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Patriots Preview – Grounding the Jets

Friday, October 19, 2012


If the shock factor from last week hasn't worn off, here's an update - there's still plenty of football to be played.

Players and fans of the New England Patriots would be well served to realize the current NFL season could be decided by what you do against your divisional opponents, and that’s what the New York Jets represent this week – nothing more, nothing less. If the two sides – which generally don’t care for each other, putting it mildly – can add a little spice to the rivalry along the way, well, that’s a bonus.

But the winner this Sunday at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro gets a leg up in the AFC East sweepstakes, with all four teams in the division (including Buffalo and Miami) tied at 3-3 after six weeks of the season. That should be enough of a prize, for now. The loser, at best, is tied for last place.

Pessimists can certainly point to a porous New England secondary last week in a shocking, 24-23 loss at Seattle that allowed a rookie quarterback (Russell Wilson) to have a career day. And throw a 46 yard pass for the winning score over everyone in the defensive backfield along the way, leading a very Brady-like comeback. Optimists can say the Patriots have lost their three games so far this season by a grand total of four points, and that the Seahawks didn’t win…rather, the Patriots lost…by not cashing in on opportunities when they had them.

Both would be right. The biggest question surrounding the Pats at the present time, is how best to overcome the obvious defensive deficiencies. And, how do they get their mojo back? In each of the three defeats this year, Tom Brady has had a chance to lead a comeback effort…and lost each time. Is some of the swag gone in New England?

In a word, maybe. But it is on hiatus, until Brady can find a few teammates able to step up and make plays when they’re needed. Missed opportunities this season have included dropped balls, penalties, missed field goals and ill-timed passes…in addition to the defense giving up big plays. So it’s not all Brady’s fault. And the personnel is still in place to put points on the board and win games…but putting it all together needs to happen soon.

While there is plenty of football to be played.

File and Forget

Bad losses – let’s not kid anyone here, Seattle was a bad loss – sometimes have the tendency to leave a hangover, and affect a team the following week. The Patriots would be best served to accept their shortcomings, work on addressing those issues and putting pedal-to-the-metal against the Jets. They shouldn’t have too much trouble getting ready for a divisional game, especially New York. But don’t let the Seahawks beat you twice.

Get Emotional, Play Smart

Again, it’s the New York Jets here…this should not prove to be a problem, and yet, much of this Patriots’ team is young enough to need a reminder from the veterans that this game is IMPORTANT. The Jets should be emotional, having been spanked twice last year by New England. Bring the heat, play with no fear, hit somebody hard…but remember to do the job required of you. If every player holds up his end, NE wins. That’s not a certainty right now, however.

Attack with Attitude

Offensively, the Patriots should be able to move the ball on the ground and score against a Jets defense that’s seen better days. Super corner Darrelle Revis is out with a knee injury, so the pressure from the Pats’ able receiving corps is on an already fragile defensive backfield. Run no-huddle sets, play the hurry-up even when running, and limit the sub packages to create personnel mismatches. Defensively, NY will take shots downfield, hoping to burn an already-toasted NE secondary. If you give up yards, fine. Just don’t give up TD’s. Unleash Chandler Jones, and rattle QB Mark Sanchez early. A blitz might catch them by surprise, because the Patriots don’t blitz. If Sanchez starts playing with confidence, the game is on. And expect something unexpected from the Jets, and maybe even Mr. Tim Tebow himself.

Projection: Patriots 25, Jets 24


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