This Week’s Monday Night Football matchup will feature a rematch of week 2 between the Jets and the Patriots. But this time, much more is at stake. With both teams at 9-2, the outcome of this game could not only eventually determine the winner of the AFC east, but also home field advantage in the playoffs.
Much has changed since the Jets beat the Patriots 28-14 in week 2. Randy Moss has left the Pats and now star cornerback Darrelle Revis will move his focus mostly to Wes Welker who has seen both his catches and yards per game decrease since Moss’ departure after week 4. Tom Brady is now spreading out his passes to receivers Deion Branch and Brandon Tate, along with tight ends Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski and Alge Crumpler. Covering tight ends has been a problem for the Jets all year and Hernandez had 103 yards in their first meeting.
The Pats also have bolstered their 16th ranked running game by adding former Jet Danny Woodhead who has 344 yards and 3 touchdowns on the year.
The Jets have also made changes since their last meeting with the Pats. Since Santonio Holmes joined the team after week 4, he has 491 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns (two game winners). Holmes has replaced tight end Dustin Keller as Mark Sanchez’ favorite target recently and has made a huge impact in the Jets’ mainly rushing based offense.
Outside Linebacker Calvin Pace also missed the week 2 game and since returning is second on the team with 3.5 sacks. With Revis and Pace at full health the Jets defense is ready to stifle the Patriots 13th ranked offense.
Last week’s hero Brad Smith also figures to play a major role in this week’s matchup both under center and returning kicks. Smith ran back a kick for a touchdown last week and also ran for a 55 yard touchdown out of the wildcat. The Pats defense will see plenty of the wildcat and this week might be as good a week as ever for Smith to surprise everyone and finally throw the ball to Mark Sanchez.
The Jets also figure to get receiver Jerricho Cotchery back from a groin injury that caused him to miss 2 games.
These two evenly matched teams are ready for what appears to be the biggest game of the season and a possible foreshadower of the AFC championship game.