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New York Jets vs. New England Patriots: How they match up in Week 17
The Record and NorthJersey.com Jets writer Andy Vasquez talks about Jets ownership extending the contracts of general manger Mike Maccagnan and coach Todd Bowles on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017. Andy Vasquez/NorthJersey.com
What’s at stake
Jets: Big picture, there is nothing at all at stake for the Jets (5-10). They’ve been eliminated from the playoffs and coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan have already earned extensions. This game is about borderline players proving that they’re worthy of a spot on on the Jets’ roster or elsewhere in 2018. Bryce Petty can show that he’s not as bad as he’s looked in his last two games, if Christian Hackenberg plays and shows promise, perhaps he can compete for a job next season. Stories like that will play out across the roster on Sunday in this otherwise meaningless game
Patriots: They can secure home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a win over the Jets, so expect them to give an earnest effort in this game. Still, the biggest priority for the Patriots (12-3) is to stay healthy. They’ll get a week off before they open the playoffs at home in the divisional round; they need to make sure key pieces like Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan stay healthy. Hogan, who played his high school football in Bergen County at Ramapo is listed on the injury report as questionable with a shoulder injury.
Rob Gronkowski and Lawrence Guy on the sidelines in
Rob Gronkowski and Lawrence Guy on the sidelines in the second half. (Photo: Chris Pedota/NorthJersey.com)
Jets S Jamal Adams vs. Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski: Things didn’t go so well for Adams when he faced off against Gronkowski in his first game against the Patriots. The big tight end had six catches for 83 yards and two touchdowns. This is chance for Adams to show how much he’s learned in the two-plus months since. Gronkowski expects Adams’ best. “He’s a good player that brings a lot of energy to the field,” Gronkowski said of Adams. “As a player, myself, I have to come ready, I have to come prepared because he’s going to be bringing it, so it’s going to be another good game Sunday. We’re preparing hard and they’ll be coming hard, so it’ll be a good matchup.”
How they’ll win
Jets: Bryce Petty must play the best game of his career, behind a patchwork offensive line. Receivers Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse will have to play their best games of the season, and the Jets will need a big game from Bilal Powell, too. And all of that needs to happen early in the game, for the Jets to have a hope of holding on. The defense will also have to come up with some turnovers and put pressure on Brady. This would be a great time for Adams to notch his first career interception. Perhaps Leonard Williams can make up for a statistically down season on Sunday.
Patriots: It’s not a difficult recipe for the Patriots: it’s hard to imagine the Jets scoring more than 21 points. So if the Patriots can score that much, they should have no problem easing their way to victory. Expect them to focus on starting strong after a bad first quarter against the Jets back in October. Brady will likely target Gronkowski early and often to see if he can continue beating the Jets the way they did back in Week 6. The Patriots’ defense is much improved from what we saw in the first meeting, if they can put early pressure on Petty, this could be a very long and lopsided day for the Jets.