Thursday Night Football Preview: New York Jets @ New England Patriots

Tight End Rob Gronkowski has re-emerged as Tom Brady’s favourite weapon

Week seven of the NFL gets underway with one of the best rivalries in the sport, an AFC East battle between Rex Ryan’s 1-5 Jets and Bill Belichick’s 4-2 Patriots. The Pats currently sit atop the division after they overcame Buffalo in week six, while New York are rooted to the foot of it following a well-fought defeat against Denver at Mile High Stadium four days ago. To find out what to watch for in this crucial encounter stay right here with American Football Focus.

When New York has the ball…
Geno Smith is still the Jets QB, but if he starts slow this week (as he has in almost every game this season) it would figure that Rex Ryan will insert Michael Vick at the position, especially with Ryan’s job being seemingly on the line. However the Jets coach has shown an unwillingness to make a change under centre throughout his head coaching career, first with Mark Sanchez and now with the enigmatic Smith. Chris Ivory has become the dominant figure at running back for New York while former Titan Chris Johnson has faded into the background. It figures that if New York are to move the ball effectively against the Patriots they’ll need to give both a healthy dose of carries, all the more so with New England middle linebacker Jerod Mayo done for the season.
Edge: New England

When New England has the ball…
As has been the case for over a decade now, as goes Tom Brady goes the Patriots offense. Running back Steven Ridley is done for the year so Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden make-up a rather underwhelming running back tandem, making Brady and the passing game all the more critical to New England’s hopes. Tim Wright has joined Rob Gronkowski as a threat from the tight end position, with the former Buccaneer recording touchdowns in each of the past two games. New York are awfully thin at cornerback and in the secondary in general, so look for Brady to light it up through the air tonight.
Edge: New England

Special Teams
Stephen Gostkowski has been one of the more reliable kickers in the league since he replaced Adam Vinatieri in New England over six years ago, and has missed just one kick this season while making all eight of his attempts from beyond 40 yards. Nick Folk has gone one better for New York and hasn’t missed in 2014, although he’s attempted just nine field goals to Gostkowski’s 17. Neither team has a kick returner of note, although Julian Edelman has averaged a respectable 8.1 yards per punt return for New England this year.

Injury Report
Mayo and Ridley are done for the year for New England, while offensive lineman Dan Connolly and Bryan Stork both haven’t practiced due to concussions sustained last week. The Jets on the other hand are in pretty good shape health wise.

Prediction
New York 17, New England 30

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