By Danny Cox
Some may have looked at this season finale as one that wasn’t very important, and a lot of fans believed the New England Patriots should have sat their starters. That wasn’t necessarily true, though—with home-field advantage on the line, the Pats knew that it was extremely important for them to win this game and stay at home throughout the AFC playoffs.
It didn’t take long for the Pats to jump out in front, and they ended up cruising to a 26-6 victory over the Jets to close out 2017.
Tom Brady didn’t have the greatest numbers as he finished with 190 yards and two touchdowns on 18-of-37 passing on a very cold day in the NFL. He was sacked twice, but it wasn’t as if he needed to do a lot to keep his Patriots out in front of the Jets and guide them to an easy victory.
The star of the day was running back Dion Lewis, who had another impressive day on the ground which will help take some weight off of Brady’s shoulders in the playoffs. Once the day was done, Lewis had 93 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries while picking up another 40 yards on six receptions.
Brandin Cooks led all receivers with 79 yards and one score on five receptions.
New York was contained throughout the entire day on defense as they were held to just 247 total yards on the day, but the Pats were not able to force a single turnover. Still, New York had a mere 40 yards on the ground and Bryce Petty had just 232 yards through the air.
Petty was sacked four times as New England brought pressure throughout the entire day and they were constantly in the offensive backfield.
Special Teams: B+
Once again, there wasn’t much at all by way of the return game, but the Pats did just fine without it.
Stephen Gostkowski hit his lone field goal attempt of 21 yards and all three of his extra points. Ryan Allen was busy, though, as he punted eight times on the day and in a very impressive fashion. Allen pinned the Jets inside their own 20-yard line on five of his eight kicks.
Bill Belichick’s main goal in this game was to have the Pats jump out ahead early so he could get most of his starters out and rest them for the Divisional Round of the playoffs. There didn’t need to be any kind of freak injury this week and Belichick knew it.
Up Next: The New England Patriots now have a week off before having to really get things going for the playoffs, as they have secured a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the postseason. As of now, they don’t know who they will end up facing, but it will be the lowest seeded team remaining after the Wild Card round is over. Anything could happen, and they have to be ready for whoever is heading into their home, but the extra week of preparation will allow injuries to heal and the team to rest.