It’s been a little more than a week since the Patriots beat the New York Giants, 35-14, to move to 6-0 for the 2019 NFL season.
Despite what you might have heard, no, they have not been eliminated from playoff contention.
Based on the moaning and worry that ensued following a defensively dominant yet offensively challenged win over the Giants, one could have presumed the 6-0 that preceded the Patriots to be little more than a semordnilap (look it up). Tom Brady threw his first interception of the season, squeezed in between two sneaky scores on the ground. A banged-up Julian Edelman hauled in 113 yards in the air, but losing Josh Gordon and Phillip Dorsett from a receiving corps already without Antonio Brown means that Brady has to get used to throwing to Jakobi Meyers and N’Keal Harry, a challenge the 42-year-old seems less than excited to face.
Gordon may be in doubt this weekend against the Jets, but Dorsett and Harry are on their ways, giving Brady a couple more weapons not named Antonio Brown or Demaryius Thomas, the guy the Patriots foolishly traded to the Jets after figuring the marriage to Brown should work just swimmingly. Swell.
Brady has enough tools to win, particularly with the defense on its historic pace to be better than the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. Better than the 1986 Chicago Bears. Better than the 2003 New England Patriots, too. He still threw for 344 yards with a “depleted” wide receiving corps. The defense, meanwhile, blocked a punt for a touchdown and forced four turnovers in its latest effort against the Giants, including a fumble return for a score.
Oh, better competition may give it some fits that the Dolphins and Redskins of the NFL world can’t. But it still stands to reason that the defending Super Bowl champs, armed with a defense for the ages, will be just fine.
Somebody tell the fans who were freaking out.
Heck, somebody tell Brady. And maybe introduce him to Harry and Meyers while you’re at it.
This week’s predictions:
Joe Giglio, NJ.com: Jets (+10). “Sam Darnold is going to keep this respectable.”
Neil Greenberg, Washington Post: Patriots (-9.5). “Sam Darnold made a triumphant return to the Jets last week, completing 23 of 32 passes for 338 yards and two touchdowns in an upset win over the Dallas Cowboys. But there is a big difference between Dallas, the fourth-most efficient team of 2019, per Football Outsiders, and New England, the fourth-most efficient team since 1986.”
ESPN staff: Unanimous for the Pats.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Patriots 23, Jets 20. “The Jets got their first victory last week when Sam Darnold returned to give them life. But this is a major challenge against the dominant Patriots defense. The Jets will hang around in this one, though, because the New England offense isn’t clicking. Pats win it, but it’s close.”
CBS Sports staff: Five out of eight take the Jets (+9.5). Everybody likes New England straight-up.
Jimmy Kempski, Philly Voice: Patriots (-10). “The Patri*ts are cheaters, and whatnot.”
Todd Haislop, Sporting News: Patriots 26, Jets 17. “Sam Darnold is back, but the good feelings he and the Jets have from their upset win over the Cowboys are the only sources of optimism they can take into this game against the NFL’s best defense. New York will have to hope for a little Monday night magic, which isn’t impossible for the home team since New England is known to drop random divisional games like this every once in a while. Still, the Jets are big underdogs for a reason.”
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Patriots 31, Jets 14. “The Patriots go back to prime time on a long week, having played Thursday night in Week 6, while the Jets are primed for a home letdown after an emotional upset victory over the Cowboys to get Adam Gase in the win column. Gase’s Dolphins teams caused some divisional issues for Bill Belichick, but Gregg Williams’ defense is prime to be picked apart by the running and short-to-intermediate passing of New England. There’s plenty of reasons for the Patriots to go into full stomp mode.”
Michael Hurley, CBS Boston: Jets (+9.5). “Final score and final stats aside, Gregg Williams’ defense actually did kind of an OK job against the Patriots in Foxboro back in Week 3. Yes, it came after the Patriots scored touchdowns on their first three drives, but after taking that 21-0 lead, the Patriots punted on four straight drives. After taking over at the Jets’ 17-yard line, they were then held to a field goal. All told, the Patriots went 25:29 between touchdowns. So if Sam Darnold can play anything at all like he played last weekend, and if the Jets’ offense can present even the most moderate of challenges for New England’s top-ranked defense, then it’s possible that the Jets are able to keep things close throughout the evening in New Jersey. (It’s also possible that the Patriots win by one-hundred football points. Pick against them at your own peril.)”
MassLive staff: All Pats.
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 34, Jets 20. “The Jets are much better with Sam Darnold, but the Patriots are still the Patriots, especially with extra time to prepare.”
Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 21, Jets 10. “The Jets looked a whole lot better with the return of Sam Darnold, but facing the Patriots’ defense is something different for Darnold, who’s going to struggle on Monday night.”
USA Today staff: Pats across the board.
Five Thirty Eight: New England with a 75 percent chance (-8).
Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com: Patriots 27, Jets 21. “It was a treat to watch Sam Darnold play quarterback last Sunday. He mixes speeds like a veteran reliever and moves in the pocket so naturally that he sometimes reminds me of a far more athletic version of his adversary on Monday night. The Jets’ offensive line still has issues, and it’s a problem that Le’Veon Bell’s longest run of the year is for 13 yards, but the Jets could amazingly be the toughest offensive opponent the diverse Patriots defense has faced all year. It’s been a weird season.”
It says here: Patriots 27, Jets 13. Somehow, there will still be something for somebody to worry about.