The New England Patriots may still feel confident despite their 2-4 record, but they need to start winning some games again soon if they want to get their season back on track. Luckily, they will have a prime opportunity to do just that on Sunday with the 1-4 New York Jets coming to town.
While divisional matchups always follow their own set of rules, the Patriots are heavy favorites entering this one. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, New England is listed as a 6.5-point favorite as of Wednesday morning. It is not hard to see why given the Jets’ performance so far this season and the fact that the Patriots won the first meeting between the two teams in Week 2.
With all that being said, let’s take a closer look at New England’s upcoming opponent.
Points scored: 13.4/game (32nd)
Yards gained: 1,335 (31st)
Passing offense: 98-for-171, 965 yards, 4 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, -0.203 EPA (32nd)
Rushing offense: 104 carries, 370 yards, 3 touchdowns, -0.121 EPA (20th)
Led by first-round rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, the Jets offense has been abysmal until its Week 6 bye. The unit is ranked worst in the league in points and has turned the football over nine times — all of those interceptions thrown by Wilson. If there is one positive, it is the fact that New York’s is one of just two offenses in the league not to lose a fumble at this point in the season.
Points against: 24.2/game (18th)
Yards given up: 1,864 (22nd)
Passing defense: 128-for-185, 1,247 yards, 4 touchdown, 0 interceptions, 0.157 EPA (20th)
Rushing defense: 154 carries, 617 yards, 7 touchdowns, -0.123 EPA (9th)
The Jets defense might not stand out either, but it is a much better unit than its offensive counterpart at this point in the process. The unit is middle of the pack in scoring, and has proven itself comparatively stout against the run. The pass defense, on the other hand, has had some issues especially in one prominent area: New York is the only team in the NFL not to register an interception thus far.
Week 1 at Carolina Panthers: L 19-14
Week 2 vs New England Patriots: L 26-5
Week 3 at Denver Broncos: L 26-0
Week 4 vs Tennessee Titans: W 27-24 (OT)
Week 5 at* Atlanta Falcons: L 27-20
Week 6: Bye
*International Series (London)
After starting the season 0-3 with two of those losses coming in blowout fashion, the Jets registered their first win of the season in overtime against the Titans. New York’s defense registered seven sacks while Zach Wilson and the offense were playing their best game of the year. One week and a trip to London later, however, the team suffered its fourth defeat in five contests.
QB Zach Wilson*; RB Michael Carter*; WR Corey Davis, WR Elijah Moore*; TE Ryan Griffin; TE Tyler Kroft; LT George Fant, LG Alijah Vera-Tucker*, C Connor McGovern, RG Greg Van Roten, RT Morgan Moses
Featuring four rookies in starter-level or top-rotational roles, the Jets offense remains a work in progress. That said, its talent cannot be denied. From Wilson’s high upside at the quarterback position, to a potent one-two punch at wide receiver, to an offensive line anchored by one of the most promising left tackles in football, former first-round draft pick George Fant.
DE Bryce Huff, DT Quinnen Williams, DT Sheldon Rankins, DE John Franklin-Myers; LB C.J. Mosley, LB Quincy Williams; CB Bryce Hall, CB Michael Carter II*, CB Brandin Echols*; S Marcus Maye, S Ashtyn Davis
The Jets do not field any big-name players or perennial Pro Bowlers on defense, with two exceptions: Quinnen Williams and C.J. Mosley. Nonetheless, the unit has been able to play some productive if at times inconsistent football while complementing a bad offense. Led by Williams, the front line in particular has looked good.
K Matt Ammendola*, P Thomas Morstead, LS Thomas Hennessy; KR/PR Braxton Berrios
Joining a group consisting of veterans Thomas Morstead and Thomas Hennessy, Matt Ammendola has had a solid rookie campaign so far: the youngster has made a combined 9 of 11 field goal and extra point attempts, and has also helped out as a punter on occasion. Also part of the Jets’ special teams group is ex-Patriot Braxton Berrios, who is leading the team in both kickoff and punt returns.
QB Zach Wilson: When you get drafted second overall it is no surprise that all eyes on you. The Jets picked Wilson earlier this year — 13 selections ahead of Patriots quarterback Mac Jones — and so far he has been erratic. While his sky-high potential is shining through every now and then, he has still only completed 57.3 percent of his throws for 1,117 yards, 4 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. A significant portion of those picks (4) came against New England in Week 2, so he will need to exorcise some demons if his team wants to take the road win.
WR Corey Davis: Wilson was not the only big investment made by the Jets this offseason. The team also signed former Titans wide receiver Corey Davis to a three-year, $37.5 million deal in free agency. So far, Davis has lived up to the hype: serving as New York’s WR1 and Wilson’s favorite target, he has caught 20 passes for 302 yards and 3 touchdowns to lead the club in all three categories.
DT Quinnen Williams: Arguably the Jets’ best player on either side of the ball, Williams is a do-it-all defensive tackle capable of impacting a game both as a pass rusher and a run defender. Needless to say that New England’s offensive line will have its hands full going against the former first-round selection who is tops on the New York defense with 3.5 sacks.
DE John Franklin-Myers: A former fourth-round draft pick by the Los Angeles Rams, Franklin-Myers signed a four-year contract extension valued at $55 million just earlier this month. Why? Because he has been a very good player for the team this season and is actually ranked first in quarterback disruptions. While not as big a name as Williams or linebacker C.J. Mosley, the 25-year-old has been a very good player for the Jets.
Head coach: Robert Saleh
Coordinators: Mike LaFleur (offense), Jeff Ulbrich (defense), Brant Boyer (special teams)
After parting ways with Adam Gase following the 2020 season, the Jets added one of the most intriguing assistant coaches in football to fill his role: Robert Saleh. The long-time San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator brought Mike Fleur with him as his offensive coordinator, giving the team some impressive coaching talent on both sides of the ball.
The Jets also have some Patriots connections on their staff. Steve Scarnecchia, the son of legendary O-line coach Dante Scarnecchia, is serving as Saleh’s assistant; former Patriots QB Matt Cavanaugh is working as a senior offensive assistant; short-time Patriots running back Leon Washington is the team’s assistant special teams coach.
The Patriots and Jets have met 125 times so far, with three of the meetings coming in the playoffs back:
- Patriots wins: 70 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 125 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 34-11 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 earlier this season was a rather lopsided affair. New England won 25-6 with the defense, as noted above, picking off Zach Wilson four times.