To say the NY Jets have played the role of "little brother" in their longstanding rivalry with the New England Patriots would be somewhat of an understatement. In reality, they're hardly even in the same family, at least as far as recent history is concerned.
The Patriots have reigned supreme over the Jets and the AFC East for the better part of the last two decades, but the tides seem to be changing in recent years. This season is evidence that this is a new AFC East and a new NFL.
But despite the Jets having exceeded any and all expectations this season, they still have one hurdle to clear: beat the Patriots. It's easier said than done, even with a Patriots squad that's as weak as it's been in a very long time.
The Jets haven't beaten the Patriots since December 2015. It's been nearly seven years since the Jets emerged victorious against their arch-rivals. In fact, there's another streak that extends even further.
The NY Jets will look to snap an 11-year streak against the Patriots in Week 8
The Jets have won just two of their last 22 meetings with the Patriots, once in 2015 and another in 2013. Both of those victories came in overtime. If you're looking for the last time the Jets beat the Patriots in regulation, you need to go all the way back to the 2010-11 season.
The last time the Jets defeated New England without the benefit of overtime was the team's famed road victory in the playoffs in January 2011. It's been 4,305 days since the Jets beat the Patriots in regulation.
That's 11 years, 9 months, and 14 days. Nearly 12 years of near-complete and utter domination. But that ugly, embarrassing, tortuous streak could come to an end this Sunday.
Despite the two teams' records and despite the Patriots getting blown out on national television just a few days ago, the Jets are home underdogs this Sunday. That's enough to add another receipt to Robert Saleh's growing list.
The Jets have endured over a decade of Patriots dominance. Aside from a pair of unexpected overtime triumphs, the Jets haven't been able to touch their division rivals.
But the playing field is level this Sunday. This is a new Patriots team, and more importantly, this is a new Jets team. Saleh has preached the importance of "making winning normal."
To do that, they need to exorcise the last of their demons. To do that, they need to beat the Patriots.