The defending AFC East champion Patriots (1-0, 0-0 AFC East) visit the hated Jets (0-1, 0-0) on Sunday in the first of two regular-season meetings between the teams, and the Pats have an opportunity to put their neighbors in a big hole at the start of the year.
It's the Pats' first taste of the New Meadowlands Stadium against the Jets. They took on the Giants there just over two weeks ago in the preseason finale.
Sunday, Sept. 19, 4:15 p.m.
New Meadowlands Stadium
East Rutherford, NJ
Befitting for these teams, the Patriots and Jets are 50-50-1 against each other, although New England has a 2-0 edge in postseason meetings. The Pats are 24-26 against the Jets on the road, including a 1-0 mark in the playoffs.
However, the Patriots are 14-5, including 8-1 on the road, in the series since 2001.
The game features two superstars on the outside in Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss and Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, but it's highly unlikely that matchup will have much bearing on the game's outcome.
More importantly, it's about the Patriots' pass protection against the Jets' pass rush. The Pats have to keep Brady clean, and that’s an 11-man effort on every play. Brady and the offensive line have to read and recognize the blitz points and then make sure they communicate their blocking patterns. And then the receivers have to get open as quickly as possible for Brady to unload the ball before he's affected by New York's relentless rushers.
In the inevitable event that some rushers break free, the Patriots will always need a safety blanket underneath, such as Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Aaron Hernandez or a running back.
If the Patriots can contain the blitzes, they'll obviously have a good opportunity to take advantage of their high-quality offensive weapons. If the Jets win those battles, though, the Pats won't have a chance to generate any movement, and it will give the Jets plenty of opportunities to force turnovers.
From Thursday's practice report
Offensive lineman Nick Kaczur (back) did not practice and will not play.
Cornerback Terrence Wheatley (foot) did not practice and is unlikely to play.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman (foot) had limited participation and is questionable.
Running back Fred Taylor (toe) fully participated and will likely play.
Quarterback Tom Brady (right shoulder) fully participated and will play.
Outside linebacker Calvin Pace (foot) will not play.
Safety Brodney Pool (ankle) had limited participation and is questionable.
Cornerback Darrelle Revis (hamstring) had limited participation and is expected to play.
Keeping in mind that Week 1 overreactions are as dangerous as anything in sports, the short body of work that we've seen from the Patriots and Jets yields the notion that New England is a better team at this point. However, the Jets' blitz packages are a major wild card, and if the Patriots get beat, they've got to at least make sure a sack — and not a turnover — is the worst-case scenario.
New England's offense is certainly talented enough to break through the Jets' defense on a few possessions, but there is little reason to believe — through the preseason, as well as the Baltimore game — that the Jets' offense is capable enough to go stride for stride with the Pats.
There will be an immense amount of pressure on the Jets' defense to play one of its best games of the year, but in Week 2, the Patriots should rule the New Meadowlands.