Can Brady overcome history vs. Jets?
Any analysis of this game starts with New England quarterback Tom Brady, who is playing at a ridiculous level right now. He has 13 touchdown passes and no interceptions in his past six games.
Well, all of that will be tested Monday because, frankly, Brady has struggled against Rex Ryan and the Jets the last few years. He has had trouble with their blitzes and has thrown picks. In a Week 2 loss to the Jets this year, he had three turnovers. I don't know what it is, but the Jets clearly have something on Brady. He has had a hard time decoding what the Jets are doing to him. But I think he'll do well this week. He likes this group, particularly Gronkowski, who has 13 catches out the 17 TE receptions in the last four games. My guess is the Jets will counter with an athletic nickel back in there like Drew Coleman to take on those tight ends.
The Patriots' defense has really struggled this year. Bill Belichick is still working through that group to see what he really has. You can use a whole lot of legal pads writing down the personnel packages that New England puts on the field. On defense, the Patriots are in a constant state of churn. Vince Wilfork is at nose tackle, defensive end or he's a one-gap player or a three-gap player. Belichick is endlessly tweaking personnel -- nickel, dime or seven defensive backs. Kyle Arrington is a cornerback, but I've counted 25 snaps the past two weeks with Arrington playing defensive end with a hand on the ground.
Belichick has always been creative, but I'm seeing stuff I've never seen before. When you have Arrington, who is 5-foot-10 and 196 pounds, playing defensive end, you are just trying to manufacture pressure.
And that will be the key for the Patriots on Monday. They have to get legitimate pressure on Jets QB Mark Sanchez, make him uncomfortable and feel the pass rush. That will lead to mistakes. But the Patriots have yet to show an ability to do that consistently. They are sure to come up with something. I don't know what it will be, but watch out for the how well the Patriots do against Sanchez on the passing downs.