Week 17 Tale of the Tape: New York Jets at New England Patriots
- QuarterbackThe Jets have not been in great shape at the quarterback position for year, but Josh McCown gave them adequate play for the majority of the season. Bryce Petty has taken over since McCown went down with a hand injury, and he is not a legitimate NFL quarterback. The Jets offense will be limited with Petty under center.A win here gives the Patriots home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, and that’s always a key step for Bill Belichick’s team when it comes to Super Bowl aspirations. The Patriots always have an advantage at the quarterback position with Tom Brady, and the difference in this game is monumental. Brady excels at finding the soft spot in the defense, and there will be many here.
- OffenseThe Jets were expected to have a putrid offense this season, and they have exceeded expectations dramatically this season. The running game with Bilal Powell and veteran Matt Forte has been adequate, but receivers Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse have been special because they have made the most of their opportunities. Anderson has 17 plays of 20 yards or more.The Pats will come at opponents in waves, and while tight end Rob Gronkowski is the front man who can make multiple big plays in a game, the other skill-position players are not superstars. Danny Amendola has stepped it up this year while Brandin Cooks can stretch the defense. Running backs Dion Lewis, Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead have given the Patriots an adequate ground game.
- DefenseThe Jets thought they would be competitive on the defensive side at the start of the season, but this unit has underperformed and caused problems for head coach Todd Bowles. Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams (back) have not been able to get to the quarterback and the Jets rarely win the battle in the trenches. Demario Davis is an excellent tackler and a reliable tackler.The Patriots have reversed their early season difficulties and have found a way to keep opponents out of the end zone. They give up quite a bit of yardage and the defense lacks the kind of dominating player who can take over and stop opponents cold. Trey Flowers has been slowed by a rib injury, but he returned in Week 16 and is the key to their pass rush.
- Special TeamsThe Jets have not helped themselves with their special-teams play this year, and they have been particularly weak in punt return differential. Chandler Catanzaro has had a fine season at placekicker and Lac Edwards is averaging 46.6 yards per punt.The Patriots have a huge advantage in this area because they do an excellent job in punt and kickoff coverage, and they do will with Lewis and Amendola in the return game. While Stephen Gostkowski is one of the best FG kickers in the league, he has missed a few extra points.
The Patriots will earn home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a win, so they have the motivation to put this game away early.