Patriots

What experts are predicting for Sunday’s Patriots-Jets game

The Patriots are favorites for Sunday's game against the Jets.

Mac Jones and the Patriots look to avoid to falling to 2-5 this season. Matthew J Lee/Globe Staff

On the one hand, this is the same guy who decided to go for it on fourth-and-13 instead of kicking a field goal during Super Bowl XLII. 

On the other, we haven’t seen that sort of risky decision-making from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick in quite some time. 

New England’s conservative approach to the offense this season has doomed the team from possible playoff contender into just another NFL team that will be playing out the string during the second half of the 2021 season. It’s clear that the coaching staff wants to take baby steps with rookie quarterback Mac Jones, but nobody figured it would be at the expense of sacrificing winnable games in the process. 

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You could, realistically, argue that the 2-4 Patriots could be 5-1 heading into Sunday’s matchup with the New York Jets. Even 4-2 if you don’t want to take away Damien Harris’ fumble in the Dolphins game. Two of the losses, against Tampa and Dallas, at home, were partly the result of Belichick and friends on the sideline not having the proper temperament to push the boundaries. 

Against Tampa, Belichick decided to have Nick Folk try a 56-yard field goal rather than try and make a fourth-and-three. Against the Cowboys, he made the ludicrous decision to sit on the ball in the last 90 sends of the first half, then, in overtime, punted on fourth-and-three. 

We’ve seen glimpses of what these Patriots can be, but it’s almost like Belichick is intentionally making sure that the training wheels are bolted on. He might not have the personnel to manage every instance where it takes a bold move. 

But how would we ever know? 

This week’s predictions

Emmanuel Morgan, New York Times: Patriots (-7). “Zach Wilson did not throw an interception last week only because the Jets (1-4) had a bye. He has turned the ball over at least once in every game and most likely will against the Patriots (2-4). Coach Bill Belichick will again have a plan to confuse the rookie. The Patriots beat the Jets in Week 2 as Wilson threw four interceptions. Even if he improves his ball security, it’s unlikely that New England will lose.”

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Joe Giglio, NJ.com: Patriots (-7). “The Patriots are close to wins. Zach Wilson is close to throwing the ball to the other team again.” 

Globe staff: Five out of six (Ben Volin) pick the Patriots (-7). 

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Patriots 27, Jets 10. “The Jets are coming off their bye, while the Patriots are coming off a tough home loss to the Cowboys. Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson really struggled before the bye, and this isn’t a great way to try to get going facing a Bill Belichick-coached team. He dominates rookie passers and he will here as well. Mac Jones gets the best of his opposing rookie quarterback.”

Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Patriots 24, Jets 10. “Bill Belichick and the Pats are down in the dumps. Will that prevent them from thrashing a bad Jets team twice this season? Nope. The Jets are rested and Robert Salah/Zach Wilson have their second look at the Patriots defense. New England’s D hasn’t been great this year but the offenses its faced have been tough. And Belichick’s record against rookie/young quarterbacks speaks for itself. Lots of Pats field goals and a similar game to the first one.”

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Michael Hurley, CBS Boston: New England (-7). “Speaking of those New Jersey teams, they’re just about the only ones I’d see as inferior to the Patriots right now. Fortunately, that’s the matchup we’ve got.” 

ESPN staff: Ten out of 11 (Damien Woody) pick the Patriots. 

Jimmy Kempski, Philly Voice: Patriots (-7). “Gillette Stadium is one of the worst venues in the NFL for speedy exits at the conclusion of games. When you go to Patri*ts games, prepare to sit in heavy traffic on your way out. The delay in getting home probably didn’t feel so bad when the team was dominating for two decades, but I’m sure it sucks bigtime with the team being 0-4 at Gillette in 2021.”

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Patriots 21, Jets 10. “The Jets lost to the Patriots at home 25-9 in Week 2 so their goal will be looking more respectable on the road after a post-London Week 6 bye. The Patriots had another tough home loss vs. the Cowboys after a similar walk-off result against the Buccaneers in Week 4. It’s shocking to see that 0-4 record for New England in Foxborough after only six weeks. The Patriots regroup well defensively and Mac Jones shows more confidence opposite Zach Wilson.”

Bill Bender, Sporting News: Patriots 25, Jets 15. “Rookie Zach Wilson has struggled with completion percentage (57.1) and interceptions (9). Mac Jones has thrown interceptions (6) too, but he has a 71.1 completion percentage. The Patriots sweep the Jets.”

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Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 34, Jets 13. “The Patriots finally get a win at home, and Zach Wilson once again sees ghosts, a week before Halloween.”

Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 30, Jets 14. “The Patriots will complete their season sweep of the Jets with an easy win.” 

FiveThirtyEight: Patriots, 74 percent (-7.5). 

Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com: Patriots 24, Jets 16. “Both teams should look at this as a chance to show progress made since their Week 2 game. The Patriots’ offense has quietly improved the last few weeks, despite line injuries. Bill Belichick should lean into Mac Jones’ more while trusting his overly complex defense less. Zach Wilson has shown little ability to win from the pocket. If nothing else, this New England defense should be good at keeping him there.”

NFL Pickwatch: Ninety-seven percent, Patriots. 

It says here: Patriots 37, Jets 20. The Patriots have some offensive frustrations to work through. Who better than against the Jets?

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