Patriots-Jets matchup of the day: Thursday

Posted Oct. 06, 2011 @ 9:49 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Here's a key matchup to watch in the Week Five game between the Patriots and Jets:

Patriots' defense vs. Jets TE Dustin Keller

Keller is not only Mark Sanchez's favorite target, but he's the team's leading receiver through four games. A threat up the seam, Sanchez generally has more success throwing to Keller than when he tries to hit Santonio Holmes or Plaxico Burress down the sideline.

In six career games against New England, Keller has 308 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He went 7-115-1 against the Pats in Week Two but was kept in check in the next two games.

The Patriots have struggled mightily against the pass this season but haven't played a good pass-catching tight end of the caliber of Keller. Safeties Josh Barrett and Sergio Brown are young and athletic but have made mistakes on a few plays when in coverage.

ILB Jerod Mayo won't be playing, meaning Gary Guyton could take some snaps covering Keller. LB Dane Fletcher has the speed to stick with Keller but will be giving up some size.

If we are to assume the Jets will return to the "ground and pound," the play-action pass play to Keller could be a weapon for New York that the Patriots will have to keep an eye on. Like Rob Gronkowski, Keller can be a tough matchup because of his size, speed and pass-catching abilities, and it will be on the middle of the Patriots' defense to keep him from having a big day.