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Final pregame footnotes on Jets-Pats

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  January 16, 2011 03:52 PM

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Ten final pregame thoughts while thinking it's bad karma to bench Wes Welker for his remarks, no matter how long he sits . . .

byrddennisfinn.jpg1. Can't help but wonder whether Rex Ryan has reached the point of no return with his bluster, presuming the Jets lose today. He's put it all on his shoulders with his "it's about me and Belichick" nonsene, took the blame for the 45-3 disaster (during which he was among the chief mopers on the Jets' sideline), let his team say even more stupid things than usual about an opponent (and a quarterback) with a remarkable knack for converting slights into touchdowns, and essentially set his team up for its greatest victory since The Namath Guarantee or a disappointment so painful that a bunch of players who can't keep their mouths shut might start wondering if maybe it's their coach who should zip it.

2. Jets personnel have been raving about a inspirational speech by former defensive lineman Dennis Byrd, who suffered a career-ending neck injury that temporarily left him unable to walk. No word if the Patriots countered with a Dennis Byrd of their own. But we doubt it.

3. In two games against the Jets as a rookie, Rob Gronkowski has totaled two catches for 26 yards and no touchdowns. Bet he triples the first two numbers at the least today and finds the end zone at least once.

4. Watching Antonio Cromartie practice kick returns in warmups is enough to make you wonder if losing usual return man Brad Smith to injury might be a break for the Jets. It's only a slight exaggeration to say Cromartie covers five yards in about 2 1/2 effortless strides.

5. Provided his knee is OK, Deion Branch will torch Cromartie at least once. You know it's on Brady's to-do list, particularly if they build a big lead.

5. All Bart Scott did by vaguely threatening Wes Welker is assure that the refs will keep an eye on him today. Which is probably shrewd of him, given that with one sack and 81 tackles this season (tied for 89th in the NFL, a spot behind Devin McCourty), chances are no one was going to notice him otherwise.

6. Brief Seahawks-Bears interlude: Pete Carroll kicking a field goal down 28 points. Yep, that's the Pete Carroll I remember. Someone really needs to talk to the always-candid Lawyer Milloy about what it's like to be back with Khaki Pete again. I bet he's still mad about Willie Clay getting cut back in '98.

7. One key for the Jets today who hasn't been talked about too much during Hype Week: Braylon Edwards. He was beyond brutal in the 45-3 loss -- he caught two passes of the seven thrown his way -- but he's had his moments against the Patriots, and came through with a huge catch last week against the Colts.

8. If you're looking for a reason to be concerned, I suppose it's easy to fret about the depth -- or lack thereof -- on the Patriots' defensive line. Vince Wilfork needs to continue his dominant season, no easy task against Nick (I Pick Things Up, I Put Them Down) Mangold. Gerard Warren's steady play has been one of the subtle stories of the Patriots' season, but they're going to have to get contributions from the likes of Eric Moore, Kyle Love, and Landon Cohen. Not saying they won't -- hell, they probably will. But Myron Pryor will be missed, and that's something I never thought I'd write at the beginning of the season.

9. Wonder where Randy Moss is watching the game today. OK, cheap shot, 15-yard-penalty on me . . . but having been here at Gillette for his bizarre press conference after the win over the Bengals, it still remains unfathomable how it all changed, how he screwed up a perfect situation in a free-agent year. Probably goes without saying, but thank goodness he did, right?

10. Patriots 38, Jets 20. The only way the Jets win is if Brady suddenly becomes turnover-prone, LaDainian Tomlinson finds his 2003 form (and doesn't spend the day pouting behind a visor on the bench), and Mark Sanchez stops airmailing his receivers by five feet. I don't think any of those things will happen, let alone all three of them. By the start of the fourth, you'll be saying, "Bring on the Steelers."

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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