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Jets 3 storylines to watch

Eric Smith takes over at safety for defensive signal-caller Jim Leonhard, who was lost for the season with a leg injury last week.

1 Will the Pats race to an early lead?

The Patriots scored the first two touchdowns en route to a 24-7 halftime lead last year in Foxborough. These fast starts are one of the reasons why the mighty Patriots have won 25 straight regular-season home games.

2 How much will the Jets miss Leonhard?

Eric Smith takes over at safety for defensive signal-caller Jim Leonhard, who was lost for the season with a leg injury last week.

“Eric Smith, he’s about the smartest guy I know and he’ll be able to handle it,” coach Rex Ryan said. “Each guy will step up.”

Smith stepped up last game, starting for Brodney Pool and led the team with eight tackles. Pool should return to the starting lineup tonight against a top-notch passing attack.

3 Can the Patriots’ D rise to the occasion?

The Jets blanked the Pats 18-0 in the second half of their Week 2 win. Mark Sanchez threw for 220 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. The Patriots have won three straight, but their inexperienced D is giving up 26 points per game.

“The key for us ... is to be veterans,” said Braylon Edwards. “Go out there and show why I’ve been in the league six years and you’ve been in the league one, two or three years.”

Key matchups

Wes Welker vs. Kyle Wilson
The Jets limited the slot man to just six catches and 38 yards in Week 2. Welker, though, went for 192 yards on 15 catches last time they met in Foxborough. There is no way Drew Coleman or Kyle Wilson can match the shifty, speedy receiver.
Edge: Pats


Aaron Hernandez vs. Jets Linebackers


The beauty of the Patriots offense is its ability to spread the ball. Blitz, and quarterback Tom Brady is going to hit a tight end on an out pattern, including rookie Aaron Hernandez, who had six catches for 101 yards in the early season game. The Jets linebackers, in particular Calvin Pace, have played well this season, but Hernandez is one of the best young players in the league and Brady can get him the ball in a hurry.
Advantage: Jets

Rex Ryan vs. Bill Belichick


A study in contrasts on the sidelines with the tight-lipped, hooded Patriots coach going up against the jaw-flapping that is Rex Ryan. The Jets coach, however, has grown by leaps and bounds in his second year as a head coach and has consistently made good calls in tight games.
Advantage: Jets

 
 
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