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Patriots-Jets matchup of the day: Thursday

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Recent posts by Kevin Fishbain

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Posted Nov. 10, 2011 @ 4:18 p.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

Here's a key matchup to watch in the Week 10 game between the Patriots and Jets:

Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski vs. Jets defense

Gronkowski is coming off three productive games in a row, including scoring his first touchdown since Week Three in last Sunday's loss to the Giants. Against the Jets in Week Five, though, Gronk had only four catches for 31 yards.

The Jets also bottled Gronkowski up in the two regular-season meetings last season, holding him to one catch in each game. He did have four catches for 65 yards in the playoff loss.

When the Patriots get into the red zone, Gronkowski is a top target for Tom Brady. The Jets will counter Gronkowski's unique skill set with their safeties and inside 'backers. At 6-foot-6, Gronkowski will have a serious size advantage if he is covered by either Jets safety Eric Smith or Jim Leonhard, and he has the speed to get past David Harris or Josh Mauga.

The Jets might try to bracket Gronkowski as well, considering how much he has been utilized in the past few games. They did allow Antonio Gates to have 5-54-1 receiving in Week Seven.

The Patriots have had some trouble of late punching it in when they are in the red zone, and Gronkowski is key in that part of the field. We also saw in the Pittsburgh game that it was Gronkowski who often was Brady's safety valve, and that could happen against the Jets' defense.

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