New England Will Bury the New York Jets: 5 Things to Know
The New England Patriots have clinched the AFC East title for the sixth straight year and punched their ticket to the playoffs. But their work is far from over, as two teams stand in the way of their ultimate goal. No... that's not the Super Bowl (well it is, but...) just yet, but homefield advantage thoughout the playoffs.
The New York Jets are the first team to stand in their way. It's not like they appear to be a major obstacle at 3-11 and occupying the basement of the division. But don't be fooled by their apparent failure in the standings; this team isn't impotent. The fact is, the Jets are always a formibable opponent and the Pats would be foolish to ignore the challenge this game presents.
At home, the Jets have the added incentive of spoiling New England's aspirations of clinching homefield and a clear advantage in the playoffs. Simply put: New York doesn't like New England and loves to play the spoiler role.
So, what does this game hold for the fans?
1. Geno Smith is in the fight of his life.
Besides being drafted higher than expected in the second round by the Jets, Smith is battling his demons. While the Michael Vick experiment seems to be over, Smith has struggled from the beginning to live up to high expectations. He seems to have the tools, but can't seem to put it all together. He's not ready to be done, and has to have a strong showing to keep his career alive.
2. New England won't take the foot off the gas.
In 2013, the Patriots didn't have enough gas to hang with Denver, and that memory is fresh in their minds. Homefield means that Denver comes to visit this time around and that is good for the Pats. Being healthy right now is a great sign, as well. This game is an important stepping stone on that path.
3. New York needs to do everything better.
It almost goes without saying, but coaches say it anyways. Winning football is all about the fundamentals. You have to block well, run well, make good throws and decisions, rush the passer, lock-down the back end. In their last meeting, the Jets could only get to Brady once, while the Patriots sacked Smith three times. That is often the difference in these close rivalries.
4. This Patriots' defense is tough.
Fast becoming recognized as hard-nosed and hard-hitting, the defense has come together, despite losing their leader, Jerod Mayo. Young players like CHandler Jones, Donta' Hightower, and Jamie Collins are cimbining with seasoned veterans like VInce Wilfork, Darrelle Revis, and Brandon Browner to bring the pain to opposing offenses. Even though the NFL seems bent on preventing defenders from hitting like they mean it, the Patriots are imposing their will and burying offensive stars. It's Patriot's football like the days of Super Bowl glory.
5. Don't bet against Tom Brady.
Though not his best statistical year, his completion percentage is his highest in three years as is his passer rating. His TD% is up and his INT% is down. Yet he still lacks a Randy Moss type talent. But there is more to the story- they called him "old". Don't tell Brady when to hang it up.
And don't tell these Patriots, or this coach, that the dynasty is over. They just might win the big one just to spite all you nay-sayers. This team knows how to win games and make a deep playoff run. It ain't over.
The game is in New York, but the Patriots will spoil the Jet's party. Next step to the Super Bowl? Check!