The Patriots head to New Jersey to take on the Jets in a battle for first place in the AFC East this weekend. Both teams are 3-2 and it’s an unexpected competitive matchup that many thought would see a near-undefeated Patriots juggernaut slamming a tanking Jets team, but alas that storyline has been destroyed.
Let’s not get too carried away. Yes, the Jets have won three-straight, but it’s been over a who’s who of terrible NFL franchises including their last two against the Jags and Browns. Still, for a team that blew it all up and started over, they’re getting good play from some young players who should be eager and unafraid to play the Patriots in a game no one expects them to win.
Let’s take a quick look at five headlines about the 2017 Jets.
- 38-year-old Josh McCown has more TDs than INTs: With five TDs and four interceptions, journeyman McCown has been just good enough for the Jets this season, assuming he’s a placeholder until they spend a high-round pick on a signal caller next April. He has six fumbles (four recovered) and has taken 15 sacks, so yes, the Patriots should aim to attack and force turnovers.
- Bilal Powell Makes It Go: Powell was a back that many Patriots fans coveted last offseason and it’s not surprising he’s become the back that the Jets are leaning on, averaging 10 rushes and three catches per game. The Patriots gameplan will start with stopping him and putting the pressure on McCown.
- Young Safeties Playing Well: Rookies Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, the Jets first and second-round picks respectively have stepped right in and played well on the back end of the defense. But they’re about to get the stiffest test of their young career against a re-vamped deep Patriots passing attack.
- Jermaine Kearse: Patriots fans don’t need any introduction to the Super Bowl 49 miracle catch receiver and the throw-in from the Sheldon Richardson trade has been the Jets best receiver with 22 catches and three touchdowns. Jeremy Kerley returns to the Jets after kicking around the league for a while, he’s second on the team with 17 catches, while tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins has revived his career with 15 catches.
- Despite Record, Rankings Not Good: Yes, the Jets are 3-2 but their overall stat rankings give a better sense of who they are:
- Overall DVOA: 25th
- Offensive DVOA: 26th
- Defensive DVOA: 21st
- Points For: 23rd
- Points Against: 15th
The Jets always seem to play the Patriots tough no matter what the disparity is between the seasons they’re having. We’ve seen close games when the Patriots were en route to Super Bowls and the Jets were en route to winning just five games, especially in the Meadowlands.
With an extended 10-day rest, the Patriots should be re-grouped and re-focused. Anything less than their best game of the season against their divisional rivals will be unacceptable, and there’s plenty on the surface for Bill Belichick to get his team motivated for this game.