Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you know the New England Patriots will be without starting quarterback Tom Brady for the first four weeks of the upcoming NFL season.
The New York Jets are certainly aware, but they don’t see Brady’s Deflategate suspension shifting the balance of power in the AFC East.
“(Jimmy) Garoppolo can play,” Jets coach Todd Bowles told the New York Daily News, referring to the man who’s expected to start in Brady’s place. “They don’t worry about who they have. They just have a system in place and they go play football. I think people underestimate that. You still have to knock off the champs. It’s theirs until somebody takes it from them.”
Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson offered a similar take and added he’d rather play the Patriots when they’re at full strength. He should get that wish: The first Pats-Jets game of the season isn’t until Week 12, long after Brady’s scheduled return.
“I don’t like playing the Patriots when he’s not on the field,” Richardson told the Daily News. “I like knocking the top dogs off their chair. Personally, I like the challenge. I like going against the best. He’s one of the best. Probably the best to ever play.”
The Patriots have dominated the AFC East during the Brady-Bill Belichick era, winning each of the last seven division titles and 12 of the last 13. The Jets finished a mere two games back of the first-place Pats last season, however, the closest any division foe had come since 2009 to knocking New England from the top spot.
Each of the last six Patriots-Jets meetings has been decided by a touchdown or less.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images
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