After watching Monday night’s historic tilt between the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs, it’s sort of folly to envision a scenario where the Patriots could keep up slowing down either offense.
Mainly, because they’ve already managed to do so once this season.
For all the head-scratching that has resulted in the wake of an ugly loss to the Tennessee Titans a fortnight ago, it only seems that New England is in unfamiliar territory this season because it is not running away with the No. 1 seed on the doorstep to December. The Patriots are still in prime position to get a bye, despite tough contests lingering against the Steelers and Vikings.
Beyond that, well, we may be in unfamiliar territory.
Unfamiliar, at least, to recent memory. The Patriots not playing the role as overwhelming favorites is one they’ve been in before, and one they’ve overcome more than once.
How could they ever beat the likes of the Rams, Saints, or Chiefs to win another Super Bowl though?
Well, one down. For now.
This week’s picks
Joe Giglio, NJ.com: Patriots (-7.5). “This line seems light for a New England team coming off a bye and a loss before it. Take the points now before it rises prior to kickoff.”
Benjamin Hoffman, New York Times: Jets (+10.5). “The Patriots (7-3) are coming out of a bye week, so one would expect all to be good on the health front — except that Tom Brady was a limited participant at practice on Wednesday because of a knee injury. While that is interesting, it is unlikely to stop him from starting against the lowly Jets (3-7). If Brady is limited, look for a big game from the rookie running back Sony Michel, who is expected to be fully recovered from a knee injury, and a strong likelihood of the Jets’ losing but keeping the score fairly tight.”
Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Patriots 31, Jets 13. “All three Pats losses have been on road, and Tom Brady is a mere 6-4 in past 10 games at Jets. That gives us a second’s pause on the betting line, but not the outcome. Bill Belichick rarely loses consecutive games, and Pats are aching to get rid of the taste of that aberrant blowout loss Titans. Off a bye, NE rolls like we’re used to.”
MMQB staff: All New England.
Jimmy Kempski, Philly Voice: Patriots. “The Jets are trying their hardest to be included in the ‘worst team in the NFL” discussion.’”
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Patriots 38, Jets 10. “Both teams come off a bye, which is a good thing for health reasons. Sam Darnold will be back under center for the Jets, while tight end Rob Gronkowski is expected back for the Pats. The Jets are a mess, so look for an ugly showing here. Pats big.”
CBS Sports staff: Seven out of eight pick the Pats (Jets +9.5). Everybody likes New England straight-up.
Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Patriots 31, Jets 11. “The Patriots had an extra week to recover from their 24-point loss to the Titans, a game in which they scored only 10 points for the second time this season. After scoring 76 points in back-to-back games, the Jets have managed just 43 in the past four.”
David Steele, Sporting News: Patriots 23, Jets 20. “Both teams come off their bye … but the Patriots come back with Brady and Rob Gronkowski rested, while the Jets may or may not have Darnold back. This series gets way more feisty than one this lopsided should, so since both teams are headed in opposite directions, this will probably be uncomfortably close. In the Patriots’ favor (as if they need the motivation): The Chiefs took a step back toward them Monday, and the Patriots have the head-to-head tiebreaker.”
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Patriots 33, Jets 17. “The Patriots know they’ll have Tom Brady ready to rebound from a slump after the bye with better overall health around him. The Jets are not sure whether they’ll have Sam Darnold, and regardless, their offense has been messy of late. Bill Belichick has been looking for a complete road performance, and he will get one in the first game of a six-week push for the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs.”
Michael Hurley, CBS Boston: New England (-10). “Don’t kill the Patriots just yet. I swear, I’ve never seen more overreaction to a single loss than I’ve seen the past two weeks. I anticipate a throwback beatdown this Sunday in New Jersey for the Patriots to remind the world that they’re not dead yet.”
SB Nation staff: All Pats.
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk:
Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk:
MassLive staff: All Patriots. “If the Jets could do it all over again would they still have fired Rex Ryan? They were at least occasionally good and always interesting. Neither of those things are true now.”
FiveThirtyEight: Patriots with a 77 percent chance of winning.
Elliot Harrison, NFL.com: Patriots 35, Jets 17. “Who knows if Sam Darnold will play this Sunday? I do know who is lining up under center for the visitors, though. And if we know anything about Tom Brady in Year 19, the Hall of Famer-to-be was quite pissed off after the way the entire Pats offense played against the Titans. Darnold’s first season in the bigs has been up and down; before he got hurt, he was creating more turnovers than the Jets‘ defense could mitigate. Tell you what is really hurting Gang Green, though: a complete absence of the ground game. Yardage totals over the past four weeks: 71, 57, 73, 83. Of course, going minus-10 in turnover differential over those very games can make trying to run an afterthought.”
It says here: Patriots 38, Jets 17. After two weeks of worrying, there’s no better prescription than the Jets to deliver a false sense of security.