Win, lose or draw, the Jets (6-10) in Foxboro on Sunday will finish with a better record than New England (4-10) for the first time since 2000. It's possible they could finish with a better record, turnover margin and point margin than the Patriots for the first time since 1993.
Of some importance for the Jets is ending their losing streaks to the AFC East's kingpins of the last two-plus decades: no win since the "Meadowlands Leap" game at MetLife Stadium in 2015, no win at Gillette Stadium since the 2010 AFC Divisional Round triumph.
The drought is on the minds of some Jets players in the days before they wrap up their home-and-home with the Patriots. But LB Quincy Williams said the Jets are keeping that in perspective and, in the phraseology of head coach Robert Saleh, "keeping the main thing the main thing."
"It's not like an everything's-riding-on-this-one-game type of mindset," Williams said. "It's the same focus of not making it a big-big-big game but just doing our thing, doing what we do every single week — focusing on going 1-0."
Here are six players to keep an eye on as the Jets try to master the probably snowy footing and chill the Patriots in the AFL/AFC East rivals' final game of the season.
QB Trevor Siemian — The ball is in Siemian's hands once again as Zach Wilson's concussion will keep him out for the third game. Siemian hasn't had a downfield passing dimension to speak of in his limited playing time. But considering the possible gametime weather and the fact that the pass defense is the most vulnerable area of the Pats' defense (14th in yards/game, 23rd in INT rate, 28th in sack rate), short and intermediate routes may be the way to go. As far as his head-to-head matchup with a Bill Belichick-coached D for the first time since 2016 (a 16-3 loss at Denver), Siemian said: "It's a unique challenge going against his defenses, always has been. I'm looking forward to playing and giving it a go."
RB Breece Hall and WR Garrett Wilson — If the Jets hope to schuss into the Gillette end zones, the lead skiers will be the offense's two main weapons, whom Siemian describes as "sick," not as n ill but as in extremely talented. Hall leads the Jets in yards from scrimmage, and with 125 more YFS would have the fifth-best offensive season in franchise history. Wilson needs seven catches to get to 100 and 92 receiving yards to get to 1,100. More than reaching team standards, decent yardage behind the same starting OL for the third straight game (or possibly with Wes Schweitzer in for Jake Hanson at RG?) will help the Jets attack the QB's goal of "trying like hell to get it done by any means necessary."
DL Quinnen Williams and CB Sauce Gardner — The Jets' two Pro Bowlers are in the lead at the front and back ends of the Jets defense. Bailey Zappe, the Patriots' QB the past five games, while playing well in spurts, is sackable (16 sacks in those five games), pickable (three INTS at Buffalo), and has lost three of five starts, including both home starting assignments. Q doesn't have to get sacks, just keep applying his constant pressure to open up lanes to the QB for Jermaine Johnson and Bryce Huff, while Sauce doesn't need his first INT of the season, just his blanket coverage to help keep the Patriots offense frustrated in its unusual position as the NFL's 32nd-ranked scoring offense (14.6 points/game).
PR Xavier Gipson — Wouldn't it be pigskin karma if Gipson can reprise his opening-night punt-return game-winner vs. Buffalo with a big game-turning return at New England? And a little over a year after Marcus Jones' PR TD with 5 seconds to play beat the Jets in Foxboro? Not wishing for too much pressure on Gipson, what with his increased offensive profile, but he's just a tick over 10.0 yards/return and the Patriots' punt-cover unit is 21st in the NFL, allowing 10.3 yards/return. Just remember to pack those snowshoes, X.