Rex Ryan versus Bill Belichik. This matchup never gets old, and this afternoon, the New York Jets take the field in Foxboro tied for first in the AFC East with the New England Patriots at 3-3 (they are also both tied for last). The Patriots are coming off blowing a fourth-quarter lead in Seattle and will no doubt be motivated to show the Jets and the rest of the AFC East (Miami and Buffalo are also 3-3) that the division title still goes through them.
The Jets have confidence — thanks in part to their brash head coach, who is 3-4 as Jets coach against Tom Brady — and have a chance to quiet the naysayers by upsetting New England and taking a one-game lead in the division.
Running over the Colts
Gang Green ran for more than 250 yards, including 161 and three touchdowns by Shonn Greene, in a 35-9 blowout over Andrew Luck and the Colts. Sanchez was not asked to do much, though he threw two TD passes, and the defense forced turnovers, sacked Luck four times and held the Colts to their lowest point total of the season.
What to Watch For
Ryan said that the Jets are likely going to use Tim Tebow more as a running back, especially with the injuries to Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight, but whether he will be running the wildcat or out of the backfield remains to be seen. Tebow has played only 45 snaps on offense, and if there was ever a week to get him more involved, it would be this one.
But Tebow is not the key to the game. In order for the Jets to win, Sanchez is going to have to throw for more than the 82 yards he did last week versus Indianapolis, because Greene and the Jets will not have the same success on the ground as they did against the Colts.
Defensively, the Patriots have the No. 1 ranked offense in the NFL, and for the first time in years, they have a balance of running and passing. Gone are the days where Brady would throw for 400 yards and five scores, as the Pats are averaging 152 yards per game on the ground, led by Stevan Ridley.
The Jets are going to need to pressure Brady and limit the big plays, especially to the two-headed tight end monster, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Gronk had 113 receiving yards and two scores in the most recent meeting between the team, Nov. 13, 2011, and a performance like that will not be good for the Jets.
This is the type of game where almost no result would be surprising. The Jets could lose by 20 or by three. They could win by four or lose by nine and nobody would be stunned. It should be a great afternoon in Foxboro.
State of the Jets
Keller and Hill played a complete game and had an impact (Hill had two TDs). Running back-kick returner Joe McKnight will be a game-time decision, according to Ryan, with Cromartie in line to return kicks if McKnight cannot. Sione Po’uha, Kendrick Ellis, Bilal Powell and Eric Smith are doubtful and not expected to play.
Jets: Sanchez (1,125 yards, 8 TDs, 6 INTs)
Patriots: Brady (1,845 yards, 10 TDs, 3 INTs)
Jets: Greene (108 carries, 378 yards, 4 TDs)
Patriots: Ridley (118-524, 4 TDs)
Jets: Kerley (18 catches, 315 yards, 2 TDs)
Patriots: Welker (48-622, 2 TDs)
Jets: Harris (49 tackles), McIntyre (2 sacks)
Patriots: Mayo (61 tackles), Jones (5 sacks)
JETS @ PATRIOTS
When: 10/21, 4:25 p.m.
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Mass.
TV: CBS, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms
Radio: ESPN New York 98.7 FM
Line: Jets +10