The Patriots surrendered 34 points to the Titans two weeks ago in a disappointing loss. After their bye week, along come the offensively challenged Jets. Should be just what New England needs...
By Land: With much-traveled and slowly deteriorating Josh McCown in for injured rookie starting quarterback Josh McCown, the 3-7 Jets are going to need to do business on the ground. Their main back is Isaiah Crowell (552 yards, 4.8 YPC, 6 TDs) since Bilal Powell landed on IR with a neck injury. Since running for 323 yards against Denver on Oct. 7, the Jets have rushed for more than 83 yards as a team just once (107 vs. Indy on 10/14). As a team, they haven’t been over 282 total yards in their past four games. New York doesn’t have the change-up back that gives the Patriots fits and their left guard, James Carpenter, is doubtful to play. the New England defense is very healthy overall, so look for a superior game against the run for the Patriots.
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By Air: Astounding stat? The Jets are 8-for-52 on third down in their past four games. That’s the combination of Darnold and McCown for you. McCown made his first start two weeks ago against Buffalo and was 17 for 34 for 135 yards with two picks. For the season, New York is completing 54.5 percent of its passes. Quincy Enunwa is a talented receiver but he’s about it on the outside. He’s got 29 catches and an 11.9 YPC average. Robbie Anderson has been their field stretcher (16.5 YPC on 21 catches). New York’s scored 43 points in its past four games and – because of their inability to convert third downs at a decent rate – have punted 55 times this year. By contrast, the Patriots have punted 38 times in what’s been a down year offensively for them.
Kicking Game: The Jets’ punt return game has been a bright spot with Andre Roberts averaging 16.8 per return. Look for the Patriots – who’ve been allowing 13.1 on punt returns (29th in the NFL) – to try and keep it clear of Roberts. Their kicker, Jason Myers, is having a very good year with four field goals outside of 55 yards. He’s missed just two field goals and one PAT this season.
Key Matchup: It’s safe to assume the Patriots will try and get Stephon Gilmore on Enunwa after Gilmore’s poor game against Tennessee’s Corey Davis before the bye. The solidly-built, 6-2 Enunwa is a versatile player and dangerous after the catch so it’s a good chance for Gilmore to get back in the saddle against a talented wideout and return to the outstanding level he’d been playing at.
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Who’s Hurt: Darnold, as we mentioned, is out with a foot injury. Left guard James Carpenter is doubtful with a shoulder injury. Anderson’s ankle has him listed as questionable. Enunwa’s ankle caused him to be a limited participant at practice Wednesday and Thursday but he was a full participant Friday.
Recent Past: The Jets (3-7) fell behind Buffalo 24-0 and lost 41-10 before their bye. Matt Barkley was the Bills’ quarterback. They lost to Brock Osweiler and the Dolphins in Miami 13-6 three weeks ago. They also lost 37-17 to the Vikings and 24-10 to Chicago.
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