The New England Patriots and the New York Jets will meet on Sunday at Gillette Stadium for the 120th time in their storied history as rivals.
For the 60th year in a row, the New England Patriots and the New York Jets are set to renew their fierce and historic rivalry. Both franchises were established in the same year and in the same division as original charter members of the AFL – only way back then, they were known as the Boston Patriots and the New York Titans.
While much has changed since then for both franchises, the level of animosity between these two teams and their respective fanbases has remained solidly constant – or if anything, it’s grown exponentially more intense and bitter as of late. Bill Belichick’s abrupt resignation, Eric Mangini’s treasonous defection, the entire Spygate saga… the bad blood has never run more freely between these AFC East “brothers” than it has over the past 20 years.
Unfortunately though for Jets fans – and much to the delight of Pats fans – this rivalry hasn’t really been much of a rivalry in the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era. Since that dynamic duo arrived in New England, the Patriots are 29-11 against their neighbors to the southwest. The Pats are also currently riding a six-game winning streak in the series – which they lead 65-54-1 all-time.
As of this writing, New England is a heavy favorite to push that win streak to seven. Some oddsmakers have the Pats favored by as much as 23.5 points, according to CBS Boston.
Why the incredible point-spread in this matchup? Truthfully, the Patriots are a significantly more talented team from top-to-bottom than the Jets this season. New England might have its best defense under Belichick ever, and the offense has been putting up points with reckless abandon over the first two weeks of the season.
And as they always do, injuries have also played a major part in the fortunes of both squads in 2019. According to the latest injury report released by both teams – via Patriots.com – New England has seven players listed with various ailments and medical concerns, whereas New York has a whopping 18 players listed on their report.
For the Patriots, the biggest name on that list is quarterback Tom Brady, who has been limited in practice this week with a calf injury. Given Brady’s resilience with these types of injuries over the course of his career though, there probably shouldn’t be much cause for concern, if any. Outside of his lost 2008 season, Brady hasn’t missed a regular season game due to injury since 2001.
The most significant injuries for the Patriots to overcome will be along their offensive line. Isaiah Wynn is on injured reserve with what is believed to be turf toe, and Marcus Cannon remains a limited practice participant with a shoulder injury suffered Week 1 against the Steelers.
Brown figures to be replaced by recent pickup Marshall Newhouse; if Cannon can’t go Sunday against the Jets, he’ll likely be replaced by either Caleb Benenoch (another new addition) or Korey Cunningham. Benenoch himself appears on the injury report, it should be noted, as being limited with a calf injury. Tight end Matt LaCosse – who made his regular season debut in Week 2 against the Dolphins – is also limited, as he continues to recover from an ankle injury sustained in the preseason.
Backup running back and special teams contributor Brandon Bolden, who has been battling a hamstring injury, was upgraded to full participation on Thursday.
Fullback James Develin and linebacker Shilique Calhoun were the only two New England players absent from practice both on Thursday and on Friday, which suggests the team probably will be without both players against the Jets.
New York’s two most significant personnel concerns are at quarterback. Second-year starter Sam Darnold was diagnosed with mononucleosis by team doctors a little over a week ago; he remains out indefinitely as he continues his treatment and recovery. His backup, Trevor Siemian, was lost for the season after he sustained a brutal hit to his ankle Monday night against the Browns. As such, the Jets will rely on third-stringer Luke Falk to duel Tom Brady at Gillette on Sunday.
Also of great importance to Gang Green are injuries to first-round draft pick Quinnen Williams (ankle) and prized free agent C.J. Mosley (groin). While neither player has officially been ruled out for Sunday’s clash, it appears unlikely that either will suit up given their lack of practice participation all week. It’s a major blow to the heart of the Jets’ defense, which is much stronger up front than they are in the secondary.
Linebacker Jordan Jenkins (calf) and receiver Demaryius Thomas (hamstring/knee) are also long shots to play this weekend, as neither have been spotted at practices this week. Jenkins’ absence further amplifies Mosley’s; Thomas, while having only just recently arrived to New York from New England via trade, would have been beneficial to a Jets offense without many playmakers at the skill positions outside of Le’Veon Bell and Robby Anderson.
New York has seven other players listed as limited practice participants: WR Josh Bellamy (shoulder), RB Trenton Cannon (ankle), OL Kelvin Beachum (ankle), DL Steve McLendon (hip), S Rontez Miles (hip), CB Brian Poole (groin), and OL Brian Winters (shoulder).
Beachum and Winters, both questionable to play Sunday with their injuries, arguably represent the most cause for alarm amongst the seven players listed above. New York’s offensive line was absolutely abysmal against the Brown’s talented defensive front on Monday night, giving up four sacks, seven quarterback hits, and 7.5 tackles for a loss.
While New England might not be quite as disruptive on their defensive line as Cleveland, the Patriots still have plenty of firepower there that could overpower an undermanned New York O-line. Expect to see Chase Winovich, Michael Bennett, Adam Butler, and Lawrence Guy in the Jets’ backfield all afternoon on Sunday.
WR Braxton Berrios (hamstring), LB John Franklin-Myers (foot), LB Harvey Langi (knee), LB Frankie Luvu (hand), OL Alex Lewis (shoulder), and S Marcus Maye (calf) were the final eight names rounding out the Jets’ injury report, though all were listed as full participants at least.
Berrios should be a familiar name to Patriots fans, as the receiver and return specialist spent one season in New England before getting cut last month after he lost his battles with Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski to make the final roster.
Overall, this is a game that the Patriots probably would have won easily even if both teams were at full strength. With over a third of the Jets’ roster appearing on the injury report ahead of this weekend’s tilt – and with the Patriots relatively healthy outside of the tackle positions on their offensive line – this very well could be a blowout in favor of the home team.