Jets vs. Patriots Week 7
Due to our special relationship with both the New York teams and the Boston teams, we thought we’d give this week’s Jets/Patriots matchup some special attention, but with a fantasy spin, of course. First I’ll take a quick look at the game itself and then I’ll get into some fantasy stuff.
The obvious way to break this game down, for me anyway, is to look at the ways the Jets can either win or at least be competitive. And, while I don’t think either scenario is very likely, it’s why we watch, right? So, how do the Jets win? They need seven things to happen.
1 - Pass rush
The Jets need a natural pass rush. Yes, Rex Ryan likes to blitz and I am sure we’ll see some of that, but New England throws way too much at a defense, as far as players in the pattern are concerned, to send extra rushers with any consistency. The key players here are defensive ends Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples. They can also hope for big plays from linebackers Aaron Maybin and Calvin Pace. If none of these players makes a big impact, the Jets can’t win. Jets fans would love to see Coples emerge here. There were signs last week against Indianapolis last week so this is a situation to watch. It's worth noting here that the Jets selected Coples (16th overall) five slots ahead of the Patriots' Chandler Jones (21st overall.)
2 - Turnovers
The Jets need turnovers. They simply must turn the Patriots over to win. This gets back to the pressure thing. Brady is the best QB in the league if there is no pressure. At this stage of his career, he is very human if you can get him moving around.
3 - Kyle Wilson
CB Kyle Wilson must come up big. We project him to be covering Wes Welker and that is a very tough matchup which was usually given to Darrelle Revis. Wilson not getting totally smoked is a huge key for the Jets. He has the talent, but he's very much on Welker's turf here both literally and figuratively.
4 - Special Teams
Mike Westhoff’s special teams must come up big. If the Jets win the special teams battle cleanly, they have a chance to be in the game. They’ve already gone to the well twice with Tebow making play as the up-man on punts, so that may not be something to look for. The loss of return man Joe McKnight is a big one for New York.
5 - Solid Sanchez
We don't want to ask for too much here, but Mark Sanchez needs to NOT give things away and he needs to make a big play somewhere at some point. It’s unrealistic to expect much out of Sanchez, but he needs to avoid turnovers and make the big play if it’s open.
6 - The Big Play
Yes, Sanchez needs to make a few, but who can he hookup with? Ok, no Desperate Housewives jokes. The obvious guy to watch is Stephen Hill. Hill may be the key player for the Jets this week. He has the ability to play above the defense though his hands are extremely, shall we say ... intermittent? He’s a like a poor man’s Kenny Britt, but with more functional gray matter and even stiffer hands. Anyway, they need at least one big play to win and probably more.
7 - Tebow
Tim Tebow needs to have his biggest game as a Jet. There’s really no doubt about this one. The Jets need to sustain drives to win and they need to run the ball. Shonn Green is pretty much the lone back with both Bilal Powell and McKnight out. The Jets will have to use more Tebow this week out of necessity, but we think it makes good sense either way. Tony Sparano’s Wildcat offense often gives the Jets an extra blocker. This is huge against a very stout patriots front seven. A big impact from Tebow is essential for the Jets to win.
So, uh, that's it. Basically, they need to be near perfect.
What about the Patriots, you say? They are simply on a different level than the Jets. New England has lost three times, yes, but by a combined four points. They just need to show up and play their game. Their biggest key is pass protection and ball security. Both Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick teach and preach mistake-free football. Avoid the things that send you home as Tuna likes to say. This is the New England mantra in Week 7, because only their own mistakes can beat them. If the Jets were fully healthy, that might not be the case, but it is.
Now for the fantasy stuff....
Tom Brady is a lock starter, obviously, and we think he’ll do very well. The trick with New england this week is to find the players he is going to use most. My guess is that he uses both tight ends and Wes Welker. Rob Gronkowski is a nightmare matchup for the Jets. Frankly, I’d be almost shocked if he failed to score. Aaron Hernandez has been a Jets killer too though there is some hope with improved safety play in 2012. Hernandez has killed the Jets after the catch in the past. It will be interesting to see if that continues with LaRon Landry at safety. Landry is definitely a player to watch this week. He is one of the few Jets capable of making a game-changing play. The other is probably CB Antonio Cromartie, though Brady has had plenty of success against him in the past. We do expect Cromartie to shadow Brandon Lloyd, which is why we think Lloyd will be relatively quiet. The downside of putting Cromartie on Lloyd is that Kyle Wilson draws Welker and that could be a big problem.
Moving to the ground, I love Stevan Ridley this week. He has a good chance to play the closer role and he’ll not be ceding carries to Brandon Bolden this week. The only way Ridley is not good is if the Jets somehow make this a close game. In that scenario, Danny Woodhead could steal significant snaps in the second half. Woodhead also has some flex appeal this week with so many players out on the bye and with Bolden out for the Patriots. I'll also be interested to see if Shane Vereen gets any action. With Bolden down, I suspect he will. Vereen is stil a potential fly in the fantasy ointment.
The Patriots DST is a pretty good play. They should be able to sack Sanchez and multiple turnovers seems likely.
For the Jets, it’s less fun. Sanchez is a bad play for many reasons none the least of which is Tebow, who could steal more fantasy value than usual this week. Tebow is obviously not playable though that could change in the coming weeks if Sanchez gets his long deserved benching.
The Jets receivers are wildcards. The two with the most value are Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley. This might be one of the few areas where the Jets are underrated. Kerley and Hill can make some plays if given the chance. The other guys to watch are receivers Chaz Schilens and Clyde Gates. Both can make plays, but there’s no way to predict their impact. Gates is a talent that we really like, but he’s a long range player at this point.
As for the Jets ground game, we are not Shonn Greene haters. We understand the venom directed at him in fantasy circles, but his struggles have been more about the Jets' lack of consistent blocking than Greene himself. The big back generally gets what’s blocked and he can hammer people on the second level. The question is, can the Jets help him get there this week the way they did against Indianapolis? I wouldn’t bet the ranch on it. Greene is worth a fantasy start, but he’s more likely to give you light RB2 numbers than he to give you anything close to what he did against the Colts. If the Jets plan on coming into Foxboro and winning with a Greene-heavy attack, we think they are in big trouble.
I’d avoid the Jets DST this week. They could perform, but I’m not betting on it and they have too much downside. In fairness, they have shown some mettle without Revis and they can be used in better matchups, especially if they start to gain some steam with their pass rush.
So that's what I've got. I'll leave you with a prediction.
Patriots 31 Jets 17
Enjoy the game, folks. And, if you’re inclined, leave a comment.