By Dan Zeigarnik, Patriots Daily Staff
The exciting season-opener against the Bengals surely motivated the fanbase. The game had everything one could ask for; the offense was unstoppable, the rookie tight ends performed admirably, and the young defense was flying around, creating havoc on the field. Now, the Patriots leave the friendly confines of Patriot Place and head on down to face the self-proclaimed unbeatable Jets. The key matchups for week two are:
1. Mark Sanchez vs. Patriots Defense
Quick – what do an Azteca TV reporter and Mark Sanchez have in common? They both get flustered with oncoming NFL players (just kidding). But seriously. The second year quarterback did not look good against the mighty Baltimore defense. He made poor decisions and inaccurate throws. Despite the Patriots young defenses impressive performance against the Bengals, their pass rush is not to be confused with Ravens. So it will be interesting to see if the New England defense will be able to confuse and harass Sanchez.
2. Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris vs. Jets Linebackers
After last year, Patriot fans know first hand how Fragile Fred got his nickname. However Taylor looked as youthful as ever in Week 1 and it was a great sight. Look for this trend to continue against the Jets trash talking defense.
3. Patriots Offensive Line vs. Jets D-Line
With Mankins and Kazur out, the offensive line will remain a question until they prove themselves against game opponents. In Week 1, the ferocious Bengals turned in a pussycat performance, leaving Tom Brady oodles of time to check down to open receivers. The Jets have a much more formidable defensive line, even without Kris Jenkins. So whoever comes out the winner of this trench battle, will most likely come away with a ‘W’.
4. Shonn Green vs. Patriots Linebackers
Last year the Jets relied heavily on the run and got a great year out of Thomas Jones. Now, they are relying on second year man Shonn Green to have a good season. Otherwise, the success of their season will rest on Sanchez pretty little shoulders. It will be interesting to see how Mayo, Spikes, Guyton and Banta-Cain fare in this matchup.
5. Gronkowski and Hernandez vs. Jets Secondary
The young tight ends did not disappoint in the season opener. They made big plays, and key blocks. Even what Tom Brady calls “friendly home crowd” of Foxborough was excited by their performance. It would be great to see these two rookies that pick up where they left off.