Dec 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets fans celebrate an overtime victory over the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium. New York Jets defeat the New England Patriots 26-20 in OT. Mandatory Credit: Jim O
The New York Jets will be hosting the New England Patriots on Sunday. Here are five players to watch in this AFC showdown.
After a bye week in Week 11, the New York Jets will be playing the first place New England Patriots on Sunday. These teams are both heading in very different directions, as the Patriots have hopes of reaching the Super Bowl this season, while the Jets have been a huge disappointment.
This will be the first time that these two teams have met this season, as the difficult part of the Jets schedule to start the season didn’t include the Patriots. As expected, the Patriots are one of the best teams in the AFC this season, and the suspension to Tom Brady didn’t affect them at all.
In the first four games of the season, the Patriots were able to total a 3-1 record without their starting quarterback. Since then, the Patriots are 5-1 with their only loss coming in a close game against the Seattle Seahawks.
Due to the Oakland Raiders also being 8-2, the Patriots are surely looking ahead for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Bill Belichick never takes the Jets lightly, and he will be looking to avenge a loss to them late in the season from last year.
A Jets vs. Patriots showdown is usually a fun because of the rivalry, however, the Jets don’t appear to pose any sort of threat to them this season. Here are five players to watch in this AFC East showdown.
Nov 20, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount (29) celebrates after a play against the San Francisco 49ers during the fourth quarter at Levi
The Patriots have the reputation of being a passing team and for good reason. There is a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball for New England, but that doesn’t mean that they are one-dimensional.
This season, the Patriots have been more committed to running the football, and their workhorse has been LeGarrette Blount. In 2016, Blount has totaled 802 rushing yards, and a ridiculous 12 rushing touchdowns already this season.
Many believed that when Brady returned from his suspension that the Patriots would stop running the ball as frequently. However, Blount continues to get a lot of carries, and he is ranked tied for sixth in the NFL in rushing yards.
Even though the Jets have struggled this season, it is not because of their rushing defense. Despite their struggles, the Jets are ranked fourth in the NFL in rushing defense. Blount is coming off a very nice game against the 49ers, as he totaled 124 rushing yards in the win. While the Jets should be able to keep him under 100 rushing yards, Blount can really hurt them in goal-line situations with his powerful running style.
If the Jets aren’t careful, Blount can hurt them on the ground if they are too focused on stopping Brady.
Nov 20, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell (19) runs for a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the fourth quarter at Levi
One of the things that make the Patriots one of the most dangerous teams in the league is their talented weapons on offense. Led by Tom Brady, the Patriots can hurt a defense a variety of ways because of their depth at wide receiver, tight end, and running back.
Against the San Francisco 49ers, the Patriots were without tight end Rob Gronkowski. After getting hit hard on Sunday Night Football by Earl Thomas of the Seattle Seahawks, Gronkowski didn’t suit up with the team for their game in San Francisco.
While Gronkowski is certainly the best weapon that the Patriots have, they are known for having players step up when called up. Last week, it was wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell who did that. Despite barely playing this season, Mitchell had his breakout game of the season against the 49ers. In the win, Mitchell totaled season-highs of four receptions, 98 receiving yards, and his first receiving touchdown of the season.
If Mitchell is going to be a serviceable weapon for the Patriots, it just means one more player the Jets will have to stop. As shown against the 49ers, Mitchell is capable of making plays if given the opportunity. While Bill Belichick is unpredictable, Mitchell figures to have a sizable role in the offense on Sunday.
Nov 13, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson (11) hauls in a long pass in front of Los Angeles Rams cornerback E.J. Gaines (33) in the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
While there has been a lot of losses for the Jets this season, there have been a few bright spots on the team. One of which is the play of wide receiver Robby Anderson. After shining in OTA’s, training camp, and the preseason, Anderson is making the most of his opportunity with the Jets.
The injury early in the season to wide receiver Eric Decker really opened the door for some of the Jets young wide receivers like Anderson to get extended playing time. Out of the young receivers, it has been Anderson who has stood out so far.
Starting against the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football, Anderson’s targets have been on the rise. In the past six games, Anderson has been targeted six times in each game, and he has totaled at least three receptions in each of those games.
Over that stretch, Anderson has totaled 12 receptions and 149 receiving yards. Considering he is the third option in the passing game behind Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa, those numbers are pretty impressive for Anderson. With Petty as the quarterback against the Rams, Anderson made one his best catches of the season with the Jets backed up on their own goal-line.
November 20, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) passes the football against San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks (55) during the third quarter at Levi
Since returning from his four-game suspension to start the season, it has been a great season for Patriots Tom Brady. Due to his success individually, and the success of the Patriots, Brady is being mentioned as a possible MVP candidate.
This season, Brady has totaled 16 touchdown passes, one interception, and a ridiculous 70.4 completion percentage. As the Jets continue to struggle to find a quarterback, Brady continues to play at an MVP level for the Patriots.
Stopping the passing attack of opposing teams has been a nightmare for the Jets this season, as they rank 19th in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game. Prior to playing the Rams, they were ranked much lower, but that game helped improve their statistics.
In Week 12, the Jets secondary will be tasked with stopping the best quarterback in the NFL. After struggling to stop pretty much everyone this season, it’s hard to imagine that the Jets will be able to figure out a way to slow down Brady.
A motivated Brady is a scary one to face, and he will be trying to continue to make a statement this season with a big game against the Jets. After throwing for four touchdowns against the San Francisco 49ers, Brady will have the potential to do that in Week 12 against the Jets.
Nov 6, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) attempts a pass against the Miami Dolphins during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. The Miami Dolphins defeat the New York Jets 27-23. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
During the bye week, the big news surrounding the Jets was who would be their starting quarterback against the Patriots in Week 12. After Ryan Fitzpatrick suffered a knee injury, the Jets made the decision to start second-year quarterback Bryce Petty against the Los Angeles Rams.
This was the first start of his career for Petty, and he, unfortunately, took a loss at home to the Rams. Many fans have been clamoring to see Petty given a chance as a starter, and the results were mixed against the Rams.
Despite the season being all but over, the Jets are going to be going back to Fitzpatrick as the starting quarterback instead of giving Petty another opportunity. This decision is a very questionable one by the Jets, as Fitzpatrick has played horrible this season. In 2016, Fitzpatrick has totaled eight touchdown passes and 13 interceptions.
Head coach Todd Bowles seems to think that Fitzpatrick will give the Jets the best chance to win games, but with a 3-7 record, even running the table likely wouldn’t result in a playoff spot. The Jets are blowing a good opportunity to see what Petty can do on the field, as he can’t be properly judged holding a clipboard. Fitzpatrick has played poorly all season, and there isn’t much of a reason to think he will play better against the Patriots.