NFL Week Two Preview: Patriots at Jets
Overview: This battle of unbeaten teams could set the tone for the AFC East in 2009. Many think that if Mark Sanchez is the real deal, the Jets could compete with the Patriots for the division crown.
I expect that when the season is over and ready for analysis the Jets victory at Houston will end up being more impressive than the come-from-behind miracle the Patriots pulled off at home against the Buffalo Bills.
Rex Ryan has obviously brought some swagger and confidence to a defensive unit that badly needed both.
The Patriots stumbled through their opener, but still in the end proved that they are the Patriots and they know how to make the big plays when needed in crunch time.
Last Week: It was definitely not the kind of game the Patriots expected. Trailing the Buffalo Bills at home by 11 points with less than three minutes remaining in the season opener. However, years of success has taught the Patriots that anything can happen if you relax and let it come to you. That is exactly what Tom Brady and the Patriots did. They played within themselves and made the plays down the stretch to win the game. Brady started out a little sluggish, but he finished strong and I believe ended any worries about his future health.
The Jets went into Houston with a rookie coach and a rookie quarterback and put a serious whooping on the home team. Mark Sanchez passed for 272 yards and a touchdown and generally did not look like a rookie making his first NFL start. Thomas Jones rushed for 107 yards and took pressure away from Sanchez. The defense limited the highly touted Texans offense to 183 yards. Their only touchdown of the game came on a fumble recovery.
All-Time Series: For the second week in a row, the Patriots are playing another original AFL franchise. The Jets hold a slight 49-47-1 advantage in the all-time series. Last season the Patriots won the first meeting of the season 19-10 at the Meadowlands in week two of the season. The Jets then won a shootout on November 13 by the score of 34-31 as Brett Favre passed for 258 yards and two touchdowns.
Key Questions Entering Week Two:
New York Jets: I guess for New York the biggest question this week is whether the Jets can sustain the momentum from week one. Even though they are at home, the Patriots will be a tougher test for the Jets than the Texans. These two teams have a long history and the Patriots will be more than happy to give Sanchez his first NFL loss. I believe that the key to the New York offense will ultimately be the running game. If Jones is able to continue taking pressure off Sanchez and keeping defenses from keying on the passing attack, I think the young quarterback will continue to be able to succeed.
New England Patriots: A defense that already is missing many key players from the past will likely be without another one this week as it is reported that Jerod Mayo could be out for several weeks following a knee injury on Monday. The second year player has been anointed the new leader of the defense, so his loss will definitely hurt the new-look Patriots defense.
Player To Watch:
New York Jets: Inside linebacker David Harris had 11 tackles and was all over the field against the Texans. It appears that Rex Ryan’s defensive schemes could make Harris a star. If he can frustrate Brady, the Jets could be poised for an upset.
New England Patriots: Laurence Maroney led the Patriots with 10 carries and 32 yards rushing against Buffalo. For the Patriots to have long-term success, either Maroney or Fred Taylor (9 carries, 25 yards) must have success running the football.
Predictions: I generally am not yet convinced that the Patriots are as average as they appeared for 58 minutes against the Bills. I also don’t yet believe that the Jets are as good as they were in their win over the Texans. If Jerod Mayo is indeed out, it will definitely hamper the Patriots. However, they are always motivated to beat the Jets and I think Brady and company still will find a way to get it done. The higher the score the better it will be for the Patriots, but I think they will find a way to win a relatively low scoring and intense contest.
Final Score: Patriots 17, Jets 13.