Patriots-Jets matchup of the day: Thursday

Posted Jan. 13, 2011 @ 9:05 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Here's a key matchup to watch in the divisional-round game between the Patriots and Jets:

Patriots WRs Deion Branch and Wes Welker vs. Jets CBs Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis

In their Week 13 matchup, Tom Brady threw at Revis zero times, avoiding getting lost on "Revis Island." The Patriots would motion Welker into the backfield at times to get a linebacker on him, taking Revis out of the equation. Welker still hauled in seven balls for 80 yards and a touchdown, often being covered by a linebacker or safety.

Branch, on the other hand, faced Cromartie, who has had a stellar season, but Branch got the better of him in Week 13, with three catches for 64 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown on which he beat Cromartie on a slant on a fourth-down play.

The Jets will do their best to keep Revis on Welker so that the receiver will be a nonfactor. The Browns were able to take Welker out of the equation by being very physical with him, something Revis is good at — he held Reggie Wayne to one catch for one yard in the wild-card round.

Cromartie will likely have a better plan in covering Branch than he did in Week 13, and look for the two corners to try to take away those quick hitters that Tom Brady excels at.

The problem for the Jets' defense will arise if Brady — who will target his tight ends, WR Brandon Tate and RB-WR Danny Woodhead, assuming they draw advantageous matchups against safeties and linebackers — takes those corners out of play.

The Patriots have a lot of weapons and were able to make Cromartie and Revis nonfactors in Week 13. If those corners can make an impact and shut out even one Patriots receiver, it could make a big difference for the Jets' defense.