Preview, predictions, what to watch for
An inside look at Sunday’s Jets-Patriots Week 11 matchup in Foxborough, Mass.
Jets QB Zach Wilson vs. Patriots HC Bill Belichick
Wilson has played three games against the Patriots in his career and is 0-3 with two touchdown passes and seven interceptions in those games. Three weeks ago, the Patriots picked off Wilson three times, raising doubts about his potential as the team’s franchise quarterback.
Wilson is just the latest young quarterback Belichick has made look bad. Jets fans know all too well about what he can do to them, including making them see ghosts. Wilson played well against the Bills the week after his New England meltdown. He now has a chance to slay the dragon that is Belichick, but Wilson said he is not approaching this game as a chance for atonement.
“I mean excited because it’s another challenge, and this is a big divisional game for us obviously,” Wilson said. “Not necessarily to feel like I have to prove anything of, ‘You know what, last game didn’t go great, I got to do something different this time,’ but just the progress of we won a big game last week and it’s on to the next and this is our next challenge. These guys are a great team, they do a great job defensively, so I am looking at it that way, I’m super excited for this game.”
The Jets have not won in Gillette Stadium since the 2010 playoffs. Zach Wilson has shown no reason to believe he can carry the team to a win if Belichick’s crew successfully stops the run. This game will be close throughout, but the Jets will fall short for a 14th straight time against the Patriots.
Patriots 24, Jets 17
You again? The Jets and Patriots did not need extensive scouting reports this week to prepare for this game. They just faced each other on Oct. 30, a game New England won, 22-17. The X-factor in this game will be what kind of new wrinkles the coaches can throw at each other.
“The challenge is they saw what worked for them last time and this team, in particular, they just have a lot of different looks defensively,” tackle Duane Brown said. “Things that might have given us trouble, we expect to see that again. We also expect to see some things we haven’t seen. The pros of it is that you know what to expect to a certain extent. You know the personnel. You know the tendencies of individuals, things like that. It’s a good challenge.”
Making a run: The Jets’ winning formula this season has been playing great defense, running the ball and having Zach Wilson not turn it over. You can bet Bill Belichick will be out to take the running game away from the Jets and force Wilson to beat the Patriots with his arm. In their first meeting this season, the Patriots held the Jets to a season-low 51 yards rushing. But in that game, the Jets got away from the run early and had only 15 rushing attempts. It will be critical in the rematch for Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur to stick with the running game and find ways to get it rolling.
On the corner: The Jets’ defense has gone from the worst in the NFL to the top 10. A huge part of that turnaround has been the upgrade they made at cornerback. Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed are in the conversation for best cornerback duo in the NFL.
Gardner has the third-best coverage grade this season (87.8), per Pro Football Focus. Reed is 10th (80). Among players with 350 coverage snaps, Gardner has the second-best reception percentage (43.5). Reed is fourth (52.2). Gardner’s 189 yards allowed are third in the NFL. Reed is sixth in yards allowed with 244.
Moore to say: The ongoing saga of wide receiver Elijah Moore hits another chapter as the second half of the season gets underway. The Jets have made a decision to play Moore as the slot receiver more. Will that spark something? Moore has not had a catch since Oct. 9 against the Dolphins. In their last game against the Bills, Moore played 27 snaps and did not get one target.
“He’s not making an official move to the slot, it’s just a lot more opportunities in the slot,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh said. “So, just trying to utilize him to put him in the best positions to be successful.”
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