Joe Caporoso – Mark Sanchez vs. Patriots secondary – The Patriots are extremely susceptible to the deep ball and for the Jets to pull the upset it will be up to Mark Sanchez to take advantage of that. We saw Russell Wilson do it last week. We saw Joe Flacco do it a few weeks before. Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley and yes Antonio Cromartie all have the speed to get down the field but Sanchez can’t misfire when the plays are there to be. Beyond that, he absolutely cannot turn the football over. Simply put for this season, when the Patriots don’t force turnovers, they don’t win.
Chris Gross – Patriots Tight Ends vs. Jets Safeties – The long awaited, heavy weight bout between LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell against Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez will finally be underway this Sunday in Foxboro. Gronkowski and Hernandez have fared well in their respective careers against New York with Gronkowski averaging 3.5 catches for 42.5 yards and .5 touchdowns and Hernandez averaging 5 receptions for 62.25 yards and .25 touchdowns per contest.
New York has been improved, but still somewhat average against opposing tight ends this season. Some games, they have done a good job of shutting down the position that shredded them time and time again last season, while other times, they have given up big chunks of yards and critical red zone touchdowns. At the end of the day, this year’s Jets are still giving up just 4.7 catches for 54 yards and .5 touchdowns per game to opposing tight ends.
New York had severe holes at the safety position, something that was exploited in their most recent matchup with the Patriots in which Gronkowski went off for 8 receptions, 111 yards, and 2 touchdowns. As a result, the Jets went out and signed two proven veterans in Landry and Bell, and also used two draft picks on safeties in Josh Bush and Antonio Allen. These four players were brought in, not entirely, but primarily for this game.
It will be very interesting to see how this matchup plays out. With all the hype surrounding New England’s talented duo of tight ends, you’d have to think Landry will be coming out like a man possessed, looking to make a statement. Look for both Landry and Bell to be extremely physical in their coverage with each of these tight ends, something that has been lacking in the secondary prior to this season. A physical approach and sound, but creative, game plan could be just what the doctor ordered to finally keep this dual threat of Gronk and Hernandez in check.
TJ Rosenthal – We can’t help wondering how fast this new “starless” Jets team can gel. They seem commuted to each other and must be vining off of the perception that they should just pack up and go home now that Revis and Holmes are done this year. The key may be the run game. When the Pats are held to under 100 yards they are 0-3 this year. When Shonn Greene goes over 100, the Jets are 7-0. Was the Jets run game a mirage that fed off of a bad Colts run defense? Perhaps. If it was a case of the ground and pound finally kicking into gear though, hold the phones. Because maybe some respect on the ground will open up an already questionable Pats secondary to play action. Hold them under 100 and get Greene going again. That’s what we’d like to see. If the matchups up front on both sides of the ball yield something close to it, then the Jets can win in Foxboro Sunday.
Chris Celletti – I’m anxious to see how the Jets cover New England’s downfield passing game. The Patriots haven’t been as dominant through the air this season, but they’ve also faced very good defenses in all three of their losses (Baltimore, Arizona, Seattle). Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden have given New England a semblance of a running game, something they haven’t had in quite a while, but this unit has been a bit feast or famine so far this year. Make no mistake, New England still prefers to move the ball through the air, and Tom Brady still has plenty of weapons to use. . I’m interested to see how effective Rob Gronkowski is against LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell. Sunday’s game is one of the main reasons the Jets felt the need to make a huge upgrade at safety after last season. Overall the Jets’ secondary has a tall order ahead of them, but keeping the Pats’ passing game in check will go a long way towards the Jets beating their hated rival on the road.
Mike Donnelly – Jets New look D vs. Pats Hurry up O – The matchup I’m most looking forward to seeing this weekend is how the Jets matchup and play against the Patriots quick strike offense. In years past the Patriots have been able to catch the Jets off guard by getting a certain defensive personnel package on the field and exploiting it by going no-huddle and not letting the team make substitutions. Rex Ryan has made a conscious effort the past two years to get more players who can play all three downs effectively to match up with New England specifically. On the defensive line we’ll see less Po’uha and DeVito and more Quinton Coples and Muhammad Wilkerson, which is a massive improvement over Marcus Dixon. At linebacker we’ll see more of Demario Davis, Antonio Allen, and the newly signed Marcus Dowtin to play “hybrid” roles where they can still effectively defend the run and cover the Patriots excellent tight ends. Obviously not having Darrelle Revis is a major blow, but with the improvements made elsewhere, I think the Jets are going to be able to do a solid job covering the Pats many weapons.
Rob Celletti – Jets Front Seven vs. New England’s hurry-up. Two weeks ago, I sat, semi-horrified, watching Tom Brady march the Patriots up and down the field on the Broncos, utilizing a ruthless hurry-up offense that was just as likely to pick up 15 yards on the ground as it was through the air. But I didn’t see their opponent in orange and blue; I saw them in green and white. This seems like a truly worst-case scenario matchup for the Jets, who are slow at linebacker and largely inexperienced along the defensive line. Would there be anything more torturous than watching Brady hurry the Patriots to the line and kill the Jets with handoffs to Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead?