#6 New York Jets (Wild Card) at #1 New England Patriots (AFC East Champion)
Date, Time, Network: Sunday, January 16th at 4:30 PM on CBS
Summary: Their third meeting this season, the Jets and Patriots meet up again in Foxboro, which was a place of destruction in New England’s favor in their last meeting.
Offense: LaDainian Tomlinson leads the Jets’ rushing attack. The revived Tomlinson had 82 rushing yards with two touchdowns in the Jets’ win against Indianapolis on Saturday. Shonn Greene compliments Tomlinson well, with the two combining for nearly 1700 yards this season. Jets QB Mark Sanchez has not played particularly well, even with some depth at receiver, but he has had his moments this season.
As for the Patriots, yet again they are firing on all cylinders. Tom Brady seems to have MVP locked up, having thrown for 36 touchdowns and only four interceptions all season. BenJarvus Green-Ellis emerged this year as the leading back for the Patriots, able to rush for over 1000 yards, and Danny Woodhead has been a key component to the offense at many times throughout the year. Wes Welker and Deion Branch highlight New England’s passing game, and they aren’t New England’s only threats either.
Scoring Offense: New York 13th | New England 1st
Total Offense: New York 11th | New England 8th
Pass Offense: New York 22nd | New England 11th
Rush Offense: New York 4th | New England 9th
Defense: The Jets defense has been the key to its success all season long. The secondary has two of the better corners in the league with Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, though the Patriots have had success passing against them this year, a rare feat. New York’s linebackers are also very solid, with David Harris, Bart Scott and Calvin Pace all playing very well. It will be up to New York’s defensive line to force pressure on Brady and force him to make mistakes if the Jets wish to shut down New England’s impressive offensive attack.
New England’s defense takes full advantage of the mistakes made by the opponent. With the Jets’ offense not exactly immune to mistake, the Patriots, whose secondary gave up the third most passing yards in the league, will need to rely on their defensive playmakers such as Jerod Mayo, Brandon Meriweather, Brandon Spikes and rookie Devin McCourty to force and recover fumbles and make key interceptions to set up New England’s offense. The Jets must play mistake-free football should they wish to compete in this game.
Scoring Defense: New York 6th | New England 8th
Total Defense: New York 3rd | New England 25th
Pass Defense: New York 6th | New England 30th
Rush Defense: New York 3rd | New England 11th
Special Teams: It was Brad Smith’s strong kickoff return which helped set up New York’s game winning field goal against the Colts on Saturday. He’ll need to be strong again to help the Jets offense against the opportunistic Patriots’ defense. New England’s return game, led by Brandon Tate on kickoffs and Julian Edelman on punts, is no slouch either. Shayne Graham has kicked well with New England’s usual kicker Stephen Gostkowski out for the year, while Nick Folk’s big kick against the Colts got the Jets this far.
Intangibles: The two teams shared home victories against one another during the season, but one of those games was a 45-3 annihilation of the Jets in New England back in Week 13. The Jets surely haven’t forgotten that game and will play much better this time around as a result. The Patriots are also the only team in the NFL not to lose at home this season.
Prediction: The Jets are a cocky, determined team who do not fear the Patriots, that much is sure. However, that doesn’t mean the Patriots won’t be able to have their way with them. I’m going out on a limb here, more so than picking Seattle to beat Chicago, and taking New England big here.
New York: 10
New England: 31
Source for stats:
ESPN, Statistics Page, ESPN.com