The short week may be a great equalizer for the pumped up New York Jets who are 1-0 and tied for first place with the depleted New England Patriots. The versatile and effective running back Shane Vereen is out at least four weeks after wrist surgery following the Bills game. Rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld is likely out with a hamstring pull. Go-to man Danny Amendola is struggling with a tweaked groin, and rookie deep threat wide receiver Aaron Dobson missed the Buffalo game with a hamstring injury. Of course super-stud tight end Rob Gronkowski is out as he recovers from offseason back and arm surgery.
The Patriots will go back to running back Stevan Ridley who will follow his full-back on a ground and pound, ball control game plan. Let’s hope he can keep the ball off the ground, because if the Patriots turn the ball over this week they will lose.
I’d expect to see a lot of Marcus Cannon playing left tackle, and normal starting left tackle Nate Solder staying on the field in the tight end position, beefing up the blocking scheme for a hard core ground attack.
This should allow quarterback Tom Brady to pick his spots to wide receiver Julian Edelman and perhaps a few deep attempts to speedster rookie wide receiver Josh Boyce who will likely get some reps. Hopefully the Patriots defense can put up some points, but assuming they do not, I pick the Patriots to win a physical and frustrating game.
Prediction: New England Patriots 16 – New York Jets 9
The New England Patriots and the New York Jets had similar experiences in week one as they both escaped with wins on last second field goals. Neither the Patriots or the Jets looked sharp in their openers, but that’s behind both teams and all that matters is they both stand at 1-0 heading into their important Thursday night matchup.
This will be a big test for both teams and particularly for Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith who had an up and down week one and will be looking to make a statement on national television against his coach’s bitter rival. But Tom Brady and the Patriots will also be looking to make a statement.
With the injury to dynamic running back Shane Vereen, expect to see embattled Patriot Stevan Ridley as New England’s featured back again. Ridley will be looking to rebound after a rough performance in week one and should have a big night for the Patriots.
With Ridley running for retribution and Brady and his young receivers looking to show the NFL that week one was an aberration, expect the Patriots to be too much for the Jets on Thursday night.