Two weeks ago Manning vs. Brady was the big storyline. Two weeks later Bill Belichick and Rex Ryan take center stage for one of the more intriguing coaching battles in the league. Ryan talks a lot of trash, but it has been Belichick and his Patriots that have reigned supreme in this series for the most part. The Jets did upend the Patriots in the playoffs two years ago; however, that is pretty much the only positive the Jets have been able to be proud about. Both squads come into this one with frustration over the way things have progressed so far this season. The Patriots, a team that many believed could go undefeated due to a weak schedule, are currently 3-3. Belichick is not a guy that is familiar with a .500 mark; the Jets on the other hand flirt with .500 year-after-year. This season is no different, as the Jets are 3-3 as well after a 35-9 drubbing of the Colts in week 6.
The Jets have relied on their defense ever since Rex Ryan has taken over as head coach of the Jets. The defense used to be in the top-5 in all figures on a consistent basis, but they have slowly regressed since last season undoubtedly. Even after holding the Colts to only 9 points last week, they are still way behind statistically from where they used to be. The defense as a complete unit is 18th in the NFL, allowing 359 yards a game and 23.5 points. Most notably, they have taken a huge step back against the run where they give up 150.5 yards a game (28th). Against the pass they are much better as the 6th best unit in the NFL. They still miss Darelle Revis dearly, but Antonio Cromartie has stepped up in a big way. Cromartie already has 3 interceptions on the year and has made the sting of losing Revis feel a little soothing. The Jets’ defense won’t have the luxury of facing a rookie quarterback on the road in week 7, as they will have to find a way to slow Tom Brady down at Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots have a new found identity of sorts this season, or is it that they are just going back to their roots? The last several years the Patriots were a pass happy bunch, letting Brady air the ball out 40+ times a game. However, they have reverted to their Super Bowl winning days with a more balanced approach. Remember Brady was a quarterback that typically passed for 27-30 touchdowns a year between 2001-2006. The running game played a big role during those three Super Bowls wins. Needless to say the Patriots are a well balanced team this season. In fact, the running game is 4th best in the league with 152.3 yards per game. The passing game under Brady certainly hasn’t taken any steps back, though, averaging 293 yards per game (3rd). The Patriots offense has taken the no-huddle to another level, operating in warp speed to nullify substitutions for opposing defenses.
The running game isn’t the only thing that has gotten a complete transformation, because believe it or not the Patriots defense is starting to come around. As a result of a draft that focused on defense, they’re back to a respectful level of play. The Patriots drafted highly coveted defensive end out of Syracuse, Chandler Jones, who hasn’t disappointed with five sacks and three forced fumbles. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower out of Alabama looks like he will be a promising player, but a nagging hamstring injury has kept him on the sidelines the last couple weeks. Brandon Spikes, O.J Mayo, Vince Wilfork, and Chandler Jones have played significant roles in helping the Patriots hold the 5th best rush defense in the NFL. The pass defense is definitely exploitable on the other hand, allowing 288 yards a game through the air. They are an opportunistic bunch, though. Even last year when they were getting trounced for massive yardage, the defense still managed to force turnovers. Mark Sanchez could be in for a long day if he doesn’t get into a rhythm early.
Jets vs. Patriots Spread and Betting Odds:
New England Patriots -10.5 (-105)
@New York Jets +10.5 (-115)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Jets vs. Patriots Pick:
The New York Jets looked like a team with something to prove last week. After a miserable start to the season, the Jets pulled to .500 on the season with a convincing win at home against the Colts. There are a couple problems I have with that game translating to a win this week, however. The Jets couldn’t have fell into a better situation against the Colts last week considering their upset win over the Packers a week before. I’m fairly certain the Colts were a little hung over after pulling that one out. Another problem I have is that the Jets aren’t going to be playing at home. The Jets, Sanchez in particular, completely disappear from games on opposing teams turfs. They eked out a 23-20 on the road against the Dolphins, but looked absolutely deplorable against the Steelers on the road. Last season the Jets lost 30-21 at Gillette last season, among a bunch of other bad losses. The Jets only managed two road wins last week, against the Redskins and Bills, so they are still looking for a marquee road victory.
I don’t think it’s going to happen this week, nor do I think they will keep this one close. The Patriots have a nasty taste in their mouth after allowing a late Russell Martin touchdown to capture the Seahawks’ 24-23 victory. The Patriots aren’t a team that slip up two weeks in a row and I don’t foresee it happening against their bitter rival. I think the Patriots will be out for blood this week and won’t let up if they jump on the Jets early. The running game led by Stevan Ridley should slice through this defense with ease. Tight end Aaron Hernandez should play a bigger role than last week as well. I never like laying this many points down in an NFL game, but I think it’s warranted here.
PICK = Patriots -10.5