Focal point: Martin vs. Dillon

Our experts debate the matchup between Curtis Martin and Corey Dillon.

Updated: October 21, 2004, 12:54 PM ET
ESPN.com

The Matchup:

Curtis Martin vs. Corey Dillon

The Game:

Jets at Patriots, 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS

The Question:

Who will get the best of this matchup? Click here to vote!

Curtis Martin vs. Corey Dillon
Curtis Martin By Merril Hoge

The Jets' athletic offensive line will help Curtis Martin surpass 100-yards and win his matchup against the Pats' defense. This line has played amazingly well this season. They are one of the fastest in the NFL and do a wonderful job of run protection for Martin. They allow him to get to the hole and into the linebackers and secondary, where he's able to do a ton of damage to opposing defenses.

Martin is looking like the Martin of old from a few years ago when he terrorized the league. He's quickly destroying the commonly held perception that running backs are done after the age of 30. So far this season Martin has rushed for 613 yards (No. 1 in the NFL) with six touchdowns and a 4.6-yard average.

Early this year in Week 1 Edgerrin James had a big game against the Patriots. James wasn't used very often in the first half of that game, but he did a great job gaining yards in the second half against the Patriots defense. That proved to me that the Patriots could be vulnerable to a great running back or a well-schemed attack. This week we'll see if the Pats are able to handle Martin.

Corey Dillon By Sean Salisbury

This will be a very good matchup, but one Corey Dillon should win. This week he's facing a fast, athletic Jets defense that excels at running down opposing running backs from sideline to sideline. This is a contrast in styles because Dillon is a straight-ahead, physical running back. He's not going to bounce many runs to the outside. The Pats are going to run him between the tackles to try and test if the Jets are physical enough to handle him.

Also, the Jets will have to contend with quarterback Tom Brady who has the potential to hurt their defense. The Jets will have to make the decision of whether to put eight men in the box to stop Dillon and give Brady the chance to beat them or to play a softer coverage to stop Brady and give Dillon the chance to beat them.

It's not an easy decision, but the threat of Brady should be enough to force the Jets to play soft coverage and put the game in Dillon's hands. Right now Dillon is playing extremely well with 522 yards and a 4.9-yards per carry average. I'm not surprised he's doing so well because I feel he's one of the best running backs in the league and this week he's going to get a lot of carries to prove it.

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