The Jets handled the first half of their division showdown last Sunday, soundly beating the Buffalo Bills, 27-11. The Giants managed to travel to Foxborough and hand New England a defeat, meaning that Buffalo, New England, and the Jets are all tied at 5-3 on top of the AFC East. The second half of the showdown happens tonight, as the Jets host New England for a shot at sole possession of the lead in the division. The Jets won the ground game battle for the second consecutive week, outgaining the Bills on the ground 126-96, and QB Mark Sanchez completed 71.4% of his passes while playing one of his more efficient games throwing the football. Despite Sanchez' accuracy, he still managed to commit 2 costly turnovers, which contributed to the game remaining competitive during the first half. It's easy to forget that Sanchez is still a young quarterback (he turned 25 years old on Friday) who still has a lot to learn. He is on pace for a career high for TD passes, completion percentage, and QB rating, so, even though he may not be the player we all want him to be, there is evidence that he's moving in the right direction.
One of the keys to the Jets recent turnaround has been the play of our offensive line. All-Pro C Nick Mangold appears to be close to full strength, and the Jets have begun to take control of the line of scrimmage on offense and defense. New York is playing their best football of the season, just in time for New England to come for a nationally-televised visit.
Much has been made of the Pats recent struggles by the talking heads on TV. New England got off to a 5-1 start as everyone struggled to slow down Brady and his outstanding offense. The last 2 weeks have been a different story, as Brady has been unable to free his receivers down the field. The Patriots have lacked a true deep threat since Randy Moss left last season, which enables the defense to defend less territory, and contributes greatly to the defense being able to get off the field.
New England's defense is ranked dead last in the league, giving up 416 yards per game, including 314 yards through the air. With this track record, you would expect their opponents to throw the ball until the Pats prove they can make stops, but I would imagine that you're going to see more of the double teams at the point of attack and power running that has led the Jets to 3 consecutive victories.
It took 6 games, but the Jets have slowly regained the identity that helped them reach consecutive AFC Championship games over the last 2 seasons. New England is always dangerous even when they're not playing their best, but the Jets have been the better team recently, and should be able to beat the Pats at home as long as they can control the Patriots run game better than they did in Foxborough, and as long as Mark Sanchez avoids mistakes. The Jets have a chance to take control of the AFC East, as long as they play smart and play clean.
Kickoff from MetLife Stadium is at 8:30 tonight.