Pre-Game Meal: New York Jets – Playoff Edition

Even T.O.'s got his popcorn ready for this one.

NEPD Staff Writer: B. Delabarrera

January is trudging along, the weather is getting colder in the north, and there is only one spot left in the AFC Conference Championship game. Spending the last month in New Jersey on winter break as a Patriot fan has been fun for the sake of trash-talk and friendly competition, with the occasional angry Jet fan hollering at a red light or two.

Jet fans back home tend to take after their coach and defensive squad; they are more concerned with embarrassing New England rather than actually winning a football game. The New York Jets say won’t be taking their northern rivals gently this time after looking like a JV squad in their humiliating 45-3 road pummeling in early December.

However, even when Rex Ryan attempted to center the media around the totally-personal “Battle of Belichik & Ryan”, one of his big-mouthed foot-soldiers, Antonio Cromartie, felt the need to take expletive shots at Tom Brady on national news. But we’ve been through this before and will reply to the sophomoric actions of the underdog rival with a cold shoulder. We talk trash on the gridiron.

The media circus wheels began spinning quickly after the Jets’ victory over Peyton Manning and the Colts during Wild Card Weekend when Ryan called out Brady for attending a Broadway show instead of scouting his potential opponent… obviously his feelings were hurt. Since then there have been ‘f-bombs’dropped, fetishes exposed, and egos offended by both parties. And the festivities are now just 12 hours past the next sunrise.

New England, at home, is the favorite to many and the Jets organization is very aware. In a last move of desperation, New York contacted former Belichick-assistant-gone-nemesis, Eric Mangini, for tips on how to boggle the Patriot plan. Rest assured that Coach Belichik and big Ernie Adams have secured those loose ends. On the subject of Cromartie, I don’t have very much to say other than Tom Brady will have his hopes set on exploiting #31’s coverage and he better be prepared to be shown up (again) on national television; ask Anthony Smith.

Soft-Handed Sanchez vs. Pats Pass D – I don’t care about his heroics in 2010 or his growth as a quarterback at all. Until he performs in Foxoboro, MA, he doesn’t pose too much of a threat. For the J-E-T-S to have any shot at taking their second Cinderella story any further into the winter. Sanchez, when at Gillette Stadium, has completed under 50% of his passes for 300 yards, 7 interceptions, and ZERO touchdowns. New England’s defensive line has been playing hard and hopefully rookie Jermaine Cunningham and newbie Eric Moore will be able to get out there and aggravate Sanchez in the pocket.

One rule for when Mark Sanchez tries to scramble out of the pocket: put him down. If he’s allowed to run around and create chances for Braylon Edwards or Santonio Holmes, the Pats are in for a long day. The rookie CB prodigy, Devin McCourty is poised to make his first playoff start and should blanket whichever receiver Rex Ryan throws his way. The safeties will have to come down to spoil TE Dustin Keller’s day, because if they don’t this guy will go off for triple digits again. As long as the weather is unforgiving and the defense is hungry, the advantage will remain with New England barring a miracle.

Man vs. Fork –New York Center, Nick Mangold, is a champion at his position. AFC East lengend states that he was drafted during the Mangini regime in order to combat the dominant force known as NT Vince Wilfork. Wilfork, a +325 lb tackle that gobbles up open space like a wormhole and hits like a 18-wheeler, has been seeing time as an end rather than a nose tackle but due to the skill of Mangold, I expect to see Vince playing against his most formidable enemy. It will be up to vince to lead the charge against LaDanian Tomlinson and whoever else decides to try (Brad Smith, Shonn Greene…).

LT, most famous for his finger-roll celebration and short-yardage-run-barbarian-chest-pound, was almost a 1,000-yard rusher this season and his presence could be the spark that propelled the Jets to the playoffs this time around. Yet, one thing is still fresh in my mind, LT is soft when it matters most (if history is any kind of indicator). Those ankles just aren’t as fresh as they used to be. Patriots RB (and 1,000-yard club member) BenJarvus Green-Ellis could easily out-shine Tomlinson if Brady can score quickly and force the ball into the Sanchize’s hands.

Possibly the single greatest picture of the 2010 season if New England can finish off their pesky rivals.

Catch Tom If You Can – Forget the yards; 36 TDs, 4 picks, more consecutive home wins than any QB to ever play the game, and 180 minutes worth of chips left on his shoulders this season. Not many people can get in his way. While this Jets secondary may be the most worthy adversary next to Pittsburgh or Baltimore, I can’t imagine that they have improved to point where they can stifle his will… once you call him out, you must deal with the consequences. But hey, if the Jets do win it will definitely make the victory that much sweeter. It is now up to our leaders to prevent a second straight year of post-season embarrassments. So to Revis Island and his comrades in the secondary: Bring it.

Offensive line play needs to be tough against the blitz. The advantage could easily swing in the Patriots favor if they can control the tempo and out-bully Rex’s D. The longer Tom Brady has to throw: the more likely that that throw results in a touchdown. That’s just the way he works. Coincidentally the NY defense tends to get worse and worse in the shadow of their own goalpost. That’s just the way they’ve been working this season.

Nobodies & Events That May Make GangGreen Cry:

Danny Woodhead – dump passes, screens, and guerilla-football

Rob Gronkowski – red zone

Brandon Spikes – interception

Logan Mankins – opening up a can of the Stone Cold kind on Bart Scott’s jaw.

PATRIOTS 24 -Jets 17 – Maybe next year!

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