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New York Jets: Previewing their matchup against the New England Patriots

Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE

The New York Jets welcome the New England Patriots to MetLife Stadium tonight in a key AFC East matchup on Thanksgiving Day.  The Jets are 4-6 on the season and are hoping to keep their slim playoff chances alive while the Patriots are inching closer to another AFC East title.  The game is set for an 8:20 pm ET kickoff.

The Jets might be catching the Patriots at a good time.  Star tight end Rob Gronkowski is out of tonight’s game after breaking his forearm in the Pats blowout win over the Indianapolis Colts last weekend.  Gronkowski has hurt the Jet ever since coming into the league and caught two touchdown passes in the Patriots 29-26 overtime victory over the Jets last month.  Gronkowski has caught 53 passes for 748 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season.

The Patriots will also be without rookie defensive lineman Chandler Jones and starting offensive guard Logan Mankins.  Jones is a first round draft pick from Syracuse who currently leads the team with six sacks.  He also has 34 tackles and three forced fumbles on the season.  Mankins missed the Colts game as well.

Rex Ryan’s team has started out 4-6 before.  In his rookie season of 2009, the Jets started with the same record and eventually making the playoffs and reaching the AFC Championship game.  The team will need quarterback Mark Sanchez to play like he did last week in the win over the St. Louis Rams.  Sanchez completed 15-of-20 passes for 178 yards with one touchdown.  The key for Sanchez and the offense is to not turn the football over and establish the running game.

Sanchez had his highest statistical output against the Patriots in the earlier loss.  He completed 28-of-41 passes for 328 yards with one touchdown and one interception.  The Jets had opportunities to win that game but rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill had a big drop late in the fourth quarter and Sanchez got sacked and fumbled to end the game in overtime.

The teams have combined to play eleven games on Thanksgiving.  The Jets are 4-3 all-time with three of their wins coming as members of the New York Titans in the AFL.  The Jets won their last Thanksgiving game in 2010 with a win over the Cincinnati Bengals.  The Patriots are 2-2 in their history with their last win coming in 2010 as well.  They defeated the Detroit Lions in Detroit by a score of 45-24.