NFL Week 3: Jets At Patriots Preview

Michael Nania takes an in-depth look at Sunday's game between the Jets and the Patriots
Michael Nania
Sun, September 22, 5:17 AM EDT

The Patriots are heavy favourites for the matchup with the Jets and our expert Michael Nania delves deep into the game to see where it will be won and lost. 

Last Game

Jets – lost 3-23 vs. Browns

The injury bug has bitten the Jets hard at the start of the 2019 season, and they have not had an answer. Without C.J. Mosley, Quinnen Williams, or Sam Darnold to start the game, the injuries did not stop once the game begun. Debuting Jets Trevor Siemian and Demaryius Thomas were knocked out of the game, while Jordan Jenkins also left due to injury.

Luke Falk took over at quarterback, and did a decent job in his NFL debut, but he could not make up for the terrible offensive line in front of him. The group of Kelvin Beachum, Kelechi Osemele, Ryan Kalil, Brian Winters, and Brandon Shell was atrocious, allowing tons of pressure and creating few holes in the run game.

Ultimately, the defense kept the Jets in the game throughout the first few minutes of the third quarter, but the Browns broke it open off of an 89-yard Odell Beckham touchdown.

It was well known going into the season that the Jets were not a team that would be well-equipped to handle injuries, due to the poor depth on the roster. They would need great injury luck to succeed – and they’ve gotten the opposite.

 

Patriots – won 43-0 vs. Dolphins

In a matchup between arguably the most and least talented rosters in football, New England fully took advantage of the mismatch. They needed some time to get their groove going, but once they did, they just kept on rolling.

The Pats struggled to pull away in the first half, leading “only” 13-0 at the break, but they went off in the second half. On the strength of two pick-sixes, the Patriots outscored Miami 30-0 in the second half, en route to a 43-0 blowout win.

While the competition was weak, the Patriots secondary looked dominant for the second consecutive week. They notched a whopping 12 passes defended, including the aforementioned two pick sixes by Jamie Collins and Stephon Gilmore. In addition to the two pick-sixes, the Patriots notched two more interceptions, with Collins grabbing another and Devin McCourty grabbing one.

Altogether, New England allowed the Dolphins to gain only 3.1 yards per pass play – a dominant mark.

 

State of the Division

Jets – 0-2, T-3rd AFC East, T-12th AFC

Given their current predicament in the injury department, the Jets’ chances of winning the AFC East are probably spent already.

However, they can climb back into the mix if they can pull of the earth-shattering upset this week. New England is favored by 22 points at most outlets, a fair mark given the circumstances.

The Jets have struggled mightily in Foxborough recently. Over their last three trips to Gillette Stadium (all losses), the Jets have lost by an average of 31 points.

 

Patriots – 2-0, T-1st AFC East, T-1st AFC

The Pats are locked into an early tie with the Bills for first place in the AFC East. Buffalo started its season with back-to-back clashes at MetLife Stadium, and they swept the series, defeating the Jets and Giants on consecutive Sunday afternoons.

Following their game against the Jets this week, New England will make its way into Buffalo for a Week 4 clash with first place in the division on the line. That game could feature a pair of 3-0 teams. The Bills are hosting the 0-2 Bengals this week in their home opener, and are currently favored by six points.

Statistical strengths

Jets – 1st in takeaways

With five takeaways, the Jets are currently tied for the NFL lead with the Patriots and four other teams.

The Jets defense flashed big-time playmaking potential against Josh Allen’s offense in Week 1, taking the football away four times. In addition, they notched a safety, while another interception was called back due to a penalty. Allen also had what should have been an easy interception dropped by Marcus Maye. In total, the Jets nearly took the ball away seven times against Buffalo.

However, a couple of the players responsible for those big plays did not play in Week 2, and the Jets did not make as much noise taking the ball away. C.J. Mosley recorded a pick-six and a fumble recovery in Week 1 before missing the Browns game. Jordan Jenkins had a strip-sack against the Bills, but left the Browns game early on. Against Cleveland, the Jets only picked up one takeaway – a Darryl Roberts interception of Baker Mayfield while the game was already out of reach.

If the Jets are going to be successful defensively this year, they will need to be great situationally. They do not have the pass rush or cornerback talent to prevent teams from moving the football down the field. To make up for it, they will need to do a good job of forcing turnovers and holding up in the red zone. Both things are extremely difficult to do against Tom Brady – but the Jets will have to find a way to get them done if they are going to have a chance on Sunday.

 

Patriots – 1st in lowest opposing passer rating allowed

As previously mentioned, the Patriots secondary dominated the Dolphins last week. It was the second consecutive game in which they were dominant, as they pounded Ben Roethlisberger’s Steelers in Week 1.

Through two games, the Patriots have allowed their opponents to accumulate a passer rating of just 43.8, which is the best mark in football. They also lead the NFL with five interceptions.

 

Statistical weaknesses

Jets – 11 yards before contact for Le’Veon Bell

Le’Veon Bell has been a beast so far, leading the NFL with 20 missed tackles forced. However, he has had to do far too much of the dirty work by himself. Through two games, only 11 of Bell’s 128 rushing yards have come before contact, a minuscule rate of 0.3 per carry.

This is a tremendous negative indictment on the offensive line. They have got to be a lot better in both phases for the Jets to be competitive. The run game is a great place to start. Bell has been playing elite football, producing nearly average efficiency in scenarios where he would be expected to produce at a horrendous level based on the blocking. If the Jets offensive line can pick up their blocking game, Bell will have the opportunity to produce a ton of big plays.

 

Patriots – 18th in rush offense DVOA

Their run game has mostly been used to run the clock out thus far, since they’ve been leading for the majority of the time, but New England’s rushing attack can still improve. They are currently ranked 18th in rush offense DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) and 25th in yards per rush attempt (3.5).

Matchup of the Game: Patriots guard Shaq Mason vs. Jets defensive end Henry Anderson

It’s a narrative we hear pushed every single year – interior pressure is key to defeating Tom Brady. The Giants showed us that in two Super Bowls. The Eagles followed suit in the Super Bowl just a couple of years ago.

The Jets defense could have a matchup on the inside that they could exploit to their advantage this week. Patriots right guard Shaq Mason, who has normally been a stud for them, is off to a slow start. He has allowed eight pressures this season, which is tied for the third-most among guards.

Jets defensive end Henry Anderson has played the vast majority of his pass rushing snaps on the left side of the defense this season, which means he is going to be battling with Mason frequently.

Perhaps the Jets have caught a matchup with Mason at the right time. If Anderson can take advantage and have a dominant outing as a pass rusher, the Jets defense may be able to throw Brady off his game a bit – giving Luke Falk and the offense a slim chance to take control.

 

Michael Nania

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