In any division rivalry game, the second game is always the most intriguing. The reason being because both teams know one another and know what the other team is going to do. It all comes down to what adjustments both coaches make for the second game. This could be the key to the second game between the New York Jets and the New England Patriots. Both Jets coach Rex Ryan and Patriots coach Bill Belichick are very good at making adjustment for their teams and since both coaches are defensive-minded, expect both teams to look a little different on defense.
The Jets’ game plan will be different because Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will be out, so I would expect the Jets to use different blitzes and play press coverage on the Patriots’ receivers. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will be without his primary target and that’s a big deal because it doesn’t free up anybody on offense. The Patriots receivers don’t do well when jammed at the line of scrimmage so the Jets will have to be physical with them to throw the timing off. If they do that and blitz, Brady could have a long game especially if they can’t run the ball. While the Patriots have run the ball better this year, they still are a passing team when it’s all said and done.
For the Patriots, Belichick is a master on defense, especially the second time he plays a team. The first time these teams played, the Patriots rushed four linemen and played coverage. The Jets had success against this scheme and it was a big reason why they came close to winning. I would expect the Patriots to use multiple looks on defense to try to force some turnovers on Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. If the Patriots can do this, then it could be their game for the taking.
In the end, the game comes down to executing the game plan and making the fewest mistakes. However, you can’t underestimate what adjustments each team will make. That is the beauty of division rivalry games.