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SoB vs. SoNY: Five Questions on Patriots-Jets Showdown

The Patriots are set to play the Jets Sunday night in an AFC East showdown. (Associated Press)

Last week we had Abigail Miskowiec, of Sports of New York, talk with us about the Patriots-Giants game. Now, we’re doing it again.

Here’s the heavyweight matchup: In one corner, we have Sports of Boston’s Nick Bohen — the other features Sports of New York’s Gianpaolo Nocerino. We know who win the initial Battle of the Name, but who will get the upper hand in answering the five question throw down?

1. Both teams had lofty expectations before the season. Both haven’t played up to their potential. What has been the biggest problem for Patriots/Jets.

Nick Bohen: For the Patriots, the most obvious answer would be a much-maligned defense that ranks last in the league in giving up 416.3 yards per game. That said, for as poorly as they have played the past two weeks (the secondary in particular), they have only given up 25 and 24 points. Even with all those yards, the red zone defense has been pretty impressive to only allow 23 points per contest

No, the biggest problem during the Patriots’ recent struggles has been the offense. I know it’s borderline blasphemy and I’m really reluctant to say it (I feel like the football gods might smite me, so I’ll have to type fast), but Tom Brady has 10 interceptions on the season and has missed on some balls that should be completions.
It’s not just his fault, though. The Pats lack any type of receiving threat outside of Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski (pretty easy to defend two guys), and we all know the running game isn’t a strong suit of the Patriots. Ever since the offense stopped clicking against the Dallas Cowboys, the Patriots have averaged less than 20 points per game and are 1-2. Coincidence? I think not.

Gianpaolo Nocerino: As for the Jets, their weakness has been the running game. Although their rushing attack has begun to pick up over the last few weeks, they will need to be more consistent. If the Jets aren’t able to run the ball, it puts to much pressure on Mark Sanchez.

2. What makes Revis so good, in your opinion?

NB: I could make some wild claims about his soft hands or his instincts, but I would have no idea what I’m talking about. I could also refer to his footwork or footspeed as key to staying so close to receiver off the line of scrimmage, but even worse than making bogus statements, I would come across as someone who regards feet in the same fetishistic reverence as Rex Ryan. Nobody wants that.

Instead, I think his versatility is what makes him so good as a cornerback. Revis Island is home to both tall, lanky deep threats like Brandon Marshall and speedy, inside slot receivers like Welker.  Not a lot of defensive backs can claim to be able to cover both types of receivers.

GN: What makes Darrelle  Revis so good is combination of things. His biggest asset is his closing speed. Every corner gets beat from time to time, but what makes Revis so special is his ability to recover from being beat and close in on the play to make a tackle or deflect a pass. Also his strength is a great plus, Revis is able to be physical with any receiver he faces. It is a combination of speed, strength, and awareness that makes Revis so good.

3. The Patriots/Jets will have to _______ to win Sunday?

NB: The Patriots have struggled to control the ball and string together long drives the past three weeks. In order to win, New England will have to be precise in the passing game and not abandon the run in order to (ideally) establish an early lead and then control the clock on the way to victory. If the Jets have to become one-dimensional and forget the run to play catch-up, the Patriots can focus on defending the pass and getting after Mark Sanchez instead of worrying about stopping Shonn Greene and the Jets’ play-action pass.

GN: For the Jets to win on Sunday, they will have to be able to run the ball efficiently and allow for Sanchez to open up the passing game. The Jets tried to much to run the ball in their last meeting, they need to let Sanchez throw the ball against that poor New England secondary.

4. At the moment, who is the better coach. Rex Ryan or Bill Belichick?

NB: I hate to say it, but after two straight appearances in the AFC Championship game and getting his struggling team back on track after three straight losses earlier this season, I think Rex Ryan is the better coach at the moment. The two straight Patriots losses may have me cynical and depressed, but Belichick hasn’t shown his defensive prowess with this year’s unit and seems to have lost his touch finding players in the draft who can make an immediate (or any) impact. He has shipped away or released too many draft busts and gone too many years without a playoff win to lean on those Super Bowl rings any longer.

GN: Although Rex Ryan has done a fantastic job so far as the Jets head coach, he can not yet be compared to Bill Belichick. Belichick has a proven track record in this league and his championship resume speaks for itself. Ryan has shown the ability to communicate with his players and inspire his team but he has long way to go before he can surpass the mad scientist that is Bill Belichick.

5. In your eyes, describe the overall culture of this rivalry.

NB: Even twice being one win away from the Super Bowl, the Jets still come across as a young, brash team desperately and defensively trying to prove their worth to themselves, the league, and the media by overcoming the Patriots’ AFC East dominance. The Patriots, meanwhile, are the calm and collected team of veterans who simply recognize the importance of the outcome in the standings, rather than some sort of test or showdown for bragging rights.

In other words, the Patriots act like they have been in this position before, while each year the Jets seem to be puffing out their collective chest and treating the game as a way to reassure themselves of their own swagger. That’s not to say it isn’t a tough match-up or an intriguing divisional face-off, but for whatever reason the recent Jets-Pats rivalry feels like that of an eight-year-old trying way too hard to take down his older brother in a classic attention-getting ploy that makes me want to roll my eyes.

GN: The overall culture of this rivalry has changed a bit over the past few seasons. The two teams have always been enemies, but now the Jets are back and they have a coach who is not afraid to speak his mind the rivalry has grown in ferocity. The rivalry went up a level last season when the Jets went into New England and defeated the heavily favored Patriots in the playoffs. Rex Ryan is a big key to the Jets success in this rivalry. In his first press conference at Jet head coach, Ryan explained how the Jets are not here to kiss Belichick’s rings. After years of the Pats owning this rivalry, Ryan gives Jet fans confidence that things are about to change.

About Matthew Marcantonio - @M_Marcantonio

Matthew Marcantonio is the Patriots and college football editor at Sports of Boston. Marcantonio has contributed for two newspapers; the Sentinel & Enterprise (Leominster, Mass) and The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La) and held internships with The Bleacher Report and Sports Illustrated.

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