By Steve Silverman
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It’s one win over the Rams. The Jets can breathe again, but there’s absolutely no reason to start dancing.
Hold off on the crowing and bragging. The Jets have some serious business on Thanksgiving Night.
The Jets host the Patriots in what is the key game on the schedule. The Jets are 4-6 and they are not going to catch the 7-3 Patriots.
But if they can somehow find a way to scratch out this game and get the victory, the Jets have a chance to turn their season around.
After Rex Ryan and his players line up against the Patriots, the Jets will hit the soft underbelly of their schedule. There is nothing but winnable games the rest of the way.
That means that if the Jets can beat New England, they have every chance of finishing with a 10-6 record.
That seems ludicrous based on the miserable way they have played the majority of their first 10 games, but the Jets face Arizona, Jacksonville, Tennessee, San Diego and Buffalo the rest of the way.
Beating the Patriots will not be easy. A little bit has changed since New England’s 29-26 overtime victory against the Jets in Week Seven. In that game, the Patriots’ baby-soft pass defense was at its worst. They gave up 328 passing yards to Mark Sanchez.
What more did Bill Belichick need to know about his team’s inability to stop the pass? They don’t let the Patriots play college or high school offenses. The Jets’ passing game was about as bad as it gets in the NFL and those non-descript receivers torched the New England secondary.
The Patriots acquired talented but troubled cornerback Aqib Talib from the Tampa Bay Bucs before the trade deadline. He played his first game in a New England uniform yesterday against the Indianapolis Colts, and he intercepted an Andrew Luck pass and made a stunning 59-yard return for a touchdown.
That play gave the Patriots the lead they would not relinquish.
The presence of one solid cornerback could pay dividends for the Patriots in the postseason and help them turn their greatest weakness into much less of a deficit.
But that doesn’t mean the Jets can’t throw the ball against them and find a way to turn a three-point overtime loss into a victory.
One could argue that the Patriots will be a much stronger team this time around than they were in the first meeting. Not only did they get Talib’s interception return for a touchdown, they also got another interception return for a score from Alfonzo Dennard and a punt return for a score from Julian Edelman.
They also received a three-touchdown game from a pretty decent quarterback in Tom Brady.
But the Patriots won’t have their best receiving weapon in tight end Rob Gronkowski since he broke his arm against the Colts.
That’s just the kind of break the Jets need, because Gronkowski is almost impossible to cover one-on-one.
When he is not in the lineup, Brady’s confidence tends to suffer as the game progresses. He will come in with a positive outlook, but as the game moves along he will realize that he is missing a game-changing weapon.
With a credible game from Sanchez and Shonn Greene, it’s possible the Jets could score 24-to-28 points against New England.
If the Jets played their best defensive game, they might be able to hold the explosive Patriots to 21-to-24 points.
That could be the formula that gives the Jets a win in their most important game of the season. Because if they beat the Pats, they won’t lose again during the regular season.
If the Jets beat the Pats — will they win out? Sound off below…