The Patriots continued their dominance over the Jets (4-12) yesterday, as they eviscerated Gang Green 38-3. The Pats performed well in all 3 phases of the game, and generally made life miserable for the Jets. This victory improved the Pats to 11-5 on the season and helped them secure the second seed in the AFC.
Here are some takeaways from yesterday’s game.
1. The offense was remarkable
The Patriots offense has had its fair share of criticism in recent weeks due to uneven performances by Tom Brady and the passing game, which led the team to rely on Sony Michel and the other running backs for production. That narrative changed yesterday, as Brady caught fire early and dissected the Jets secondary for 250 yards and 4 touchdowns. Over the last week, there were several reports which stated that Brady had sustained a knee injury which would hamper his effectiveness. If that’s true, Brady did not appear to be any slower than usual, as demonstrated by the mobility he showed on his touchdown pass to Phillip Dorsett in the second quarter. All in all, Brady was sharp (except for some errant throws and a missed read in the red zone), and he was able to distribute the ball to receivers who had struggled to make an impact in previous weeks, such as Dorsett (5 catches for 34 yards and a touchdown) and Chris Hogan (6 catches for 64 yards). Julian Edelman was his usual effective self, as he corralled 5 catches for 69 yards and a touchdown. Rob Gronkowski (2 catches for 24 yards) showed some of the explosiveness he had lacked in recent weeks, especially on a 30 yard catch and run that was wiped out by an offensive penalty.
The offensive line was able to produce gaping holes at the point of attack which enabled the Pats to rush for over 130 yards, with Sony Michel (14 carries for 50 yards) and James White (4 carries for 30 yards) leading the way.
2. The defense was otherworldly
Many analysts expected the Jets offense to put up a fight against the Pats, but that never happened due to the strong performance of the defense. The Jets scored a field goal on their second drive of the day, but couldn’t sustain a drive after that. The defense was extremely opportunistic, as they forced 3 fumbles, including a 46 yard scoop and score for Kyle Van Noy, which made it hard for the Jets to score points even after getting good field position. Sam Darnold was rattled early, and was forced to consistently play from behind, which didn’t help his production. The Pats had a consistent pass rush which resulted in 4 sacks and Van Noy’s touchdown. Apart from Deontay Burnett, none of the Jets receivers crossed 30 receiving yards, which speaks to the dominance of the secondary.
This performance was a confidence booster entering the playoffs, but we should monitor the condition of Devin McCourty who left the game with a head injury.
Passing: Tom Brady – 24/33 for 250 yards and 4 touchdowns
Rushing: Sony Michel – 14 carries for 50 yards
Receiving: Julian Edelman – 5 catches for 69 yards and 1 touchdown
Defensive: J.C. Jackson – 7 tackles
Passing: Sam Darnold – 16/28 for 167 yards
Rushing: Elijah McGuire – 18 carries for 41 yards
Receiving: Deontay Burnett – 5 catches for 73 yards
Defensive: Jamal Adams – 11 tackles
(a) Here’s the complete playoff picture following the completion of the regular season
New Orleans Saints (13-3)
Los Angeles Rams (13-3)
Chicago Bears (12-4)
Dallas Cowboys (10-6)
Seattle Seahawks (10-6)
Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)
Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)
New England Patriots (11-5)
Houston Texans (11-5)
Baltimore Ravens (10-6)
Los Angeles Chargers (12-4)
Indianapolis Colts (10-6)
(b) I began making predictions for every NFL game during Week 3, and my final record for the games I picked is 139-71 (0.662)
What’s next?:The Pats have secured a first-round bye which means that they won’t be playing until January 13th when they take on either the Texans, Ravens, or Chargers at 1:05 PM.
The 2018 regular season has flown by, as Week 17 is upon us. The Patriots hope to clinch a first-round bye when they welcome the New York Jets (4-11) to Foxborough. Winning this game would guarantee the #2 seed for the Pats, but they could still gain home field advantage if the Chargers and Chiefs lose this week.
Here are some things to consider entering this Week 17 contest.
1. What will be the focal point of the offense?
Over the last few weeks, the Patriots have had a run-oriented offense, which has helped in relieving pressure from Tom Brady. Sony Michel and the running backs had a brilliant game last week against Buffalo as they totaled more than 250 yards on the ground. I would expect the Pats to continue to lean on the running game, as the Jets come into this game with the 26th ranked rushing defense. Michel had over 130 yards the last time these teams met , which should be an encouraging sign for the Pats. It’ll be important for the Pats to maintain the health of Brady, Gronk, and Julian Edelman because they’ll be essential for the team to make a run in the playoffs.
2. Can the defense stifle Darnold?
In Week 12, the Jets were without their rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, and had veteran Josh McCown start instead. Darnold has had an up and down rookie season, as he’s shown flashes of brilliance while also leading the NFL with interceptions thrown. I would expect the Pats to try to come after Darnold with Trey Flowers and Dont’a Hightower, who are amongst the NFL’s leaders with pressures on the quarterback. Bill Belichick will likely challenge Darnold to beat man coverage or try to fool him with zone schemes. Dominating the line of scrimmage will be essential if the Pats want to stifle the Jets’ rushing attack and force Darnold to play from behind.
Jacob Hollister (hamstring) – Out
Dwayne Allen (knee) – Questionable
Brandon King (knee) – Questionable
Cordarrelle Patterson (knee) – Questionable
LaAdrian Waddle (illness) – Questionable
Morris Claiborne (shoulder/ankle) – Out
Quincy Enunwa (ankle) – Out
Jermaine Kearse (achilles) – Out
Kevin Pierre-Louis (shoulder) – Out
Jordan Jenkins (ankle) – Questionable
Here are my picks for the rest of the NFL’s Week 17 contests.