Let's improvise on an Irving Berline lyric to capture the spirit of this afternoon's Jets-Patriots season finale at in Foxboro, MA:
There's no game like a snow game like no game I know...
There figures to be from 4 to 8 inches of the white stuff on the Gillette Stadium turf by the end of the storm blanketing the Northeast. The field looked playable around 10 a.m., three hours ahead of the opening kickoff, but snow is expected to fall throughout the game, with temps in the upper 30s and winds near 20 mph.
Some may see it as a frigid, grim landscape for two longtime rivals playing out the 2023 season, the Jets at 6-10 guaranteed of finishing with a better record than the Patriots (4-12) for the first time since 2000.
Others may view the setting as a chance for a classic amalgamation of the elements and the game — Jets fans, think of Curtis Martin and the Green & White snowshoeing to their 6-0 win over Pittsburgh in the Meadowlands in 2003 — or for an unlikely occurrence that will be talked about for years to come — New England fans fondly recall "the snowplow game" and the 3-0 win over the Dolphins at Schaefer Stadium in 1982.
But there are many things the Jets and their followers can take away from this game if they can nail down a frosty, flaky victory. They can end their overall and road losing streaks to their football frenemies and possibly, if the NFL rumor mill is accurate, send HC Bill Belichick away from New England with a home loss, the way they ushered him into the Patriots, with a 34-17 loss at then-named Foxboro Stadium in 2000, his first home game against the team he departed from after the 1999 season.
And the very best part is that if it means anything for an NFL team eliminated from the playoff picture to take a great, gritty win into the offseason, the Jets will have just the ticket to give them a little extra motivation for the work ahead and for the restart to the Aaron Rodgers phase of Jets Nation football.
"It's extremely important," CB Sauce Gardner said of ending the Jets' 15-game skid vs. the Patriots since 2015's most recent triumph. "But we're not going to treat it like it's a different game than how we usually play. This is the last game of 20233 and the first game of 2024. We just want to go 1-and-0.
See photos of the Jets arriving at Gillette Stadium for Week 18 against the Patriots.
Today's game bodes well for low-scoring and little yardage. In the teams' last three meetings, the Patriots won 22-17, 10-3 and 15-10. Whether it had snowed or not, two strong defenses will take the field to try to bottle up the offenses in bad field-position games. The Jets offense, QB'd for the third game by Trevor Siemian, are ranked in the 30s in several offensive categories, although they still seek to unleash RB Breece Hall and WR Garrett Wilson. The Patriots, led the past five games by Bailey Zappe, have unusually struggled in averaging 14.6 points/game, 32nd in the league.
Will injuries factor into this game's equation? The Jets' starting RG for the past five games has been either Wes Schweitzer (one game) or Jake Hanson (four), but Hanson has gone on IR with a concussion and Schweitzer's calf isn't ready for a return to action, so the Jets face another OL permutation.
The Patriots, meanwhile, will not have veteran LT Trent Brown, inactive in two of the past three games and a non-starter in seven of the past eight, or TE Hunter Henry (knee), who would have helped the hosts' efforts in a ball-control game in the snow but was placed on IR. And Belichick on Friday listed 12 players as questionable for participation.
This is the Jets' seven-player inactive list:
- QB Aaron Rodgers
- WR Allen Lazard
- K Austin Seibert
- CB Bryce Hall
- LB Marcelino McCrary-Ball
- DL Carl Lawson
- OL Austin Deculus
And this is the Patriots' seven-player inactive list:
- Emergency QB Mac Jones
- WR Tyquan Thornton
- S Joshuah Bledsoe
- RB Jamycal Hasty
- TE LaMichael Pettway
- T Trenton Brown
- DL Sam Roberts