The day of reckoning is here.
Yes, today the 6-3 Patriots host the 6-3 Jets in what figures to be one of, if not the biggest game of the year for New York.
The Patriots won the first battle 19-10 in a game where Jay Feely missed a short field goal, Brett Favre threw an interception leading to the only Patriots' touchdown, and the Jets failed to score a touchdown from 1st and goal from the 1.
Bill Bellichick's squad did not play their A-game in Giants Stadium, but they played flawlessly, not turning the ball over once and committing just two turnovers for 10 yards.
The turnover and penalty differentials allowed for the Patriots to start five possessions in Jets' territory, a major difference in the football game. By contrast, New York never started a possession past their own 25-yard line.
The Jets feel that Reggie Hodges replacing Ben Graham at punter will help out the field position battle. More importantly, the team will try to cut down on their own mistakes and force Cassel into making mistakes of his own.
Blitzing will be difficult because of the nature of the Pats' offense. Wes Welker will catch a lot of quick passes, keeping Matt Cassel's jersey clean and preventing the young quarterback from making too many mistakes.
That also could be where Ty Law comes in. Don't expect too much from the veteran corner, as he's only been on the team for three days, but he should be able to provide some help to the 20th ranked pass defense guarding the Patriots' weapons. Darrelle Revis will cover Randy Moss, so maybe Law can help guard Welker, Ben Watson, or Jabar Gaffney.
Brett Favre will take aim at the 15th ranked pass defense in the NFL. Dustin Keller had a 107-yard game last Sunday, but this week Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery will be expected to step up and move the chains. Favre hasn't been asked to do much in the past couple wins, but he will need to generate some plays from the passing game to take pressure off Thomas Jones. The Patriots are too good a team to be one-dimensional against.
Both teams will try to run the ball, but the running game will likely be met with limited success. Opponents have only been managing 3.2 yards-per-carry against the Jets, while the Patriots allow 4.1 yards-per-game, though that has improved lately.
Sammy Morris will play tonight after missing the previous three games. Before that, he ran for 138 yards against the Rams. However, he struggled in the first game against the Jets, not earning a single yard on eight carries, though he did score.
Morris will be joined by rookie BenJarvus Green-Ellis and veteran Kevin Faulk, and all three are sure to see time.
The Jets will likely give Jones every chance to establish a running game. Leon Washington will get touches, too, as the Jets hope to get a few big plays out of him. Ty Warren and Adalius Thomas will not play tonight for New England, so the Jets will try to outmuscle the Pats' front seven for the first time in a long while.
This game will come down to who makes less mistakes. Man for man, the Jets are probably a better football team than the injury-riddled Patriots. But the games are not won on paper, and what the Patriots do best is allow other teams to beat themselves. Last time, the Jets complied. This time, the Jets will force Cassel into a couple mistakes and play a more even field-position game. It will not be easy. But the Jets are confident and ready.
Jets 17, Patriots 13.
(8:46 PM): Good start so far. So far, both Jets drives have started in better field position than they did at all last game. 7-3 Jets as both teams have been able to convert on 3rd downs so far, until the Pats called a running play on 3rd and 5, bailing out the Jets defense. Favre looks sharp early.
(8:53 PM): Dustin Keller with an awful drop in the red zone forces the Jets to kick a field goal. Against the Patriots, the Jets typically have not been able to recover from such mistakes. Let's see if today is different, as the Jets have dictated whatever they've wanted to do offensively for the most part.
(9:04 PM): Patriots answer with a solid drive of their own, but the defense holds. On 2nd down, Randy Moss had man coverage outside with Revis, but Revis had good coverage and Cassel threw the ball over his head.
(9:06 PM): Leon Washington strikes again! Who needs the offense, just give Leon a big wedge and let him take it all the way. 17-6 Jets. Two score lead!
(10:05 PM): Patriots come out in no huddle in the second half. They're moving the ball a little bit, but they have to mix it up because they know they are behind and being outmanned. AND A FUMBLE! Jets ball! 24-13 Jets. I wonder if they challenge.
(10:49 PM): 24-21, a Cotchery fumble, and it looks like a typical Jets-Patriots game. Not good...