On paper, the Jets appear to be just as good, if not better, than the Patriots, and even though they can hang their hats on a 28-14 Week Two win, it's very difficult to bet against the Pats in this divisional-round game. Sure, the Jets' defense will bring it and will certainly play better than they did in Week 13. The Pats also might be rusty, and the fact of the matter is the Patriots still don't have a great defense.
But it's still Tom Brady. It's still Bill Belichick. And the game is still in Foxborough.
What people forget about Week Two is what happened on the Pats' first two drives of the game. On the first drive, the Patriots moved the ball 53 yards before Stephen Gostkowski missed a 37-yard field goal. On their next drive, they moved the ball efficiently on a 75-yard touchdown drive.
So even though the Jets came back and won against a weak secondary, and because Brady over-relied on Randy Moss, the Pats still found little problem moving the ball against them. And if you weren't convinced then, they convinced you in the 45-3 win on national TV.
As good as Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis are, the Patriots have too many weapons. Expect Brady to do what he did in Week 13 and avoid throwing to them, looking to get his tight ends and Danny Woodhead involved. On the other side of the ball, the Jets could find success, especially against a front seven of the Patriots missing some key defensive linemen. But the cornerbacks have improved immensely since Week Two (as shown in Week 13) and Mark Sanchez is prone to turn the ball over.
Give Belichick an extra week of rest for his players and a full week to prep for a team he knows better than most, and I like the Patriots' chances. Brady knows Rex Ryan's defense very well at this point, and last year's home loss to the Ravens is still fresh on their minds. The Jets will keep this close early, but Brady will prove to be too much, sending the Patriots to the AFC Championship.
Prediction: Patriots 31, Jets 21