Week 7 Prediction: New England Patriots vs New York Jets

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, it’s not quite Christmas, but it’s almost as good: it’s that special time of year when the New England Patriots face off against their best division rival, the New York Jets. DJ Steve Porter released an excellent track describing my favorite rivalry in the league a couple years ago, and it’s a must for a fan of either team to listen to. The Jets are coming off an easy win against an opponent that’s perceived as weak, while the Patriots are coming off a hard-fought loss to a tougher opponent. Who will come out with this important victory? Read on to find out!

1. The New England receivers vs the New York defensive backs

Just because Darrelle Revis, one of the greatest corners to ever play the game, is out for the season doesn’t mean there isn’t talent in the Jets defensive backfield. Antonio Cromartie has become far more consistent, and is extremely athletic. Tom Brady will have to watch for him on deep routes in particular. Kyle Wilson, however, is still a major disappointment. Don’t be surprised if Wes Welker logs another 100-yard game simply based on Wilson’s struggles in the slot. It will be interesting to see whether Aaron Berry plays; he was a desperation signing for New York, and has yet to play this season on defense. Ellis Lankster and Isaiah Trufant aren’t concerning and Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry have made many mistakes this season.

Don’t expect Brandon Lloyd to have the game of his life today. Although he’s made many spectacular sideline catches on the season, Cromartie is the perfect corner to shadow him all game. Brady has to be careful not to force anything to Lloyd’s side. Welker is more likely to be targeted, and despite the undoubtedly dozens of hours the New York coaching staff has put into scheming against Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, I don’t think the Jets have the physical ability to stop either of them. Sleeper pick for a big game: Deion Branch. If Branch sees significant playing time, don’t be surprised if he sees a lot of targets.

Edge: New England

2. The New England offensive line vs the New York defensive line

Muhammad Wilkerson is quietly having a great season for the Jets; it seems as though that first round pick has really panned out for them. Mike DeVito is solid, but he’s often subbed out for Quinton Coples. There is a possibility that all three will see the field at once, as New York may attempt to run a 46 defense. Despite the talent of all those players, both Sione Pouha, one of the best run stuffers in the league, and Kenrick Ellis, one of the more promising young players on the Jets roster, are out. Dan Muir is their apparently replacement at nosetackle.

Ryan Wendell couldn’t have it easier against Muir. Dan Connolly will need Sebastian Vollmer’s assistance against Wilkerson, but Vollmer is playing his heart out so far and I have no concerns there. Solder will need to be on top of his game in case Maybin blitzes on his side, but Mankins is still there to provide assistance.

Edge: New England

3. The New England runningbacks vs the New York linebackers

Bart Scott and David Harris are a formidable duo, but they’ve both struggled mightily against the run this season. This might be attributed to the absence of Pouha, but all the same they must play better. Calvin Pace has been playing poorly as well, and it’s important to stick it to him today after his accusatory comments about the Patriots. Garrett McIntyre is still adjusting to his role as a starter, and isn’t exactly a strong point for this defense.

Although Stevan Ridley is having an excellent season so far this year, he struggled against Seattle. Brandon Bolden was more successful, but he suffered a knee injury that is keeping him out of today’s game. Danny Woodhead will see significant playing time, but it’s important to remember he’s a completely different runner from Ridley. Shane Vereen may also be in the mix with the absence of Bolden. The lack of Pouha and Ellis means that Ridley will likely have an excellent game, but he’ll be better served running inside.

Edge: New England

4. The New York receivers vs the New England defensive back

Devin McCourty has said Mark Sanchez is actually a better quarterback without Santonio Holmes, as he has his typical target removed and is more likely to spread the ball around. Stephen Hill is the deep threat, and Chaz Schilens has a lot of speed. Jeremy Kerley is the most competent receiver on the team, and I expect him to have around 60 yards in the slot.

I’ve already come to the defense of McCourty, and I think he’ll have a good day today, but expect Hill to catch at least one deep ball. Teams have been able to throw deep on the Patriots, and that’s what Hill does best – go deep. Tavon Wilson will look to improve on his poor showing against the Seahawks, but Kyle Arrington will likely get gashed by Kerley. Here’s hoping Alfonzo Dennard is the nickel corner (who still plays on the outside). My bold prediction is that Dennard will get his first interception today.

Edge: New England

5. The New York offensive line vs the New England defensive line

Nick Mangold is still the best center in football, but he’s facing off against Vince Wilfork, which is always one of the most exciting one-on-one matchups of the season. Matt Slauson has improved, and Brandon Moore is still a great guard. D’Brickashaw Ferguson is a shadow of his former self, and Austin Howard isn’t looking good this year.

Kyle Love needs to step his game up after last week. Chandler Jones will have a tough time rushing Sanchez with Ferguson at left tackle, but I think he’ll do the job against the run – remember, he has to play the run as well, and that’s what made him a first round pick. Rob Ninkovich has a very easy matchup against Howard. It’s such an easy matchup, in fact, that one might see Jones and Ninkovich switching sides. Dont’a Hightower may also be a candidate for blitzes.

Edge: New England

6. The New York runningbacks vs the New England linebackers

Shonn Greene has been much maligned throughout his career for being nothing more than a bowling ball, unable to shake any defender and doing damage only on dives. However, he had a very impressive game against the Colts last week, showing the ability to take the ball on tosses and sweeps. He’s even an option in the screen game, so the New England linebackers absolutely need to be prepared for that.

I’m holding out hope that Dont’a Hightower will be active for this game. Not only do the Patriots need his presence in the passing game and the running game, but it’s important to get him experience this early in his career. Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes are both excellent run stuffers, but they need to be better in the pass game. Hopefully they’ll be serviceable in that department.

Edge: New England

I don’t want the Patriots thinking too much about last week’s game, but with a 3-3 record, tied atop the division, New England absolutely needs this win. Not only does New England need this win for the postseason, they need it to build confidence. There needs to be some sort of swagger, and this is just the team to build it against. Don’t be misled: the Jets are not a bad team. With all the losses they’ve had to injuries, they still play very hard. I think it’ll be a hard fought victory, but a sizable victory as well.

Final Score: New England 35, New York 20

You can follow Christopher Field on Twitter @ChrisDField.

Topics: New England Patriots, New York Jets

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