NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (7-3)
at NEW YORK JETS (4-6)
Kickoff: Thursday, 8:20 p.m. EDT
Line: New England -6.5, Total: 48
One of the most bitter NFL rivalries continues on Thursday night when the red-hot Patriots make the short trip to New Jersey to battle the Jets.
In Week 7, the Jets played arguably their best game of the season in New England, but blew a late lead and eventually lost 29-26 in overtime. They outgained the Patriots 403-281 and Mark Sanchez threw for 328 yards. Tom Brady led field goal drives at the end of regulation and in OT. Brady has had a couple of duds in New Jersey since Rex Ryan took over in New York. He has a 79.7 passer rating over three games against Ryan’s Jets, but he picked them apart last November, throwing for 329 yards and 3 TD in a 37-16 Patriots blowout. He’ll be without TE Rob Gronkowski (broken arm), but should get TE Aaron Hernandez (ankle) back on the field.
Can the Jets slow down the Patriots on Thursday night? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts picks for every NFL game throughout the 2012 season and playoffs.
New England is riding a four-game win streak (2-2 ATS) thanks to an offense averaging 42.5 PPG during this stretch. Brady has a 111.3 passer rating during this string, throwing 11 TD and 0 INT. Brady is 17-5 as a starter in his career against the Jets, throwing for 5,314 yards (242 YPG), 32 TD and just 11 INT. In the Week 7 overtime victory, he connected on 26-of-42 throws for 259 yards, 2 TD and 0 INT. Brady and his talented receiving corps, led by Wes Welker (73 rec, 890 yds), is the main reason this offense is so efficient, but the rushing attack has also been strong in 2012 (143 YPG), piling up at least 115 rushing yards in four straight games. Defensively, the Patriots have also been great in stopping the run, with just 99 rushing YPG allowed. A big reason New England hasn't lost in four games is that the club has turned the ball over just once during the win streak, posting three straight turnover-free games.
The Jets have dropped five of their past seven games, including three of four on their home turf. Although they beat St. Louis handily last week, 27-13, they generated only 289 total yards including 3.0 yards per carry. Starting with the New England game, New York is averaging a subpar 105 rushing YPG on 3.6 YPC over the past four games. Sanchez played well the last time he faced New England, but is just 2-5 in seven regular-season starts versus the Pats, throwing for only 212 YPG on 7.0 YPA with 9 TD and 10 INT. For the season, Sanchez has thrown for a mere 6.5 YPA, 11 TD and 9 INT, as he ranks 29th in passer rating. But after committing 13 turnovers in his first nine games, Sanchez (and the entire Jets team) had a turnover-free game last week. Ball protection is of the upmost importance, as New England leads the AFC with 27 takeaways, returning two interceptions for touchdowns last week.