By Mike DeVito
A battle for 1st place in the AFC East…I’m sure most of us didn’t think that’s what we’d be saying about this week 6, Pats-Jets match up. With the Jets season going better than anticipated (a lot better) and the Pats season not going as planned, we are presented with a battle for the top spot in the division. Here is a couple things New England can do to make sure they come out of the Meadowlands with a W:
- Defense – Stack The Box.
The Jets offense isn’t flashy, but it’s efficient. Behind a formidable offensive line, Bilal Powell and the rookie Elijah McGuire have done a good job running the football this season, with each averaging around 5 yards a carry. Wide receiver Jeremy Kerley has caught every pass thrown his way (17/17) yet he only averages 7.8 yards a reception. The “deep threat” for New York is Jermaine Kearse, who the Jets got from Seattle in the Sheldon Richardson trade. Kearse has 22 receptions for an average of 10 yards per catch. This week New England doesn’t have to worry about the deep ball or getting beat over the top but they do need to handle the short pass game and the run. Keeping 7 or 8 guys in the box and playing some tough man coverage in the secondary could prove to be the key for the Patriots on defense.
- Offense – Get The Run Game Going Early.
The Jets are 30th in the NFL at stopping the run this season, giving up 143 yards per game on the ground. Defensive End Muhammad Wilkerson has been hurt and is questionable going into the game making the run look even more enticing. Kony Ealy has proven to be one of the few bad examples of the Patriots cutting a good player and he is going to be fired to prove it to them today. The run game will help slow down Ealy and the rest of the Jets pass rush and keep Tom Brady upright. If Wilkerson doesn’t play, the key guy for New England to get a hat (or two) on when running the football is defensive end Leonard Williams, who is off to a bit of a slow start but has the ability to be an absolute force at stopping the run. If New England can get him blocked and get the run game going early that will force the Jets to stack the box and allow New England plenty of opportunities in the passing game.
Prediction – Jets 34 Patriots 28
Mike DeVito is a Maine alum and veteran of 9 season in the NFL with the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs. Mike is a guest host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live on DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.