Tonight's game between the New York Jets and New England Patriots is set to be an intriguing matchup to say the least. After both teams won on last second field goals in Week 1, the teams enter Thursday night looking to take an early stranglehold of the AFC East. The Jets stifled a dangerous Tampa Bay Buccaneer offense, while rookie quarterback Geno Smith had a solid offensive day against an improved Buccaneers defense. Meanwhile, the New England Patriots saw Tom Brady concoct another fourth quarter comeback and save the Patriots after a less than stellar season debut against the Buffalo Bills.
With the injuries to WR Danny Amendola, RB Shane Vereen and TE Zach Sudfeld the Patriots are definitely short handed coming into the game against the New York Jets. Meanwhile, the Jets are also missing WR Jeremy Kerley and DL Quinton Coples.
So as both teams get ready for tonight's game, Patriots101.com will look at the keys to tonight's game.
Geno Smith had an effective day against a Tampa Bay defense that was thought to be much improved from last season. Despite his preseason struggle, Smith was 24-of-38 for 256 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Obviously, this week he will be facing a Patriots defense that is fresh off playing Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel. Manuel was solid against the Patriots as he completed 18-of-27 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
So the key will be whether Smith, another rookie can solve New England defense. As ESPNBoston.com shows, that is a tough task. Since Bill Belichick took over as the head coach of the Patriots rookie quarterbacks are a combined 4-10. To get the full statistics, look at this graphic below:
Rookie Starting QBs vs. Patriots
In Bill Belichick Era (Since 2000)
|Comp pct||52.1 (76/146)||55.4|
|Pass YPG||248.3 (993/4)||202.0|
So the key will be how Smith plays, Does he become the first rookie quarterback to beat the Patriots in Foxborough or does he become the fifth victim?
2. Patriots WRs vs Jets CBs
The Patriots wide receivers are a young and unproven, especially, with the injury to Danny Amendola. With Amendola out, and RB Shane Vereen lost to wrist surgery as well, the Patriots wide receivers will be tested tonight against Antonio Cromartie and the Jets cornerbacks. Tom Brady and the wideouts didn't do particularly well last week against a Bills secondary that didn't have FS Jairus Byrd and CB Stephon Gilmore, so it will be interesting to see how they fare against the Jets.
3. Turnover battle
While the Patriots defense caused two turnovers, the offense had three turnovers in the Week 1 victory over the Bills. Meanwhile, the Jets had two turnovers but caused two turnovers as well. For the Patriots, it was a surprise to see the team be so careless with the ball considering they have always been one of the league leaders in turnover differential.
No matter the football game, the turnover battle is always key to any team's success. But with the Patriots missing key players, Steven Ridley's fumble problems and a rookie quarterback playing for the Jets, the turnovers will decide who wins tonight's game.
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