The Tom Brady-era Patriots would destroy the New York Jets on Sunday. It would be a laugher.
The 2021 Patriots? There are no such automatic wins for them.
New England needs a victory Sunday at Gillette Stadium — if it still wants a shot at making the playoffs, anyway. A win also would prevent loud, sky-is-falling conjecture from surrounding Bill Belichick’s team. And the Patriots should win this game, as they are better than the Jets and Belichick is 13-0 at home against rookie quarterbacks since becoming head coach in New England.
But don’t be surprised if the Week 7 contest gets a little too close for comfort.
Reminder: New England’s Week 2 win in New York was a two-score game in the fourth quarter despite Zach Wilson putting forth one of the worst quarterbacking performances in recent memory. And the rookie didn’t even have receivers Keelan Cole and Jamison Crowder available, both of whom will play Sunday, while the Patriots potentially will be without starting corner Jonathan Jones.
Furthermore, the Jets are only a few weeks removed from beating the Tennessee Titans. If you’re into the transitive property, then you could look at that New York win this way: The Jets beat the Titans; Tennessee just beat the Bills; Buffalo might be the class of the AFC. So, the Jets seemingly are capable of beating the 2-4 Patriots.
Even if you don’t look at it that way, it’s impossible to argue that New York’s lone win this season is more impressive than any of New England’s victories. And, sure, you could point to the Patriots nearly beating both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys as evidence of them being better than their record, but Belichick’s team also has shown an alarming propensity for playing down to its competition, too.
There’s a chance the Patriots, who definitely have looked better in recent weeks, particularly on offense, make easy work of New York. But the Jets, who are coming off a bye, could gameplan and wrinkle their way into a tight affair.
If that happens, the Patriots could do what they’ve done so often since Brady left town: lose close games.
So, when you turn on the TV to watch the Patriots this weekend, feel cautiously optimistic for a victory, rather than confident in an easy win.