Today's Key Matchups

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Head coach Eric Mangini has downplayed the role of the coaches in this game, the Jets' first division contest of the 2006 season. Both teams overcame obstacles to come away with victories in Week One. New England persevered after falling behind on the first play, and Gang Green was able to overcome missed opportunities in the kicking game. The two teams are eerily similar on both sides of the ball, so if Coach Mangini is correct in his assessment, and the execution of the players is what is important, here are some key matchups that figure to play an important role in the outcome of the game.

Matchup 1
C Nick Mangold (6'4", 299 pounds) vs. NT Vince Wilfork (6'2", 325 pounds). The rookie center takes on a true nose tackle for the first time in a regular season game. Mangold gets his left hand extended quickly and shows the agility necessary to gain position on reach blocks but will be challenged by Wilfork, whose lower body strength allows him to take the center to the point of attack. Mangold will need help from his guards, which will allow one of New England's linebackers to roam freely on running plays.

Matchup 2
WR Laveranues Coles (5'11", 193 pounds) vs. DB Asante Samuel (5'10", 185 lbs). The timing between Pennington and Coles looked to be in midseason form in week one, with the receiver pulling down eight receptions for a 19.1-yard average.  Coles runs precise routes to create separation but will use more double moves this week as Samuel was caught several times breaking on the receiver's first move in Week One. If Samuel becomes too passive in coverage, the Jets will exploit the quick perimeter routes.

Matchup 3
HB Laurence Maroney (6'0", 216 lbs) vs. LB Jonathan Vilma (6'1", 230 lbs). Maroney is explosive when he is in the backfield, averaging 5.1 yards per carry in his professional debut, including two runs of more than twenty yards in the first quarter. The Patriots rookie has speed and size, but his cutting ability is what makes him so difficult to bring down. Vilma scrapes quickly to the ball but must guard against overrunning the point of attack, as Maroney will cut back to the vacated area.

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