Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Jets-Patriots Preview

The final matchup of the weekend is a heavyweight bout of epic proportions. The trash talking New York Jets take their talents to New England to face the top seeded Patriots. In a matchup between two teams that really hate each other, expect things to get chip and ugly very shortly. Despite the fact that Tom Brady leads an unstoppable offense, this game could certainly go the way the Baltimore-Pittsburgh game goes: close and low scoring. With all of the background stories and matchups in this game, it is going to be a treat for all fans. There will be a lot of big plays, and maybe some surprises, possibly including the final outcome.

The key for the Jets defense is simple. Tom Brady must be stopped. And if he can’t be stopped, he has to been slowed down. Brady is playing out of his mind right now and hasn’t thrown an interception since Week 6. But in the first meeting between these two teams, Brady threw two picks, and that was without Darelle Revis for most of the game. If there is any team that knows Brady, it’s the Jets. Rex Ryan will have to be very creative in stopping him. First off, the Jets will need excellent play from Bart Scott and the linebackers. The Jets defense is missing Jim Leonhard, and is going to need a lot of help across the middle. Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski pose tough matchups in the double tight end set so they will need to be contained. Danny Woodhead is always trouble catching passes out of the backfield and needs to be a top priority for that defense because of big play ability. And you can’t forget Wes Welker who slips in and out of routes to make tough catches. The key is to blitz Brady enough so he can’t throw to these options. Revis may want to rotate around between Welker and Deion Branch to keep them in check. Also, the Jets should try blitzing Antonio Cromartie from the corner. The game plan has to be disrupting Brady in the pocket and keeping him off his feet. The defensive line also needs to do a better job than they did the last time in stopping BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The Jets defense has a tough task ahead of them on Sunday, but if they play to their full potential, they will be ready for it.

What happened last week in Indianapolis was remarkable. Mark Sanchez had a subpar performance, yet the defense was able to stop Peyton Manning, and the offense put just enough points on the board to win. The game plan that the Jets had last week was one they’ll need to use this week to. They need to hold onto the ball as long as they can so Brady is kept off the field. Shonn Greene and LaDanian Tomlinson played great against the Colts, and they’ll have to be even better against a tough New England defensive line. If they can keep the running game going and eat up the clock, it will take a lot of pressure off Mark Sanchez, which will enable him to make plays. However, I feel that the real x-factor for that game plan is Jerricho Cotchery. You’ve seen him all year make tough catches in tight spaces when the Jets need it the most to move the chains. He is a clutch player and is a big reason why the Jets won so many games they did. If Cotchery can keep making these check down catches to keep drives moving, it will not only result in more points for the Jets, but it will also mean less Brady. Sanchez has to play very well for them to win this game, but he also has to be very careful. The Patriots have one of the weakest pass defenses in the league, but they also have the most interceptions. Rookie Pro Bowler Devin McCourty and Brandon Meriweather will provide a tough task for Sanchez. But as long as he plays well and gets help from his big play receivers, he should have a good day. Expect to see Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards have their fair share of deep catches, as well as a healthy dose of Dustin Keller. This Patriots defense has gotten better as the season goes, but if Sanchez can make some plays, they could be able to have their way with it.

Ryan and Bill Belichick know each other so well, and should bring out the perfect game plans. I just feel like the Jets will be able to execute it better. The Jets defense should be able to stop Brady just enough, and the offense should perform well and control the clock. Brad Smith will give them good returns that they may desperately need to kick start their offense. People may love to hate Ryan, but he has his team pumped up and heading in the right direction. Expect Sanchez to bounce back from a poor showing against the Colts, as the running game continues to dominate. Brady will throw an interception and the Jets defense should play well enough to slow him down. And the upset that no one thinks is possible (Except for Jets and the always optimistic Seahawks fans) will become real, and give the Jets a second straight AFC Championship game berth.

Prediction: Jets 21, Patriots 20

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