Don’t look now but the New York Jets are 4-1 and are suddenly right in the thick of things for the playoffs.
And on Sunday, they face their old nemesis in the Patriots and at a place they haven’t won at since the 2010 playoffs. Now they have an opponent that is undefeated and clearly the talk of the league for things other than cheating and ‘Deflategate.’ The Patriots are good, and until otherwise are the class of the division.
1. Match wits with Brady
The Jets, with one of the best defenses in the league, will have to slow down a Patriots offense that is deep and talented. And it is led by Tom Brady, whose numbers are fully inflated this year. In fact, he is on pace for a career-year in yards (5,437) and touchdowns (45), a pace that would easily eclipse his gaudy numbers from 2011. He’s also on track to only throw three interceptions this season.
“He’s been in the same scheme for a long time. He knows the guys he’s worked with. [Julian] Edelman, [Danny] Amendola, (Rob Gronkowski). In saying that, they’ve got great chemistry and kind of knowing where guys are supposed to be,” Jets linebacker Calvin Pace said. “They don’t make mistakes, they’re not going to beat themselves and our challenge is to try and force them to make mistakes, get some pressure on Tom and make his day difficult.”
2. Nothing new here
The Patriots are 5-0 for the fourth time in franchise history and for the third time since they drafted Brady. A win on Sunday would make them 6-0 for the third time in team history but also would put them in a strong spot to win seven consecutive AFC East titles. If they do that, it would be a new record in the NFL. For comparison sake, the Jets last won the division in 2002.
3. Control turnovers
Not surprisingly, in games where Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick limits turnovers, the Jets win. The team is 4-0 when Fitpatrick throws a single interception, showing that with decent quarterback play, the Jets can be a dangerous team.
“I think he’s a really smart player. They’ve put a lot on him in terms of running the offense. They check plays and take the best look and things like that,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. “In the passing game, I think he throws into some tight coverage situations, but he’s got big receivers like [Brandon] Marshall and [Eric] Decker and gives them a chance to make plays on the ball and they’re making them. I don’t think we’re going to fool this guy too much, I don’t really think that’s part of it.”
In Week 3 when Fitzpatrick had three interceptions, the Jets lost. If he can make smart throws, the Jets have a chance in every game this season. Including this one.