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Thursday, October 6, 2011

The NFL’s Fall Classic: Jets vs. Patriots

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Sunday’s Storyline:
When New York and Boston collide in October, they’re normally playing for a spot in the Fall Classic. With the Red Sox eliminated from postseason contention, the focus has shifted to the Jets Patriots matchup as it is the buzz of the Northeast. Gang Green’s last appearance at Foxboro, a 28-21 victory in the divisional round of the 2010 playoffs, dealt New England’s title hopes a devastating blow; fueling the fire of an already terrific rivalry. Speaking of terrific, Tom Brady has stored that excruciating loss in his memory bank aiming to return the favor to New York on Sunday. With the Jets coming off back to back uninspiring losses to Oakland and Baltimore, many experts in the football realm see Gang Green as more of a pretender than a contender. Sunday’s Week 5 contest will go a long way in setting the record straight as to who is the team to beat in the AFC East. (My apologies to the diehard Bills fans)

Three Keys to Victory:
1.Go to the Ground Game: Give Shonn the Greene Light
New York’s ground and pound has been a s
hell of its former self; literally descending from first to worst in the league’s rankings. With Nick Mangold likely to give it a go on Sunday; the Jets have a great opportunity to trample a 18th ranked Patriots run defense that is without their leading tackler Jared Mayo who suffered an MCL sprain Week 4 against Oakland. The duo of Shonn Greene and LaDanian Tomlinson has yet to light it up on the ground this season, but as the saying goes “it’s now or never.” If New York is able to re-establish their bruising running game; this will take the onus off Mark Sanchez and open up the play action passing game which has been an effective weapon for Gang Green the past few seasons.

2. Give and Take: Win the Turnover Battle
Not surprisingly, in New York’s two losses they lost the turnover battle 6-3. The Jets defense has forced ten turnovers (six interceptions, four lost fumbles) through four games. Yet New York is even in the turnover margin as they have ten giveaways, five by way of the interception and five fumbles lost. Ball security will be paramount on Sunday, as New England’s high powered offense will make New York pay dearly for any mistakes. Sanchez should have plenty of chances to make plays against New England’s worst ranked passing defense, but it will be the throws that he doesn’t force that may be the difference. If Sanchez can avoid costly turnovers and adopt the “live to play another down” mantra, the Jets passing game can rebound from a pitiful performance at Baltimore.

3. Where’s Wes: Contain #83
Wes Welker has enjoyed an MVP caliber season early on hauling in 40 receptions for a whopping 617 yards, throw in five touchdowns including a 99 yard scoring grab to boot and there’s no question he has caught the attention of the Jets coaching staff. Containing Welker is much easier said than done, but if there is a man for the job, it’s the Jets superstar Darrelle Revis. Welker has all expenses paid trip to the desolate and lonely "Revis Island." The winner of this marquee matchup will likely have a major influence on the outcome of this game. Although Brady has a plethora of passing options at his disposal fazing Welker could very well be the difference between a Patriots laugher and a Jets win.
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