The Patriots (6-3) host the Jets (6-3) at Gillette Stadium tonight, and here are five aspects of note regarding the Jets:
1) Turnovers are telling. When the Jets win the turnover battle or are even, they're 4-0 this season. When they lose the turnover battle, they're 2-3, with the wins over the Bengals and Chiefs. On the season, the Jets have 17 give-aways (only six teams have more). But they're plus-7 in turnover differential in their last two games, both strong wins.
2) Turnaround with rushing offense. In 2006, Eric Mangini's first year as head coach, the Jets averaged 3.5 yards per carry. In 2007, the rush offense averaged 3.8. This season, through nine games, the Jets average 4.7. Running backs Thomas Jones and Leon Washington are an effective 1-2 combination and the team's revamped offensive line -- which features four first-round draft choices -- can be tough to handle at times.
3) Tough to run on. Opponents are averaging just 3.2 yards per carry this season against the Jets' defense, as nose tackle Kris Jenkins helps anchor a hard-to-move defensive front. Only four teams are better than the Jets in that category. That run defense has contributed to the Jets' strong play on first down, as they rank third in the NFL in fewest average yards allowed on first down (4.37).
4) Firing it up in the first quarter. The Jets have jumped on the scoreboard early, as their 61 points in the first quarter are more than double the Patriots' output (30). Only three teams have scored more in the opening quarter.
5) Leon Washington a 'special' threat. Running back Leon Washington handles both kickoff and punt returns, and the Jets, in terms of average, rank sixth in the NFL in both categories. Washington averages 26.8 yards per kickoff return and 12.9 yards per punt return.
ANALYSIS: When assessing the game, the Jets appear to have more favorable matchups when it comes to their offense against the Patriots' defense. But those favorable matchups won't matter if quarterback Brett Favre doesn't play mistake-free football, and in the end, the result figures to hinge on if the Patriots can force Favre into the bad mistake he's often prone to making. Two seasons ago, almost to the day, the Jets came into Gillette Stadium on a rainy day and posted a surprising victory. Tonight's forecast also calls for rain, although the feeling here is that it helps the Patriots in part because Favre's ball security is always a concern for the Jets. Both teams figure to have trouble running the ball, as both defenses are especially strong in that area. Special teams and the battle for field position should play a major role as well. This one has all the makings of a classic slugfest -- and also a mental chess match -- that could go either way. Prediction: Patriots 16, Jets 13 (OT).