Well, last Sunday certainly qualifies as an early Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/whatever the hell you celebrate gift. It wasn’t pretty, especially if you’re one of those that watch football for the fantasy points, but a W is a W, and in Mile High it’s a big one. The Pats’ defense is peaking at the right time; the offense was mistake free and took what Denvers’ vaunted D gave them, and the special teams capitalized on a critical early Broncos’ mistake. This team is finding different ways to win each week, and is now in the driver’s seat for the top overall seed in the conference. This week brings us the reviled Jets in a rematch of last month’s hard fought 22-17 Pats victory. These squads are going in different directions, but New York always seems to push Belichick and co. to the brink.
Let’s take it around the table and see what the BBS Squad thinks of this interdivisional showdown…
Tom Brady: Over/Under 310 yards passing?
Niko: Brady was able to chalk up 286 last time around in the Meadowlands on one leg. I’ll go OVER here for #12, who’s in line for a nice statistical bounce back game.
Pete: OVER. I think the Patriots will go back to slinging the football all over the field this week. No reason to think the Patriots will try and mess with a pretty decent front-seven for the Jets.
Jordan: OVER. Brady, with help of his O-Line, has been able to recover from that mini knee injury. This week he has a minor thigh issue, but that shouldn't be able to effect TB12 to the point where he can't be able to move around the pocket and give his receivers time.
LeGarrette Blount: Over/Under 67 yards rushing?
Niko: I’m going to go slightly UNDER here for Blount for two reasons: one, the Jets are more formidable against the run than they are against the pass, and two, Dion Lewis is back in full force between the tackles.
Pete: UNDER for me as well. Last week, we saw a lot more Dion Lewis, which took a significant amount of snaps away from LeGarrette Blount. Whether that was game planning or simply trying to get Lewis more involved in the offense, it spelt trouble for LG29. I expect more of the same this week.
Jordan: UNDER, for the reasons mentioned above. With Dion back, the pro bowl snub running back is going to have to take a little step back in terms of snaps. Can't be all that mad though, as Dion is unreal when he's 100%.
Who has more receiving yards: Dion Lewis or James White?
Niko: On most passing downs, White remains back of choice. After 18 carries last weekend, however, Lewis is firmly entrenched as 1A with Blount as the lead rusher. That being said, receiving wise- I’ll go with White for this one.
Pete: James White, and I don't think it is even close. Dion Lewis isn't really a back that the Patriots can put out wide or in the slot position, and I don't think the Patriots are very comfortable throwing screens to Lewis and watching him pull a bunch of juke moves out of his ass. James White is much more multi-dimensional in my opinion. BB loves that.
Jordan: If James White were bigger, there is no doubt in my mind he'd be a wide receiver. That versatility alone makes him perfect for a Brady-orchestrated offense. White's ability to go do some things in the slot should really open things up for White.
Julian Edelman: Over/Under 7.5 receptions, 72 receiving yards?
Niko: JE continues to be Brady’s most trusted receiver, inhaling double digit targets every week. Taking into account volume, and a porous Jets’ secondary, I’ve got to go OVER on both here.
Pete: OVER on receptions, UNDER on yards. Edelman is closing in on 100 receptions, and you're crazy if you don't think Edelman, Brady, and BB know that.
Jordan: OVER on both. I agree with Niko here, Jules should have success against this Jets secondary. If you go back to the Niners and Jets games, Brady was missing a bunch of throws he'd normally make. Both due to weather and that knee. I expect those two to be back in sync this week. Connecting in the end zone once too.
Martellus Bennett: Over/Under 3.5 receptions, 55 yards receiving?
Niko: Bennett was held in check last time against this group, with 3 and 22 respectively. I think we see a predominantly wide receiver/running back focused passing attack this time around as well. Just UNDER on both.
Pete: UNDER on both for me. Bennett is clearly nursing an injury, and the Pats have used him mostly in a blocking-type of role.
Jordan: Pats have already clinched a first round bye without much production out of Marty since the beginning weeks of the season. That's likely due to injury. And without Gronk, look for the Pats to try and keep Marty healthy. UNDER on both.
Who has more receiving yards: Malcolm Mitchell or Chris Hogan?
Niko: This is a fun one. Could be either or every weekend. Mitch the slight edge in volume, Hoges the big play ability. Let’s go with Malcolm, who torched Revis for a pair of touchdowns last time the two met.
Pete: Going by past performances, like Niko mentioned, Mitchell ran all over the field against Revis the last time these two teams met. I think more of the same will happen this week.
Jordan: Mitchell. He absolutely abused Revis last time so bad that he's even considering retirement now, LOL.
Bryce Petty: Over/Under 219 yards passing?
Niko: Let’s go just OVER here for the young signal caller. As with most inexperienced QB’s vs. Belichick coached defenses, I don’t expect it to be particularly efficient or pretty, but the capacity should be there.
Pete: UNDER. Sure, Petty has looked relatively decent since assuming the starting quarterback role, but he has not faced a defense like the New England Patriots in his professional football career. Rookie quarterbacks are known to struggle against Bill Belichick, and I expect the Patriots to completely confuse the youngster.
