Patriots @ New York Jets: Showdown for Supremacy

Posted: November 10, 2011 by ndbohlen in Jets, NFL, Patriots, Prediction
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Mike: Can you sense the grin on my face right now?

Nick: Can you sense my desire to make that grin of yours literally shit-eating?

Mike:  Jets, Bills, and Pats are in a 3-way tie for supremacy in the AFC East, each with a record of 5-3. The Jets beat the Bills, the Bills beat the Patriots, the Patriots beat the Jets, and they will all certainly ransack the Dolphins… twice.

With the Bills in their rear-view mirror (do airplanes have mirrors?), the Jets showdown with the Pats in Jetlife stadium (I agree with you, Nick: screw corporate sponsorship) for the top-spot in the division on Sunday night.

Nick: It’s a clusterfuck of a rock-paper-scissors contest between these three teams, which is my way of saying: I don’t know which team gets to claim first place when one throws rock, one paper, and one scissors.  Being as depressed as I am after two straight losses, all this talk of RPS just makes me think about how I could end my misery with each implement.

Mike:  Coming out of Week 9, the Jets are playing the best football in the AFC East, but games are decided my match-ups, not by overall impression (kind of like RPS). With that said, Nick, let’s start with the easy stuff: special teams.

Nick: That would be one of the main reasons I would choose to papercut myself to death: the miserable play of the Patriots special teams.

Mike: Scissors! Yes!

Nick: If you look at the averages on returns for the Pats, they don’t seem too bad – 20.8 yards per kickoff return and 9.3 yards per punt return (tied with the Jets, and astronomically better than the Colts’ meager 2.7 yards per punt return – I can unroll my dick and get a better return). Problem is, they haven’t been able to break any big plays on special teams, meaning their average is also the norm.  The longest kickoff return this year for the Pats is 37 yards, while the longest punt return is 25 yards.

Honestly, that’s what killed the Pats against the Giants – it seemed like every drive started at their own 10 or 15 yard line, so whenever a drive stalled, the Giants had either a short field or an easy time pinning the Patriots behind the 20 yet again.  With Brady slightly off with his throws and the offense not quite clicking (for the third week running), the special teams needed to pick the team up and give them a chance with a short field. Sadly, the New England roster holds zero game-breaking, electrifying athletes who present even the remotest threat of taking one to the house (read: two white guys under six feet tall return punts and kickoffs). You would think the two running backs we drafted in the second round this year might be good for something, but no. None of our draft picks other than right tackle Nate Solder play any significant minutes.

Mike: Joe McKnight is averaging 40.2 yards per return this year. If it wasn’t already obvious to you, that’s the best in the NFL. The Jets as a team are averaging just over 30 yards per return. On the other side of special teams, Jets opponents, on average, are returning the ball for 19.6 yards on kickoffs and 8.6 on punts, with no returns for a touchdown. That gives the Jets special teams corps the title of being one of the toughest groups in the league. While Tom Brady certainly has the credentials of a QB who can and has marched up the field from the 1-yard line, Patriots special teams will need to at least step-up on one side of the operation. New England’s average return hovers just over 20 yards. If the Pats want to kick-start their offense, or give their woeful defense more breathing room, special teams is going to be a necessary factor in creating opportunities.

Nick: Let’s just move on to receiving before I find an object near at hand with which I can bludgeon myself into a pacifying stupor.

Mike: Paper! I win!

Nick: In Week 5 against the Jets, Brady was able to pass for 321 yards (thanks in part to the Law Firm taking it to the Jets on the ground; we’ll cover that in a second). Sadly, I think the past three games have established a pretty clear game plan for how to disrupt Tommy-Boy and his corps of receivers. Step 1: Ignore Ochocinco any time he’s on the field, because he’s clearly unable to run the right route or to catch the ball when Brady manages to read his mind. Step 2: Do your best Julian Edelman impression and play tight, physical man coverage. Step 3: Don’t blitz very often, get all your pressure from a four-man pass rush. Brady always knows exactly where the extra man is coming from and where and when to get rid of the ball.  That might be tough for Rex Ryan’s ego not to come up with a crazy set of blitz packages to throw at the Patriots, but that’s the recipe for throwing off the New England offense.

Mike: I’ll get to the ABC-123-EASY of stopping Tom Brady when we get to defense.

Nick: I don’t like the New England WR match-ups against the Jets defensive backs. Brady is essentially relying on Welker and his set of stud tight ends to get open for the passing game, while Deion Branch is old as fuck, Ochocinco is a worthless sack of shit, and no one else plays for the Pats. WR Taylor Price was supposed to finally get some playing time against the Giants as the only viable speedster and deep threat on the roster, but he tweaked a hammy and was scratched. Maybe he can make a difference, but otherwise I expect Revis to largely shut down Welker, leaving Brady with just two tight ends. I think the Jets might be able to figure out how to put a stop to Brady repeatedly throwing to the same two guys.

