The New England Patriots and New York Jets square off in Foxboro, Massachusetts Sunday for their second meeting in the past three games. The Patriots are looking for their third straight win and to climb out of the AFC East cellar. The Jets are looking to win two in a row and have a chance of taking the division lead. With both teams in playoff positions at the moment, this game could go a long way in shaping the rest of the season for both teams.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
The Patriots were finally building some momentum heading into the bye week. New England toppled the Jets at the Meadowlands and then shut down the Colts, not allowing a touchdown. The defense and the special teams are clicking, but the offense is still sputtering. Mac Jones, who had a solid rookie season, has certainly had, at the very least, a sophomore slump. Between his injury, the reasonably impressive performance of Bailey Zappe in relief, and a fan base that hasn’t experienced this kind of struggle in decades, many are calling for him to be benched. Even in his better games, Jones has looked a bit off. What’s the reasoning? My thought is the play calling.
OFFENSIVE PLAY CALLING
After last year’s Offensive Coordinator, Josh McDaniels, left to take over the head coaching duties in Las Vegas, an offensive mind should’ve gotten the nod. Instead, former Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia and former special teams coach Joe Judge, two guys who failed as head coaches, were brought in to call offensive plays. In trying to prove he was smarter than everyone else, Bill Belichick appears to have undermined his young quarterback’s development. Plus, every analyst has mentioned an obvious difference in play calling when Mac Jones is playing versus when Bailey Zappe was playing. No one on the team is talking about it, but it really looks odd.
NEW YORK JETS
While a lot of eyes are on the Patriots because of their two decades of dominance before these recent struggles, this game is probably more important for the Jets. New York is sitting in second place in the division, a half-game behind the Dolphins. The Jets have beaten both Miami and Buffalo already this year, and, with the Dolphins on their bye, the Jets have an inside track to the division lead. But, to get there, they have to overcome their personal boogeyman. The Patriots have won 14 straight against the Jets. A 15th straight loss has the potential to knock New York to last place in the division. This week is truly feast or famine for New York.
I’m not sold on the New York Jets. I think these two teams are going to finish the year third and fourth in the division. I’m just not sure which one will finish where, but as weak as the AFC is, both teams may still make the playoffs. Still, I think the Patriots continue their momentum here before they have a tough matchup Thanksgiving night with Minnesota.
Patriots 24 | Jets 17
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