Just a quick preview of this game as the Patriots travel to the Meadowlands to meet the Jets this Monday Night for the second time during this month of December. The Patriots come into this game having wrapped up the division title, but with possible achievements still obtainable. With two wins and a Cincinnati loss the Patriots can still be the number 3 seed in the AFC playoffs, instead of number 4. That would be a nice achievement considering how much they struggled thru the first half of the season.
On offense, it would be encouraging to see the Patriots run the ball better this week. That is one area of last week’s impressive win versus Tampa Bay that did cause some concern. With defensive linemen Shaun Ellis and Dwayne Robertson out for the Jets, it would be troubling if the Patriots didn’t run the ball effectively again this week. Additionally, Nick Kaczur returns and that could help give the running game a boost along the offensive line.
It would also be a good sign, now that all three tight ends are healthy, to see the Patriots incorporate their tight ends into the offense in a rare game where they all play. Some spreading around of the ball to both Daniel Graham and Ben Watson could give pause to future playoff opponents trying to prepare for them in upcoming weeks. The Patriots also need to be aware of Ty Law, as all fans of New England know, as he remains a playmaker capable of changing any close game with a big play.
On defense, the Patriots need to recognize the Jets are playing better now than they were at the time of the last matchup. Jets quarterback Brooks Bollinger appears to be gaining some confidence and has improved the last few weeks, having his best outings of his young career. Curtis Martin, the Jets long-time running back, is out, but his replacements Cedric Houston and B.J. Askew have been running hard trying to make a name for themselves. For the first time in a long time, the Jets have found some rhythm on offense and they rolled to nearly 400 yards of offense last week. Tight end Doug Jolley has finally made some plays as the Jets had hoped he would all season when they acquired him from Oakland in the offseason. He appears finally comfortable. Receiver Laverneous Coles is always dangerous and has had big games against the Patriots in the past.
The Jets are still susceptible to the sack however and remain banged up on the offensive line. With the way the Patriots have dominated along their front seven in recent weeks, it would be very disappointing to see them not shut down the run against the Jets and harass Bollinger all night long. If Roosevelt Colvin continues playing linebacker as he has been for awhile now, this could be his coming out party on national television for all the NFL to see just how well he’s playing.
The Patriots should play this game straight up to win with possible advantages still up for grabs in the playoffs. They also want to roll into the playoffs playing well and a setback here could slow momentum. Look for the Patriots to control the game throughout and easily handle the undermanned Jets 27-6.