By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Well, now that that’s over with … they’re going to actually play some football in Foxboro. How about that?
Sure, it may not be expected to be the most competitive football game in history, as the Patriots are favored by over 20 points. But as Tom Brady said on Friday, there’s no such thing as an easy game in the NFL, so nothing can be taken for granted. Not even a game against the 0-2 Jets with their third-string quarterback.
As for the game, here’s what to keep an eye on when the Patriots and Jets kick off at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Here’s the thing with Luke Falk: Yes, he’s the third-string quarterback, but also … he’s almost certainly a better quarterback than Trevor Siemian. He surely can’t be a worse quarterback than Trevor Siemian.
The Tom Brady comparisons drawn this week with Falk — pick No. 199 in the draft, 6-foot-4, entered for an injured starter in Week 2, first career start in year two vs. a Hall of Fame QB in Foxboro, etc. — are kind of uncanny, but also irrelevant. Don’t look for Falk to light the world on fire here.
But … don’t be surprised if Luke Falk is better than you thought. The Pac-12’s all-time leading passer is indeed a real quarterback.
Antonio Brown is no longer a member of the Patriots — perhaps you’ve heard? — and while that may make the receiving corps a bit weaker, it does reopen the door for Jakobi Meyers. The undrafted rookie out of NC State was the darling of training camp and the star of the preseason, but he saw limited action in Week 1 before the Patriots made him inactive in Week 2. Call it the AB Effect.
Now, presumably, Meyers will have a role in the offense, and we’ll all get to see whether the star of the summer can contribute in the fall — and beyond.
Stephon v. Robby
The Jets’ receiving corps may be in shambles of sorts, but it could nevertheless present a must-see matchup. That’s because Robby Anderson went ahead and threw out a little bit of disrespect toward Stephon Gilmore, a cornerback whom Jets head coach said this week is probably the best in the NFL.
Anderson said that Gilmore gets away with “a lot” of holding, which was either a little bit of politicking to get a call or two or just the release of a little bit of frustration. Gilmore has locked down Anderson in the past, so any change of strategy might be worth a try.
Anderson may be the only healthy receiver for New York, as Demaryius Thomas is doubtful with a hamstring and knee injury and Josh Bellamy is questionable with a shoulder injury. That will leave Jamison Crowder and Braxton Berrios as the remaining receivers, which should guarantee us plenty of Gilmore on Anderson throughout the afternoon.
Even if the game is not competitive, watching that battle should be a good time.
The Jets may stink, but Le’Veon Bell appears to still be Le’Veon Bell.
After a year away from playing tackle football, Bell looked like his old self on Monday night vs. the Browns. Bell had 31 total offensive touches, with 21 carries and 10 receptions. He gained a somewhat-modest (by his standards) 129 yards from scrimmage, authored a spectacular open-field hurdle, and appeared to be as elusive as ever.
come flyyyy with me 💫 pic.twitter.com/whEG0eBIyM
— Le'Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) September 19, 2019
On account of the status of the New York Jets overall, the 27-year-old Bell is probably going to struggle to put up the gaudy stat lines he used to post weekly with the Steelers. But he’ll still present a challenge for the vaunted New England defense, which will certainly have to break a sweat in order to try to contain him.
(Bell toasted the Patriots the last time he saw them, in the famed Jesse James drop game, when he rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown while also catching five passes for 48 yards.)
That leads us to the next important question …
BONUS: Will Patriots’ Defense Allow A Touchdown?
Going back to the Super Bowl, the Patriots have now played three complete games without allowing a single touchdown. In this era of offense, where defense is all but outlawed, that is ridiculous. Utterly and completely preposterous.
They just might make it four, too, as the Jets enter Sunday as the NFL’s 31st-ranked offense in terms of yards and 31st-ranked offense in terms of points. Only the miserable Dolphins are worse.
BONUS: Stephen G.
Stephen Gostkowski had himself a miserable afternoon in Miami last weekend. There’s no other way to put it. But with Miami-like temperatures expected in New England this weekend, Gostkowski can get a do-over of sorts. If he makes all of his kicks, then all will be well. If he clanks any more PATs, though, he will ensure that the region — otherwise starved to find points of legitimate criticism — will continue to talk about the kicker for another week.