Sunday, November 9, 2008

Jets @ Patriots- Rivalry renewed, battle for 1st place

This is the first Jets-Patriots game with any major implications since the 2006 playoff game which the Jets happened to lose. Since that game the Jets have been mostly a disaster, and the Patriots have flirted with perfection.
In week 2 of this season, fresh off the news of Tom Brady's season ending injury, the Patriots walked into the Meadowlands and beat the Jets 19-10.

As much as I blame Mangini for coaching like a scared puppy the entire game, the MVP of that game without question was Stephen Gostkowski. Every single kickoff he made that game went right through the endzone. Gostkowski's performance along with the long, methodical, time killing drives were key as they heavily impacted the field position battle, which New England won handily all game, forcing the Jets to drive the length of the field to score.

Since then, a lot has changed. I now hold my breath every time Brett Favre throws a pass, the Jets have been utterly dominant on both the offensive, and defensive lines, Matt Cassel is more seasoned, among other things. Kris Jenkins has been everything any Jets fan, scout, coach, employee could have dreamed of and more. The Patriots defense is being relied on to keep the Patriots in games, which is a complete 180 from last year, when it seemed like the Patriots scored 6 TDs every quarter. All in all, the Patriots still have managed to win games without Brady, which shows just how important the New England defense has been throughout this run of success over the last seven years.

As far as the game goes, the Jets need to win this to have any shot at the division. With a loss to the Patriots in week 2, a loss here puts the Jets a game behind the Pats, and the Patriots have the tiebreaker. A loss here basically limits the Jets to thinking in terms of the Wildcard, and in the AFC there is a lot of jockeying for those two spots, even though the Jets have the upper hand in that regard at the moment. At the very moment, the Jets are a more talented team across the board than the Patriots are. They have a productive QB, Thomas Jones is playing well, and the Jets have dominated in the trenches recently.

It comes down to a few things:

- Mangini drawing up an aggressive gameplan. I don't care who is playing quarterback for New England, you will never beat them playing the way we did in week 2. Playing scared and not to lose, is not the way to beat them. You have to go out and there and force the issue, grab the proverbial bull by its horn. Mangini, for some reason or another, always coaches scared against Bill Belichick. It has to stop here, if the Jets want to win this game.

- The Jets offensive line vs the Patriots defensive line. In the Week 2 tilt, in a big goalline stand the Patriots managed to stop the Jets 3 times from the 2 yard line. Wilfork, Seymour and Warren make up possibly the best defensive line in the NFL. Faneca, Ferguson, Mangold, Moore and Woody will have to earn their paychecks this Thursday.

- The Jets forcing the game into Cassel's hands- The Patriots, without Brady, like to employ a ball control type of offense. They like to run the football, and it is essential that the Jets force Cassel to beat them in the air. The passing game is similar in that its is a short pass attack predicated on timing, 3 step drops, and an assortment of short routes. The biggest difference is that Cassel hasn't proven he can attack deep anywhere near consistently enough to be considered a threat.

As a Jets fan the matchup of Belichick vs Mangini concerns me, as Belichick has owned Mangini time after time during his brief tenure as Jets coach. And the Jets coverage on the short passes over the middle concerns me, as the Jets have been brutal in that regard all year.

So Thursday is the day, 1st place in the division is on the line, heated rivals get together on National TV. The Jets are flying high, and as of right now are the more talented team. The ball is now in their court, as they need to go out there and kick the Patriots in the teeth. If the Jets don't beat the Patriots now, they'll never beat them.

Jets 24

Patriots 20

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