As for Mark Sanchez, what do you expect from the Jets passing attack?  I thought the Pats got lucky that the Jets switched back to Ground ‘n’ Pound after having seen their suped-up passing attack fail miserably the two weeks prior. Clearly, you need to throw the ball 40 times and take advantage of the corpses playing in the Pats secondary (see: Week 8 @ Steelers, Week 9 vs. Giants). Now that it’s Week 10, can Marky Mark handle throwing so many passes without turning the ball over? Or is he going to flinch in face of so much responsibility?

Mike: The Jets receiving corps looks much different from the pack that bickered its way out of Foxboro in Week 5. Derrick Mason is gone (thank you, Lord Xenu). Jeremy Kerley has taken over as the slot-receiver. And Plaxico Burress is, all of sudden, back in form. Not to mention that Santonio Holmes is playing Jericho Cotchery style and laying out for ridiculous grabs, which makes me remember why we picked him up despite the attached multiple game suspension. But Sanchez is going to have to see what’s going on down field. Even last week’s absurd TD-pass to Holmes, which made for great highlight reels, was thrown on a play in which Jeremy Kerley was wide open, to Sanchez’s left at about the 1-yard line. This could be a huge game for Sanchez if his preparation allows him to anticipate the many blown coverages that the Pats will inevitably yield up (as sacrifices to Lord Xenu).

Nick, you may be as shocked to find out that Sanchez’s red zone INT last weekend was actually his first of the season. And speaking of INTs, you know that your pretty-boy Tommy has thrown three more than Marky Mark, right? (Although, here’s a retarded side note: Sanchez throws more picks in wins than in losses)

Nick: Let’s be clear: Tom Brady has thrown 3 more INTs by attempting 60 more passes than Mark Sanchez, and by virtue of the fact that he is competent enough and confident enough to make tough throws that Sanchez wouldn’t even try to make in his wildest wet dreams. Don’t start with me.

Mike: I thought it was clear from our previous conversation that Tom Brady and Mark Sanchez weren’t in the same category of QB. Now you’re comparing them as if it’s OK for Brady to have three more INTs than the Sanchise? I was thinking more along this line: he threw four interceptions in the 2010 regular season. He’s at 10 now. He’s tied for the third-most interceptions in the league. That means that your boy is using the past to play the present. He’s not nailing the throws he used to and he doesn’t have the same level of dominance over the league. (Don’t fret, Eli Manning threw twice as many INTs in 2007 as Brady has now, and he took home the Lombardi Trophy… so there’s always hope.) Oh, and just so we’re clear: 3 INTs in 60 passes gives him an INT-rate of 5%… His year long INT-rate is at 3.1%, which is above the league average of 3%, and way above his 2010 season average of 0.8%. Say what you want about Sanchez’s wet dreams, but just be aware that Brady is shitting the bed.

Nick: I would be remiss not to acknowledge that Brady has been less than Brady-like (which is to say perfect) these past three games.  He has missed some throws and coughed up some picks, true. But we both know that there was no way he was repeating last year’s amazing and unsustainable performance (36 TDs to just 4 INTs!), based on Bill Barnwell’s favorite mathematical term – “regression to the mean.” But he is on pace (along with Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees) to annihilate Dan Marino’s record for passing yards in a single season (5,084!). That is hardly shitting the bed by any stretch of the imagination.

Mike: As long as you’re happy with your quarterback racking up stats in the last years of his career while his team dwindles away. Maybe Tom and Bill will invite you to their humping haven hacienda (NO GIRLS ALLOWED!) in Cuba when all is said and done with this Beauty and the Beast coach-QB duo.

Nick: I would gladly and graciously accept that invitation from the winningest coach and QB in NFL history. Clearly girls would be allowed, and it would be Gisele (Jizz-elle?) and all her model friends looking stunning and me trying not to drool. Best humping haven ever.

Mike: Don’t get too excited, I doubt Gisele will let you hump Brady. I really don’t expect Schottenheimer to unleash the pass 40+ times. As clear as it might seem to you, the Jets plan will have to be a mix of keeping Brady off the field and utilizing the lessons of Weeks 8 & 9 to force punts (Zoltan!). I wouldn’t be surprised if Gang Green sticks to the run so they can take control of the clock. The Jets held the ball for 38 minutes last Sunday. You can almost guarantee a win with that amount of time of possession.

