The big one is here. The Jets play the Patriots Sunday night in a game that could well determine who will win the AFC East. Both teams are 5-3 and have identical records in the division, making this another “must-win” game for the Jets.
1. More Ground, More Pound
Over their three-game winning streak, the Jets’ ground game has improved with running back Shonn Greene averaging 87 yards per game. The ability of Greene to hit holes is opening up the play action and taking pressure off quarterback Mark Sanchez.
“It just keeps defenses off balance a little bit. Earlier in the year, we were doing a lot of run action and stuff – it just wasn’t getting the sell that we wanted because we weren’t running the ball well,” Sanchez said.
2. Not the Same Jets
When these two teams met in Week 5, New England handed New York their third-straight loss and questions began to circle about how good the Jets were. But their recent form has shown a stingy, physical defense and an offense that can move the ball down the field and limit mistakes.
“Obviously, they are basically the same team – they’re doing a lot of things really well. They’ve played well the last three weeks,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. “They’re doing a great job on defense. Offensively, they are getting good balance.”
All that means that the Patriots will face a team playing at a very high level.
3. Pats Woes
The Jets come into this game flying high, while it is New England that is struggling, having lost two straight including last Sunday’s disheartening home loss to the Giants. The offense isn’t clicking like last year and the pass defense is horrendous. It is almost a complete role reversal from last month when the Jets limped into Foxboro a battered and beaten team.
“We’re all mad about the losses, but at the same time there are very coachable mistakes that made during the course of the games,” Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch said. “Hopefully we’ll try to go out and eliminate those things so we don’t go down that road again.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.