The Jets are still in the playoff hunt after defeating the Cowboys on the road last week in a closely contested game. If the Jets want to make the playoffs, they must win out and get a little help from the Broncos, Chiefs, or Steelers.
The last time these teams faced off, the Jets lost by a touchdown in Foxborough. This time, the Jets are at home and have the advantage of a ravenous fan base that knows it has to win to keep the playoff hopes alive. Still, defeating the Patriots will be no easy task. Currently, the Patriots are the top team in the AFC and look the part of a defending Super bowl champion. With Tom Brady at the helm, the Pats offense ranks 4th in yards/game and 3rd in pts/game in the NFL and 1st in both categories in the AFC. The Jets need to execute the game plan to their best ability and maybe get a little luck as well. Some keys to the game are as follow.
Containing Gronk: The last time these teams played Gronk had a Gronklike performance. His 11 receptions for 108 yards and 1 TD were a huge part of their previous win. However, most of those catches occurred in the second half when S Calvin Pryor was injured. Pryor was given primary coverage responsibilities on Gronk and was doing a great job with Gronk amassing only three catches for 6 yards until late in the second quarter when Pryor was hurt. The next play Gronk caught a pass for 26 yards against backup S Dion Bailey, showing how important Pryor’s presence was. Pryor is now healthy and will be able to give his full attention to Gronk. Additionally, WR Julian Edelman is not expected to play and WR Danny Amendola is a game time decision, which will allow the defense to put more attention on Gronk. The Jets do not win this game if they cannot at least slow down Gronkowski.
Jets’ Offense: Last week, the Jets only managed to put up 19 points against the Cowboys. The Jets offense will have to have an above average day in order to beat the Patriots. Last time, the Jets gave up 30 points to the Patriots, which is just below their average of 31.1 pts/game. As good as the Jets defense is, it reasonable to expect the Patriots to put up at least 24 points. The Jets run defense is still elite at 2nd in the league, but their pass defense is 13th, which is good, but not elite. Bill Belichick knows this as last time these teams met the Patriots passed 54 times and ran only 9 times. It is up to Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets offense to put in one of their best performances of the season. Fitzpatrick has proven he can have great days in the past and just recently he had a great performance against the Giants. Chris Ivory, who has been quiet lately, will also have to have a good day in order to take some pressure off Fitzpatrick.
Luck: The Patriots, as unfortunate as it is, are a better team than the Jets on most days. The Jets are going to need a little luck in this game if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive. This could easily manifest itself as a good bounce on a fumble recovery or a missed assignment on special teams. Recently, the Eagles defeated the Patriots with the luck of a blocked punt TD, a pick 6, and a punt return TD. Plays like this will likely have to happen for the Jets to win.
Summary: The Jets need to beat the best team in the AFC, the Patriots, to keep their playoff hopes alive. With two key Patriots weapons either hurt or out and a home field advantage the Jets have a chance to win. With a good day from the offense and little luck, the Jets can win this game 30-27.