Six Points: Jets vs. Patriots
It’s viewed as the New England Patriots’ first true test of the season and it comes in the form of the New York Jets. The two teams will meet in Foxboro with first place in the AFC East on the line as the Patriots look to remain undefeated.
Tom Brady has the offense playing at an extremely high level, but New York’s defense is coming to town and they’re ready to put the first blemish on the Patriots’ record.
Here are three keys to the game for both the Jets and the Patriots.
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1. Set the tone by getting hits on Tom Brady
While the Patriots blew the Dallas Cowboys out of the water two weeks ago, the Cowboys may have given other teams a hint on how to beat Brady and the Patriots. The Cowboys were able to consistently get pressure and hits on Brady, which clearly frustrated the quarterback and kept Dallas in the game. The pressure let up in the second half, which is when the Patriots pulled away. If the Jets can similarly make Brady uncomfortable in the pocket, they have a chance to knock him off his game. The Patriots are banged up along the offensive line.
2. Let Chris Ivory carry the offense
Ivory is arguably the league’s best running back as he leads everyone in rushing yards per game. New York’s only loss came when Ivory didn’t play, and that’s no coincidence. The Patriots are 22nd in the league in rushing yards allowed per game, which means Ivory should have a great deal of success in this one as long as the score doesn’t get out of hand. He had 196 yards from scrimmage a week ago, and he has racked up 362 yards of total offense over his last two games.
3. Continue to protect Ryan Fitzpatrick
One of the most surprising statistics of the 2015 season is that the Jets have allowed just two sacks in five games — best in the league. That’s a big reason why Fitzpatrick has played relatively well thus far and hasn’t made big mistakes. The Patriots have 19 sacks this season and are third in the league in that category, so keeping Fitzpatrick upright won’t be an easy task.
1. Put the game in Ryan Fitzpatrick’s hands
It’s obvious that the Jets will want to run the ball a great deal with Ivory. He’s showed no signs of slowing down, and with the Patriots struggling against the run, they could be in for a long day. The Patriots will need to slow Ivory down and force Fitzpatrick to beat them through the air. Malcolm Butler will match up against Brandon Marshall as he’s played well in his sophomore season. But the first priority on defense should be stopping Ivory.
2. Give LeGarrette Blount 20-plus touches
Blount may not have a complete hold on the backfield with Dion Lewis still playing a prominent role, but he deserves to carry the ball often. He’s averaging 5.1 yards per carry and has topped 74 yards in each of the past three games. Additionally, he’s found the end zone five times in those three games, as he’s the Patriots’ best red-zone back.
3. Negate pass rush with quick throws
The Patriots are one of the best teams in the league at throwing quick passes to negate pass rushes, and they’ll need to do the same this week against the Jets. With Sheldon Richardson, Leonard Williams, and Muhammad Wilkerson on the defensive line, the Jets will do their best to get after Brady against a shaky offensive line for the Patriots. The injured offensive line will have to protect Brady they best it can, but it will likely be up to Brady to get the ball out of his hands quickly.