As week 6 of the 2017 NFL Season rolls on, the New England Patriots make their annual trip to the New Jersey swamps to take on the New York Jets. Unlike many of their matchups over recent years, the Jets and Patriots enter this game in a three way tie at the top of the division with the Buffalo Bills. No one would have guessed that at this point in the season the AFC East race would be so close. The Jets enter the game on a shocking 3 game win streak having beat having beaten the bottom feeding Dolphins, Browns, and upstart Jaguars. The Patriots, on the other hand, have been off to a bit of a rocky start, by Patriots standards, having lost 2 out of 3 home games with what could be an all-time worst defense in tow.
This will be the 117th meeting between these AFC East rivals with the Patriots holding the all-time series lead 61-54-1. New England has won 5 of the last 6 matchups with the lone Jets victory coming in overtime in the 2015 season.
A bitter division rivalry is set to take center stage so in yet another futile attempt to be non-bias and analytical, both teams were broken down in key areas to see how they will match up against each other and which one may have the key to victory.
Quarterback – Patriots: Even though the Patriots Tom Brady is nursing a sore left shoulder, he still leads the NFL in passing yards and is 2nd in the league in QB Rating. Meanwhile, the Jets have Josh McCown….enough said.
Running Backs – Patriots: With Bilal Powell’s game day status still up in the air, the Patriots have the edge in personnel with a group of running backs that can be utilized in both the running and passing game.
Wide Receivers – Patriots: While Jermaine Kearse and Robby Anderson have done an adequate job within in the Jets bottom tier passing attack, the Patriots have three solid playmaking WRs with a much better QB at the helm.
Tight Ends – Patriots: While the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski has been slowed in nagging injuries and was forced to miss last week’s game, he still has more catches, yards, and touchdowns than all of the tight ends on the Jets’ roster.
Offensive Line – Push: Neither teams’ offensive line has pass protected or run blocked to give them an advantage over the other team.
Defensive Front Seven – Jets: With the Jets Muhammad “Sloppy Moe” Wilkerson’s status in question on Sunday, the Jets get the edge in this match up due to New England’s front seven not being able to generate any type of pass rush or being able to stop the run on a consistent basis.
Secondary – Jets: Though the Jets are ranked 12th in the league against the pass, they have not played against a competent offense outside of their Week 2 matchup against the Raiders where they were smoked by Derrick Carr. However, the Patriots’ secondary has been a hot mess through the first part of the season so by default the Jets get the edge.
Special Teams – Patriots: Though the Patriots return game has been suspect, their overall Special Teams unit, let by Stephen Gostkowski, has been solid through the first five weeks.
Coaching – Patriots: The Jets’ Todd Bowles has done a far better job with the roster he was provided than anyone on the planet would have thought. However, there is no one better at game management and hiding his team’s issues than Bill Belichick.
If we assign 2 points for every category (1 point per team for draws) this is how it lines up:
Key’s to a Patriots Victory:
1) Protect the Quarterback: Tom Brady has been hit at an alarming pace this year and the unknown status of Nate Solder is not going to help the situation. The Patriots need to adjust their blocking scheme to provide greater protection for their 40 year old QB. Utilizing the quick passing game may help slow down the Jets pass rush that may be missing Sloppy Moe…and hey….How about running the ball a little more?
2) Attempt to Stop Someone: The Patriots defense has been horrific on third downs which have allowed teams to eat up clock and wear down an already thin defense. Though the Patriots have not been much of a blitzing team, against Josh McCown they may want to consider getting a little more aggressive to see if they can force the Jets into a turnover or two. Whatever the Patriots do, they can’t make Josh McCown look like a superstar.
3) Unleash White-Power: With pass protection being a concern, giving more touches to James White, either on the ground or through the air may be a solid plan to keep the chains moving.
On paper, New England is bring a stronger over all team to this game than the Jets. However the overall defense play by the Patriots should not make any fan feel good about this game. If the Patriots have any hope of getting back to the top of the division, they need to take care of their division matchups like this.
Look for an anxiety filled – painfully close game that will go right down to the wire.
The Knuckles Prediction: Patriots 23 – Jets 21