The New England Patriots’ disappointing 2020 season will come to an end on Sunday. The team of head coach Bill Belichick will host the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium, the second time this year that the two AFC East rivals will square off against each other. Will that game also play out like the first one that was not decided until the very last second? Or will one of the two teams run away with a victory to end its season on a high note?
Let’s take a closer look at New England’s upcoming opponent.
Record: 2-13 (4th place AFC East)
Points scored: 32nd (15.3/game)
Points against: 27th (28.6/game)
Head coach: Adam Gase
Coordinators: Frank Bush (interim defense), Brant Boyer (special teams)
Despite their two recent wins, the Jets are in the middle of another disappointing season — one that could very well lead to head coach Adam Gase being dismissed after the game versus New England. He would not be the first coach to be let go by the club this season: defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was fired after a dubious defensive call cost his team a win over the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 13.
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
Week 9 vs New England Patriots: L 30-27
Week 10: Bye
Week 11 at Los Angeles Chargers: L 34-28
Week 12 vs Miami Dolphins: L 20-3
Week 13 vs Las Vegas Raiders: L 31-28
Week 14 at Seattle Seahawks: L 40-3
Week 15 at Los Angeles Rams: W 23-20
Week 16 vs Cleveland Browns: W 23-16
The Jets struggled mightily in the early parts of the season and entered their Week 10 bye with an 0-9 record and on the path to just the third 0-16 campaign in league history. However, New York did turn the corner over the second half of its season: while the team still had some disastrous losses versus the Dolphins and Seahawks, it eventually won its first two games of the season by defeating the Rams and Browns — two teams with playoff aspirations — in back-to-back weeks.
Those two wins were costly, though, in that they pushed the Jets out of the number one overall draft pick. They are now locked into the second spot behind the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Patriots and Jets have met 123 times so far, with three of the meetings coming in the playoffs back:
- Patriots wins: 68 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.
The last meeting between the two clubs was decided on a last-second field goal by Patriots kicker Nick Folk. New England beat the Jets with a final score of 30-27.
Projected starting lineups
QB Sam Darnold; RB Ty Johnson; WR Jamison Crowder, WR Breshad Perriman, WR Denzel Mims; TE Chris Herndon; LT Mekhi Becton, LG Pat Elflein, C Connor McGovern, RG Cameron Clark*, RT George Fant
The Jets’ offense still features one of the most promising left tackles in football as well as a talented group of wide receivers. However, there are still some questions for the unit. Is Sam Darnold the future at quarterback? How will the running back group look with Frank Gore on injured reserve and La’Mical Perine on the Coronavirus reserve list? Who will replace starting right guard Josh Andrews this week with both Greg Van Roten and Alex Lewis eligible to return off IR?
DE Nathan Shepherd, DT John Franklin-Myers, DE Henry Anderson; OLB Bryce Hager, ILB Neville Hewitt, ILB Frankie Luvu, OLB Tarell Basham; CB Blessuan Austin, CB Bryce Hall*; S Marcus Maye, S Arthur Maulet
New York’s defense has lost some of its best players over the last few weeks, with defensive end Quinnen Williams the most prominent departure: the former first-round draft pick was placed on injured reserve last week and will therefore miss the remainder of the season. Also no longer on the Jets’ active roster are former starters Jordan Jenkins (IR), Brian Poole (IR), Ashtyn Davis (IR) and Pierre Desir (released).
K Sam Ficken, P Braden Mann*, LS Thomas Hennessy; KR Corey Ballentine, PR Braxton Berrios
While the Jets’ other two phases have seen some major personnel changes since the last time the team played New England, the special teams crew is relatively stable. One name that does stand out is Braxton Berrios, a former Patriot who has carved out a role as a rotational fourth receiver and punt returner in New York.
Three things to watch
1. How will the Patriots use their quarterbacks? Just like last week against the Bills, the Patriots’ biggest question regards the most important position on the field. While it seems as if Cam Newton will keep the starting role at quarterback, one has to wonder when and if second-year backup Jarrett Stidham will get another opportunity to showcase his talents before season’s end.
2. Can J.C. Jackson bounce back? With Stephon Gilmore out due to a partially torn quad, J.C. Jackson took over the number one role last week versus Buffalo. However, he promptly surrendered three receptions on five targets for 85 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Will the third-year man bounce back this week against a team that also found some success versus him earlier this year? The answer to that question could very well determine the winner of Sunday’s game.
3. Will New York continue to build on its momentum? Having won back-to-back games, the Jets are riding a high entering the regular season finale. Will they continue this trend versus their rivals, or will the Patriots spoil their recent success by ending their own three-game losing streak before heading into the offseason?