In perhaps the biggest game of the NFL regular season, the New York Jets travel to Foxborough to take on the piping hot New England Patriots. Both teams enter Monday night's nationally televised game with 9-2 records, and the winner will likely be in the drivers seat for home field advantage throughout the playoffs while the other will be shipped out on the road as the Wild Card contender. In this part of the preview, I will give a few basic need to know details before I break down how each team sizes up on offense, defense, and special teams in later entries.
The Last Time They Met: A trigger happy Tom Brady found himself locked on to Randy Moss too many times, resulting in two second half interceptions and ultimately costing the game on a sack/forced fumble caused by Jason Taylor. QB Mark Sanchez played an extremely efficient game, throwing for three touchdowns and no turnovers. The Patriots started the first half hot, featuring the coolest snow cone TD catch ever by Moss that I try to replicate when we sometimes toss the football at work (sports really is a distraction). After scoring 14 in the first half, the Pats were then held scoreless and gave up more points in "Dougies" to Braylon Edwards than they could handle.
I won't go as far as saying throw the first game out the window, but I don't think the Jets have any psychological edge even though they won the first matchup. On both sides of the ball, the Patriots are a lot different now than they were in September. Neither are the Jets. A repeat score this go around would be surprising to me.
Injury Bug: Jets: S Jim Leonhard (Injured Reserve); DB Dwight Lowery and RT Damien Woody (Questionable); and DE Shaun Ellis, NT Sione Pouha, QB Mark Sanchez, LB Calvin Pace, LG Matt Slauson, CB Marquice Cole, LB David Harris, CB Drew Coleman, C Nick Mangold, WR/KR Brad Smith, WR Jerricho Cotchery (Probable) All but Jim Leonhard are likely to suit up and play on Monday night. Cotchery, Cole, and Lowery would be making first appearances back after missing a few games.
Patriots: RG Stephen Neal (Injured Reserve); DL Myron Pryor, DE Mike Wright, DB Jonathan Wilhite (Questionable); QB Tom Brady (Probable) Losing Neal hurts but isn't the end of the world as the Patriots have sufficient depth on the offensive line. Brady is obviously going to play, but the questionable guys are a mystery. I didn't even bother listening to Belichick's presser because he's about as vague as a James Joyce novel.
I'm Baaaaaaack: Patriots impressive LG Logan Mankins, who missed the first meeting between the two teams, returned in Week 9 after a holdout and immediately upgraded the line. For the Jets, highly explosive WR Santonio Holmes gets his first crack at New England in a Jets uniform because he missed the first meeting due to suspension for having a little bit too much California Homegrown.
Weather: You can look it up yourself but if you're thinking what I'm thinking, then yes I agree -- Bill Belichick will probably be wearing something stolen from the Wet Bandits wardrobe. I mean seriously the guy looks like a hobo out there. Who not only wears a cut-off hoodie in warm weather, but when the weather gets cold continues to wear a cut-off hoodie but with long sleeves underneath? I'm not saying we need to bring Queer Eye for the Straight Guy onto the sidelines, but in the words of Jerry Seinfeld wearing cut-off sweats like that says "I've given up. I cannot compete in this world anymore, so I might as well be comfortable." Alright, rant over.
Next up, Patriots O vs. Jets D