10 things Jets fans should know about New England Patriots, from Tom Brady to Malcolm Butler
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FLORHAM PARK — And so, after four straight wins and with the playoffs still a possibility—so long as they can get some help—the Jets play the hated Patriots again, this time at MetLife Stadium on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Let’s get you caught up on the Pats (12-2) and where they are at this point in the season.
1. They’re banged up. The Patriots just played the Titans on Sunday without wide receiver Julian Edelman (foot), middle linebacker Jonathan Freeny (hand), tight end Scott Chandler (knee), and safety Devin McCourty (ankle). During the game, they lost linebacker Dont’a Hightower and wideout Danny Amendola to injuries. And their already without running backs Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount due to season-ending injuries.
2. What’s left to play for? The Pats have clinched a first-round playoff bye. But they still need another win or a Bengals loss or tie in the final two weeks to clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
3. Will they rest guys? Head coach Bill Belichick on Monday suggested he might rest some players against the Jets because of all the injuries. But Wednesday, in a conference cal with reporters to cover the Jets, Belichick said, “We’re getting ready to play the Jets. We’re getting everybody ready to play.”
4. Been a while. The Jets are 1-8 against the Patriots in their last nine meetings, dating back to the Jets’ 2010 playoff upset in Foxborough, Mass. That includes a 30-23 loss on the road back in Week 7. But as Jets safety Calvin Pryor said this week, the Jets have a “different mindset” now. Read into that what you will.
5. Tom Brady is still Tom Brady. Brady, the Patriots’ four-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback, has thrown for 35 touchdowns, six interceptions, and completed 64.3 percent of his passes. He’s 38, and he said in October he wants to play for 10 more years. Anyone care to doubt his willingness to try?
6. Again and again. The Patriots’ AFC East title was their seventh in a row and 13th in 15 years. They’re as predictable as the winter solstice.
7. Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski might be the league’s best pass-catching tight end. He’s a matchup nightmare. Too big to be guarded by most defensive backs, too quick to be contained by most linebackers. He’s the Pats’ leading receiver with 66 catches for 1,072 yards, and 11 touchdowns. In the first Jets-Pats game, Gronkowski caught five of his 11 passes in the fourth quarter. Worth noting: Pryor sustained a high ankle sprain early in the second half of that game and didn’t return. But he’s healthy now.
8. Steven Jackson. With all of the backfield injuries, the Pats this week added veteran running back Steven Jackson, who will complement Brandon Bolden and James White. Jackson has rushed for 11,388 yards and 68 touchdowns in an 11-year career with the Rams and Falcons.
9. Malcolm Butler. Butler, a cornerback and the hero of last year’s Super Bowl, has emerged as an outstanding part of the Pats’ secondary. Here’s what Belichick said about him to Patriots reporters on Wednesday: “Malcolm has come a long way on and off the field, as a professional, as a professional football player. He’s worked really hard at it, and I think everybody respects him for it. … He doesn’t have all the answers, tries hard, plays with a good level of confidence, which is good for his position—I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all—and he’s gotten better, so we all respect that.”
10. Offensive and defensive rankings. The pats are ranked fourth in the league in offensive DVOA by Football Outsiders, including fourth in passing and 13 in rushing. Their defense is ranked ninth, including 11th against the pass and 12th against the run.