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There has been a ton of talking between the New York Jets and the rest of the NFL, and this week, you know that there is going to be a lot of jabber going back and forth with their divisional rivals, the New England Patriots. These two teams split the NFL betting proceedings in the regular season, and today, we are taking aim at our NFL picks for the final game of the weekend.
Matchup: New York Jets @ New England Patriots
Date: Sunday, January 15th, 4:30 ET
Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA
Game Line: New England +9
Jets Notes: It should be interesting to see whether the Jets are going to stick to their run first attack or not this weekend. Head Coach Rex Ryan knows that New England's pass defense can be porous (more on that in a moment), but its ground game was devastated a few times this year as well. RBs LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene probably didn't get enough carries this season, as the two only just barely exceeded 400 carries and didn't come anywhere near 500 total touches as expected. However, in that first playoff game, they had 35 carries and 39 total touches for 152 yards combined (169 if you include Tomlinson's 17 receiving yards), and LT ended up with two TDs, both of which came in the second half of the win against the Indianapolis Colts. The confidence level for QB Mark Sanchez really could have been shattered in the first half of that game, as he was picked off in the end zone to ensure that New York would be shut out in the first 30 minutes. However, when all of the marbles were really on the line in the fourth quarter with less than a minute to play, Ryan called Sanchez's number, letting him throw the ball to WR Braylon Edwards on the final offensive play of the game. The ball was complete, and K Nick Folk ended up with a significantly easier job to win the game. The Jets know that they did a fantastic job keeping Indy down to just 16 first downs and 312 total yards on the day, but their defense is going to have to put forth an even better effort to hold the Pats to such numbers on Saturday.
Patriots Notes: New England has confidence coming into this one, knowing that it scored 45 points in a complete romp when these two teams met up at Gillette Stadium earlier this year. It knows that it has an offense that is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best in the NFL. For the last eight weeks of the season, there were definitely some shades of the undefeated regular season, as the Pats scored at least 31 points in all of their games to bump up their scoring average for the year beyond 32 points per game. QB Tom Brady is, without a shadow of a doubt, the league's MVP this year, as he threw for 36 TDs against just four picks and threw for 3,900 yards. Though his numbers don't necessarily suggest it, Brady probably had just as good of a season this year as in that perfect season in which he threw 50 TD passes and broke virtually every record in the books. He could be hampered if TE Aaron Hernandez is kept out of the lineup in this one, as Hernandez was one of the top pass catchers on this team and made a great sidekick for fellow rookie TE Rob Gronkowski. The two had almost 90 catches this year and had 16 TDs. The difference between this year and in 2007 is that RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a legitimate superstar on the ground. He had 1,008 yards and 13 TDs this year, and he had a great complement in RB Danny Woodhead. The problem, if there is one, is that aforementioned defense, which ranked just No. 25 in the league at 366.5 yards per game and was third to last in the league in pass defense at 258.5 yards per game. Still, New England overcame that all season this year and only had two losses, though one of the two did come against these Jets.
The Final Word: Be very, very careful, New England. The layoff might not be what the doctor ordered for the perceived best team in the NFL. New York is the real deal, and there is a reason that this team won two more games in the regular season this year than it did last season. Eleven wins teams don't go down without a fight in the playoffs, and you can bet that this is going to be no exception. The Jets could pull off the tremendous upset in this game as well, just like they did last year against the San Diego Chargers in this exact same spot.
Free Pro Football Picks: New York Jets +9
Prediction: New York 20 – New England 19