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During the season, Bent's Game Analysis charts games for some of the Jets' upcoming opponents, enabling a breakdown of what to watch out for on gameday…
Last year, the Patriots lost in overtime at MetLife Stadium, but the chances of a repeat performance tomorrow are slim. With the Jets falling to 3-7 before the bye, a chance to play spoiler is about all they have to play for over the final six games of the year. While many fans are already looking ahead to next year, the Jets' coaching staff will still be going all out to give a competitive effort. However, it might be hard to motivate their players following a frustrating first half of the season.
Let's break down the positional groupings (BGA-style!) for the Patriots to try and highlight what to watch out for.
After missing the first month of the season due to a four-game suspension, Tom Brady didn't need long to hit his stride, as New England is 5-1 since Brady's return. The only loss came against Seattle, who is the only team to intercept Brady and hold him to a quarterback rating of less than 100.
As ever, Brady does most of his damage with a quick short passing game, which is particularly worrisome for the Jets because that's something teams have used to good affect against them this season.
Brady has missed some practice time this week with a knee injury, but seems destined to play. Even if he doesn't, the Patriots were 3-1 without him earlier in the season, with current backup Jimmy Garoppolo responsible for two of those wins.
New England has gradually been overhauling their line over the past few seasons and has a trio of under-25 players starting on the interior with veteran tackles Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon on the outside.
Athletic rookie Joe Thuney has made the transition from collegiate tackle to left guard with second-year men David Andrews and Shaq Mason starting at center and right guard, respectively. Based on how he is grading out, Andrews is the weak link on the line, although he's also the only starter who hasn't surrendered a sack.
As a group, the line has blocked well in the running game while Brady's quick decision making makes life easy for them in pass protection. Solder is their most talented pass protector, although he has given up a team high five sacks and been flagged seven times, which is more than any other starter. Former starter Sebastian Vollmer is on injured reserve.
There's also some youth on the bench with rookie Ted Karras the primary backup on the interior and third year pro Cameron Fleming having started a couple of games earlier in the season when Solder and Cannon were out.
The Patriots' running game is driven by a motivated LeGarrette Blount, who has already rushed for over 800 yards and 12 touchdowns, and is third in the league in yards after contact. Blount has fumbled twice, however.
Just as important are the contributions the Patriots backs make in the passing game, an aspect which became all the more potent when Dion Lewis made his return from injury last week. Since Lewis' injury in the middle of last season, James White had done a stellar job in the same role and has emulated that this year with 39 catches already.
Only five other teams employ a natural fullback more often than New England. James Develin has been effective in that role, operating almost exclusively as a lead blocker.
New England's best four pass catchers - Rob Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett, Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan - are all listed as questionable for this week's game, along with Brady himself.
In the extremely unlikely event none of these players could play, that would leave Danny Amendola (19 catches) as the Patriots' top target, with rookie receiver Malcolm Mitchell (11 catches) and backup tight end Matt Lengel as the only other pass catchers on the roster. Lengel has played just six snaps this year.
Obviously, most - if not all - of those four will likely play, giving Brady a formidable set of options. Edelman and Hogan are two of the best possession/slot receivers around, with Amendola a solid alternative. Bennett and Gronkowski's physicality down the seam and underneath makes it difficult to find anyone to cover either of them, let alone both. They also contribute with their blocking in the running game.
Veteran Chris Long was a solid offseason signing who has boosted New England's running game. He's also played more snaps and created more pressure than anyone on the front seven. Long's addition to the defensive front gives the Patriots plenty of flexibility, as they will operate with both three and four-man fronts.
Jabaal Sheard is perhaps the team's most dynamic pass rusher, although he has just 3.5 sacks so far this year. Surprisingly, Trey Flowers, who barely played last year as a rookie, leads the team with four off the bench. While he's listed as a linebacker, Rob Ninkovich also spends plenty of time at defensive end and, although he's not having a particularly good season, he's a player who always seems to produce against the Jets.
Veteran Alan Branch and last year's first-round pick Malcom Brown had been providing the team with plenty of beef up the middle, with two rookies - Vincent Valentine and Woodrow Hamilton - backing them up. Branch was suspended earlier this week, though, so one of the rookies may need to step into a bigger role. They've both done well in limited action so far.
It's yet to be determined how the Patriots will cope without Jamie Collins who, despite being arguably their best defensive player, was surprisingly traded to the Browns prior to the deadline. Dont'a Hightower has done a good job of anchoring the defense all year, but Collins' range and athleticism in coverage won't be easy to replace.
The team is obviously high on Elandon Roberts, who is a sixth-round rookie out of Houston. However, Roberts really struggled in the last two games and has consequently started losing reps to veteran Shea McClellin. McClellin - a converted defensive end whom the Jets me with during the offseason before agreeing to terms with the Patriots - struggled last season in the running game and in coverage.
None of New England's other reserves have played much this year. They include former top-10 pick Barkevious Mingo and 2014 second rounder Kyle Van Noy.
New England's four starting defensive backs are also their four leading tacklers, which is not something you'd generally expect for an 8-2 team. The Patriots have also only intercepted three passes as a team, although most people would expect that number to rise tomorrow.
Pro Bowl safety Devin McCourty and Super Bowl hero cornerback Malcolm Butler anchor the unit but the other two starters - Logan Ryan and Patrick Chung - are less established.
The Patriots have some useful depth in the secondary. Duron Harmon is having another good year as the third safety, Justin Coleman is a reliable option to cover the slot and Eric Rowe has recently cracked the rotation, too. Rowe, a 2015 second-round pick acquired for a conditional pick in September, started and played every snap in the Patriots' last game against the 49ers. He had his first career interception against the Jets last season.
The Patriots never seem to have any issues with their kicking game and that's been the case again this year, although Stephen Gostkowski has missed three field goals. Punter Ryan Allen hasn't had gaudy numbers statistically, although he has allowed the third lowest return yardage total in the league this season.
Rookie cornerback Cyrus Jones has been the primary kick and punt returner, but he's been ill this week, so Amendola or Edelman might be required to fill in.
On the kick coverage units, pro bowler Matthew Slater has been ruled out, but Olympic rugby player Nate Ebner is among the league leaders in special teams tackles.
I'll be back on Monday to recap the game.
Stats from PFF were used in the completion of this article.