The New York Jets and New England Patriots will face off for in an AFC East rivalry matchup on Thursday Night Football. Both New York and New England won their Week 1 games, which was kind of surprising. The Patriots struggled in their matchup, which was surprising, but the win was not. The Jets, led by Geno Smith, coming back to win in the final minutes was surprising against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Last season, the Patriots bested the Jets in both games. New York actually played better on the road, though they lost a very narrow 29-26 overtime matchup. At home later in the season, when the Jets were out of the playoff hunt, the Patriots put up 49 points in a dominating game.
But these are two different teams this year. The Buccaneers aren't on the Patriots' level, but the Jets could surprise everyone again anyway. Let's take a look at the two teams below:
Meet the Patriots
Who knows how much longer Tom Brady will be playing in the NFL? Regardless, he's playing now, and he's playing just fine. Brady didn't pick things up until the latter half of the game against Buffalo, and winning the game required two fourth quarter field goals.
Brady finished having completed 29-of-52 passes for 288 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The biggest storyline right now is the injury to running back Shane Vereen. He had carried the ball 14 times for 101 yards and caught seven passes for 58 yards in week one, but he's set to miss a couple weeks with injury. Reports also have wide receiver Danny Amendola potentially missing the game due to a lingering groin injury.
Vereen's injury will put the ball back in Stevan Ridley's hands though. Ridley has had fumble issues, which almost cost the Patriots the game.
Meet the Jets
The biggest storyline for the Jets this offseason was the quarterback battle between starter Mark Sanchez and rookie Geno Smith. Sanchez injured his right shoulder in the preseason, giving Smith the start in Week 1, and the Jets are going to stick with Smith going forward.
Sanchez may or may not be ready, but Smith would be the starter until he screws up big time, regardless. Against the Buccaneers, Smith completed 24-of-38 passes for 256 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also added 47 yards rushing.
Those aren't huge numbers, but they were enough for the Jets to win and get in position to kick a Nick Folk 48-yard field goal. Then again, it might not matter what the offense can produce against the Patriots, if the defense can't stop Brady and the vaunted Patriots offense.
Local Takes: Patriots
Greg Knopping of Pats Pulpit believes Shane Vereen's injury gives Stevan Ridley another chance to carry the running game:
Another chance for Ridley. By process of elimination, Stevan Ridley will likely get another chance to carry the load of the Patriots' ground attack. And because of this, there will be an even higher level of scrutiny on his ball control. For Ridley, this is an important chance to prove himself.
Local Takes: Jets
Jeff. W. from Gang Green Nation thinks the Jets running backs will be something to watch on Thursday:
The Jets' tailbacks averaged 2 yards per carry against the Buccaneers, but the Bucs do boast a historically good run-defense-they allowed an NFL low 3.5 yards per carry last year and have blue-chippers all over the front seven. The Patriots run defense was also good last year (3.9 yards allowed), but the Jets did have some success against them last season (225 yards in 2 games). I'm going to be watching Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell (particularly Ivory), and hope to see much more than we saw against the Bucs. The Jets were lucky to win with no running game, but a big game this week out of the running backs would be quite encouraging.
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A History: Jets vs. Patriots, Part One http://t.co/WMGEjScF6m— Gang Green Nation (@GangGreenNation) September 10, 2013
The Patriots opened as 10-point favorites, and throughout the week, the line moved further. They can be had as high as 13-point favorites on some books, according to OddsShark.
The Patriots will remain at home to host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, Sept. 22. The Jets will return home themselves to host the Buffalo Bills on the same day.