Last Thursday night, we actually had an interesting game that came down to the wire. Unfortunately, it seems that the Jets going on the road to face the Patriots has elements that could lead to another blowout. After people started counting them out just a few weeks ago, the Patriots have looked great the past few weeks. On the other hand, the Jets continue to struggle on both sides of the ball as they’ve faced teams that put their flaws on display.
Through six games, Geno Smith has really struggled but this might not entirely be his fault. Other than Eric Decker who has been battling injury, Smith just doesn’t have weapons that would scare an opposing defense. Jeremy Kerley would be best utilized in the slot, but due to the need at the position is entrenched as a starter. With Decker figuring to see plenty of Darrelle Revis, Kerley and Greg Salas figure to be Smith’s most targeted receivers. Another player to watch is rookie tight end Jace Amaro. Coming out of Texas Tech, Amaro was considered a new breed tight end that could stretch the field. So far, he’s mainly been used as a check down option as his ten catches for 68 yards last week would indicate.
One bright spot for the Jets offense has been Chris Ivory. Ivory was supposed to be in a timeshare with Chris Johnson, but has vastly outplayed him so far. For the year, Ivory has 325 yards while averaging 4.9 yards a carry. He has deceptive speed and runs with power so it wouldn’t be surprising if he saw around 20 touches tonight. Johnson still has big time play capability, but it is something he relies on too much. There are a lot of instances where instead of taking the three or four yards given that Johnson will be dancing behind the line of scrimmage trying to find 60. He should figure to see around eight to ten touches, but it looks like he’s being phased out.
Many are now saying that after the past few weeks that Tom Brady is “back”. The truth is that he never left. In the past two games since whispers of being “washed up” appeared, Brady has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes for 653 yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions. This is in large part due to members of the receiving corps coming up big. After putting up goose eggs the first two weeks of the year, Brandon LaFell has played well in his last three games. In that time, he has racked up over 200 yards to go along with three touchdowns. Against a struggling Jets secondary, the opportunity to build off of that is there.
Rob Gronkowski also appears to be back in pre-injury form. At full strength, he is one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the entire league. Against a weak Jets pass defense, Brady will look his way often. Another receiver to watch is Brian Tyms. Tyms showed through the preseason that he can be a very dangerous deep threat. He showed off that ability last weekend and his usage is worth watching. With Stevan Ridley out for the year, it will be interesting to see how the running back situation plays out. Going into this one, the assumption is that Brandon Bolden and Shane Vereen will split carries. Bolden takes over the Ridley “power” role while Vereen will continue to be a factor in the passing game. At max, both players should see around 10 to 15 touches tonight.
In the past, Rex Ryan has shown the ability to come up with some fantastic game plans to limit Brady. However on a short week, Ryan has his work cut out for him. For a team that struggles against the pass, this week marks the end of a ridiculous six week stretch. In this stretch, the Jets have gone up against Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford, Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning and now Brady. When it is all said and done, the Jets just don’t have enough firepower to compete with a Patriots offense that is coming into its own. My prediction is Jets 16 Patriots (-9.5) 28.