NFL Picks: New York Jets @ New England Patriots Keys to the Game

Last Updated: December 5th, 2010 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist)

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The New York Jets and New England Patriots have a ton riding on the line on Monday Night Football. Not only is the winning team going to give a catastrophic loss to the other, but the victors will pull a game ahead of the rest of the field in the AFC and will most likely hold the tiebreaker for the rest of the year over the loser in the AFC East race. Obviously, it’s going to give the winner a huge advantage. If that team can hold on to this advantage over the last quarter of the season, that team will only have to play two home games to reach the Super Bowl. The loser will most likely have to win three games on the road. In order to prepare you to make your NFL picks for the game, we have the three keys to the game to determine which team is going to beat the NFL betting lines on the day.

Key #1: Mark Sanchez Cannot Make Mistakes
QB Mark Sanchez has really done a nice job in recent games of getting the ball up the field. He has proven that the Jets are no longer just a team that runs the football to win games, as New York is averaging 212.4 yards per game through the air. That’s still only good enough for a modest No. 20 ranking in the NFL, but at least he has shown that he can make big passes. We know that his receiving corps is good enough to get the job done as well, especially with WR Jerricho Cotchery coming back into the lineup this week after dealing with his groin injury for the past two games. With names like Cotchery, WR Braylon Edwards, WR Santonio Holmes, and TE Dustin Keller to deal with, Sanchez has no excuse not to be able to move the football against a defense that ranks dead last in the NFL against the pass at 288.5 yards per game. The key isn’t so much going to be yards, though. It’s going to be turnovers. Sanchez’s eight INTs this year is way down from a season last year in which he challenged for the most blunders in the league, but all eight of those picks have come in his L/6 games. He has thrown at least one INT in all six. Against the Pats in Week 2, Sanchez completed 70.0 percent of his passes for 220 yards with three scores, but again, the key was no turnovers. The Pats need to force him into some mistakes, while New York is just hoping that its signal caller can look more like the man that beat this team in Week 2 and less like the one that has been careless with the pigskin of late.

Key #2: Rex Ryan’s Defense Must Have No Fear
In the first half of the clash in Week 2 against the Pats, the Jets really didn’t come after QB Tom Brady. He did the mass majority of his damage in that game in the second quarter, as that is when he threw both of his touchdown passes. After that though, the dogs were let loose, and New York started to cause all sorts of ruckus in the New England backfield. Brady couldn’t figure out what was going on, and he could not get the Patriots on the scoreboard in the entire half, something that is absolutely a rarity for him. DE Jason Taylor did have the only sack in the game for the men in green, but he was one of the many that was all over the backfield and all in Brady’s face in that second half. The Jets cannot sit back and let Brady pick them apart in this one for any period of time. Their defensive backs are certainly good enough to contend with what New England has to offer in man coverage 100% of the time. Sometimes, you’ll get burned. Sometimes, you’ll cause some big turnovers as well. Those picks are going to be key, and the Jets got two of them last time around. They have to come after Brady right from the start, especially on the road on Monday Night Football.

Key #3: New England Has To Get A Ground Game Going
Truth be told, this has been what has hurt Brady the most this year. RB Kevin Faulk is out for the season with an ACL tear, and RB Fred Taylor has been out of the fold for the last seven games with a toe injury. In Week 2, New England picked up New York castoff RB Danny Woodhead, and in just eight games, he has picked up 344 yards on the ground and 230 through the air. Though the majority of the carries are still going to RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Woodhead is going to get his chances. This offensive line badly needs to step up and embrace the idea of attacking the Jets in the trenches, something that is usually going the other direction when the New York ‘D’ is on the field. If Ellis and Woodhead cannot get anything going in the rushing game or even in the screen and short pass department, Brady is going to just be a dead man walking in this pocket. You know that, especially with a long week to prepare after playing on Thanksgiving night, that Rex Ryan and company have been drawing up some new schemes to prepare for the Brady aerial assault. The running game needs to be the great equalizer for New England to win on Monday Night Football.

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Posted in NFL Football - Last Updated on Sunday, December 5th, 2010 @ 11:11 am (EST)
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