After putting the film review and Dallas preview to bed for Wednesday's paper, let's take a look at how we did with our pre-game five keys:
1. Hurry the heck up
What we said: “The Patriots’ offense played way, way, way too slow in the playoff loss to the Jets last year. The tempo was terrible. You know all the no-huddle you saw in the preseason? Wouldn’t be surprised if it that was practice for today’s game. The Jets want to get lined up, and do a lot of disguising here and there before the snap. Don’t let them. If they think you’re about to snap the ball, they have to get lined up.”
The Patriots didn’t use the no huddle as much as I thought they would, but they did on their final touchdown drive late in the third quarter. Jets couldn’t get sorted out. Save more for next time?
2. Run the ball
What we said: “The Jets played 28 snaps of nickel last year against the Patriots, and another 28 snaps with six, seven and eight defensive backs. They were daring the Patriots to run, and they didn’t until the second half when it was way too late. Jets aren’t that great against the run.”
Verdict: Check plus.
35 carries, 152 yards, two touchdowns. Jets played even more sub packages (67 total, 56 with six and seven defensive backs) and this time the Patriots took advantage.
3. Move Welker
What we said: “Wouldn’t be surprised to see him line up at running back a few times to keep the coverage off him. The Patriots put on a clinic last week in how to use Wes Welker. Expect even more creativity."
Patriots were pretty basic in their use of Welker. Nothing out of the ordinary.
4. Make Sanchez beat you
What we said: “Still don’t have much faith in the Patriots’ pass rush (blitz Dane Fletcher!) or pass defense (oy), but they should be able to shut down the Jets’ run game – if Gary Guyton plays well (big if) -- and make Mark Sanchez throw 42 times to beat them. Have to like the Patriots’ chances with that.”
Well, the Jets stayed fairly balanced and never panicked getting behind. But Sanchez wasn’t able to make enough plays, and his receivers (three drops) didn’t help him out. Guyton (and Brandon Spikes) didn’t play particularly well, and the Jets were able to run.
5. Cover the RBs
What we said: “If there’s a big mismatch on the field (besides Patriots TEs vs. Jets DBs), it’s Jets running backs getting the ball out of the backfield against Patriots LBs Brandon Spikes and Gary Guyton on early downs. They are way too slow. Would not be surprised to see Fletcher out there more as the game goes on
Green and Tomlinson only caught three balls between them, which was a little odd. Think that went to the Jets’ protection problems. They kept the backs in a lot. When they didn’t, Sanchez was spooked by the underneath zone coverage.
What we said: “I’m picking the Jets to win straight up for these reasons: they are desperate, Brady is mortal against Rex Ryan and teams that disguise, who has faith that the Patriots’ defense, minus Jerod Mayo, is going to force the issue?, and Jets special teams will have a slight edge.
Pre-game pick: Jets 30, Patriots 27
Actual score: Patriots 30, Jets 21.
Somebody overestimated the Jets’ ability to do basic things like throw slant routes and, you know, catch passes. The Jets were right there the whole way, they just never threatened to put it together offensively.
But at least I got the spread right, so I’m 5-0 in games for the Globe involving the Patriots. So I've got that going for me, which is nice.