A continuation of my review of the Jets vs the Patriots, it's time to evaluate the defenses of these two power houses. The Patriots have been playing stellar defense over the past eight games and the Jets are right behind them in the rankings, making this a match-up of two of the hottest defenses in the league. The Jets don't give up yards, but the Patriots are more opportunistic. Let's look at the personnel.
Defensive Line - The Jets have the aging Shaun Ellis at defensive end, who has become more ineffective as the season has progressed. However, he plays next to the nose tackle Sione Pouha who does a fantastic job of clogging the middle of the field and opening lanes for the middle linebackers. Next to Pouha is Mike Devito at defensive end, who is a strong tackler. None of these players are threats to reach the quarterback, but they do their job of setting edges and allowing the linebackers to make players.
The Patriots have the aging Gerard Warren, who has been taken care of with limited snaps to make sure he was fresh for the playoffs. He does a solid job of setting the edge and generating pressure, but he isn't a real game changer. Next to Warren is All-Universe nose tackle Vince Wilfork, who is the best defensive lineman on either team. If he plays defensive end on certain sets, the Jets will surely run to the opposite side. He is at his best in the middle to force the Jets to make plays away from him. Finally, the next defensive lineman off the depth chart would be rookies Kyle Love and Brandon Deaderick. Deaderick has been in the dog house, so it's assumed that Love will be the top player on the field. Love is a solid player, but he's a definite liability because of his lack of experience at shedding double teams and watching two gaps.
Edge: Push. The Patriots have the best player on the board by far in Wilfork, but the Jets have the next two in Pouha and Devito. The Jets have the better run stopping line, but the Patriots have a superior line at generating pressure on the quarterback.
Read the rest after the jump!Linebackers - The Jets have one of the best starting four linebackers in the league. Bryan Thomas is an underrated outside linebacker who will almost certainly have his name called for a big play. Opposite is Calvin Pace who will complements Thomas extremely well and will most likely record either a sack or a big tackle. In the middle, the Jets feature a pair of stud linebackers, David Harris and Bart Scott. Scott is one of the premier run stuffing linebackers in the league and will make it extremely difficult for the Patriots to establish a run game. Harris is a solid player who will make tackles in the open field.
The Patriots will be playing with Eric Moore, Tully Banta-Cain and/or Rob Ninkovich at outside linebacker, and possibly Jermaine Cunningham if his calf is healed. Moore has a nose for a big play and will almost definitely record a sack or a fumble. Banta-Cain plays himself out of position some time, but he'll be able to generate pressure on Mark Sanchez. Ninkovich may be asked to drop into coverage because he struggles to set a strong edge against the run. Cunningham is great at setting the edge and generating pressure, but his calf may prevent him from seeing the field. In the middle of the field, the Patriots have Jerod Mayo who will most likely rack up a double-digit tackle game, Brandon Spikes who is a powerful run stuffer returning from a four game suspension, and Gary Guyton, a solid contain linebacker and an above average coverage linebacker. Add in the versatile Dane Fletcher, and the Patriots will be able to counter any offensive scheme of the Jets.
Edge: Jets. The Jets' have a consistent top 4 linebackers that will see the field, while the Patriots have an eclectic mix of backers. The Patriots' linebackers might be more fresh at the end of the game, but on a position vs position battle, the Jets win each spot, except for the Harris vs Mayo match up.
Secondary - The Jets have Darrelle "Best Player in the NFL" Revis and Antonio Cromartie at cornerback, giving the team one of the most formidable cornerback tandems in the league- if not the best. Revis will take whichever receiver he is covering out of the game, while Cromartie will most likely take away the home run throw. However, Cromartie has trouble covering quick receivers on quick routes, which does not fare well against the Patriots. At safety, the Jets feature Eric Smith and Brodney Pool. Pool is a play maker and Smith brings the wood. They will most likely have the most tackles on the Jets by the end of the day as they watch the middle of the field.
The Patriots will have Devin "Future Best Player in the NFL" McCourty and Kyle Arrington at cornerback, giving the team one of the most formidable young cornerback tandems in the league. McCourty does not have the lock down ability of Revis and will still be challenged, even though he will most likely force a turnover as a result. Arrington struggles to defend the deep pass, so he may be exploited by Braylon Edwards, so don't be surprised if Darius Butler makes a cameo. At safety, the Patriots have Pat Chung, who will most likely be asked to cover the 3rd receiver as well as help stop the run, and Brandon Meriweather, who will hopefully scare the Jets from throwing across the middle of the field.
Edge: Jets by a Revis. The Patriots have the better safeties, but the fact that the Jets have Revis puts them ahead. For all the talk that Rex Ryan loves to spout, he is right when saying that Revis changes the game. He eliminates the quarterback's safety blanket. While Bill Belichick loves to scheme ways to take away the game changing players of opposing teams, the Jets have a built in "scheme" with Revis. Hopefully, the Patriots can find a way to take Revis out of the game.
In conclusion, the Jets have more talent on their defense, which stops plays more than forces turnovers. It appears that each offense is matched up against the perfect defense. The Jets feature a defense that focuses on stopping yards, but they don't generate turnovers- and they're playing the Patriots offense that doesn't turn the ball over and generate points. The Patriots defense gives up the yards, but they're opportunistic and force turnovers, while the Jets offense turns the ball over in the cold weather. If the Patriots can force turnovers, then their chances of victory are almost assured. If they don't force turnovers, then the game will turn into a shoot out.