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Jets Week Nine Preview: Patriots on MNF

Jets QB Sam Darnold

Last week’s 35-9 loss at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs just went to show how big the margin between the Jets and the rest of the AFC really is. Not only is New York an 0-8 team, but they are described as one of the worst teams in NFL history. Moreover, their path of misery doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon. In fact, their remaining schedule might be even more difficult than the first half of the year.

The Jets’ next challenge is an old rival that doesn’t have its once-avid dominance. New York will welcome the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football. The 2-5 Patriots are not having a good season but the Jets definitely seem like a favorable matchup for New England to get their first road win of the year.

One of the true eye-opening moments regarding how bad of a team the Jets are was the Chiefs covering a 19.5-point spread, one of the most lopsided this year, in Week 8. Jamison Crowder and Breshad Perriman were unavailable but the almost fully-healthy defensive unit was abysmal. This week, Gang Green doesn’t have many players ruled out of the game on either side, for the first time in a while. However, even that might not help them avoid the seemingly-inevitable path towards an 0-16 record. Meanwhile, New England, one of the most declining teams in the league, could prove an impossible challenge for the home side on Monday night.

Three Keys To the Game

Jets week nine preview

Photo credit: Steven Ryan/Getty Images

Can the Jets Stop the Pats’ Quiet Air Raid?

The 2020 offseason was not one the Patriots will remain positive about. One of the most downgraded components of the team was the passing offense. Firstly, it lost its long-tenured legendary quarterback Tom Brady. This was not the move that left the Patriots shorthanded, though, as Brady was considered past his prime and his replacement was an exciting playmaker in Cam Newton.

What really hurt the Pats’ was that their already shallow receiving corps lost Phillip Dorsett and Josh Gordon. Furthermore, Julian Edelman suffered an injury that placed him on the Injured Reserve list. N’Keal Harry has been both disappointing and injured, having missed the club’s last game against the Bills.

As a result, the Patriots have one of the worst air raids in all of football. With 192 yards per game, New England has displayed the third-worst passing offense this season and things are looking more discouraging by the week. A consistent rushing game has bailed them out but a team rarely gets away with a hole so significant.

This could represent a favorable matchup for most subpar or worse NFL defenses. However, as with everything in 2020, the Jets have had one of the least stable secondaries in the league. Through eight weeks of football, New York has conceded the fourth-most yards per game by air at 282.8. Their track record places them in the “doomed” category even in a matchup with a weak offensive unit. The chances for Cam Newton’s group to put a high note in a season full of low notes are beyond good.

A High-Quality Collision on the Ground

The Patriots might be quietly revolutionizing the way NFL running groups are perceived and used. The unit’s dominance is unlikely to stop with an unimpressive opposition such as the Jets, yet, the numbers do show that it will face a stiff challenge on the ground.

New England deserves its credit for finding a more than adequate answer in a tough time for the team. Sony Michel is not among NE’s top 3 most-used backs. And still, the group is one of the most productive in the NFL, with one of the heaviest workloads in the league, completely carrying the offense on its back in 2020.

Interestingly enough, it is their quarterback who has the most carries with 59. Standout second-year back Damien Harris has 10 fewer, and both are averaging over 5.0 yards per rushing attempt. Rex Burkhead has also provided a spark with 45 rushes and 4.0 yards per run. Overall, the Patriots gain an average of 5.1 yards per run, the third-best in the NFL.

The Jets have been stopping opponents at a very encouraging rate for their 2020 standards. Allowing 4.1 yards per running attempt, New York has established their running defense as the tenth-best in the league. Much of the success, though, came before Steve McLendon‘s trade to Tampa Bay. The Jets have still faired quite well, even without their long-tenured defensive tackle and a good night for the Jets front line could limit the Patriots running unit. If they do that then they give themselves a slim chance of getting their first win of the season.

Can a Healthy Offense Finally Show up To Work?

For the first time since the very beginning of the year, the Jets have no players ruled as out for the game as of Saturday, November 7th. Offensively, they will have Crowder, Perriman, Denzel Mims, and Braxton Berrios, all back for the Monday night clash. Keep in mind that Crowder and Perriman are still marked as questionable and might not be on the field if they are not 100%.

Hopefully, this will be the first time in 2020 that the Jets get to experience what the Mims/Crowder/Perriman trio is like. Mims, NY’s second-rounder, missed the first few games of the year with a hamstring injury. He has been fairly solid since his return, catching 6 of 10 targets for 84 yards.

All three pass-catchers have had limited playing time this year. Similarly, they have stood out in very different roles as opposed to the preseason expectation.

Perriman, for instance, isn’t the long threat he was thought to be. He is currently averaging 10.2 yards per reception on 11 catches throughout four games. It is entirely possible he gets reclassified to the intermediate passing game alongside the powerhouse Crowder.

Meanwhile, Mims, who leads the teams with 14 yards per reception, should continue to see his sporadic chances down the field. Previously, Mims was a very consistent receiver at Baylor who was a centerpiece in the team’s short passing game. As a rookie and after battling an injury, it makes sense that he is being used in a different role, one where he can exploit the opponent’s weaknesses on defense.

The Jets defense might not excel against a Patriots secondary that is one of the best in the NFL, however, especially with Stephon Gilmore coming back to the lineup after missing the Buffalo game.

Key Matchups

Jets vs Patriots 2019

Photo credit: NBC Sports Boston

Patriots passing defense (216.9 allowed yards/game, 8th) vs Jets passing offense (155.9 yards/game, 32nd)

Jets passing defense (282.8 allowed yards/game, 29th) vs Patriots passing offense (192.0 yards/game, 30th)

Patriots running game (221 rushing attempts, 5.1 yards/run, 3rd) vs Jets defense against the run (226 rushing attempts, 4.1 allowed yards/run, 10th)

Jamison Crowder (46 targets, 29 receptions, 63% catch percentage, 13.2 yards/reception) vs Stephon Gilmore (30 targets, 74.4 allowed passer rating)

Prediction

The Patriots pose nowhere near as big of a challenge as they have for the previous 20 years. However, despite a quiet air raid, their offense is very solid on the ground. Not to mention, their defense continues to stop rival offenses at a near league-high rate. The Jets remain competitive if they have their best day; but independent of that, they stand no chance of winning the primetime Monday game. Prediction: New England Patriots win 24-10.

Thanks for reading my New York jets week nine preview! Follow me on Twitter @TeodorTsenov for more of my content and follow @OT_Heroics!

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Teodor
Jets and Marlins writer for Overtime Heroics, as well as an NFL and MLB writer for Franchise Sports UK. From Bulgaria.
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