Three things we learned during the Patriots’ 49-19 win over the Jets on Thanksgiving:
The Jets are grounded
The AFC was muddled enough that the Jets’ easy win last week in St. Louis kept the vultures away and had some laying out New York’s course to the playoffs. For a few days at least. An ugly loss on national television to your biggest rival on Thanksgiving night makes that a pipe dream. So, too, does a 4-7 record, which leaves the Jets behind nine teams in the AFC. Additionally, the Pats now have twice as many wins as anyone in their division with just five games to play. The AFC East is all but locked up.
Complimentary football rules
The pressure on Tom Brady and company has been greatly diminished of late as the defense and special teams have provided a boatload of points. After a pair of Brady touchdown passes made it 14-0 early Thursday, he sat back and watched as the Pats took complete control with fumble returns for touchdowns on consecutive plays. In all, New England scored 21 points in a span of 52 seconds. The defense and special teams have produced 28 points in the last two weeks alone. While those units have been maligned at times, particularly the defense, they have remained adept at making big plays. The Pats entered Thanksgiving second in the league in takeaways and had five against the hapless Jets.
We didn’t “learn” this Thursday night, for it’s been known for some time. But it bears repeating how much of a force Vince Wilfork is this season. Stats will never tell his story, so Wilfork does things like shove a lineman into his quarterback, thus planting that lineman’s bum on that quarterback’s face and forcing a fumble that’s returned for a touchdown, as was the case during the decisive stretch of the second quarter when New England took over. When people talk about the consistency of this organization, Brady and Belichick are the popular names. Wilfork, who has missed just six games while wreaking havoc in a nine-year career, ought to have a spot at the table.