The New York Jets are hosting the New England Patriots for an AFC East rivalry edition of Monday Night Football to cap off Week 7.
New England is one of only two undefeated teams remaining in the NFL, while the Jets finally won their first game last weekend in Sam Darnold’s first game back from mononucleosis.
Will this be a close game, or will the Pats continue to roll through their schedule like they’re the Alabama Crimson Tide? These following questions will have to be answered before we find out.
Can the Jets force Brady into key mistakes?
Looking only at the stats Tom Brady has piled up this year, one could assume he’s had another very strong season so far. He’s completed 65.4% of his passes for 1,743 yards with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Two things stand out that should be at least a bit worrisome to New England.
First, Brady was awful against the only good defense he played (Buffalo), and secondly he’s thrown an interception into the red zone three consecutive weeks leading up to the Monday Night Football matchup at MetLife Stadium. New York has a very good defensive front and, with pressure, the team’s defensive backs can take advantage of this trend.
Will Darnold be the Pats’ next victim?
The Patriots have featured the NFL’s most fearsome defense to this point in the season. New England leads the league in scoring defense, allowing just 8.0 points per game, and takeaways (16). Even better, the Pats have scored five defensive touchdowns in six games. That’s just one less than the Chicago Bears had all of last year.
The one caveat here is that this defense has feasted on awful quarterbacks. Sam Darnold is not awful. In fact, he was downright fantastic last weekend against the Dallas Cowboys. So, if Darnold can maintain his wits and doesn’t get flustered into making bad mistakes, perhaps there is a chance the Jets actually shock the world and beat the mighty Patriots.
Can Le’Veon Bell finally get going on the ground?
If Darnold does find success and the Jets do win, it will likely have a lot to do with Le’Veon Bell finally having a big game. So far this season, the former Pittsburgh Steelers star has struggled, as has New York’s offensive line.
This line is undergoing some changes, not the least of which include Kelechi Osemele being out of the lineup, and seemingly at odds with the organization as a whole. Whether that sparks a positive change for Bell remains to be seen.
So far this season, Bell is averaging just 3.0 yards per carry, 85 yards per game from scrimmage and has two total touchdowns. He’ll need to make a bigger impact in Monday night’s game if the Jets are going to upset the Pats.
Can the Jets slow down Julian Edelman?
Dynamic receiver Josh Gordon has been ruled out of Monday Night Football due to knee and ankle injuries, and tight ends Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCoss are also both out for this game. Phillip Dorsett is questionable, too.
What this all means is that Tom Brady will likely target his good friend Julian Edelman early and often. It also means that if the Jets can’t slow this slot specialist down, they’ll be in for a long night defensively.
So far this season, Edelman has tallied 38 catches for 449 yards and two touchdowns.
Can Adam Gase win the chess match against Bill Belichick?
Not a lot of coaches have been able to say “yes” to this question. To this point in his career, Adam Gase has only one win in five tries as a head coach against Bill Belichick. The one win, however, took place last year in the game that produced the “Miami Miracle.”
There is a talent gap between these two teams. That’s not up for debate. If the Jets are going to pull off the upset at home, then Gase needs to come up with a winning game plan, and his players will need to execute it to perfection.