Danny Amendola
Patriots-Jets Preview
Danny Amendola

Patriots-Jets Preview

Published Dec. 23, 2015 11:38 p.m. ET

There's plenty at stake for both the New England Patriots and New York Jets in this latest matchup between bitter AFC East rivals.

One team, though, is in a far more precarious position.

New England will try to lock up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and deal a severe blow to the New York Jets' postseason hopes Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

While the Patriots (12-2) have already clinched their seventh straight division title, postseason seeding is still a source of motivation. A win either this weekend or in the regular-season finale at Miami would give them the No. 1 seed for the second consecutive season.


The Jets' situation is very different despite the potential for their first five-game win streak since 2010. They are tied with Pittsburgh and Kansas City for the two wild-card spots but if all three teams win out, New York (9-5) would be home for the playoffs.

''It's a big game because it's the next game,'' Jets linebacker Calvin Pace said. ''You want to be playing significant games in December. We've done a good job of putting ourselves in position to do that. Now, it's just about capitalizing.''

This matchup has been extremely one-sided in recent years with New England winning nine of 10 in the regular season.

Each of the last five meetings, however, have been decided by seven points or fewer. The Jets held a fourth-quarter lead Oct. 25 in Foxboro before Tom Brady led a late go-ahead drive and New York blew some late opportunities to get the tying score in a 30-23 loss.

"It's great that we're at our peak and we've won four in a row," Jets cornerback Buster Skrine said. "We know New England is a tough team. They've been a tough challenge for everybody. ... No extra pressure. We just know it's an important game. We're just going to do what we've been doing."

Brady continues to a thorn in the Jets' side with a 22-7 lifetime record against them, including a 1-1 mark in the playoffs. He finished 34 of 54 for 355 yards - his career-best total versus New York - with two touchdown passes and one on the ground in the first meeting.

Brady has 20 touchdown passes, three interceptions and a 97.5 passer rating in his last 10 regular-season meetings.

''Hopefully, he gets traded at some point in time,'' Pace joked. ''Trade him to the NFC somewhere. He's done it well and done it at a high level for a long time.''

While Brady is expected to play, it's tough to determine just exactly who he'll be throwing to. Top receiver Julian Edelman (foot) remains out and Danny Amendola, second on the team with 63 receptions, injured his knee in last Sunday's 33-16 win over Tennessee and was limited in practice Wednesday.

New England's backfield situation remains muddled. LaGarrette Blount (hip) and Dion Lewis (knee) are done for the season, leaving Brandon Bolden and James White as the two best options. The Patriots did sign 11-year veteran Steven Jackson on Tuesday and he practiced this week, though it's uncertain if he'll be active Sunday.

''I'm just looking forward to continuing to get better and continue to learn the way of the Patriots," Jackson said.

Star tight end Rob Gronkowski remains the focal point of opposing defenses and he proved an especially difficult a matchup for the Jets in the October meeting. He was targeted 16 times and had a season-high 11 catches for 108 yards and a touchdown.

That loss to the Patriots was the beginning of a 1-4 stretch for the Jets, but they've kept themselves in the playoff picture with four straight wins. However, those victories came against opponents with a combined 18-38 record.

"They're a hard-working team," Patriots cornerback Justin Coleman said. "They have threats from the perimeter to the outside to the inside. We have to find a way to stop their best players."

Ryan Fitzpatrick has been a very steady presence during the win streak for New York, completing 64.8 percent of his passes for 1,229 yards with 10 TDs, one interception and a 105.7 passer rating.

Fitzpatrick, though, is 1-7 lifetime against the Patriots with 15 touchdown passes, 17 picks and a 79.7 rating.

"We've played them once and they beat us," he said. "We've got to try to get better and do some things better than we did last time. Winning last week makes this one more important. This is everything for us this week trying to get a win in this game."

Brandon Marshall has had an outstanding first season for the Jets, matching Al Toon's 1988 franchise record with 93 receptions while his 1,261 yards are the fifth most in a season.

Marshall forms a very potent tandem with Eric Decker, who has 72 catches for 930 yards and 10 scores. They rank first among NFL receiver duos in receptions, second in yards and tied for first in TDs.


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