This Sunday at Foxborough, two of the top AFC teams do battle, but right now, only one is playing like it.
The Jets come stumbling in losers of two in a row, while the Pats are 3-1, and minus one hiccup in Buffalo, they are playing at their usual high level. Plus they have revenge on the mind after losing in the playoffs to the Jets last season before New York blew another AFC Title game, losing to the Steelers.
The Patriots lead the NFL in total offense with 507.5 yards per game and their 135 points are tops in the AFC. They’ve scored 31 points or more in each game, including last Sunday’s 31-19 victory at Oakland. Can the Jets slow down that offense is going to be Sunday’s huge question.
Tom Brady has thrown for an NFL-high 1,553 passing yards and has an AFC-best 111.3 passer rating. He’s thrown 13 touchdown passes – five of them to favorite target Wes Welker, who has mind-boggling totals of 40 receptions, 616 yards and five scores through four games.
Brady has won three straight regular season home starts against the Jets and 29 consecutive regular season starts at Gillette Stadium overall, but the last loss was at the hands of New York on Nov. 12, 2006.
More recently, Brady and the top-seeded Patriots fell 28-21 in Foxborough to the Jets in January’s divisional playoffs, when the quarterback completed 29 of 45 passes for 299 yards and two scores, but also got intercepted once and sacked five times.
Two of those sacks were by defensive end Shaun Ellis, who will be chasing the Jets’ Mark Sanchez this time. The 12th overall selection in the 2000 NFL draft, Ellis spent 11 seasons in New York before joining New England as a free agent last summer. His 72 1/2 sacks rank second in Jets history, 1 1/2 behind Mark Gastineau.
“It’s definitely going to be different for me,” Ellis said of facing his longtime teammates. “You just kind of treat it like you do in one of the green-and-white scrimmages (with the Jets). We did scrimmage against each other quite a bit.”
One huge issue as of late for the Jets is the O-line, which has been without Pro Bowl center Nick Mangold for two games due to a high ankle sprain. He’s expected to return Sunday, and that should improve the protection for Sanchez, who has been sacked 11 times.
“He’s the best center in football,” Rex Ryan said of Mangold.
Sanchez turned in his worst performance of the season against the Ravens, completing 11 of 35 passes for 119 yards with a 30.5 rating while three of his four turnovers were returned for touchdowns.
The Jets defense ranks second in the league against the pass, allowing 180.2 yards per game, but is giving up an average of 130.5 rushing yards to rank 27th. The unit will now have to overcome the loss of linebacker Bryan Thomas, who will miss the rest of the season after suffering a torn left Achilles’ tendon last week.
The Jets are a team in trouble, sitting at 2-2 and losers of two in a row. They haven’t gotten good enough play from Sanchez, and the run game has been pretty poor as well. The Pats have revenge on their minds after the playoff loss a season ago, and I think Brady and the Pats offense does more than enough to overcome a Jets team that isn’t as good as they thought they were. New England 27 New York Jets 14