With only one win and excuses dwindling, Rex Ryan and the New York Jets could really use an upset win against the rival New England Patriots to get the season back on track. The Jets face an uphill battle, however, as the Patriots appear to have overcome some of their own early-season struggles.
The Jets entered 2014 with expectations of a playoff berth. Yet though six weeks, the team remains mired in quarterback questions while the defense has given up 62 points in the past two games alone. If New York fails to rally, many expect Ryan to be out of a job come January, if not before.
Geno Smith's grip on the starting job weakened in Week 6, but Ryan's sticking with him. The quarterback completed just 53.5 percent of his passes against the Broncos, bringing him down to 57.1 percent for the season. Although Smith put up twice as many touchdowns as interceptions Sunday, he's still thrown more picks than touchdowns on the year, and that one interception was a costly pick-six to seal the Jets' loss against Denver. Meanwhile, though Chris Ivory remains an effective runner, he too struggled in Week 6. On eight carries, the fifth-year tailback picked up just 7 yards. Backfield mate Chris Johnson fared little better, rushing for 9 yards on three carries.
The Patriots have charted a different path. A disappointing season-opening loss followed by lackluster showings against the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs led to media questions over whether Tom Brady had lost his magic. As the Patriots tend to do, they crushed those concerns with a statement 43-17 victory against the previously undefeated Cincinnati Bengals and a 15-point win against division rival Buffalo Bills.
Brady's resurgence is evident in his numbers. Just two weeks ago, Brady was in the bottom five in yards per attempt and the bottom half of the league in passer rating. After big games against the Bengals and Bills, he now sits at 23 and 13, respectively. As a result, Rob Gronkowski has heated up of late. Since the start of October, the tight end has 194 yards and a touchdown.
How to watch
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.
When: 8:25 p.m. ET
TV: CBS, NFL Network
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson
Online streaming: Verizon NFL Mobile
For more on the Jets, check out Gang Green Nation.
For additional coverage of the Patriots, head on over to Pats Pulpit.