From AB to NYJ.
Two days after officially closing the book on the brief and inglorious Antonio Brown era, the New England Patriots will host the New York Jets this Sunday in the first of two matchups this season between the bitter AFC East rivals.
Time: Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET
Location: Gillette Stadium
The Patriots pounded the Miami Dolphins 43-0 last Sunday to improve to 2-0. The Jets lost to the Cleveland Browns 23-3 on Monday to fall to 0-2 — and lost their backup quarterback in the process. With Sam Darnold still sidelined with mononucleosis and Trevor Siemian landing on injured reserve, third-stringer Luke Falk will make his first career start Sunday for New York.
After being favored by 18 1/2 points in Miami, the Patriots are overwhelming 21 1/2-point favorites against the Jets, who have not won in Foxboro since the 2010 playoffs. (The line had crept as high as 24 on some books before Brown’s release.)
New York has been outscored 105-12 in its last three visits to Gillette and hasn’t scored a road touchdown against New England since 2015.
This marks the first time the Patriots have been favored by 18-plus points in consecutive games since their undefeated regular season in 2007. It happened twice that year: Weeks 12 and 13 (vs. Philadelphia, at Baltimore) and Week 15 and 16 (vs. Jets, vs. Miami).
The Patriots’ offensive line was dealt a significant blow this week when the team placed left tackle Isaiah Wynn on injured reserve with a toe injury, sidelining him for at least the next eight weeks. Veteran newcomer Marshall Newhouse will take Wynn’s place in the starting lineup (see below).
New England also will be without fullback James Develin, who will miss his first game since 2015 as he recovers from a neck injury. Right tackle Marcus Cannon (shoulder), edge rusher Shilique Calhoun (not injury-related) and tight ends Ryan Izzo (calf) and Matt LaCosse (ankle) all are listed as questionable.
Izzo and LaCosse are the only tight ends on the Patriots’ 53-man roster, and the team currently has no backup for Develin. One solution could be to promote rookie fullback Jakob Johnson from the practice squad to fill Brown’s now-vacant roster spot.
The Jets, meanwhile, enter the weekend with a lengthy list of banged-up players. Here’s their full injury report:
QB Sam Darnold
LB Jordan Jenkins
LB C.J. Mosley
WR Demaryius Thomas
DL Quinnen Williams
OL Kelvin Beachum
WR Josh Bellamy
RB Trenton Cannon
DL Steve McClendon
S Rontez Miles
OL Kelechi Osemele
CB Brian Poole
OL Brian Winters
Mosley was one of the Jets’ highest-profile offseason additions. Williams was their top 2019 draft pick. Beachum, Osemele and Winters all are members of New York’s starting offensive line, which has struggled mightily thus far.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Phillip Dorsett, Patriots wide receiver
The player who stands to benefit most from Brown’s dismissal is Dorsett, who regains his status as New England’s No. 3 receiver behind Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon. Dorsett has caught each of the last 23 regular-season passes thrown his way, and he’s put together the strongest start of his Patriots career, catching four passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1 and hauling in two impressive grabs last week in Miami.
James White, Patriots running back
The Patriots’ running game could struggle Sunday with Develin out and both tight ends ailing, but pass-catching backs White and Rex Burkhead should face a favorable matchup with Mosley likely sidelined. Both have proven more effective and versatile than lead back Sony Michel so far this season.
Marshall Newhouse, Patriots offensive tackle
Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia confirmed this week Newhouse will take over at left tackle with Wynn now on IR. Newhouse replaced Wynn early in last week’s game, and though he struggled at times with a few pass protection mishaps and two holding penalties, Bill Belichick said he was encouraged by the 31-year-old journeyman’s debut, which came just four days after he signed with the team. Korey Cunningham will slot in at right tackle if Cannon can’t go Sunday.
Stephon Gilmore, Patriots cornerback
Gilmore has been downright dominant this season, and this week he gets to face one of his favorite foes: Robby Anderson, whom he’s taken great pleasure in silencing since joining the Patriots in 2017. In his last three games against New England, Anderson has totaled just six catches on 16 targets for 48 yards. When matched up against Gilmore in those games, Anderson’s stat line is even uglier: 10 targets, two catches, 11 yards, one interception, four pass breakups. Anderson decided to poke the bear this week, telling reporters Gilmore “holds a lot.”
Luke Falk, Jets quarterback
The Jets are hoping Falk’s knowledge of coach Adam Gase’s offense and similarities to a young Tom Brady will help him hold down the fort until Darnold returns. In reality, though, the second-year Washington State product faces a stacked deck in his first NFL start. New York’s offense has been brutal regardless of QB this season — they’re one of just three teams without multiple offensive touchdowns through two games — and New England’s secondary, which intercepted four passes and broke up seven more last week, might be the NFL’s best.
Le’Veon Bell, Jets running back
Bell has been the Jets’ lone offensive bright spot thus far. He’s run with conviction while also serving as one of the team’s top passing-game contributors, accounting for 128 of New York’s 161 rushing yards and leading all NFL running backs with 16 receptions. Bill Belichick slyly remarked Bell looks “fresh” after the Pittsburgh Steelers star voluntarily sat out all of last season.
Jamal Adams, Jets safety
Patriots players will need to keep their heads on swivels around Adams, a big-time hitter who announced his plan to “play MY brand of football” after being fined $21,000 for a borderline hit on Browns QB Baker Mayfield. Adams and Edelman had some highly entertaining battles last season, with the wideout absorbing several punishing blows in the teams’ Week 12 matchup before running through Adams for a pivotal touchdown.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images