Nick: As for the Jets’ game plan, Big Ben threw the ball 50 times against the Patriots and the Steelers held the ball for almost 40 minutes. You can control the clock by throwing the ball, you know.  They tried to run the ball in Week 5, and look how well that turned out for them!  Maybe they’ll have better success now that Mangold is healthier, and maybe they don’t trust Sanchez to air it out that much without confusing the different colored jerseys, but I’m confident that they’ll attempt at least 35 throws this week.  Confident enough to make it a side bet, if you’re interested.

Mike: Ground ‘n’ Pound was reinstated as the core philosophy of the Jets offense right before making the trek to Foxboro. Shonn Greene hasn’t produced the numbers of a feature back, but the Jets ground attack has improved with each game, topped off with 162 yards against San Diego and 126 in Buffalo. The Jets averaged 3.9 yards per carry against the Pats in Week 5 (more than the 3.2 average posted in Buffalo, interestingly), so I wouldn’t be surprised if they shied away from the pass. Except maybe to score some pass interference calls on their inept secondary.

Nick: I think the Pats will be able to keep Shonn Greene in check, especially now that Jerod Mayo (only our best linebacker and most talented defender behind Wilfork) is healthy and back on the field. That’s the only hope the Pats have – the ability to turn the Jets into a one-dimensional passing offense so they can gear up to get after Sanchez and not worry about biting on play-action and what you always say are Sanchise’s “prolific” fake hand-offs.  Then again, that might be the worst thing ever, if the Jets have no choice but to throw against the worst secondary in the NFL. Lose-lose. Awesome.

Mike: Pass defense is at the heart of any offensive scheme either team might want to employ. The Jets will likely put Revis Christ on Wes Welker again. (I’m still confused why that was a huge storyline the first time around.) And I have no doubt the Mike Pettine will devise a solid strategy for maximizing the Jets secondary against Brady. But what has been the hallmark of the last two wins over New England has been the action upfront. The Giants and Steelers, like you mentioned, both loaded the box in order to take away Brady’s penchant for punishing teams with over-the-middle passes. You’re right that New England is actually more crippled when there are only 4 defenders on the line of scrimmage, which might pose a problem considering Rex Ryan has a hard-on for all-out blitzes. But here’s the real key: the Jets are performing better when they don’t blitz. Last Sunday, the Jets threw up this stat-line with 4 or fewer rushers: 50.0% completion percentage, 5.7 average yards per completion, and 0-2 TD/INT. If Rex doesn’t already see this, then I might need to write it on the soles of his wife’s feet to get his attention.

What say you when it comes to the Patriots defense? I’ll give you a head start: their secondary is as useful as a broken condom and Vince Wilfork is the only bright spot. OK, go.

Nick: In terms of the Patriots defense, I have no expectations.  Well, I expect Holmes to make Devin McCourty his bitch, Dustin Keller to eat the outside linebackers alive, and Plaxico to shoot himself in the leg again. I expect Albert Haynesworth to have as much impact this week as he did last week – none, because he just got released from the Patriots roster on Tuesday. Hell, after three tackles in six games, he might even be a more positive contributor watching from his couch at home than trying to haul his fat ass around the football field.

What do you think your corps of running backs bring to the table this week? Is LT still even with the team? I thought I might have seen him on “The Walking Dead” the other night as a zombie. In fact, that might be how the Jets use him most effectively, having his zombie corpse attack and infect Patriots players.

Mike: LT might share more of the burden with Shonn Greene than analysts are anticipating. LT only had two carries in Week 5, but in each one, he ran through the Patriots defense for over six yards. Perhaps it was the rage virus, but LT fulfilled his duties that game. And since the Pats have one of the worst third-down defenses in the league, I’m certain we’ll be seeing Lieutenant LT Smash a whole bunch. I’m interested to see if Jeremy Kerley will actually get his chance to run in this game. He was stuffed in his only try against the Bills for -2 yards. And it doesn’t seem like the wisest choice to force the issue against the Patriots, especially if he can serve as an added receiving threat to stretch the field a bit.

If this game goes to the Jets (I phrased it as a hypothetical as a courtesy… my next courtesy will be predicting that your team will even score a touchdown), New England will call upon the citizens of Salem to break out the witch hunt gear and track down Bill Belichick. What does he need to do as a coach to keep his head off a pike in front of the “Welcome to Massachusetts” highway sign?

Nick: Besides the obvious answer of “win,” I honestly don’t know what Belichick can do in this game to appease the fan base (since he’s so concerned about that).  He blew this season’s draft when he didn’t address any of the Patriots’ glaring holes on the roster, namely a bona fide pass rusher (a la Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis of the Colts) and a cornerback or safety who understands the concept of preventing wide-open completions (they drafted Ras-I Dowling – an amazing name, by the way – but after struggling with injuries in college, he’s predictably on injured reserve and unhelpful in any way). As much of a defensive guru as Belichick is, I don’t know what he could do to turn this rag-tag bunch of losers and castoffs into a respectable defense.

