Guard Brian Winters and quarterback Josh McCown are on the injured reserve. Center Wesley Johnson was benched for Jonotthan Harrison. Tackle Brandon Shell suffered a concussion and might not play against the Patriots.
Running back Bilal Powell didn’t play in week 6 and he’s coming off a 145-yard effort against the Los Angeles Chargers. Both receivers Robbie Anderson and Jermaine Kearse have settled into their starting roles.
There are a lot of moving pieces and the Jets offense from week 6 isn’t the same as the Jets in week 17.
“They've changed a little bit,” defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said about the Jets offense. “Personnel-wise is where you're always going to start and you're going to take a look. The quarterback position with [Bryce] Petty in there – really a guy they obviously trust to run their offense and the system that they have in place right now at a high level. I think the biggest thing is, again, Petty comes in and he's obviously a guy that they trust to put in place here to run the system that they have.
“I think for the Jets, they obviously are trying to get the ball here in the run game and make sure that they get [Bilal] Powell going, use their receivers now with Robby Anderson really kind of emerging as one of their big play guys. [He's] extremely fast, extremely quick player that can be explosive and create dynamic plays right away. [Jermaine] Kearse kind of is moving around a little bit more. [He's] another guy that is very dangerous. We know a lot about him from playing him in the past.”
Patricia notes that the Jets skill played have “settled into [their] roles maybe a little bit better than what we saw the first time we saw them,” and that the Jets have simply and understandably progressed as a team over the course of 2017, with Petty showing greater control and ability prior to the snap.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick also noted that the Jets have “played very competitively all year,” and that “they’re a very explosive team.”
Anderson leads the Jets with 17 plays of 20 or more yards, followed by running back Bilal Powell (9 plays) and Kearse with 8 plays. The Patriots defense is better prepared to counter the Jets big play offense now than they were in week 6, when they played Johnson Bademosi in place of the injured Stephon Gilmore and they did not have Eric Rowe, either.
So both the Jets offense and the Patriots defense have come a long way since their first game in week 6. Sunday will reveal which team has improved more.