The New England Patriots head into a crucial week seven tied with the other three teams in the AFC East. This week is important because they’ll be taking on their hated rivals, the New York Jets. While the Patriots have surprised by underachieving this season, the Jets have surprised by overachieving. Even with injuries to key players, the Jets sit atop the division.
The key for the Patriots offense in this game will be Stevan Ridley. While the Jets rank eighth in passing defense giving up just 209 yards a game through the air, they are near the bottom of the league in rushing defense.
In the Patriots games this year Ridley has been the team’s key to success. In the three games that Ridley has rushed for over 100 yards, the Patriots have won. In the three games he’s failed to break the century mark, they’ve lost. Sunday should be no different.
One key that could help Patriots passing game is that the Jets are without their All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis. Revis suffered a knee injury during a game in Miami on September 23 which caused the star to undergo surgery and ended his season prematurely.
The Jets offense has also suffered some injuries that could help the Patriots. The Patriots secondary is one of the worst in the league this season so it helps that the Jets star receiver Santonio Holmes is out for the year with a foot injury. Holmes suffered the injury just a week after Revis in a loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
For the Jets offense, they will likely attempt to test the strength of the Patriots defense. In last week’s 35-9 win over the Indianapolis Colts the running game led the way. A week after the Colts stunned the Green Bay Packers, running back Shonn Greene turned 32 carries into 161 yards for the Jets leading them to victory.
But it won’t be as easy against the Patriots. Led by Chandler Jones, Vince Wilfork, and Rob Ninkovich, the Patriots rank eighth in run defense this season giving up just under 83 yards a game. The task will be tougher because tight end Dustin Keller and center Nick Mangold are coming off injuries for the Jets.
Offensively this game will be the battle of the running backs. The Patriots success when relying on Ridley will likely continue against one of the league’s worst run defenses. The Jets may be forced to rely on Greene, who turned in a career performance last week, due to their lack of options in the passing game.
Defensively these two teams are complete opposites. The Jets run defense is one of the worst in the league while their passing defense is one of the best. The Patriots have one of the worst passing defenses in the league while their run defense is ranked in the top ten.
With the whole division equal at 3-3, this week is big for both the Patriots and the Jets. The winner will take a much needed lead in the division while the loser will be chasing from behind at the halfway point. The Patriots have disappointed this season in a division that they should control. A win Sunday could get them moving back in the right direction.