The New England Patriots face the Jets looking to start a run of success to get their season back on track. The Patriots lost to the Cowboys in overtime last week to drop them to 2-4 while the Jets enjoyed a bye week last week after losing to the Falcons in London.
This will be the series finale for these two AFC East rivals this season unless both somehow miraculously make the postseason. The Pats convincingly won the first matchup and will be looking to do the same to get their first home victory this season. The Pats have won the last eleven against the Jets and will be hoping to make it twelve in a row on Sunday. The Jets collected their lone victory of the season against a depleted Titans club. Without much more delay, the game preview in “Who has the advantage when…” style:
New England Patriots’ Passing Attack
The Patriots’ passing game has slowly been rounding into form. Rookie passer Mac Jones has looked like the real deal while he has been let down by his pass catchers and blockers alike. He was solid against the Cowboys last week but seemed handcuffed by conservative play calling.
This may be a week where the Pats are extremely aggressive in the first quarter as the Jets have been outscored 30-0 in the opening frame while gaining a total of 79 yards in the first quarter through all five games. Another thing going for the Pats? The Jets are yet to collect an interception on defense.
Patriots Run the Ball
The Patriots running game has been up and down this season. It has shown signs of life before completely disappearing. Ball security has been an issue as well as Patriots’ running backs have accounted for 4 lost fumbles, a number that easily leads the league.
Despite the ball security issues, Damien Harris continues to run angry and provide highlight runs while rookie Rhamondre Stevenson showed some of his tantalizing ability last week. He could be in the mix to replace James White as the receiving back if he can clean up his pass protection and fumbling woes that have followed him from college.
The Jets feature a stingy running defense under first-year head coach Robert Saleh, allowing 123 rushing yards per game with a four-yard per carry average. Behind the Patriots shuffled offensive line, expect the Pats to just surpass that number Sunday.
Jets Pass the Ball
In the last matchup, the Pats had Wilson seeing ghosts to the tune of four interceptions. The Patriots’ secondary could use a repeat performance in a “get right” game. First, look at veteran safety Devin McCourty, who has played two consecutive games with uncharacteristic mistakes.
Then there’s Jalen Mills, who could use a confidence boost after being exposed by CeeDee Lamb last week. Wilson can make tremendous plays off script so the Patriots defense must stay disciplined and continue to cover the entire field regardless of what is happening upfront. Wilson has been sacked 18 times over the first five games of the Jets season, while the Patriots were finally held without a sack last week.
Look for Belichick to scheme up some pressure for Matt Judon and company from the offensive right side, forcing Wilson to move to his left and make awkward across-body throws on his unscripted plays.
Jets Run the Ball
The Jets have not been a good rushing team in 2021, averaging a paltry 74 yards on the ground per game. While the Patriots’ defense received much criticism early in the year for their run defense, their run fits have been exceptional since halftime against Houston. While the season numbers still reflect a group that struggled against the run early, this phase of the game is heavily on the rise in the last two weeks. Facing a flailing Jets rushing attack may help their case even further.
The Jets have had plenty of practice returning kickoffs this year as evidenced by their eleven attempted returns for a respectable average of 26.3 yards per. The Patriots have been a mixed bag in the third phase of the game, allowing two blocked punts and having some uncharacteristic miscues in other phases.
One area they’ve been solid? Their field goal unit with ex-Jet Nick Folk leading a charge for a Pro-Bowl season. Jake Bailey has found his rhythm again (when he can get the ball away), while Gunner Olszewski has featured some of his fearless return style. The Jets have been sound in their coverage units. The Pats need to execute their assignments here and play a mistake-free game.
While Belichick has been criticized for his conservative play calling, he also puts on a clinic when it comes to defensive football. Despite the high yardage total allowed to the Cowboys, his boys are still playing smart situational football. The Pats have gone toe-to-toe now with two world-class opponents and lost on last-minute plays. The last time these two teams met up, Belichick ran laps around his Jets counterpart. That should continue as Belichick’s hate for Gang Green is well known and he looks to get his team back on track.
This will come down to the New England Patriots doing their jobs. They can play with the best teams in the league and have shown that they already outclass the Jets this season. However, they’ve also shown they can let inferior opponents hang around (the Texans) and haven’t quite figured out how to win when given the opportunity (games against the Dolphins, Buccaneers, and Cowboys).
This shouldn’t be a game that comes down to a single possession though. The Patriots will race out to an early lead before forcing Zach Wilson to make a few mistakes in the second half.
Pats win comfortably 31-13 to get their first home win.