jets in 2009. Of course, it will be a tall order.

The Jets will likely look to lean heavily on their running game again, an attack that rose from the ashes last week against the Indianapolis Colts to the tune of over 250 yards. Embattled starter Shonn Greene went for a career high 161 and three scores, and the Jets are going to hope that the Patriots defense acquiesces like Indy's did. Sanchez has been shaky most of the year, and despite New England's defense still not being an elite unit, the Jets have no chance if they don't protect the ball.

After Wek 7, either the Jets or the Patriots will already have four losses, not what any playoff-aspiring team wants before the halfway point of the season. But either way the AFC and East division will remain wide open. The early season struggles of teams like New England has kept the door open for finding-their-way teams like the Jets. On Sunday, the Jets will try to kick down the door.

New York Jets (3-3) at New England Patriots (3-3)

Time: 4:25 PM ET

Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA

TV: CBS

Odds: Patriots -10; Over/Under 47

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