Patriots-Jets prediction

Posted Dec. 06, 2010 @ 3:31 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

I don't know if you've heard, but there's a pretty good football game set for Monday night.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a regular-season game with as much as hype as this Patriots-Jets battle for AFC supremacy has received. The rivalry always has its story lines, but with both teams tied at 9-2 and the winner getting the easier path toward home-field advantage, this game has got it all.

Both teams are different than they were in the Jets' 28-14 statement win in Week Two. In that game, Tom Brady targeted Randy Moss 10 times and he hauled in just two of those balls (granted, one was a spectacular one-handed touchdown grab). That reliance helped cost the Patriots the game, and it was the first glimpse we got of how bad the Patriots' pass defense would be this season, as Mark Sanchez completed 70 percent of his passes in the win.

What is forgotten from that game is how successful the Patriots' offense was before Brady started forcing the ball to Moss. New England scored at ease on its first drive with Brady connecting with four different receivers.

Now, without Moss, Brady has no need to strive to make one receiver happy and is on an MVP-type three-game stretch, throwing nine TD passes and zero interceptions during the team's three-game winning streak. He will need to do what he has done all season — get the offense to score at will because the defense can't slow anyone down.

Sanchez faces the league's worst pass defense with the addition of WR Santonio Holmes, who has come up big late in games. The Jets have had to win some close games and Sanchez has been racking up passing yards.

Both teams have not played in 10 days, and both teams know how much is at stake.

The key to this game is Brady. He has been near-flawless at home (he hasn't lost there since 2006) and it doesn't matter how many points the Jets can score against the Patriots' defense as long as Brady can score one more point. Give Bill Belichick this much time to prepare his defense, and I like the Pats' chances in a close game.

Prediction: Patriots 27, Jets 24