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Patriots Week 9 opponent preview: Get to know the New York Jets

Related: AFC East Report: Week 8

New York Jets v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

The New England Patriots have lost four straight games and are fighting to stay alive in the race for their 12th straight AFC East title or at the very least a wild card playoff birth. Their upcoming game will therefore present a chance to get back into the win column: the team will travel to East Rutherford to take on the New York Jets. While a Patriots victory would help them get back a track a bit, a loss would all but end their season at 2-6 halfway in.

With that being said, let’s take a closer look at New England’s upcoming opponent.

Quick notes

Record: 0-8 (4th place AFC East)

Points scored: 32nd (11.8/game)

Points against: 28th (29.8/game)

Head coach: Adam Gase

Coordinators: Gregg Williams (defense), Brant Boyer (special teams)

Led by Adam Gase, who also works as the Jets’ offensive coordinator, New York has struggled so far this season. The team has yet to win a game, while getting outscored by an average of more than two touchdowns per game and ranking near the bottom of the league on both offense and defense. Long story short, the Jets are a bad football team and have a very strong case to earn the number one overall draft pick next spring.


Season so far

Week 1 at Buffalo Bills: L 27-17

Week 2 vs San Francisco 49ers: L 31-13

Week 3 at Indianapolis Colts: L 36-7

Week 4 vs Denver Broncos: L 37-28

Week 5 vs Arizona Cardinals: L 30-10

Week 6 at Miami Dolphins: L 24-0

Week 7 vs Buffalo Bills: L 18-10

Week 8 at Kansas City Chiefs: L 35-9

As can be seen when looking through the Jets’ schedule so far, the team has lost every game by a rather significant margin. For most of their season they have, frankly, been non-competitive with only one contest — their second meeting with the Buffalo Bills in Week 7 — ending as a one-score game. It cannot be said enough just how badly New York has performed so far this season, and how Adam Gase’s seat will be very hot at the Week 10 bye regardless of the game versus New England.


Series history

The Patriots and Jets have met 122 times so far, with three of the meetings coming in the playoffs back:

  • Patriots wins: 67 wins (2 playoff wins)
  • Jets wins: 54 wins (1 playoff win)
  • Ties: 1

The two AFC East rivals have a long and storied history that goes back all the way to the old AFL. Since then, they have met 122 times with the Patriots holding an edge in terms of wins. The Tom Brady and Bill Belichick era in New England has played a significant role in this: under Belichick, the Patriots are 31-11 against the Jets — including some memorable moments ranging from the Mo Lewis game that effectively led to Brady entering the lineup (2001) to the so-called Buttfumble Game (2012).

While the recent history works in New England’s favor, the Jets have also had their share of success against the Patriots. Their most prominent win came in 2010, when team upset top-seeded New England on the road in the playoffs — just six weeks after getting blown out 45-3 at Gillette Stadium.


Projected starting lineups

Offense

QB Sam Darnold; RB Frank Gore; WR Jamison Crowder, WR Braxton Berrios, WR Denzel Mims*; TE Chris Herndon; LT Mekhi Becton*, LG Alex Lewis, C Connor McGovern, RG Greg Van Roten, RT George Fant

*rookies

Led by Sam Darnold, who has looked shaky in his third year in the NFL, the Jets offense features few playmakers worth pointing out. Jamison Crowder and ex-Patriot Braxton Berrios are the top receivers, but neither is necessarily an A-level threat. The most intriguing name might be rookie Denzel Mims, but he has only appeared in two games so far, while fellow first-year player Mekhi Becton might have a case as New York’s top offensive player eight games into the season.

Defense

DE Quinnen Williams, DT John Franklin-Myers, DE Henry Anderson; OLB Jordan Jenkins, ILB Neville Hewitt, OLB Tarell Basham; CB Brian Poole, CB Pierre Desir, CB Blessuan Austin; S Ashtyn Davis*, S Marcus Maye

*rookies

After losing linebacker C.J. Mosley to the NFL’s list of Coronavirus opt-outs and trading safety Jamal Adams, the Jets’ defense is left with only one player that could qualify as “blue chip”: former first-round defensive lineman Quinnen Williams. His play so far this season, however, has not necessarily stood out — something that can be said for New York’s defense as a whole as its 28th scoring ranking shows.

Specialists

K Sam Ficken, P Braden Mann*, LS Thomas Hennessy; KR Ty Johnson, PR Braxton Berrios

*rookies

There is one number that reflects the Jets probably better than any other: two. The team has two kickers on its roster and only two punt returns all year. The reason for the second kicker is an injury suffered by top option Sam Ficken, with Braxton Berrios only getting two opportunities to return punts so far this year — compared to 23 punt runbacks by the Jets’ opponents.


Three things to watch

1. Can the Patriots offense build on its momentum? After back-to-back games in which they struggled mightily, Cam Newton and company showed some positive strides against the Bills in Week 8. While the game was eventually lost due to a Newton fumble, it was a step in the right direction: the passing game was more efficient, while the ground game looked much improved as well. Will this trend continue against one of the NFL’s worst defenses? The stage is set for it to do.

2. Will the defense make Sam Darnold “see ghosts” again? While the Patriots defense has changed quite a bit since last season, the unit’s schematic foundation remains in place — and it is one that made the Jets’ quarterback question life, the universe and everything during a 33-0 loss last October. Darnold was filmed on the sideline admitting that he was “seeing ghosts” due to the Patriots’ exotic coverage and blitz packages. A similar development this year would go a long way towards a New England victory.

3. How competitive will the game be? As noted above, the Jets have been terrible so far this season — there simply is no other way to put it. The question therefore becomes whether or not the Patriots can do what others did before them: impose their will and come away with a clear win. They certainly can, but divisional games always have their own unique rules that could impact the outcome quite a bit.