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What to watch for as the Patriots take on the Jets

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff  October 21, 2012 02:28 PM

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FOXBOROUGH -- There's nothing better than a division opponent when there's a four-way tie to break up.

The New York Jets come to town stricken with injuries and struggling to find their offensive identity. But the Patriots have their own concerns.

Here's some things to look for:

1) Help on the injury front -- Will Dont'a Hightower return? Julian Edelman? Hightower, who suffered a hamstring injury against the Buffalo Bills three weeks ago, was on the field getting worked out by trainers two hours prior to the game. He's listed as questionable. He was joined by defensive lineman Ron Brace, who is also listed as questionable, with a back injury. Julian Edelman has not been seen on the field, painting a more doubtful picture for him.

2) Will the Patriots stick with the running game? -- Brandon Bolden is out of today's game with a knee injury, but available are Stevan Ridley (524 yards, four touchdowns), Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen. The Patriots have been dominant in games when Ridley has picked up 100-plus yards, winning all three in which he has done so. The Jets' run defense is ranked 28th in the league, giving up 150.5 yards per game. This should be a clear no-brainer, but we've been fooled before.

3) Tebow at halfback -- Jets coach Rex Ryan has already posited that backup quarterback Tim Tebow could see time at running back. As the wildcat quarterback, and at more than 230 pounds, you can take it to the bank that the Patriots are going to have to deal with Tebow running the ball on Sunday. However, how much Tebow gets to do that on Sunday is the question of the day. And how much Tebow gets the ball in his hands has been the question of the year for the Jets.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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