1. Tom Brady vs. the Jets defense
The natural inclination this week has been to focus on Randy Moss and
Darrelle Revis, and just about everyone — including us — has done so.
But the more we think about that matchup, the less we think it
will matter. Best case for the Patriots is Moss proving his
non-slouch-ness to the tune of 200-odd yards and a couple of scores.
The worst-case scenario has him out there as a decoy, taking the Jets’
best player out of the game.
It’s all up to Tom Brady to go to Moss or spread the ball around, depending on which opportunity presents itself.
2. The potential for a total meltdown
From the coach on down, this year’s New York team seems to have a high
opinion of itself ... and Mexican TV reporters and snacks. So how will
the Jets respond if the Patriots put up a touchdown or two in the early
They already failed to live up to their hype in last week’s
Monday Night Football loss to the Ravens, after all. For a group that
doesn’t shy away from drama, a public meltdown is hardly out of the
question — we’re talking Mark Sanchez weeping, Darrelle Revis angrily
quitting and Rex Ryan drowning his sorrows in Ding Dongs.
3. Can the youngsters handle the crowd?
The Jets and Patriots have a bitter rivalry, and this game is the most
hyped of the season so far. That’s a recipe for a deafeningly loud,
angry, partisan crowd at the New Meadowlands Stadium — that won’t leave
early, right Tom?
The Pats’ veterans have long since proven they’re capable of
shutting up even the most hostile fans, but those ranks are dwindling
as the Super Bowl years fade further into memory. The key to a New
England victory is the youngsters’ ability to shut out the green-clad
loudmouths and pregame trash talk.