At 3-3, the Patriots have been inconsistent out of the gates, but are still in the thick of things in the AFC. In fact, despite being in a four way tie for the AFC East lead, the Patriots are tied for the third best record in the AFC, only behind the Texans and the Ravens.
And while the Patriots haven't sacrificed much playoff position with the shaky start, they'll need to get back on track, quickly, if they want a chance at a first round bye today. And if the Patriots were to lose today, they would be in a dogfight for the AFC East crown and a playoff position.
So how do I think this afternoon's game will shake out?
Lets start with an opposing perspective: Tito Javier of Gang Green Nation expects the Patriots to win today, because despite improvements last week, he doesn't think Mark Sanchez and the Jets offense will be able to do enough to keep up with Tom Brady and the Patriots' offense:
We have yet to see Mark Sanchez play at a level worthy of high recognition. He did throw for two touchdowns a week ago, but 82 yards passing just means the Jets asked him to manage the game and not take risk. Against the Patriots, Sanchez will have no choice but to take risk if the Jets want to keep the game within reach. Being a game manager this week is not going to suffice against a high powered offense.
Tom Brady has historically been able to put up great numbers against the Jets, Darrelle Revis included. I certainly can appreciate how the Jets defense turned it on last week but the Patriots are a different beast. Brady and Belichick are going to throw the ball, score touchdowns and put up points. Although the Jets were able to show vast improvements last week, I'm not sold on Mark Sanchez's ability to keep up with Tom Brady and the no huddle offense. The Jets lack the fire power and sadly the quarterback play to win this game.
While the Jets haven't looked particularly strong in 2012, they're never a team to take lightly. I believe that Rex Ryan is one of the few NFL coaches who could out-game plan Bill Belichick on any given Sunday. And while the Jets aren't as talented on paper as the Patriots, they are a division rival and will play tough. I wrote before the season, several times, that I believed the Jets were the division's second best team behind New England, and I still believe that to be true.
If the Patriots can re-establish balance on offense, and find a way to adjust whatever Rex Ryan throws at them, they can and should win. I'm hesitant to pick the Patriots to win by more than one score, but they always tend to play better in must win situations, especially coming off a bad loss. It will be a tough game, but the Patriots will prevail at home, and move back above .500.
Greg's Prediction: Patriots 27 Jets 17