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Week 17 Patriots vs Jets advanced stats: New York’s third down defense is outstanding

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A look at the stats ahead of Sunday’s meeting between the Patriots and Jets.

Houston Texans v New York Jets Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

On Sunday, the New England Patriots will play their final game of the 2018 regular season. Their opponent is a familiar one: a New York Jets team that already lost to the Patriots in week 12. To further analyze this week’s matchup and find out how New England can duplicate its success, let’s take a look at some of the advanced stats heading into the game (courtesy of SB Nation’s Bill Connelly; for his methodology please click here).

Patriots offense vs Jets defense

Normal down and distance in the open field

Patriots offense (l.) vs Jets defense (r.)

While the Jets’ defense is giving up big plays on 9.1% of open field snaps, the unit is generally performing well in this area of the field: it ranks above the average in both standard down success rate — gaining 50% of necessary yardage on first down, 70% on second down, and 100% on third and fourth down — and especially on third down. The Patriots’ offense should still have the upper hand when it comes to moving the football but sustaining drives will be the key.

Backed Up Situations Near the Goal Line

Patriots offense (l.) vs Jets defense (r.)

New England’s offensive performance with its back against the wall does not stand out in either category (the turnover percentage is still hurting from a tipped interception in week one). The Jets defense does not fare any better when playing in favorable field position from its perspective.

Red Zone

Patriots offense (l.) vs Jets defense (r.)

The tale of the Patriots’ red zone offense remains unaltered: the unit is performing well between the 30 and 10 but struggles to move the ball when inside the 10 yard line and closer up near the goal line. The Jets’ defense, meanwhile, is impressive in this part of the field despite a below-average goal line success rate. All in all, this will be an interesting challenge for a New England team that went 1-of-3 in the red area the last time the two teams met.

Third Downs

Patriots offense (l.) vs Jets defense (r.)

Overall, New England’s third down offense ranks as the 12th best in the NFL with a success rate of 40.5%. However, when taking a closer look at the numbers it can be seen that they are all over the place: the Patriots perform well in third-and-longs, are average in third-and-shorts, and have plenty of room for improvement in third-and-medium situations. The Jets defense, on the other hand, is excellent in the latter two categories and will provide a challenge for Josh McDaniels’ unit.

Blitz Situations

Patriots offense (l.) vs Jets defense (r.)

Both New York’s defense and New England’s offense are faring well on so-called blitz downs — 1st and 18 or more, 2nd and 14 or more, and 3rd and 3 or more. This, in turn, should make for an interesting battle between the two units. Just don’t expect to see plenty of big plays coming out of the Patriots, despite the Jets’ relative weakness in this area.

Patriots defense vs Jets offense

Normal down and distance in the open field

Patriots defense (l.) vs Jets offense (r.)

While New York’s offense is coming off one of its best games of the year — the team scored 38 points against the Green Bay Packers and gained 370 yards — the unit is still mostly a below average one when one looks at its entire 15-game catalogue. The open field is no different: the Jets struggle to consistently move the football and keep drives alive. The Patriots defense, however, does not fare any better and is routinely allowing teams to move the ball well.

Backed Up Situations Near the Goal Line

Patriots defense (l.) vs Jets offense (r.)

New England’s defense is rather average when having the opposing offense in a favorable spot with 90 or more yards to go. If the Jets offense, however, finds itself in such a situation, it has struggled to consistently move the football — a common theme for coordinator Jeremy Bates’ unit as a whole.

Red Zone

Patriots defense (l.) vs Jets offense (r.)

The last time the Patriots played the Jets, New York was able to convert one of its two red area trips into a touchdown. Since then, the numbers for both teams have changed only slightly: the Jets are still strong at the goal line (defined as the area inside the 3-yard line) with a success rate of 71.4%, while the Patriots are solid but unspectacular in all categories inside the 20. All in all, this should make for a fun matchup with New England holding slight advantages outside of the 10-yard line.

Third Downs

Patriots defense (l.) vs Jets offense (r.)

With the exception of third-and-longs, the Patriots defense is not exactly stout when it comes to getting off the field. Luckily for the group, the Jets’ offense is not faring much better: the unit is performing above the average only when there are between two and six yards to gain for a conversion. If there ever comes a game to improve the statistics and gain some momentum heading into the playoffs, Sunday’s is it.

Blitz Situations

Patriots defense (l.) vs Jets offense (r.)

When the Jets offense is playing from behind the sticks, don’t expect to see a lot of sacks: the unit is faring relatively well, while the Patriots’ pass rush is bad at getting to the quarterback in so-called blitz situations. It is, however, solid at limiting big plays — an area in which New York’s offense is among the worst in the NFL.


While the Jets are strong in certain areas — most prominently when it comes to third down defense — the Patriots as a whole are rightfully favored to win the game. The offense should have the edge particularly in the open field and will get its fair share of scoring opportunities. Meanwhile, New York’s offense is simply too inconsistent and it would not be a surprise to see it being unable to hang with Tom Brady and company for 60 minutes.