Although it is only week nine, Sunday’s Patriots game with the Jets is the biggest game of the year for the team. Losers of two straight the Patriots are looking to avoid their first three game losing streak since 2002. Sunday night’s matchup features both teams with identical 5-3 records, but the Jets are winners of three straight and are playing their best football of the season.
A few things are going against the Patriots in this one. The Jets are 4-0 at home this season, and the Patriots have not beaten the Jets at the Meadowlands in the last two meetings. The Patriots also are banged up on defense and will need some players to step up.
Linebacker Brandon Spikes left last Sunday’s game after knocking knees with cornerback Kyle Arrington on Brandon Jacobs’ touchdown at the end of the third quarter. It was reported that Spikes has a sprained MCL, and he has missed practice every day this week. As it stands now the Patriots have Jerod Mayo, Gary Guyton and Rob Ninkovich as linebackers who see significant playing time.
When Guyton had to leave the game with a “stinger” on the final drive for the Giants, special teamer Tracy White filled in and allowed two big catches to Giants tight end Jake Ballard, including the game-winning touchdown. If Spikes is out this week the team will need White to be ready to go. Defending the run would be the biggest issue if Spikes is out as he is known as a prolific run stopper. The Patriots also signed free agent linebacker Niko Koutouvides who was with the team this preseason.
Safety Patrick Chung missed one play on Sunday with an ankle injury and that one play was a big one as his replacement Sergio Brown committed a pass interference penalty to set up the game-winning touchdown. The secondary has been a major issue for the Patriots this season and Chung arguably the best of the bunch although it is just an OK season for him. Chung also has not practiced this week.
If Chung is not able to go Sunday it would leave James Ihedigbo and Sergio Brown as the team’s starting safeties. Safety Josh Barrett was placed on season-ending injured reserve this week. Ihedigbo and Brown certainly have struggled this season, and undoubtedly need to step up Sunday regardless of whether or not Chung plays or not.
This is the biggest game of the season for the team, and they desperately need guys like White, Ihedigbo and Brown to step up and make big defensive plays in order to snap the two-game losing steak and get the team rolling again.