Times have changed for the New England Patriots and New York Jets.
While the former has dominated the latter for the better part of two decades, it’s the J-E-T-S who actually enter this Sunday’s Week 8 matchup in the Meadowlands with a better record and perhaps a greater overall sense of direction.
The Patriots fell to 3-4 with Monday night’s shocking loss to the Chicago Bears, while the Jets are 5-2 after a four-game winning streak that included a Week 7 slugfest with the Denver Broncos. As ESPN notes, this marks the first time since 2001 the Jets have a better record than the Patriots entering a head-to-head matchup. New England has won the last 12 head-to-head meetings, a stretch that dates back to 2015.
In other words, something’s gotta give. Oddsmakers had the Patriots installed as 2.5-point road favorites as of Friday afternoon, as the Jets are dealing with some key injuries that could have an adverse effect on their ability to topple their AFC East rival.
ESPN Patriots beat reporter Mike Reiss offered a “bold prediction” Friday while previewing Patriots vs. Jets.
“This game will come down to the kickers — Nick Folk (Patriots) and Greg Zuerlein (Jets) — and if they can deliver in the clutch from distance,” Reiss wrote. “Folk did it once before at MetLife Stadium, drilling a 51-yarder as time expired on Nov. 9, 2020. Meanwhile, Zuerlein is the only kicker in the NFL this season to go 4-of-4 in a game on field goals of 40 yards or more.”
It’s hard to imagine the Patriots and Jets engaging in a shootout, as Mac Jones might have some lingering rust while resuming his starting quarterback duties for New England and Zach Wilson hasn’t exactly been a world-beater since returning for New York. Points could be at a premium, in which case there would be an added emphasis on special teams, most notably the kicking game.
Kickoff from MetLife Stadium is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET.