Two AFC East rivals face off on Thursday night under less than traditional circumstances. After a slow start to the season it appears the Patriots have righted their ship and have begun to take a stranglehold on first place in the division at 4-2. On the other hand the Jets walk into the game with a 5 game losing streak and an overall 1-5 record. They have been plagued by injuries all season long and that list got longer last Sunday when left guard Brian Winters suffered a season ending knee injury and quarterback Dee Milliner also suffered a season ending Achilles injury. Either way Jets head Coach Rex Ryan has always had his teams prepared against the Patriots and this time he will need to get an upset win if he wants any chance of turning the Jets season around.
Ryan himself admitted that after last weeks 31-17 loss to the Broncos that the team had sunk to its lowest point during his 6 year run as head coach. He also pointed out that there was a lot of football to be played this season and that his team would fight until the end. Starting quarterback Geno Smith has been the subject of criticism all around New York City and with an NFL low 69.7 passer rating and more interceptions (7) than touchdowns (6) the critics have a valid point. Ryan did turn to veteran backup Michael Vick for the second half in week 4 and he looked even worse than Smith and afterwards he admitted that he did not properly prepare to play. The team committed to the run earlier in the season and averaged over 150 yards on the ground per game for the first 4 games and then they averaged less than 60 yards per game over the next 2 games. The team’s defense held its own against a tough Broncos offense last week and gave its team a chance to tie the game in its final offensive possession. A Geno Smith interception ending any chances of coming back against the Broncos and it remains to be seen whether or not it was the beginning of the end of their season.
New England struggled early in the season and found themselves at 2-2 despite playing like a team that could be 0-4. There were a lot of questions about whether or not they had enough offense to make another division tittle run. When you take a determined Tom Brady and combine him with a healthier and healthier Rob Gronkowski you get a team that scored 80 points over the last two weeks against good defenses in Buffalo and Cincinnati. You get a quarterback that is 50/72 for 653 yards with 6 touchdowns and no interceptions over his last two games. They will have to make the offense work without a key cog of its 1-2 running back punch, Stevan Ridley will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury. This game has blowout written all over it, yet it seems that whenever these two teams play things never turn out as expected.
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