Dan Benton, AOL Fanhouse's New York Jets blogger, asked me to exchange five questions in preparation for this week's Patriots-Jets matchup. Following are his answers to my questions. You can check out my answers to Dan's questions at AOL Fanhouse.
tommasse: How much does this first game mean to the Jets?
Dan Benton: Every team wants to get off to a fast start, so the first game is always significant. However, in this case, the Jets may consider it to be vital. They're playing their division rivals, a team they'll no doubt battle with in the standings all year, and it's at home. For the New York Jets and Eric Mangini, there would be no better start for them than to beat the Patriots in the Meadowlands to start the season.
tommasse: New England has new receivers, New York has a rookie cornerback. How do you see the Jets pass defense against the Patriots completely new offense?
Dan Benton: Although most of the media attention is paid to Peyton Manning, Tom Brady is just as good a quarterback. Unlike Manning, he's done it without the superstar wide receivers. Now that he does have them, who knows what he's capable of. It could be ego-overload, but Bill Belichick will likely keep that in order.
It'd be a reach to expect the Jets secondary to outplay New England despite the quality of talent they have there. Darrelle Revis is going to be the real deal eventually, but it's going to take some time. If anyone was to assume he'll go out and lock down a Randy Moss or Dante Stallworth (in reserve action), they'd be foolish. The Patriots, on paper, have the best passing offense in the league.
tommasse: How will Eric Mangini attack the Patriots defense? Does the plan change with Rodney Harrison and Richard Seymour out of action?
Dan Benton: Mangini has a few new parts at his disposal (ex. Thomas Jones) that he'll certainly want to experiment with early. He'll probably begin with a good mix of the run and pass, and then adapt to how well they do in what respective area. I, personally, think that it will be a heavy dose of Jones and Leon Washington -- I don't really think they are overly confident with Chad Pennington right now after a bad preseason.
tommasse: Do you think having Mangini gives the Jets a better chance to beat New England?
Dan Benton: Absolutely. Mangini brings "it" to New York. He oozes heart and desire, and there's no doubt that is rubs off on his players. I wouldn't say he's a players coach, but I believe he's a winners coach. He makes the entire team better, and he helps add a little extra spice to Patriots-Jets games.
tommasse: OK. Time for a prediction: Who wins, and what's the score?
Dan Benton: Jets fans will kill me, but I've got to be realistic. The Jets will make it a game, but Brady and company will be too much to overcome. 26-21 Patriots.
Many thanks to Dan for his initial offer to put this feature together and build a bridge between SB Nation and AOL Fanhouse.