For the second time in three weeks, the Patriots will faceoff with divisional rivals the New York Jets. It was the Patriots who were victorious in their first matchup by way of 22-17 in a game that wasn't as close as the score would indicate. Furthermore, the Patriots will be in their own backyard for this one with huge implications in AFC East.
Both teams are coming off of huge wins and are looking to make some headway in the division this week. The Patriots are 5-4 this season and only 1.5 games behind the leading Dolphins. On the other side, the Jets are 6-3 and only 1 game behind the Dolphins who the Jets dominated, 40-17 in week 5.
Make no mistake, the Jets have been bottom-dwellers for a long time but they are for real this year even after the Pats beat them two weeks ago. This game will be a very tough, very methodical war between two defensive-minded head coaches.
The Patriots are favorites for this matchup by 3 points. Considering their last contest where the Patriots went on a 19-0 run in the second half before a garbage time touchdown made it closer for the Jets, this spread seems pretty low. The only reason I see it marked this way is because this game will be a defensive matchup and both teams are coming off of a bye week.
If you look closely at each teams evolution through the season, they've taken very different roads but are both at the same position. The Jets started off the season well and have continued their momentum well through the season thanks to great defensive play and an ability to consistently be inconsistent on offense. That's to say the Jets have the ability to run for 150 yards one week and throw for 300 the next. The Patriots are at the point in the season where they have solid game plans on both sides of the ball but in no way had it in the beginning of the season. The Patriots started the season 1-3 and until week 8 didn't know for sure who their starting QB would be going forward. Their defense has always been the point of pride for this team and had done relatively well all year, but were getting warmed up for the last two weeks where they have been playing outrageously well.
The Jets matchup as well as you can against this vaunted Patriots defense. The Pats have an intense pass rush and a smothering deep-ball secondary. Their biggest weaknesses on defense are scrambling QBs and strong play action, to which the Jets are near the top of the league in both. While Zach Wilson has significantly lessened his scrambles this year, the threat is always there and he has a "Russell Wilson-esque" ability to move out of the pocket and throw on the run.
This being said the Jets defense matches up very well against the Pats offense as well. The Patriots best game plan is hard-nose running the ball through the defense' teeth, and the Jets have the 7th ranked rush defense in the league this year. The Patriots will have some success running the ball with Stevenson and Harris being able to make plays especially out of the backfield on play action, but the Patriots will be forced to throw the ball in this game and that is where it could get tricky for them. Jets rookie cornerback Ahmed "Sauce" Gardner has been terrifying for opposing quarterbacks this year and is the favorite to win DROY. Gardner has an 86.1 PFF score this season which is good for 3rd in the league. Aside from Sauce Gardner, the Jets have multiple linebackers that excel in pass coverage as well from C.J. Moseley to Kwon Alexander.
This game will be likely under the line of 38 points and will almost certainly come down to who commits fewer turnovers. The Patriots rank 4th in the league in takeaways but they also rank 29th in giveaways. The Jets rank 8th in takeaways and 16th in giveaways and have a +1 turnover differential while the Patriots have an even differential. Their previous matchup however showed the Pats ability to get the ball back though as they picked off Zach Wilson 3 times. If that repeats this Sunday, we'll be looking at another easy win for the Patriots.
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