The Patriots and Jets form one of the NFL’s most storied rivalries — even if the matchup has lost a bit of its luster this fall. These two opposite ends of the AFC East spectrum will meet at MetLife Stadium Sunday to add another chapter to their tale.
New England’s path to its 13th division title in the past 14 years runs through North Jersey. Tom Brady helped his team rebound from a Sunday Night Football loss to the Seahawks with a four-touchdown performance against the 49ers. He can pad the Patriots’ record — and continue his case for a third NFL MVP award — with another big showing on Sunday.
The Patriots are second in the AFC at 8-2, but they’ll have to keep winning to fend off a challenge from the revitalized Raiders in the race for home-field advantage. New England is staring up at the top spot thanks to a lower win percentage in common games, but the Pats face a much softer schedule to end 2016. Beating New York is the first step toward earning back the chance to hold the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium.
The Jets have pretty much the opposite of Brady at quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick will return to the lineup in Week 12, despite holding the league’s lowest passer rating for starting quarterbacks. He leads the league in interceptions and has generally been one of the NFL’s least efficient and accurate passers this fall.
New York turned to second-year player Bryce Petty to lead its offense two weeks ago, but that experiment yielded few positive returns. The Jets only scored six points in a loss to the Rams; Petty threw for just 163 yards in defeat. Rather than examine the young passer’s capacity to grow, head coach Todd Bowles will turn back to his unimpressive veteran.
That’s curious because New York doesn’t have much to play for this season, other than draft position. The Jets are 3-7, and the three teams they’ve beaten have a combined record of 10-21. While they’re still technically alive in the hunt for the postseason, they’d need quite a bit of help from the multitude of teams in front of them.
That includes the Patriots, currently five games ahead of New York in the AFC East. New England appeared to have dispatched its toughest divisional competitor after beating Buffalo on the road in Week 8, but now Miami has emerged as a new threat. The Dolphins have won five straight games after a 1-4 start. If the Pats lose Sunday, their advantage in the East could be down to a one-game lead.
Despite playing in MetLife Stadium, oddsmakers don’t like the home team’s chances for victory. New England is a 7.5-point favorite to turn its post-Seattle run from a win into a streak. That seems like the logical conclusion for a matchup pairing the league’s top-performing quarterback against its worst.
How to Watch New England Patriots vs. New York Jets on Sunday
Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
Location: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
Announcers: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Jamie Erdahl
Online Streaming: Sunday Ticket