The Jets (3-7) vs. the New England Patriots (7-3) at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on Sunday, Nov. 25, at 1 p.m. ET.
Compared to the Thanksgiving chill we've experienced around here, it'll be a beautiful day in the neighborhood on Sunday, with partly cloudy skies, light winds and temperatures in the low-to-mid 50s.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Jets are only two games back in the wild-card race, but let's be realistic: That's not happening. Not with the tough schedule they have down the stretch. What this game is all about is salvaging their pride and dignity after their humiliating, pre-bye week loss to the Buffalo Bills. That game might have just been enough to push ownership over the edge with head coach Todd Bowles, who seems more certain by the day to be fired at the end of the season. There's always time to change minds and the narrative, of course.
But the Patriots aren't a good opponent to try to do that against. The Jets are far out-classed in talent here, obviously. But if they put up a fight at least for one week they won't be the punch line that they've been for the last two weeks.
PLAYER TO WATCH: LBs Darron Lee and Avery Williamson
The Patriots may not have the same, dangerous offense they usually have -- especially when it comes to the deep passing game -- but they have a lot of diversity that can give teams trouble. They make great use of running backs like James White (230 rushing yards, 66 catches for 562 receiving yards) and Sony Michel (453 rushing yards). That puts a lot of pressure on the linebackers. The cornerbacks will have their hands full with Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon, and safety Jamal Adams will presumably have to handle TE Rob Gronkowski.
Lee and Williamson in particular will be the ones tasked with stopping the running backs, both when they break through the front line and when they're used as receivers out in space. And that, by the way, will include Cordarrelle Patterson if Bill Belichick chooses to use him in the backfield again, too. It's not an easy task, nor is a normal scheme the Jets face. It will be a good test of Williamson's instincts and Lee's speed.
The Jets lost to the Bills 41-10 two weeks ago, and after that it's impossible to even think about picking them again. Their defense, which was supposed to be the strength of the team this season, was shredded by Matt Barkley, who had been signed to play quarterback less than two weeks earlier, and running back LeSean McCoy, a 30-year-old who had been enduring one of his worst seasons. So imagine what Tom Brady and the diverse New England offense is going to do to them. Plus, veteran Josh McCown was terrible and rusty against the Bills. He should be better this week, but it's not like he suddenly has a better offensive line or more weapons at his disposal.
About the only thing the Jets have going for them this week is maybe they were embarrassed, maybe they took the Bills too lightly, maybe they're tired of hearing that they looked like they quit. If nothing else, that should help them keep this game a little closer. But it won't help them win. They're just nowhere near good enough for that. ... Patriots 34, Jets 20.
MY RECORD: 4-6
MY RECORD WHEN PICKING JETS TO WIN: 1-4
MY RECORD WHEN PICKING JETS TO LOSE: 3-2