A look at a few key areas for Sunday’s Patriots-Jets game:
The Patriots rank 29th in rushing yards per game (83.5). The team should receive a boost in this area with the projected return of Corey Dillon. Change-of-pace back Kevin Faulk, meanwhile, looks like he will be a game-time decision. The Jets’ defense ranks 30th in rushing yards allowed per game (136.9). The teams also share close rankings in the passing game — with the Patriots ranked fourth in passing yards per game (264.3) and the Jets’ pass defense ranked fourth in yards allowed (173.5). Cornerback Ty Law leads the Jets with five interceptions.
The Jets rank 32nd in the NFL in points scored and their offense is in the lower third of every major category except third-down efficiency (tied for 15th). The Patriots rank 31st in third-down efficiency, with opponents converting 43.4 percent of the time. Should be a familiar game-plan for the Patriots: limit running back Curtis Martin, get off the field on third down, and put the game in the hands of Jets quarterback Brooks Bollinger.
The Ty Law Matchup. Patriots coach Bill Belichick said earlier this week that the Jets primarily play Law on the left-hand side of the defense, and don’t move him around. It will interesting to watch how the Patriots counter that, possibly using receiver Deion Branch in different spots, and in motion. Or the team might simply let Branch and Law go head to head, which would be an entertaining “game” within the game.
With snow potentially in the forecast and temperatures projected in the mid-30s, the Patriots could be looking to extend an impressive streak. The Patriots are 8-0 all-time in snowy games in Foxborough, including their 20-3 victory over Indianapolis in the 2004 divisional playoffs. Three of the Patriots’ last four home playoff games have involved frozen precipitation. In 2003, New England played in three games under snowy conditions, including a 24-14 victory over Indianapolis in the AFC Championship Game. Also, the Patriots are 22-2 (.917) since 1993 when the kickoff temperature is 35 degrees or colder. New England has won 13 consecutive games when the temperature has been 35 or less, including four such victories last season. The last time the Patriots lost a game in temperatures of 35 degrees or below was on Dec. 24, 2000, when they dropped a 27-24 decision to Miami on a 31-degree day at Foxboro Stadium. Also, since 1993, the Patriots are 18-1 when the temperature is 34 degrees or colder, and 12-0 when it’s 30 degrees or colder.
The Patriots will honor linebacker Ted Johnson at halftime of Sunday’s game … Jeff Triplette will be the referee.
Looking ahead, we’ll plan on filing our next update Sunday before kickoff.