by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
Here they come. The obnoxious house guests who brag about how well they’re doing and refuse to acknowledge your success. Yup, the 9-2 New York Jets will be arriving in Foxboro this weekend to take on your 9-2 Patriots.
You know, in case you hadn’t heard.
Judging by the last time these two teams met (not good), and looking at the visitors’ propensity to clutch victory out of the firm grasp of defeat (I’m looking at you, Cleveland and Houston), we have much to worry about this week.
How Do You Spell That Again? In what may be the silliest chant in all the NFL (I mean, really, we get it: you can spell) the J-E-T-S invade a quiet New England village this Monday night. That’s just seems scary by itself.
Mark My Words: Not sure what happened to the goofy version of Jets QB Mark Sanchez that kept showing up on HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” but have to say that we miss that guy. You know, the one who threw the ball up for grabs in scrimmages and seemed to fail to take things seriously. Now, it appears, New York actually has a quarterback. Weird.
Seriously, No Pressure: Perhaps most disconcerting about New England’s lack of a pass rush last week was watching the opposing quarterback run for first downs. Somehow Shaun Hill resembled Michael Vick out there. While Sanchez appears about as mobile as the Andrea Doria, he has used his feet well when necessary.
Freddy’s Dead? So what’s the deal with running back Fred Taylor? He got no time in Detroit, leaving BenJarvus Green-Ellis to run on three days’ rest. Will he contribute vs. the Jets, or will we write more verses to the ballad of Danny Woodhead? (And how will Mighty Mite Woodhead do against his former team?)
There’s A Small Catch: Two, actually. While we have been humbled by our prediction that this offense would struggle without Randy Moss (certainly seemed logical at the time), we have yet to see how smaller, quicker guys like Wes Welker and Deion Branch fare against a defense like the Jets’. While Welker had his way with the Chartreuse Ruffians last year (15 grabs, 192 yards), cornerback Darrelle Revis covered Moss in that game.
Lots of matchups to consider, making this a contest to watch. Which means…
Make Yourself Youthful: The Pats’ defensive overhaul has brought a level of athleticism lacking in Foxboro for years. They added two rookie tight ends and a baby-faced running back who’d probably get carded buying cigarettes. With all the young’uns, we’ve got to ask – how will they take the Monday Night Football hype? Is the 10-day run-up too much? I mean, if the Worry Wart’s having a hard time coping, I can’t imagine being a 22-year-old player.
(Actually, I can imagine that. And it’s a helluva lot of fun.)
It’s A Shayne The Way You Mess Around With My Heart: Happy to have kicker Shayne Graham for many reasons (not the least of which is his name providing endless puns), but we wonder how he’ll do in Monday night’s below-freezing weather at Gillette. We hope that won’t matter, but we worry it will.
Sure, it’s only a game. We’ll just keep telling ourselves that.
Email Chris Warner at firstname.lastname@example.org