Jordan: UNDER. I really like Bryce Petty and think he's going to be a pretty good QB in the future... if he leaves the Jets. As both of the guys said above, young QBs don't usually have much success against the Pats, let alone at Gillette.
Who has more yards from scrimmage: Bilal Powell or Matt Forte?
Niko: All signs point to Powell taking the reigns for the rest of 2016. He’s strung together two extremely impressive weeks (both running the ball and receiving out of the backfield) and Forte is still banged up. Bilal by a good chunk.
Pete: Powell. To be fair, no one knows if Forte will even play because of an injury that sidelined him this week in practice. It seems as if Powell will be the longterm option moving forward and that contract for Forte is becoming yet another Jets mistake.
Jordan: Powell, especially considering Forte will be limited, if he even plays at all. Forte and the Jets are both regretting their decisions from this past offseason. With rumors of Brandon Marshall getting cut this offseason, one must be questioning Forte's future with the Jets.
Who has more receiving yards: Quincy Enunwa or Robbie Anderson?
Niko: Assuming Petty is at helm, you’ve got to roll with Anderson. He’s been Bryce’s “go-to guy” since the preseason, compiling 69, 61, 99, and 80 yards respectively in the young quarterback’s starts.
Pete: Quincy Enunwa looks to be a stud receiver and could blossom into a pro bowler if things continue to trend upward. I will roll with him.
Jordan: I'll go with Anderson. He's looking like a decent, reliable target for NYJ. And against the Pats, you've got to think he'll be abused with a good volume of targets.
Brandon Marshall: Over/Under 4.5 receptions, 49.5 receiving yards?
Niko: Marshall and Petty have failed to generate anything close to chemistry, with the latest example a catastrophic 1 connection on 11 targets last Saturday. UNDER on both, the Patriot secondary has looked very strong over the last few weeks.
Pete: Rumors have been swirling as to if this could be Marshall's final few games in New York, and perhaps even jumping ship to New England. Like Niko mentioned, Petty and Marshall have not been able to establish any connection and, against a stout Patriots defense, I expect that trend to continue. UNDER on both.
Jordan: UNDER on both, the Pats secondary is on fire, especially Malcolm Butler. Logan Ryan has even cleaned it up a bit. Cooking at the right time. And, with the lack of chemistry between Marshall and Petty, Marshall might not be heard from much.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins: Over/Under 2.5 receptions, 29.5 receiving yards?
Niko: UNDER on both. Seferian-Jenkins has failed to make an impact in any way for the Jets this season.
Pete: Who? UNDER.
Jordan: I'll go OVER on receptions, UNDER on yards. The Jets had some success going to their tight ends in the showdown at the Meadowlands a few weeks back. Look for Petty to throw at Jenkins a few times in short yardage situations.
Niko: I’m going to cop out and take the easy, obvious route here. Patriots Offensive Line vs. Leonard Williams, Sheldon Richardson, and Muhammad Wilkerson. Although Mo and Rich (Leo has been phenomenal) have underperformed this season, these are still big, physical, explosive players and among the most talented in the league. Keep Brady clean. He took shots early and often last time around.
Pete: The Patriots' D-line vs. Bryce Petty. The Patriots need to generate some pressure on the rookie and not give him all day to pick apart the secondary. Guys like Jabaal Sheard, Rob Ninkovich, Trey Flowers, and Chris Long better have a good game.
Jordan: I'm going to agree with Pete on this one. It's a battle of the Pats' D-Line vs. Petty and his O-Line. Since Petty lacks experience, especially against the Pats, the Pats could get into his head on the first drive by applying pressure, disguising blitzes and then attacking.
Niko: No idea if he’ll be deemed ready to even dress, but I’m going to roll with a touchdown fade at the goal line to newly added wide receiver Michael Floyd. It’d be great to see him out there in game action trying to get on the same page as Brady.
Pete: Niko stole my prediction. Bastard. I will say the Patriots put up 40 against the Jets. New York has nothing to play for and will be too busy thinking about the birth of our Lord and Savior.
Jordan: This game, like many Pats vs. Jets game winds up being uncomfortably close. Remember the Pats last SB season? Pats won like 17-16, with the Jets playing for nothing. It isn't necessarily bold, but given the spread, I'll roll with that.
Game Total: Over/Under 44 points?
Niko: This is a tough one, but the way the Patriots’ defense has looked recently and the fact that Bryce Petty has been underwhelming has me leaning UNDER.
Pete: OVER, as you can see above. I don't see the Jets being able to stop the Patriots. They could threaten this total all by themselves.
Jordan: Despite my prediction above, the Pats should throttle the Jets. OVER.
Final Prediction (New England -16.5):
Niko: 28-10 Pats. Defense continues to impress, offense grinds out four end zone trips. Happy Holidays, Pats Nation!
Pete: 41-9 Pats. Big day for the offense, very solid day for the defense. Another day, another Patriots victory.
Jordan: 35-14 Pats, Pats cover the spread, and the Jets get a garbage time TD to make it 35-14.