The New England Patriots play their final regular season home game on Christmas Eve as they host the New York Jets on Saturday afternoon.
Unlike earlier in the season when the New England Patriots played the New York Jets, the defense has turned its game around and are coming off strong performances against the Rams, Ravens, and Broncos.
The Jets are coming to the end of a long season. With two four-game losing streaks, New York is already at double-digit losses staring at two games against probable playoff teams in New England and Miami.
The Jets have only beat the underachieving Bills in week two, a huge upset of an undermanned Baltimore team, the Browns, and the 49ers (in overtime). These last two weeks are the team’s best hope at salvaging the season by playing the spoiler in the AFC East.
New York has had horrible quarterback play, bad luck with injuries (starters Nick Mangold, Antonio Allen, Breno Giacomini, Marcus Gilchrist, Ryan Clady, Erin Henderson, and Eric Decker are all on injured reserve) and underachieving veterans. Future Hall-of-Fame cornerback Darrelle Revis has lost a step and starting defensive tackles Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson have both been inconsistent and they were both held out of the first quarter of a game for disciplinary reasons after missing meetings earlier in the year.
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With a second-place finish last year the Jets still have talent on both sides of the ball. Running back Bilal Powell has been fantastic the past few weeks and the Patriots’ defense will be seeing New York quarterback Bryce Petty for the first time. Young receivers Robby Anderson, Jalin Marshall, and Charone Peake has injected energy and speed into the receiving group.
The Patriots may have won 22-17 in week twelve, but the game was yet another close game in the two teams’ recent matchups. Other than the “Butt Fumble game” from four years ago, these two teams always have a close, competitive game.
Let’s take a look at the top five match-ups on the field on both sides of the ball on Saturday as two longtime AFC East rivals face-off for the first time in 2016: