(Long Island, N.Y.) Both teams are 9-2 heading into Monday night’s showdown in New England. The Jets are technically ahead of the Patriots due to the tiebreaker, but that all means nothing now. Whoever comes out of the game the victor will be alone atop the AFC East, and winning the division is a huge advantage heading into the playoffs.
The fact that the Jets have arrived here by different means than the Pats also means nothing. Squeaking by the Broncos, Lions, Browns and Texans looks the same in the ‘win’ column as a blowout and Rex Ryan has his sights set on what’s ahead, not the past.
“The only way it would be better if it was the last game of the year,” the Jets second year head coach said. “This is huge. Both teams are at the top of the AFC in wins, the league in wins for that matter. We’re on the road. They’ve won 25 in a row at home; we’ve won eight in a row on the road. You can’t deny the fact that it’s two excellent football teams going at it. We’ll see what happens.”
One of the main reasons why the Patriots are the slight favorites in this game is Tom Brady. The superstar quarterback is having another Pro Bowl season and his experience is a big advantage over Mark Sanchez. “He’s (Brady) gone 199 straight throws without throwing a pick,” said Ryan. “He can throw the deep ball with touch, stands in there (and) faces the pressure. He’s just a heck of a football player.”
Brady is the second ranked quarterback in the league (after Michael Vick of the Eagles) with a 105.8 rating. He also has 2,703 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Putting up points will not be an easy task against the Jets, whose defense is ranked third in the NFL. Brady may look to go underneath, and that will play right into Danny Woodhead’s trusty hands. The former Jet running back has been a pleasant surprise for the Patriots since they signed him prior to Week 2.
“It’s going to be weird seeing him in a Patriots jersey, wearing number 39, but he’s a great player,” said Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis. “It’s sad that he couldn’t still be here, but he’s doing great for [them] and he’s one of their big players.”
In nine games in New England, the 5’8″, 195-pound Woodhead is averaging 5.4 yards per carry and 9.6 per reception. He also has four touchdowns and has been exactly what the doctor ordered after the injury bug hit the Patriot backfield. “He’s perfect for what they do,” said Ryan. “Kevin Faulk had that role for years and was so successful. The thing you’re most proud of is the type of kid he is. He is one heck of a person. He’s tougher than heck. I love the fact that he’s having success.”
Woodhead has become one of Brady’s favorites on third down, so expect the Jets to keep a linebacker close by. This game will in likelihood be a close affair, so every possession will count. Keeping the Patriots from moving the chains will go a long way in determining the outcome of not only this game, but also the division and home field advantage.