Patriots vs. Jets 2012 game preview: Is Mark Sanchez down to a last chance?

Jim Rogash

The former top 10 selection of the Jets completed a season-best 75 percent of his passes in a victory in Week 11.

Despite being the featured team in HBO's Hard Knocks and having the media storm associated with Tim Tebow, the season for the Jets hasn't been particularly thrilling. While a 4-6 start to the season certainly hasn't helped, perhaps the most significant reason for the less-than-intriguing Jets has been the unwillingness of the team to start the quarterback the team acquired in the offseason in a trade with the Broncos.

But with Mark Sanchez continuing to play at a sub-standard level, his time with the team is certainly on edge. Perhaps the last thing that could tip the scales in favor of the former-Heisman winner that backs up Sanchez would be a dominant performance from the New England Patriots.

Tebow hasn't exactly had the most success against the Patriots, though. In a divisional playoff game against the Patriots, he completed just nine-of-26 passes for 136 yards in a 45-10 drubbing that eliminated the Broncos from the postseason. However, the Jets may be given no choice, but to turn to the backup if it appears as though the Patriots will soon hand the Jets loss No. 7.

Meet the Jets

Sanchez completed a season-best 75 percent of his passes in a win against the Rams in Week 11. However, the game only managed to slightly lift the former-top 10 draft pick's completion percentage slightly as he has just a 73.4 quarterback rating for the season. Against a defense that is in the bottom five in the league and the second-worst at defending the pass, Sanchez will likely need to pick up the slack as the Patriots are much better against the run.

With Darrelle Revis out for the Jets, they'll need Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson to pick up the slack against an elite passing offense like New England's. Particularly, Wilson will likely be the one that has the tough task of stopping Wes Welker. It has been Cromartie, though, that has had historical success against the Patriots. He has three career interceptions against the AFC East giant.

Meet the Patriots

The story of the Patriots offense has been, and will continue to be, Tom Brady. The veteran quarterback has a 17-5 record against the Jets all-time with 32 touchdowns and 11 interceptions against the AFC East-rival. With a touchdown pass in 42 consecutive games, Brady needs a touchdown on Thursday to extend his streak to 43 which is the third-longest streak in the history of the league, but it hasn't just been the passing game for the Patriots. Stevan Ridley has a touchdown in each of the last three games for the Patriots and is third in the AFC with 842 rushing yards.

While the Patriots have been poor on defense, the team made a move to help fix that problem by trading with the Buccaneers for Aqib Talib. The trade paid immediate dividends in Week 11 as Talib returned an interception 59-yards for a touchdown in his first game with the Patriots. Rookie safety Tavon Wilson is another key contributor in the Patriots secondary and is tied for the AFC-lead with four interceptions through 10 games.

Local Takes: Jets

John B from Gang Green Nation says that the Jets need Kyle Wilson to play excellently if he hopes to shut down one particular receiver from the Patriots on Thursday:

If he's up against Welker, the Jets will need Wilson to play his best game of the year. Welker is no normal slot target. He's Brady's favorite weapon, and Brady will force feed him the ball if possible. Wilson had arguably his worst game of 2011 at the Meadowlands against New England. Brady picked on him.

Local Takes: Patriots

Alec Shane from Pats Pulpit says the Patriots aren't going to be completely crushed by the loss of Rob Gronkowski:

The Patriots learned the hard way last year that not having a contingency plan for an injured Gronk will cause them to struggle in big games. Learning from those mistakes, New England went out and signed every available tight end that there was this past offseason and currently have five on the roster. I think it's safe to assume that the team kept all of these tight ends around for this exact reason, and Daniel Fells, Visanthe Shiancoe, and Michael Hoomanawanui have been preparing all season to fill in for Gronk should he go down. While none of these players have the physical tools and pure ability that Gronk has, I can guarantee you that they know the playbook as well as he does and will be able to fill in for him adequately.

Follow the Fun

Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Gang Green Nation and Pats Pulpit, for more analysis and highlights from the game.

Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:

@GangGreenNation

@PatsPulpit

Jets beat writer: @MMehtaNYDN

Patriots beat writer: @GregABedard

Prediction

From the Week 12 picks:

No Gronk, no problem? The Patriots offense, which will be without Rob Gronkowski, is light years ahead of New York's, so this game shouldn't be that close. Maybe the Patriots can actually do the Jets a favor and end the Mark Sanchez era.

The pick: 38-17, Patriots

Odds

The Patriots opened as seven-point favorites over the Jets and are still favored by a touchdown, according to OddsShark.

Next Week

The Jets will stay at home and host the visiting Cardinals. The Patriots will continue AFC East play when the team travels to Miami to face the Dolphins.

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