It's time for just another Jets-Patriots game.
Might the Green & White be fired up to take over sole possession of first place in the AFC East? To show the naysayers one more time what they missed? To even the score for last year's one-sided loss at New England?
No, no and no, says head coach Todd Bowles.
"We have enough fuel," Bowles said. "We're trying to win anyways. It's a division opponent. It's a division game. It gives us an opportunity to get a leg up and go 4-2. That is really where it is right now."
Here are seven points to ponder for Sunday's annual MetLife meeting between these divisional foes:
1. Lots of HistoryThis will be the 117th time, including 3 playoff games, these original AFL franchises will meet — the most games the Jets have played against any NFL opponent. The Patriots hold the overall lead, 61-54-1, but the Jets have the home edge, 29-28. And lately they've held their own in the Meadowlands. They've split the last 8 games there since '09 and have more yards and first downs in those games. But they know the Patriots as always will be hard to defeat, especially if it's a one-score game with minutes to play, as were their home losses in '14 and last year.
Best Photos from the Battle Between the Northeast Rivals
2. Prep SchoolNew England beat Tampa Bay last Thursday night and so has the proverbial 10 days to prepare for the Jets. And as OC John Morton said, "Knowing Coach Belichick, who knows what we're going to get? We have to be prepared for everything." In the last decade the Patriots are 7-1 when playing after a Thursday game. The only loss came last year, by 16-0 to the Bills with Jacoby Brissett at QB for Tom Brady, serving the last of his four-game NFL suspension. In the seven straight wins before that, the average score was Patriots 37, Opponents 16.
3. They're No. 1Demario Davis and the Jets defense will be under the gun to slow down Brady and Co. even if just a little. Brady leads the NFL in passing yards and is second in passer rating, and he guides a multi-threat New England offense that is No. 1 in total yards, passing yards and first downs and third in points. "This guy is like Father Time," said DC Kacy Rodgers. "He's unbelievable." Even slowing the Pats' running game, ranked 18th, could be difficult if the Jets' No. 30 run defense shows up. Bowles: "We can coach it better, they can play it better. We just have to keep working on it."
4. There Will Be PainStill, the Jets may want to jump in on the punishment Brady's been absorbing this season. His 16 sacks and 32 hits are the most in the first 5 games of a season in his career. And G&W fans might've had crazy thoughts when they saw him not practicing Wednesday with a left shoulder injury. Yet Brady told Jets reporters, "I feel really good. Yeah, I'm excited for this weekend. I'm not too worried." Expect TB to be full-go Sunday: In the 17 Jets-Patriots games since 2009, he was on the Pats' injury report before nine of them. He started all nine.
5. On the Flip SideQB Josh McCown and his offense know a secret to victory will be keeping Brady's offense off the field. Possibly helping in that goal are the Patriots' defensive troubles: 32nd-ranked in the NFL in total yards, passing yards and first downs allowed, last in giving up 7.0 drive yards/play and 39.7 yards/drive. Even if Bilal Powell (calf) is out, Matt Forte (toe) is ready to return and contribute to the possession plans. And WRs Jermaine Kearse and Jeremy Kerley and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins have combined to catch 85.7% of McCown's passes targeting them.
6. Just One Tasty TurnoverTakeaways are incredibly hard to get vs. the Patriots. They're tied for third in the NFL with three giveaways this year, and since Bill Belichick took the reins in 2000, they easily have the fewest GAs and the best turnover margin in the NFL. Additionally, the Jets have scored only seven TAs vs. the Pats in their last 14 games and never more than one a game. All that being said, the Jets' Marcus Maye, Mo Claiborne and Freddie Bishop gave the defense a taste for turnovers at Cleveland. Even one takeaway and/or a zero margin can be helpful Sunday.
7. In the ZoneThe Jets' red zone defense is tied for 14th in the NFL in allowing touchdowns on 53.3% (8 of 15) of opponents' drives inside their 20. Fair, but another way to measure RZ efficiency is percentage of scores allowed, and in that category the Jets, after shutting out the Browns on three red zone forays, are the league leaders in allowing points on only 73.3% of opponents' I-20 drives. Strength near their goal line will be paramount against the Pats, who are scoring on 90.9% of their RZ drives.