Pre-Game Meal: New York J-E-T-S

NEPD Staff Writer: B. Delabarrera

For us here in New England, the real preview of the regular season comes during Jets Week. It’s all well and good that the Patriots beat Cincinnati last Sunday, but until they complete their Divisional road game against New York there is no real good indicator of how New England will perform under high levels of scrutiny and pressure this year.

Will the learning, young players be able to handle this storied rivalry? Let us not forget about the All-Universe match-up between Randy Moss and the formidable Darrelle Revis. And, as per usual, with a big thanks to Hard Knocks, the blackboard is overflowing with material to get the Patriots’ blood boiling for tomorrow. This year it feels like the Pats have something to prove; just to see the defense flying around the field at 70 MPH gives me a confident feeling about this team that’s been absent for a couple of seasons. Big news surprised Patriot Nation earlier this week when 2006 first-round pick Laurence Maroney was sent packing to Denver in a trade that also swapped a 6th-rounder for a 4th. He was their downhill-runner who never found his niche. Injuries and fumbles plagued his career. That is not to say that we hated the guy; we know he worked hard but that just didn’t cut it.

Coach Belichick feels confident in the ground game without LoMo and we’ll keep believing as long as he holds the reigns. Now this year when the Jets and the Patriots meet in the swamps, two Hall-of-Famers in Fred Taylor and Ladanian Tomlinson will be pounding the rock in the trenches.

The Slouch visits Revis Island – This is easily one of the most anticipated match-ups of the weekend. Randy Moss went on record saying that he prided his offseason on staying off of the young, lockdown corner’s metaphoric island. There isn’t much doubt that Revis is one of the best corners in the NFL, but to think that he is going to be able to contain Randy Moss every time is just laughable. Trust me, he knows that too.

Moss is a prolific athlete with a knack for finding the endzone when the secondary is sleeping. Remember that his bag of tricks has been re-packaged specially for the lone resident of The Island. So, don’t second guess yourself on Sunday, Revis… you’ll pay with six.

Tom Brady vs. Rex Ryan – Question: How do you stop Ryan from sending the house down, after down, after down? Answer: spread offense. Like BB said, the less guys you leave in to block, the less guys the other team can send in to blitz; they’re not going to want Aaron Hernandez running around uncovered. The pressure coming from the green side of scrimmage will be felt in the stands and in our living rooms.

In a hostile environment like the Meadowlands Stadium, the noise plays a huge factor. It’s going to be up to the offensive line to stay together as a unit and keep Brady protected. Pocket-time is of the essence for the Patriots now that there are so many offensive weapons for our QB to utilize. Hopefully Julian Edelman will be cleared for play too, that guy is pretty alright. As far as Tom himself is concerned… he’s Tom. Did you see those numbers last week? Madden-style performance.

Fast Freddy vs. Luck – Fred Taylor hasn’t played a full NFL season since 2003(?), however, the LoMo-to-Colorado episode leaves him in position to once again be the starter. Taylor seems to have Lady Luck on his side too because not only will veteran LB Calvin Pace be absent from the field, but also NT Kris Jenkins.

The loss of Jenkins is going to remove a good chunk of the Jets rush defense and an even bigger hole for Taylor to squeeze through. We saw last Sunday that Taylor still has what it takes to put the ball in the endzone and make people miss. How much will we be able to work his aging body? Or how long will he remain healthy?

LT vs. The Bane of His Existence – Is it a coincidence that Ladanian Tomlinson ended up on the New York Jets? The arch nemesis of the one team that constantly shut down his dreams for a Super Bowl. Either way, he out-shined Shonn Greene in the opener loss to the Ravens and would figure to be the more difficult of the two backs to deal with.

If there’s one thing that I feel is guaranteed for Sunday’s divisional clash is that LT will run hard. Wilfork, Wright, and Banta-Cain must cause mayhem on the line and if Mayo and the linebackers can prevent him from breaking loose on the secondary, he may look more like the LT we saw in San Diego last year.

Shonn Greene isn’t someone to underestimate either, his poor performance in Week 1 is foreshadowing of a decline but not entirely. It may be safe to assume that as long as I continue to start him on my fantasy team that he probably won’t do anything worth much. Fantasy football is something that I’m willing to sacrifice for the greater good.

The Sanchise vs. Patriots Secondary – For every Kris Jenkins that the Jets have, there is a Leigh Bodden for the Patriots, and that is the best news Mark Sanchez could have asked for. Last year against the Patriots Bodden intercepted Sanchez 3 times with one score. It was glorious to see that last year and it’s going to be unfortunate to not see Mark’s eyes water at the sight of #23.

Week 1 was one of two things: either Mark Sanchez and Rex Ryan concealing their offensive gameplans for New England week or the USC all-star just isn’t that good. Pressure is going to be huge as always, and that responsibility mainly falls in Tully Banta-Cain’s lap. His aggression towards the QB has been a motivating factor of the Pats successes on defense. If Tully can keep Sanchez from getting comfortable in his own home, New England will be able to control the pace of the game and ultimately chip away at the New York defense.

Honorable mention: TE Dustin Keller – The Pats are going to have to keep their eyes on this guy; easily one of Sanchez’s favorite targets. Keeping Keller at bay will be key in sending the Gren offense on the sidelines.

Hey Rex, kiss these.

-B. DelaBarrera


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