The New England Patriots will be hosting the New York Jets in the second game between the two teams this season. The Jets have struggled with turnovers although have played a bit better of late while the Patriots have been up and down in almost every game since their meeting, with three of their last four games decided in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter or later.
While the two teams have changed a bit since their first meeting in Week 2, the way to beat the Jets has not changed.
1. Patriots pass blocking needs to improve
The Jets have a sneaky good front seven, anchored by former first round selections, which the Patriots discovered first hand the hard way. The Patriots are looking at starting their 5th different offensive line combination in seven games, but saw some progress towards the end of the Dallas game. The Patriots will need to start the same five guys they ended the Dallas game with as Justin Herron and Michael Onwenu were moved to the tackle spots late.
In addition to offensive line struggles, the backs have not done a good job of protecting Mac Jones against blitzes either. Jones has good games against the blitz and his skill set typically works well when he has more than 2.5 seconds to find a receiver. Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson have both struggled in this area, which has led to the benching of the latter for a couple weeks. They will need to keep second level defenders like Quincy Williams, who feasted in their Week 2 matchup on the blitz, from getting to Jones so he can attack a weak secondary.
2. Force the Jets into long down and distances again
While in the Week 2 game the Jets were able to put up respectable rushing totals, the Patriots secondary recorded four turnovers and the Jets’ rushing totals mostly came in garbage time. The Patriots were able to beat the Jets when they got into longer third down situations, which they will need to do. Jets quarterback Zach Wilson can absolutely heave it, but still have plenty of new wrinkles to throw at the rookie.
The best way to slow down the Jets offense is to make sure they aren’t picking up 4+ yards on first down. If they win on first down, the Jets will either turn the ball over against the Patriots blitz packages or be forced to punt. When the defense has chances to intercept passes come, the Patriots must take advantage once again.
Jets Player to Take Away: WR Corey Davis
Just like in Week 2, the Patriots must find a way to eliminate Corey Davis from making an impact. Davis is the Jets’ clear number one target with 20 catches for 302 yards and 3 touchdowns on the season, although he only recorded 2 catches for 8 yards while also being the targeted receiver on two of the Patriots four interceptions. Except J.C. Jackson to get the assignment on Davis with some safety help over the top to keep the Jets’ WR1 in check.
Offense X-Factor: RB Rhamondre Stevenson
You can make an argument for Stevenson being the Patriots most dynamic back, although he still has a lot to learn. We’ve seen glimpses of his ability to grind out tough yards and burn linebackers in coverage. The Jets will certainly try to dial up some blitz looks to keep the rookie from being able to leave the backfield and expose his one weakness in pass protection. If Stevenson can make an impact for the second week in a row, the Jets defense is going to have problem stopping the Patriots pass catchers.
Defense X-Factor: CB Jalen Mills
Teams will be looking to attack Jalen Mills, especially with speed, after seeing how badly he got burned by Ceedee Lamb last week. That likely means he will draw the assignment to cover Denzel Mims, a speedy receiver who hasn’t quite been able to play at the NFL level. Mims did not play in the Patriots Week 2 matchup, which made things easier for the Patriots defense to slow down Davis and the Jets other pass catchers. With Mims likely to play in Week 7, there’s more pressure on Mills to perform.
Score Prediction: Patriots 27, Jets 17
Both offenses are better than they were in Week 2, with both rookie QBs showing they’re capable of learning the game very fast. When it comes to match-ups, both teams have plenty of good match-ups in the passing game with the Patriots getting a lot of production from Hunter Henry from the TE spot lately with 3 consecutive games that he’s scored in the red zone. Davis, Mims, and rookie RB Michael Carter will be a load for the Patriots defense to handle, but I think the Patriots are a slightly better coached team and it will show on Sunday.