TJP: You can say a lot of things about the Jets, but one part of their game that is proving to be stout is the defensive front seven. How do you see the Pats offensive line stacking up?
MF: Hey Alan, you know I’m a straight shooter and won’t diss the Jets without
reason. I am a big fan of the Jets defensive line, and it really looks like one
of the best 3-4 fronts in the league if Sheldon Richardson can continue to do
what he did against the Bucs. He looked like more of a disruptive pass rusher
coming out of college, but he really made his mark against the run on Sunday.
Muhammad Wilkerson shouldn’t have guaranteed victory on WFAN, but I do like his
confidence (nobody should ever go into a game thinking they will lose) and love
his playing ability even more. I mean, it would take a real Jets-hater to call
Wilkerson anything but a great player, and I wouldn’t object to any “elite”
labels thrown in. Kendrick Ellis is a big man in the middle, but Damon Harrison
looks like an even better player; that’s a great “problem” to have. Harrison got
the start and looks downright nasty against the run, and I can’t wait to watch
how elite run-blocking (but not pass blocking) C Ryan Wendell fares against him.
This is going to be one great matchup to watch, and I’m glad that you brought it
up; people need to watch this as the game unfolds because it is going to be key.
TJP: How can the Jets attack the Patriots in your mind to keep it close, as the Bills
did? Where are they most vulnerable?
MF: Right now, I’m not really sure where the Patriots are the most vulnerable at
this point. If Stevan Ridley gets benched again due to fumbling, then the
Patriots rushing attack is going to be in dire straights. The Jets run defense
is way better than the Bills version, and the Pats won’t have Shane Vereen to
fall back on. If neither Brandon Bolden nor LeGarrette Blount can get it done,
then the Pats will be forced to throw the ball a lot. With no Vereen and
potentially no Sudfeld, things could get dicey if the Jets cover the middle of
the field like they did last year when these two teams met for the first time.
In fact, I see this as being a close, ugly, rivalry battle akin to that October
game. And yes, I have the Pats winning, too, but this should be a close one.
TJP: We have to finish up with a game prediction…
MF: Yeah, I’ve become a bit more cynical than I was to start the season, but that’s
actually more about the short-term prospects than the long-term prospects of
this Patriots team. They are still a legit Super Bowl contender, but they are
dealing with a couple of injuries and will have plenty of growing pains early in
the season. We’ll see some of those pains continue, but the Patriots are just
too good on STs, look much improved on defense, and have Tom Brady. I don’t pick
against Brady in close game against, let’s be honest here, worse opponents, so I
have the Pats squeaking out a 20-17 victory. They just need to focus on getting
a W and work on getting the young players to gel. It might take another
game-winning field goal from Stephen Gostkowski to win it. I really can’t see
the Pats losing this game, but I also can’t see this being a game with a
significant margin of victory; this team still has things to patch up, and we
won’t be seeing something resembling the last game these two teams played on
Thanks to our guy Joe Soriano for taking the time. Check him out at Musketfire, Joe is a great football fan, fair, and does a great job with the website.