Know Thy Enemy: Week 7: New York Jets vs. New England Patriots

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September 23, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (27) is tackled by New England Patriots linebacker Jerrod Mayo (51) at M

The Road to MetLife Stadium takes a big turn this week for the New York Jets. From MetLife Stadium, it’s round two of the rivalry, as the Jets take on the New England Patriots. Time once again, for “Know Thy Enemy”.

This week, we talk to Tim Dillon, new editor for Musketfire, your Fansided source for all things New England Patriots related.  They do a great job covering their team, as well as the division as a whole.

Take a look at our conversation about the upcoming game:

THE JET PRESS: How concerned are you about the Jets’ running game this week, without Vince Wilfork and Jerrod Mayo?

MUSKETFIRE: It’s no secret that the Jets will have an easier time of running the ball than they did during their first meeting with the Patriots back in September. The Jets were able to rush for nearly 130 yards even with Wilfork and Mayo there, so it is definitely a concern for the Patriots going into this week. Rookie defensive linemen Chris Jones and Joe Vellano are not ready to be full-time starters in the NFL and the Jets are sure to exploit that weakness and run the ball down the middle. This will also take some pressure off of Geno Smith and allow him to utilize the play-action pass. I would have liked to see DT Armond Armstead finally take the field this week, since he has the potential to be the best Wilfork-replacement for this season, but it is highly unlikely he plays since he hasn’t practiced yet.

TJP: How do the Patriots keep getting it done, despite all of the new receivers on offense that Tom is getting used to?  Is it all Tom, or are there other factors?

MF: I look at it as a more balanced team effort that is winning games than the Patriots are used to seeing in recent years. Ever since around 2007 it has been the high-powered offense fueled by Brady and the defense just lagged behind because that’s all they had to do. Tom could put up 35+ points a game so the defense really only had to be average, or in the case of the 2011 Super Bowl year, abysmal. The Patriots are playing more like they did in the early 2000’s when Tom won his three rings. They have a more balanced rushing/throwing attack and the offense is complemented by a great defense. That being said, Tom hasn’t gotten nearly the credit he deserves this season. Everyone has Peyton Manning penned in as the MVP after only week 6 and having a stacked offense, but when you look at what Tom has done with nobodys, he really is the glue that holds this offense together.

Oct 13, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) throws a pass during the second half of their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium. The Steelers defeated the Jets 19-6. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

TJP: I know you keep a good eye on the entire division, what do you think of Geno Smith, and do you think he will perform well, now seeing the Patriots for the second time?

MF:   Geno Smith is really interesting to watch play, way more so than Mark Sanchez ever was. He’s got a cannon for an arm and has proved he can make big plays when the team really needs them. His biggest flaws right now are his inconsistency and his turnovers, but he is a rookie so those are to be expected. If Smith plays the way he did in Atlanta, he definitely could have a great game on Sunday. The potential loss of Talib this week will give him more passing options, especially if the Jets establish the run early in the game. I think playing at home will also help in Smith’s favor as opposed to facing the Patriots in their home opener. I was very surprised to see him struggle against Pittsburgh last week since their defense is nowhere near as good as it used to be. 

TJP: Talk about the health of Talib and Gronk.  Are either going to play Sunday?

MF: I’d like to say we may see Gronkowski this week, but then again I thought he was going to be ready to play last week against the Saints. His doctor still hasn’t cleared him to play yet and I know he’s very concerned about returning too early. The Patriots could certainly use him this week, but I’m going to assume he won’t play. The way the Patriots are hush about injuries, we may not know for sure until gameday morning. As for Talib, it is unlikely he plays. This hip injury he has is nothing new, as this what hampered him in the later part of last season. I can’t imagine the Patriots rushing his return and risk losing him for a longer period of time. The rookie corner from Rutgers, Logan Ryan, will likely fill in for him unless the Patriots decide to move Devin McCourty down from safety (unlikely).

TJP: Finally, what is your prediction for round two?

MF: Like the first meeting, I see this as a close game. Rex Ryan clearly wants the win very badly and the home crowd always gives the Patriots a hard time, at least early in the game. If the Patriots put up points early in the game, it may become a lopsided battle quickly in their favor. If the Jets are able to keep the turnovers to a minimum and Smith plays at his best, this will be a great game that could go either way. Although it may be close, I think the Patriots use the momentum off a big win last week to top the Jets 24-18.

Thanks to Tim for his time.  Check out Musketfire at the link noted above, Tim and his team do an excellent job.