More than a Running Back
Breece Hall is 105 yards shy of becoming the first Jets RB since Thomas Jones in 2008 to eclipse 1,500 scrimmage yards and the fourth running back in team history to do so. Despite having their worst record since 2000, the Patriots (4-12) have the NFL's No. 6 overall defense that ranks No. 2 against the run (87.4 yards/game) and No. 1 in yards per carry (3.2).
"They're going to run a lot of different things at you," head coach Robert Saleh said. "They're exotic in that regard. They're disciplined, powerful up front, very sticky in coverage. They do a good job mixing it up. They've been a top-10 defense all year and they're very stingy, which you would expect from a team coached by Coach Belichick."
In Week 3 against the Pats, Hall accounted for 19 yards (18 rushing and 1 receiving) at MetLife Stadium in 15-10 loss. The second-year back out of Iowa State leads all RBs with 74 receptions and 579 receiving yards. Since Week 9, Hall's 55 receptions are tied for second in the NFL with Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown. Over his Jets last two games, he's averaging 158 scrimmage yards.
"Earlier in the year, coming off the ACL, we were trying to be judicious how we used him and to limit the among of carries," Saleh said. "We ramped him up, there was a lull in the middle, to get him more opportunities on third down, find ways to get the ball in his hands. He's really starting to hit his stride. He's seeing the field well, he's playing with great physicality. Out of the backfield, he can take a checkdown that you think would go for four yards and goes for 15. He's a weapon, we've always recognized that. We'll continue to recognize that and find ways to get him the ball."
Zappe Under Center for New England
The Patriots have a different quarterback under center, Bailey Zappe, compared to Week 3 when these teams played in East Rutherford.
Zappe, who took over for Mac Jones in Week 13, has thrown for 6 touchdowns and 5 interceptions (3 last week) while averaging 205.2 yards per game in his five starts. He was drafted in the fourth round in 2022 out of Western Kentucky and has completed 67.1% of his passes and has a passer rating of 87.3 as the team's starter.
Zappe (4-3 as a starter) will make his first start against the Jets on Sunday. He's 1-5 at home over in his career and has thrown for 741 yards, 3 touchdowns and 5 interceptions for a 72.4 passer rating.
The Jets haven't beaten the Patriots since Week 16 in 2015 – 15 straight games. Sunday's finale at Foxborough features two teams out the playoff hunt, so the Green & White will either snap their streak against their AFC East rival or climb up the draft boards (the Jets currently hold No. 8 overall pick) in what some have speculated may be Bill Belichick's final game coaching the Patriots.
"Honestly, the biggest goal is breaking the losing streak," LB Quincy Williams said. "With it being the last game, most people's mindsets are on their vacations and stuff, but it is not that way in the locker room. I'm actually excited this week."
He added: "No one is checked out or anything like that. The biggest thing right now is preparing and putting our best tape out there."