New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick knows what the math would say. One more loss, and things will be bleak for the Patriots. New England needs to figure out a way to beat the New York Jets Sunday, or things will be bleak for the veteran coach. Since 1979, only six teams have made the playoffs after starting the year 0-3.
The Houston Texans were the last team to do that in 2018. New England likely feels like it missed opportunities for a monster start. The Patriots lost their first two games of the season at home against Philadelphia and Miami.
After an offseason with a lot of optimism, the Jets suffered a crippling injury to quarterback Aaron Rodgers in Week 1. That has the fanbase believing the universe is once again conspiring against them. But as is always the case with division rivalries, New York would like nothing more than to knock Belichick down a peg.
Patriots are Narrow Road Favorites
New England is a 2.5-point favorite for the game 1 p.m. Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Even though the Patriots haven’t maintained their dynastic level of play, New York still hasn’t found a way to beat New England since Dec. 27, 2015. The losing streak is currently sitting at 14 games.
The Patriots won the team’s last meeting 10-3 in Foxborough. During the first meeting last season, the Patriots won 22-17 in East Rutherford. The Jets haven’t won back-to-back games against the Patriots since the 2008-09 season.
Back to Reality
The Jets knew when Aaron Rodgers went down with a season-ending injury in the season opener things wouldn’t be easy for them. Former first-round pick Zach Wilson being thrust back into the position at quarterback wasn’t the situation the Jets were hoping for. Wilson hopes to prove he can be a solid starter in the NFL. But his performance last week at Dallas indicates he is still far away from that standard.
Wilson only completed 12 of his 27 pass attempts and threw three interceptions. New York couldn’t overcome the mistakes and lost by 20 points to the Cowboys. The Patriots have an excellent pass defense and will have plenty of tricks to throw Wilson off balance.
Gonzalez Gets Stamp of Approval
New England cornerback Christian Gonzalez is honored he keeps making a good impression during his first season in the league. Gonzalez is happy to accept compliments from the likes of Miami wide receiver Tyreek Hill.
Hill, who finished with 40 receiving yards against the Patriots, said he was impressed with Gonzalez in an interview following the game. Gonzalez only allowed Hill and Miami’s other top receiver, Jaylen Waddle, to catch three passes for 32 yards.
Hill complimented Gonzalez on his performance and said New England has good pieces on defense. The Patriots were clearly enamored with Gonzalez as well. New England chose him in the first round of last year’s draft. Gonzalez shined in his last year at Oregon after starting at Colorado.
Hardman Hopes for More Time
The New York Jets brought Mecole Hardman on a one-year, $6.5 million contract in the offseason. What the Jets hoped was that Hardman would be a reliable target in the passing game. But the veteran receiver has been surprised at how he has been utilized thus far this season.
Hardman didn’t take any snaps at wide receiver in the opener and only played 14 snaps in Week 2. He has only caught one pass for six yards so far this season. Hardman played his first four seasons in Kansas City, where he was one of many wide receivers Patrick Mahomes counted on. Hardman’s best season came in 2021 when he caught 59 passes for 693 yards and two touchdowns.
Sauce Gardner Not Impressed with Patriots’ offense
NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Sauce Gardner has impressed during his time with the Jets. What he hasn’t been impressed with is New England’s offense. Gardner said that the Patriots don’t run a complex offense.
New England has attempted to reinvent its offense this season under offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. During the Patriots’ loss to Miami last week, New England’s offense struggled to move the ball. Quarterback Mac Jones completed 31 of 42 pass attempts for 231 yards and a touchdown.
The Patriots running game also didn’t move the ball well. New England’s ground attack was led by Rhamondre Stevenson, who rushed for 50 yards on 15 carries. The Patriots have seen Jones take on much of the responsibility for moving the ball.
Jones has attempted 96 passes during the first two weeks of the season. In both games, Jones was intercepted once. He has passed for 547 yards this season with four touchdowns and two interceptions.
Jets’ Defense is Once Again in the Spotlight
New York’s defense will have to carry the load now that Rodgers is out. What the Jets did successfully in Week 1, New York didn’t have success against Dallas. Jordan Whitehead recorded three interceptions to help keep Buffalo off the scoreboard.
With Wilson’s turnovers last week, the Cowboys were able to capitalize by taking advantage of short field. However, New York’s defense was able to keep the Jets in the game by keeping Dallas out of the endzone. The Jets only allowed Dallas to score two touchdowns on six trips inside the 20-yard line.
Last season, New York finished fourth in the league in red zone defense, only allowing its opponents to score touchdowns 47.8 percent of the time.
Patriots Offense Has Finished Well
New England is hoping that its efficiency in the red zone will be able to counter what the Jets can do on defense. New England has converted 71.4 percent of its opportunities in the red zone, which ranks fourth in the league. Despite winning both games against the Jets last season, New England struggled to finish drives. The Patriots only scored one touchdown in five trips inside the red zone against the Jets last season.