Sunday, September 20, 2009

Let's get it on

All right, enough talk. The Jets and Pats are ready to settle things on the field.

New York has made it clear what they expect to do to New England. The Patriots, as is always the case, have said nothing.

But whether they've stated their cases to the media or not, it's clear that both are expecting another physical game to add to the rivalry. Tom Brady said it'll be a "heavyweight fight". Kris Jenkins labeled it the Jets' "Super Bowl".

The matchup does have all the makings of being a close game. The Jets showed last week that their offense, led by rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez, isn't lacking in firepower, and their defense, led by defensive tackle Jenkins and linebacker David Harris, is always stout.

The Patriots come into the Meadowlands fueled by a dramatic victory against Buffalo, but showing some bruises from it. Jerod Mayo, nursing a sprained MCL, was ruled out for a few games in the middle of the week, while slot receiver extraordinaire Wes Welker was a last-minute scratch.

The two injuries will have a big impact on both units. Mayo was the playcaller and leader on the defense, and Welker was Brady's go-to guy for short receptions and first downs. To pick up the slack, the Patriots might look to preseason fan favorite Julian Edelman, the former college quarterback who surprised with his offensive and special teams work in a victory over the Eagles. Joey Galloway and Sam Aiken will also be in the mix.

Despite the injuries, this should still be a game the Patriots can control. Bill Belichick has earned a reputation as a nightmare for rookie quarterbacks to go up against (they're 1-5 against him since 2000, throwing five touchdowns against 12 interceptions), and he has undoubtedly been hard at work at a scheme to stop the talented Sanchez, who started only one season in his USC career.

This is also a familiar situation for Tom Brady. Before 2007, Brady consistently had to make the most out of a receiving corps that dealt with injuries and didn't feature superstar talent. Brady was successful, and with Randy Moss at his side for this game, he should still be able to keep the offense moving today.

It'll be a close game, but if New England plays its game, it should still be able to pull out a victory. But this will be another tough AFC East matchup to start the season.

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