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Many are now waking up and turning on their NFL morning shows. Some are making last minute changes to their fantasy lineups. With kickoff moments away, Patriots fans still have a question in the much anticipated matchup with the Jets.
The Jets have a potent one-two punch in their running back core of Thomas Jones and Leon Washington. The two combined for 167 rushing yards and Jones added two touchdowns. Considering the Pats allowed 90 yards last week against Buffalo, who were without starter Marshawn Lynch, this could be a big factor in today’s game.
Then, there is the issue with the absence of Jerod Mayo. He was named defensive captain in his second season, and has become the de-facto leader for the linebacking core that has seen Mike Vrabel and Tedy Bruschi leave. However, after suffering a MCL sprain, Mayo is out and the Jets rushing game could be in.
It’s being reported the Wes Welker is out with a leg injury, so the offense might have some difficulties in moving the ball. With that said, the defense will have to step up their game, especially the linebacker core.
More then likely, the Pats will adjust to a 4-3 defensive scheme, much like they did when Mayo went out of the Bills game last week. This will move Gary Guyton to a middle linebacking position. Guyton, who was an undrafted pickup last year, will have to clog the holes the Jets offensive line will create and make sure the Jones-Washington combination doesn’t get into the open field to make big plays.
Moreso than Guyton, the man who might ensure victory will be Adalius Thomas. It was in 2007 where Thomas was the Patriots big acquisition, singing a $35 million contract. He will have to step up his game and should the Pats move back to the 3-4 defense, he could be moved inside and be used as a run stopper. He will have to add to his 484 career tackles and 51 sacks, and perhaps his seven interceptions, for the Patriots to pull out a win.
This will be a smash-mouth game and the defense that can control the running game will emerge victorious. The Jets only allowed 38 rushing yards last week against the Texans and New England will have to do much better to guarantee victory. The Pats are down two core guys, Welker and Mayo, and the rest of the team will need to rally against a tough Jets squad.