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Patriots-Jets key to AFC playoff picture

December: Harsh to most, kind to the New England Patriots.

December: Harsh to most, kind to the New England Patriots.

Since the start of the 2002 season, the Pats are an NFL-best 29-5 in the month. At home, they’re 16-1.

Can you guess which team beat them? Yup, those New York Jets ... but back in 2002.

The rivals have played each other 102 times, with the Jets holding a 51-50-1 edge thanks to their Week 2 win at New Meadowlands Stadium.

Both teams have gone 8-1 since, and currently share the top spot in the AFC (though the Jets hold the tiebreaker).

“It’s probably one of the biggest rivalries in the NFL,” Patriots wideout Deion Branch said in a conference call. “I’m looking forward to it. I know the guys on the team are looking forward to it.”

The winning team Monday will greatly increase its chances of getting that coveted first-round bye, as well as home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

The loser? Well, they’re looking at a much different road to the Super Bowl — one that could take them all over the country, from San Diego to Baltimore and all points in between. So no, this isn’t just another game.

The Pats are undefeated at home this year, while the Jets have yet to lose on the road.

New England is first in the league in points per game, but New York boasts one of the toughest defenses. In Week 2, they shut out the Pats in the second half — the only team to do so this season — while holding them to 14 points.

Something has to give Monday — but don’t be surprised if you see these two teams lining up in the playoffs come January.

Bruschi: Turnover battle decides it

Former Patriots LB Tedy Bruschi knows a thing or two about forcing turnovers.

As far as he’s concerned, they’re going to decide Monday night’s game between the?Patriots and Jets.

“To put it simply, I think whoever takes care of the ball better is going to win this game,” the 13-year Patriot said in a conference call. “The Patriots defense gives up yards, and the only way they’ve been able to stop the bleeding is by forcing turnovers.”

 
 
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