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Patriots proved they’re ready for the playoffs with a complete demolition of a lifeless Jets squad

With the offense, defense, and special teams all clicking at the end of the season, the Patriots look like the best team in the AFC, if not the NFL.

The Jets have reached the point where they’ve quit on their head coach and are going through the motions in order to collect a paycheck. While I expected the Jets to show up and play for pride, they wound up putting a horrible effort against a Patriots team that showed a sense of urgency. Even though the Jets are a bad football team, that should not take away from the strong performance by the Patriots in all three phases of the game. Tom Brady was on point, the rushing game was serviceable, and special teams kept giving the defense long fields against the Jets. The defense capitalized with 4 Jets turnovers, with a pair of Malcolm Butler INTs, a great play by LB Elandon Roberts to force a fumble, and a great job by Eric Rowe on the boundary against Brandon Marshall. With the playoffs approaching, the Patriots are peaking at the right time.

The game started a little bit slow, although the scoring was one-sided for 3 12 quarters. Brady was very good overall, including a crazy scramble play where he spun out of a sack and hit Julian Edelman over the middle of the field for a 20-yard gain on a 3rd and 13. Brady threw 3 TD passes in the first half, with Martellus Bennett, Matt Lengel, and James White on the receiving end of those two passes. Even though the Patriots offense is missing All Pro TE Rob Gronkowski, there are still plenty of great matchup opportunities with White and Bennett against linebackers. Even though the running game wasn’t as productive this week as the season overall, the team averaged a paltry 2.8 YPC (3.1 if you exclude Jimmy Garoppolo kneeldowns), it’s still a viable option in the offense as they face weaker run defenses in the playoffs.

The defense has been great the last five weeks. They’ve forced 12 turnovers, including 4 against the Jets. The Jets averaged under 4 YPC on 29 runs, and held the two Jets QBs Bryce Petty and Ryan Fitzpatrick to 8 of 24 for 136 yards, no TD, and 3 INT. That’s a combined 13.9 pass rating, which is worse than simply throwing the ball to the ground on every pass play. After struggling to get turnovers against mediocre offenses in the first nine games of the season, they’re now getting turnovers against bad to mediocre offenses. Say what you want about the opposing offenses against them being bad, you can’t control who you play, but the defense is playing those bad offenses like they should now. The defense is playing with energy and executing their assignments better overall.

Special Teams has been there for the team outside of a couple off games. Overall it’s no longer a concern with Stephen Gostkowski back to his Money form. Jonathan Jones had a Matthew Slater type day covering punts as he was always the first man downfield and making plays on the returner. Creating long fields for the defense to work with is a big reason why the Patriots have given up the fewest points in the NFL through Week 15. Overall, the complementary football has been strong although each phase can continue to get better with each week. The Patriots might have to play for Home Field Advantage next week in Miami, where the Patriots haven’t won since 2013. Maybe seeing that will fire up the team to finish strong.

Merry Christmas to all of Pats Pulpit, Happy Hanukkah to the Jewish Patriots fans, and Happy Holidays for those that celebrate neither.