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Coming into Week 13, the New York Jets and New England Patriots were tied for the best record in the NFL at 9-2, and they are the only two in the AFC with these marks. They'll meet on Monday Night Football in one of the most highly anticipated clashes of the entire regular season. The winner will have the inside track to the No. 1 seed in the playoffs in the AFC, while the loser knows that there is a lot of work and help that needs to be done and had to avoid having to play three road games to get to the Super Bowl this winter.
Matchup: New York Jets @ New England Patriots
Date: Monday, December 6th, 8:30 ET
Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA
Game Line: New England -3.5
Jets Notes: New York could argue that it has the upper hand in this game due to the fact that it has already proven that it is good enough to beat up the Pats at home this year. The 28-14 win was a thing of beauty, especially for QB Mark Sanchez, who threw for 220 yards and three TDs, but more importantly, no picks. Those INTs have really come back to bite him in the rear in recent weeks, as all eight of his mistakes have come in that stretch, but the Jets have been able to survive that with just one defeat. "The Sanchise" has guided the men in green to five wins without a defeat on the road this year, and his numbers are significantly better in Year No. 2 than they were when he was a rookie last campaign. Sanchez has completed 55.2 percent of his pass attempts for 2,459 yards and 16 scores against eight INTs. He also has significantly more weapons to work with this year. WR Braylon Edwards had a full year of camp to work with Sanchez this year, and he has 35 receptions for 618 yards and a team high six scores to show for it, while second year TE Dustin Keller is really emerging as a sophomore in the ranks of the NFL as well with 39 catches for 528 yards and five TDs. WR Santonio Holmes has at least five catches in five straight games, while WR Jerricho Cotchery should be back in the fold this week after sitting out the last two with an injured groin. Add into the mix the fact that RB LaDainian Tomlinson has 45 catches for 316 yards, and it is clear that Sanchez has a ton to work with. Tomlinson is also the team's leader on the ground with 733 yards and five scores, but he hasn't averaged even four yards per carry on the ground for a game since Week 5 in the season. RB Shonn Greene has been a big disappointment this year at just 575 yards and one TD.
Patriots Notes: Just as the Jets have been perfect on the road this year, so too, have the Pats been perfect at home. New England is 5-0 at Gillette Stadium this season, including tough home wins against the Indianapolis Colts and the Baltimore Ravens. Statistically, Head Coach Bill Belichick knows that he has been fortunate this year, as his team continues to find ways to win games in spite of the fact that his defense ranks No. 31 overall at 399.1 yards per game and dead last against the pass at 288.5 yards per game. The offense is uncharacteristically getting outdone by 50 yards per game, and there isn't a category on this side of the ball in which this team has been dominating… except where it really counts. On the scoreboard, New England has put up 30.4 points per game, easily tops in the league. QB Tom Brady is putting up numbers making him worthy of MVP consideration this season. He has completed 66.3 percent of his passes for 2,703 yards with 23 scores against just four INTs. Half of those four picks came in Week 2 though, against these very same Jets. Brady has done a great job spreading the football around, as he has six different receivers on his team that have at least 230 yards and 18 receptions this year. As always, his leading target is WR Wes Welker, who has 65 catches for 592 yards and six scores. TE Rob Gronkowski is starting to get involved a lot more of late, as he has really replaced TE Aaron Hernandez as the top rookie tight end man for Brady to find, especially near the end zone. On the ground, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis leads the team with 627 yards and a team best nine scores, but don't be shocked if RB Danny Woodhead gets called upon a lot in this one. Woodhead was a Jet through Week 2 this year, and he was picked up due to all of the running back injuries that the team incurred over the course of the first few weeks. He has rushed for 344 yards and caught 24 passes for 230 yards, and especially since he was let go by New York, you know that Belichick would love to let Woodhead get some sweet revenge on Monday Night Football.
The Final Word: The Patriots might be the perfect team at home in this one, but that doesn't mean that the Jets aren't going to have the last say when it is said and done. Sanchez and the Jets just keep finding ways to win games, and when it all really boils down, we expect to see that the New York defense is going to outperform the New England defense. If the Jets can force a few turnovers and get into the face of Brady, this one could be the slugfest that they really, truly want. If that's the case, Head Coach Rex Ryan will find a way to get his team to come out of this one with a season changing victory.
Free Pro Football Picks: New York +3.5
Prediction: New York 23 – New England 20