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Week 16 X-Factors: Patriots vs. Jets

Akiem Hicks has revived his career in New England.
Akiem Hicks has revived his career in New England.
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

RB James White: The game plan should involve a lot of James White catching the ball out the backfield against the Jets linebackers. Whether that's out of the backfield or as a receiver flexed out wide, White can be useful in getting the Jets to declare man/zone pre-snap. White against the Jets linebackers in space is a mismatch and likely resulting in broken tackes for the elusive back. In addition to his ability as a receiver is where his ability to protect against the blitz would come in handy. The Jets love to blitz under Todd Bowles, which means having a RB who is competent enough to pick up a linebacker up the middle could give Tom Brady that extra half-second to find someone open.

DT Akiem Hicks: With the injury to Dominique Easley, the Patriots have been looking for someone to pick up the pass rushing slack from the interior. In the last two games, it's been Akiem Hicks who has stepped up in that absence. Hicks has recorded 3 sacks and a defensive TD in the last two weeks, showing off his unfair combination of size, power, and movement skills. The Patriots need Hicks to be able to clog up rushing lanes while also providing some pass rush against the Jets IOL. If Hicks has another strong game, the Jets offense is in trouble.