That said, last week wasn’t his fault. The offensive game plan was effective moving the ball and the defense played well up until the last 90 effing seconds, but turnovers and poor field position killed them. I have no doubt he’ll have a solid game plan, especially coming off back-to-back losses. So I just hope that the players finally manage to execute on special teams, offense, and defense, while Belichick keeps looking somewhere between indifferent and disgusted in those sweatshirt cutoffs – with the occasional spittle-filled blow-up over a blown call by the refs, of course.

Speaking of blow-ups, what will Rex Ryan bring to the table for this week’s game, besides some poorly thought out joke that completely backfires and leaves him stammering apologies all week long for managing to be more of an ass than he already is (and has – Jesus, what a fatty!)?

Mike: Well, if Belichick saying on Boston radio, “I was a Jets fan,” wasn’t enough, Rex Ryan comes to the rescue with a great insult to Brady, “Without Peyton [Manning] playing, I’d say he’s the best quarterback in the league right now.” Terrific. A one-two punch that simultaneously slights Brady’s prowess and sparks the short fuse of every Boston fan when it comes to Peyton Manning.

I should just stop writing a prediction and just start glorifying Peyton Manning. THE BEST QB EVER! Manning for MVP!

Nick: I don’t care what Ryan says anymore. The man’s lips should be sewn shut, if only because he shouldn’t be spraying the press or general public with whatever foot fungus infiltrated his saliva from between his wife’s toes.

And whoever is involved in this movement for Manning to be MVP because the Colts are so bad without him should be dragged into a poorly lit room where Julius Peppers and James Harrison take turns ransacking this person’s already diminished/non-existent brain cells with jaw-shattering tackles.

Mike: You’re right. I’m nauseous from even typing that garbage about Manning. I have to force my fingers to keep typing… they’re scared I might write more bullshit like that. I need to regain their confidence: Tom Brady looks like a retard Fabio, who fornicates with pigs on the regular. Whew! That’s the stuff.

This week, the focus will be on OC Brian Schottenheimer. Even when the Jets win three in a row, fans still call for Schotty’s head. Try that kind of pressure, Billy ol’ Pal. Last year, the Jets and Pats were tied coming into a prime-time showdown in Foxboro, and the Jets came out in a no-huddle and tried to be aggressive. If he pulls the same stunt, I’ll join the rabble outside his door with burning torches demanding blood. He showed the ability to plan a successful opening drive in last week’s game against the Bills, which was unfortunately capped off by a red zone INT. So the challenge for the Jets offensive coordinator will be to take the hours of footage he has on the Pats and implement a strategy that is meant to be played by Mark Sanchez, not Joe Namath.

DC Mike Pettine is the man. Scratch that. He is God, and Revis Christ is his child come to Earth. But, unlike the Bible, it’s going to be Brady crying out, “Oh Lord, why have you forsaken me?” (Should I do it? Should I put a link to The Passion of The Christ? Yeah, I should… but you’re getting this instead.) Pettine did an incredible job putting the breaks on Fitz and the Bills. And considering the Jets have been playing man-coverage against the Pats for two years, and now other teams are merely perfecting the blueprint the Jets devised, I have full confidence in the defensive coaching this week.

Nick: Would you say you have more, less, or equal confidence in the Jets defense as you do in your ability to properly choose between the homophones “breaks” and “brakes?” Because the Jets defense that gives you such swagger was bled for 30 points the last time these two teams met.

Mike: My sincerest apologies, Diction Nazi. Not all of us had the luxury of “studying” our native language for 4 years.

Mike Westoff knows special teams better than any other coach in the league. His squad is dominating the NFL. There are several wins this year that the Jets can easily attribute to their special teams performance. If Pettine is God, then Mike Westoff is the Unity of All Existence. He is The One. And The One is a freaking genius.

Nick: Also, congratulations on putting me and all our readers to sleep listing a bunch of coaches and coordinators that no one has heard of and that no one gives two shits about (maybe one shit, but certainly not two).

Mike: There’s blood in the water. Jets win: 24-13

Nick: There’s blood in the water, all right – the Jets are on their period, meaning their raging hormones will propel them to PMS-fueled win and first place in the AFC East. And I will be reduced to a shell-shocked, comatose state from which I will only be able to communicate by blinking once to say, “Yes, please, I will have another beer intravenously” and twice to signal, “No, I do not want to be treated for alcohol poisoning, let my liver and my life disintegrate in peace.”

Final score: Jets 24, Patriots 20

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