When the New York Jets and the New England Patriots kick off on Sunday at Gillette Stadium, first place in the AFC East division will be on the line.
It is no secret that this type of game will be a big deal, especially with the Jets exceeding expectations after escaping the media circus narrative that was associated with the team under former head coach Rex Ryan.
This new Jets team under head coach Todd Bowles is off to a 4-1 start and they are playing very disciplined football. They have also been much more disciplined with their statements in the media. Starting from Bowles, we will likely not see any outlandish statements this week coming from the Jets’ locker room.
However, the Jets are presenting a confident front heading into their biggest rival’s stadium.
“We're licking our chops,” Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson told ESPN. “Our confidence is really high. We're not on no high horse, but you're supposed to have confidence in yourself.”
The Jets do indeed have reasons to be confident as they are playing great football.
Offensively, that starts with the running game as Chris Ivory has been having a great season. His teammate Brandon Marshall said that Ivory is the best running back in football, and although I am not ready to go that far because Le’Veon Bell has secured that title, Ivory is having an outstanding season. Ivory is averaging a league high 115 rushing yards per game in the four games that he has played in this year. It is no coincidence the Jets have won all four of those games.
The key to beating a New England team is keeping their offense off the field. With Ivory generating the tough yards in early down situations, the Jets will be in position to extend drives.
The Jets offense will also need a big game from Marshall at wide receiver in order to have a chance to win. New England is a team that likes to take extra efforts to take away the opposition’s best weapon. We will be able to tell early on how New England is going to deal with Marshall and it would be in New York’s best interest to get him some easy touches early to get going.
With Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback the Jets clearly do not want to be in a shootout with Tom Brady. The defense is going to have to do its part. The Jets defense has been playing exceptionally well this season under Bowles’ coaching philosophy.
The Jets defense is ranked first against the run in the NFL and ranked second against the pass in the NFL. They will have their hands full against New England’s ninth-ranked passing offense on Sunday.
Make no mistake, the Jets are facing a tough task heading into Gillette Stadium. But it is certainly a winnable game. If the Jets come away with the victory they will have put the division as well as the rest of the league on notice that they are for real.