The Patriots will face what will likely be their toughest opponent this year with the New York Jets. The Jets have an obvious advantage on the interior defensive line against the Patriots interior offensive line and are also very good at running the ball downhill with Chris Ivory, who is a very physical runner. The Patriots game plan should be to negate that advantage with perimeter screens and run plays and to put big bodies at the point of attack to make it difficult for the Jets offensive line to generate push. These two players will be critical in that game plan:
WR Danny Amendola: With Jets nickel CB Buster Skrine battling a concussion, that means that Patriots slot WR Danny Amendola has a more favorable matchup against either Marcus Williams or Marcus Gilchrist in the slot. In the Indianapolis game, Amendola played a huge role for the Patriots with 7 catches and 105 yards. Amendola is very good at navigating through blocks and picking up a lot of yards in the screen game, so expect a couple his way in the screen game if the Patriots struggle to move the ball in the early going with Dion Lewis and Julian Edelman moving the chains. Last year, Amendola was the X-Factor against the Jets with a clutch 4th quarter TD in the first game and catching 8 passes for 1st downs in the 2nd game. Hopefully Amendola has another encore in him.
DT Dominique Easley: Easley is strong enough to handle the point of attack and quick enough to penetrate the center-guard gaps. Easley's game is almost primarily disruption on the inside and re-establishing the line of scrimmage in the backfield. If the Patriots can force long 2nd and 3rd down situations or build a sizeable lead, that's where Easley truly shines as a pass rusher. With the ability to get into the backfield before the QB can receive the center's shotgun snap, Easley puts a lot of pressure on centers to not only snap the ball on target, but also block him at the same time. It should be interesting how the 10-year veteran center Nick Mangold handles Easley inside. I think Easley will get the better of that match-up.