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The Jets aren't letting the Patriots run away with the AFC East

The Jets have won four games by 13 points or more and have the chance to take over the AFC East lead in Week 7.

The New England Patriots kept their undefeated record intact with a win over the Indianapolis Colts, but a loss in Week 7 would actually drop the team to second in the AFC East. Despite the strong start for the perennial division champions, the New York Jets have stayed within striking distance and managed to set up a battle for the top spot in the division.

New York hasn't eked out a 4-1 record either. While the Philadelphia Eagles dealt the Jets a 24-17 loss in Week 3, the four wins have all been by a margin of 13 points or more.

No team has allowed fewer points, yards or first downs than the Jets and no one team has forced more turnovers per game. The offense hasn't been bad either, with the NFL's No. 1 rushing attack and top-10 rankings in points and yards per game.

All of those numbers mean the Jets will provide the Patriots with plenty of challenges to deal with in Week 7.

Unstoppable force meets immovable object

The Jets forced 10 turnovers in the first two weeks of the season, then followed by choking the life out of opposing offenses in the next three weeks. While the Eagles beat them in Week 3, it had more to do with four turnovers by the Jets offense and blown plays on special teams, including a punt return touchdown for Darren Sproles.

There's something entirely different about slowing down the Patriots, though.

"We've been playing lights-out," Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis said on Sunday after a 34-20 win over Washington. "We've just got to continue to make plays on defense and get the ball back to the offense for those guys to make plays. It's always been close in this rivalry. We have our fair share of wins and they do, too. It's going to be a battle. They're a team. Any team can be beat any way on any given Sunday. We're familiar with them and they're familiar with us. It's going to be a great game."

Revis earned a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots last season before returning to the Jets and now leads the NFL with three fumble recoveries to go with three interceptions, totaling six turnovers for the six-time Pro Bowler.


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The Patriots have already made a few of the NFL's top defenses look subpar, including the Buffalo Bills, who allowed 507 yards to New England but haven't given up more than 400 in any other week. If the Bills had allowed 407 yards instead of 507 to the Patriots, the team would be No. 8 in total defense, but were instead banished by New England to No. 17.

Richardson makes the Jets even scarier

After three straight games of fewer than 250 yards allowed, it would take more than 507 yards to drop the Jets defense from even the top five, and managing to sustain offense will be especially tough now that the unit is running on all cylinders with the return of Sheldon Richardson.

The Pro Bowl defensive tackle made his return from suspension in Week 6 and recorded half a sack in his debut. After the game, he told ESPN all eyes were on a trip to play New England next week:

"We're licking our chops. ... Our confidence is really high. We're not on no high horse, but you're supposed to have confidence in yourself."

Even on a defense that features players like Revis and Muhammad Wilkerson, Richardson may be the most impactful player. Off-field troubles aside, the 2013 Defensive Rookie of the Year had eight sacks in his second season and rejoins a defensive line that now has three first-round picks starting, all of whom are 26 or younger.

For the Patriots, Tom Brady has been thoroughly excellent in 2015 with 14 touchdowns and only one interception, but he has been sacked 13 times, the 12th-most in the NFL.

A steady dose of Ivory

Ryan Fitzpatrick deserves some credit for the way he has played for the Jets, but there's no secret what the team wants to do on offense. No team has racked up more rushing yards and only the Carolina Panthers have attempted more rushes per game.

The Patriots have looked most vulnerable when attempting to stop opposing rushers and enter Week 7 allowing 4.8 yards per carry, the fourth-highest average in the NFL. That means they should expect to see plenty of Chris Ivory, who is averaging 5.5 yards per carry and has 460 rushing yards and four touchdowns in only four games.

In two October games, Ivory has combined for 312 rushing yards and even tacked on 50 yards receiving on Sunday against Washington.

Fitzpatrick has done enough to help the Jets win, but has still had at least one interception in every game in 2015. Those kind of mistakes need to be avoided in a no-margin-for-error game against the Patriots, so feeding Ivory, a player who has zero fumbles in 2015 and just four since 2010, is a safer strategy.

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New England has earned the AFC East title six straight times and in 11 of the last 12 seasons, but the Jets are lurking. In a conference that features only five winning records through six weeks, even a loss to the Patriots would keep the Jets in the fine shape for a run at the Wild Card.

But they will have their chance to punt the kings from the AFC East throne in Week 7, even if it's only for a little while.

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