The Teams: New York Jets (6-3) at New England Patriots (6-3)
The Terms: Regular Season Week 11
The Place: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Mass
The Time: 8:15pm
The Channel: NFL Network, Channel 5 (Boston), WMUR (New Hampshire)
3 Burning Questions:
- Which quarterback do you trust more? A laughable question heading into Week 2 when Matt Cassel was making his first career start against none other than Jesus descendant himself Brett Fav-rah. Now we take a look at things and it’s Matt Cassel who comes in as currently the more consistent quarterback. Favre was actually booed a few weeks ago at home after another mediocre performance yet still remains loved by the media (he must be a democrat!). Cassel has shown progression over the weeks and now seems to have full command of the offense. I’d still like to see them go deep a little more to keep the defense honest but the underneath game seems to be working. If not for a Jabar Gaffney drop we could be looking at a 7-2 team right now without the starting QB, RB, FS and OLB. Not too bad. As I said earlier in the week the shorter routes called for Randy Moss has gotten him involved and brings a new dynamic to the Patriots offense. In front of the home crowd I expect Cassel to keep on keepin’ on and I see Favre throwing some gunslinger passes into the hands of Ellis Hobbs or Brandon Meriweather.
- Who steps in for Adalius Thomas? The loss of Thomas cannot be understated because while his stats were not eye-popping (33 tackles, five sacks) the past few weeks saw him and Richard Seymour begin to dominate the pass rush. Pierre Woods is the most likely candidate to replace Thomas but we could end up seeing a lot more 4-3 packages with Thomas out, putting Woods, Gary Guyton and Jerod Mayo on the outside most likely. The real answer is there IS no clear answer as to who will take over. Pass rush is key in any game, let alone against the Jets. Favre loves to toss the ball up and his success rate has a lot to do with the pressure around him. Favre isn’t very mobile and the Patriots need to take advantage of that despite losing another key defensive player.
- What kind of impact will Ty Law have? Speaking of key defensive players, Ty Law is now a Jet. Heavily rumored to be wearing Patriot blue again this year, Law has chosen to return to New York, and just in time for the game against the Pats, what a coincidence! Truth be told I thought Law would be a good fit back here in New England given the cornerback situation but I still think it would have taken him a few weeks to get back into decent form. I don’t think we can expect too much out of him, even the New York Post has a story where Law says he felt old and rusty out on the field. Look, he’s a gamer and still has the skills to make a game-changing play but don’t expect him to transform back into a shutdown corner in three days of practice. I don’t think he’ll play a full game and when he’s in they’ll put him up against Jabar Gaffney so they can double Moss. If Law is able to cover Gaffney one-on-one and allow a safety to double team Moss, the Pats will have big problems getting No. 81 the ball.
You just have to love Jets-Patriots with a lot on the line. These two teams on paper are very similar in terms of total offense and total defense yet the edge has to go to New England playing at home. Thomas Jones ran all over the hapless St. Louis Rams last week and the Jets won in a blowout but that won’t be the case this week. The Patriots have focused on stopping the run this season and have done reasonably well. Making Favre beat you comes with risks but it’s almost a guarantee he’ll make one or two horrific throws that the Pats must take advantage of. Turnover ratio will be key in this game as will be the running ability of BenJarvis Green-Ellis who needs to keep those legs churning and keep first downs coming. I don’t see either team pulling away and it could be an OT game, but in the end I think Cassel will once again lead a 4th quarter winning drive and send the Patriots firmly atop the AFC East.
Patriots 20, Jets 17
Tags: Adalius Thomas, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Brandon Meriweather, Brett Favre, Ellis Hobbs, Gary Guyton, Jabar Gaffney, Jerod Mayo, Matt Cassel, Randy Moss, Ty Law