FOXBOROUGH – The Jets and the Patriots renew acquaintances today in the surprisingly log-jammed AFC East. Here are the five keys for the Patriots to emerge with a victory:
- Stop Shonn Greene: The Jets' running back hasn’t done much against anyone not named the Colts, and the Patriots need to continue that by shutting down the Jets' preferred rushing attack. The Patriots want to make the Jets as one dimensional as possible with quarterback Mark Sanchez. If he has to throw the ball 40 times to beat them, the Patriots will take that every time.
- Take care of Keller and Kerley: Tight end Dustin Keller is finally healthy, and receiver Jeremy Kerley is an improving inside receiver. The Patriots will aim to get physical with both players -- Keller off the line, Kerley when he tries shallow crosses -- to make Sanchez, he of the 49 percent completion rate, beat the Patriots down the field and outside the numbers on low-percentage throws. Then the Patriots have to hope their secondary doesn't butcher things again.
- Go fast: Nobody tests Tom Brady more than Rex Ryan with the amount of different pressures and disguises he wants to roll out. Simply don't let them, like the Broncos game. Go fast with the turbo offense, rely on the running game -- the real key to the turbo because it keeps the plays going; a pass-heavy no huddle can backfire because of incompletions. The Jets will also be worn out because their linebackers are older and bigger.
- Protect Brady: Ryan knows as well as anybody that the key to getting Brady off his game is to hit him early -- he'll increasingly feel pressure, even if it isn't there. Expect the Jets to send the house a few times early in the game in an attempt to get in Brady's head.
- Play smart: Before the Seahawks game, one of our keys was not to do the stupid things that helped cause a loss against the Cardinals. Well, here we are again with another offensively challenged opponent ready to take on the Patriots. Same thing. Don't get in trouble with turnovers, blocked punts and penalties. You do that, a weak offensive team is going to have trouble beating the Patriots.
The injury-ravaged Jets are going to do some strange things in this game, probably in all three phases, because they know they are in no position to go toe-to-toe with the Patriots. Ryan has one of the best minds in the game, so he'll come up with some good stuff. But as long as the Patriots execute reasonably well, and the coaches don't forget game situations like they did in Seattle, they should win this one rather easily.
Patriots 37, Jets 13