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Schwartz: Patriots Vulnerable, But Do Jets Have What It Takes?

(credit: Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

(credit: Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

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By Peter Schwartz
» More Columns

It didn’t take very long to realize it was Patriots week.

Just a few minutes into his Monday press conference, Rex Ryan fired the first verbal punch of Week 7.

“Well, I just think that, I want them to know, and they know, that I think we’re going to beat them,” said the Jets head coach. “I don’t buy into all that other stuff. Look, I recognize that they’re a great football team. (Coach Bill) Belichick’s a great coach. I never once said that he wasn’t. Again, we’re not going to back down or concede to anything. They’re going to get our best shot (and) we know we’re going to get theirs, so it really doesn’t matter who says what. We are going to be ourselves. We’re coming up there to take our swing, and we’ll see if we land that punch to win a game.”

The Jets swung and missed twice at the Patriots last season but this year could prove to be a different story. The Patriots have already lost three games and they find themselves knotted with the Jets, Dolphins and Bills at 3-3.

Have the Patriots finally come back to the rest of the AFC East?

Are they finally vulnerable?

“I don’t know,” said Ryan. “They’ve lost three games. That’s probably more than they normally lose in the season, but we need to worry about ourselves more than anybody else.”

Sunday’s game features the AFC’s two best teams at producing takeaways since 2009, the Patriots (116) and Jets (103). This season, New England leads the conference with 16 takeaways, while the Jets are tied for fifth with 11.

The Jets defense is ranked 30th in the NFL, giving up 295.5 yards per game. The Patriots offense is ranked No. 1 with 445.3 yards per game. The Pats are also tops in the league, scoring 31.3 points per game.

New England has featured a high-octane, up-tempo offense that runs a lot of no-huddle. Clearly, this will be a tough challenge for the Jets defense.

The speed of linebacker Aaron Maybin could play a role in this game. This past week, I caught up with Maybin to get his thoughts on the contest.

Maybin has been disappointing so far this season. He has no sacks and just one tackle.

After rushing for 252 yards against the Colts, the Jets will need a solid ground attack again this week — but it won’t be easy. The Patriots are ranked 6th in the NFL, giving up just 82.7 yards per game on the ground.

New England is vulnerable to the pass as they have allowed 288.8 yards per game in the air. But while they give up a lot of yards, they find ways to make plays.

“They force turnovers,” said Mark Sanchez. “They’ve given up some longer drives, but they don’t let a lot of teams into the end zone. They’ve played sharp for the most part. It’s always a good challenge and they’re highlighted with great players every year, obviously (Vince) Wilfork up front, (Brandon) Spikes and (Jerod) Mayo in the middle there with the linebackers — (Patrick) Chung, (Devin) McCourty and all those guys who generally play well.”

Not many teams go into Foxboro and win. The Jets found a way in the playoffs two years ago but it’s going to be a challenge. Two weeks ago, not many people would have given them a chance to be competitive.

A week later, the feeling is a little better around the Jets. But it remains to be seen if they have enough to stay with the Patriots.

JETS/PATRIOTS ALL-TIME SERIES

The Patriots lead the all-time series against the Patriots 53-52 with one tie. The Patriots swept the season series in 2011, winning 30-21 at Foxboro and 37-16 at MetLife Stadium. The Jets are 2-4 against the Patriots in the regular season since Rex Ryan took over as head coach in 2009.

Since 2001, the Patriots are 17-7 against the Jets.

In the playoffs, the Jets are 1-2 against New England.

JETS TRIVIA

Who holds the Jets record for most receiving yards in a game against the Patriots?

(Answer at the end of this blog.)

BEHIND ENEMY LINES

3-3?

The Patriots?

It’s hard to believe, but as Bill Parcells once said, “You are what your record says you are.”

And for the Patriots, that means they are 3-3 and tied with the Jets, Bills, and Dolphins in the AFC East. It’s a huge game so that adds even more to a contest that is always highly anticipated.

“It’s a great rivalry,” said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. “It’s been that way since before I got here. We’ve had so many meaningful games against the Jets. Playoff games are really important and division games. I have a lot of respect for the team and their attitude and the way they play. It feels like every game is tight. We’re both 3-3 so it’s an important game for both of our teams and hopefully we’ll be able to go out there and play our best on Sunday.”

The Jets have put aside their usual routine of trash-talking to compliment the Patriots this week and New England is returning the favor. Not the Pats have ever lowered themselves to trash-talking, but they always seem to have nice things to say about the Jets.

And when you look and their body of work over the years match that up against what the Jets have done, why would the Patriots even think of talking trash?

“I think the Jets are a good defensive football team,” said head coach Bill Belichick. “They’re a good football team in all three areas of the game. They have a lot of good players. They all play well when they get an opportunity to play.”

The Patriots will wear 1985 throwback uniforms on Sunday. The Patriots also wore throwback uniforms last season against the Jets at Foxboro, a 30-21 New England victory. The Patriots are 8-3 in throwbacks.

The Patriots are 54-15 against the AFC East since 2001, the best mark in the NFL.

The Patriots have sold out 197 consecutive home games. The streak stretches to 198 on Sunday.

The Patriots have the NFL’s best home regular season record since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002 at 68-14.

JET LINERS

Sunday’s game can be seen on CBS-2 HD with the network’s top announcing team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. Kickoff is at 4:25 p.m.

Antonio Cromartie has picked off Tom Brady three times in his career.

Jeremy Kerley notched his first NFL touchdown catch against the Patriots hauling in a 9 yard pass from Mark Sanchez last October.

Dustin Keller recorded a career high 115 receiving yards against the Patriots on 9/19/10.

This week in Jets History (Week 7): The Jets beat the Boston Patriots 48-14 on 10/27/68. The Jets set a franchise record with six rushing touchdowns.

This past Tuesday, the Jets and the New York City Department of Education announced a $125,000 donation from the Jets to the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) for the Heads Up! Program. This donation will help recondition every helmet in the PSAL, continue the first-ever PSAL Girls Varsity Flag Football league and support the CHAMPS middle school flag football program.

THE PREDICTION

My record this season: 5-1

The Jets took a major step forward with Sunday’s 35-9 win over the Colts. There was a better feeling around the team this week, but going to Foxboro and winning?

That will be a tough task, especially if they’re without Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell.

I think the Jets will play a spirited game, but they will fall a bit short.

PATRIOTS 23, JETS 13

Trivia Answer: Keyshawn Johnson with 194 yards on 11/23/97.

That’s all for now! Check back Monday for a recap.

What’s your prediction for Jets-Pats? Be heard in the comments below!