By Danny Cox
After securing the AFC East title and a first-round bye in the playoffs, the Patriots still have home-field advantage to play for in the final two weeks. A win over the New York Jets in week 16 would bring them one step closer to achieving that goal. With only pride on the line for the Jets, look for them to give the Patriots their best effort, as they are playing for their football future.
New York Jets Season Record: 4-10
Things started off bad with a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, but a high-scoring win over the Buffalo Bills seemed to breathe some life back into their season. After that, the Jets lost four games in a row, won two, and then had another four-game losing streak before defeating the lowly 49ers. This past week, they were absolutely decimated by the surprising Miami Dolphins. It is not going to get any easier for the team, as their next opponent is the Patriots.
Jets On Offense
Running backs Matt Forte and Bilal Powell make for a good one-two punch and they have racked up more than 1,300 yards on the ground and 10 rushing touchdowns. The only problem is that Forte has been dealing with some injuries, which has slowed him down during the second half of the season.
If Bryce Petty’s chest injury that he suffered against the Dolphins isn’t serious, he will be back in as starter for the Jets. If not, New York will turn back to Ryan Fitzpatrick yet again. However, it might not matter, as the Jets have struggled at the quarterback position all year.
Fitzpatrick, Petty, and Geno Smith have combined to throw 22 interceptions to just 14 touchdowns and they have been sacked a total of 32 times. No matter who is under center, the Patriots defense should have a field day with them.
Jets On Defense
New York has one of the worst defenses in the NFL and that is never something that a team wants to boast about when facing off with the New England Patriots. The Jets give up an average of 26 points per game while allowing more than 350 yards per game.
Tom Brady should be able to expose the numerous weaknesses that the Jets have on defense. Plus, the Jets don’t typically cause many turnovers. In 2016, the Jets have only 11 total turnovers (seven interceptions and four fumble recoveries). Players such as David Harris, Sheldon Richardson, and Darrelle Revis are always dangerous, but the Patriots should have no problems advancing down the field.
Jets Players To Watch: RB Bilal Powell and CB Marcus Williams
As the season has gone on, many thought that it would be running back Matt Forte springing from the pack, but injuries and loss of productivity has changed that. Bilal Powell has really started to come about and the last two games for the Jets have shown that he can be a featured back if given the chance. In the last two games, Powell has 229 yards on 45 carries and two touchdowns. He’s become the focal point of the offense and the Patriots will need to keep their eyes on him more than Forte.
Marcus Williams is a back-up cornerback, but has filled in nicely throughout the season in dime packages and for Buster Skrine when he was out with an injury. Williams is a pure ballhawk who always knows how to be in the right place at the right time. With two interceptions, six defended passes, one forced fumble, and one sack in 2016, Tom Brady will need to make sure he is aware when Williams is on the field.
While some may say that there are no easy victories in the NFL, the New York Jets have just about given up on this season. They are out of the playoffs and are already looking ahead to the many questions facing them in 2017. Still, they would love to take down the Patriots and will likely put their best foot forward in this game.