Here's a key matchup to watch in the Week Five game between the Patriots and Jets:
Patriots pass rush vs. Jets offensive line
As good as the Jets' O-line was in 2010, it has not been the same this season. Part of that is the downgrade at right tackle with Wayne Hunter taking over for the retired Damien Woody, and not having C Nick Mangold for 2½ games.
Mangold is expected to be back on Sunday, but he likely won't be in Pro Bowl form. In Week Four, the Jets allowed two sacks and 10 QB hits on Mark Sanchez, who lost three fumbles to the Ravens' defense.
The Patriots' pass rush is a far cry from Baltimore. New England's "D" has recorded only six sacks this season. Against Sanchez in the 45-3 win on Monday night last season, Blll Belichick confused the quarterback by disguising blitzes on the line, only to drop back in coverage. If Belichick goes with a similar tactic, the onus will be on the D-line to create pressure.
The offseason acquisitions of ex-Jet Shaun Ellis, Andre Carter and Albert Haynesworth, as opposed to going after 3-4 OLBs, were done to get players that can win one-on-one battles on the line and get after the QB. That has yet to materialize for the Patriots this season, but if the Jets showed anything last week, it's that their O-line is vulnerable.
The Patriots' defense could use some confidence, and the defensive backs could use some help as they will have to cover a couple pretty good pass catchers in Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress — that's where the pass rush comes in. Putting pressure on Sanchez will disrupt the Jets' passing game, take pressure off a Patriots secondary that has struggled and give the entire defense, which is ranked 32nd, some much-needed confidence.