INSIDE SLANT: The Pats are back from their bye week after a road loss to Tennessee. Bill Belichick was all business Tuesday when asked about the Chiefs-Rams game, one of the greatest regular season games of all-time. He responded that he is focused on the New York Jets. Bill Belichick wants the Pats to play a complete game Sunday and show that they can get off to a fast start on the road. In their three road losses this year, the Pats have started slow. When a team needs help boosting its confidence, it is always helpful to play the New York Jets who are 3-7 and there is a good chance they could be without Sam Darnold -- their starting rookie QB. Belichick does not want his team taking the Jets lightly and thinks the Jets will give the Pats their best game.
"Yeah, we’ll get it. I’m sure we’ll get it. Yes," Belichick said.
Without Sam Darnold, the Jets would be forced to turn to Josh McCown. At 39, McCown is serviceable but the Pats should have little trouble against him. The Jets, though, should be motivated with questions about the future of their coach Todd Bowles after a 30-point loss to Buffalo two weeks ago. The Jets have usually played the Pats close in New York even when they are not very good. So while the expectation is that the Pats blowout the New York Jets on Sunday, the Jets could keep the game close for a while out of pride. The Pats, though, in the end will likely win by 15-20 points.
SERIES HISTORY: 117h meeting. New England Patriots lead series 61-54-1. The rivalry between the Pats and Jets has always been competitive. In Rex Ryan's first two years with the Pats, he went 3-2 against the Pats including a playoff victory in 2010 at Gillette Stadium. Since 2011, the Pas have dominated with a 12-2 record. The Pats two losses were in New York in overtime and the Jets have not made the playoffs during that stretch.
This will mark the 8th straight year the Jets have not made the playoffs and they have only had one winning season during that stretch. The Pats have beaten the Jets twice in the playoffs in 2006 when Eric Mangini was the coach. Who can forget all the analysis about the post-game handshake between Mangini and Belichick. Mangini, another Belichick assistant who received a head coaching opportunity, made the playoffs in his first year and then failed to make the playoffs the next two years before he was fired. The Pats also beat the Jets in the playoffs in 1985 on their way to their first Super Bowl.
Notes, Quotes: Bill Belichick on the New York Jets linebacking core. "They’re fast, yeah. [Avery] Williamson, [Darron] Lee – fast. [Kevin] Pierre-Louis they use in there a little bit too. He’s fast. I mean, all those guys can run well, so they give them good range in pass coverage and perimeter plays. I mean, they get to a lot of plays outside. It’s hard to out-run these guys. "
Bill Belichick on whether seeing various blitz packages from the Titans will help for preparation agains the Jets. "Yeah, we’re playing the Jets here. We’re not playing Tennessee. So, we’ll have to deal with what the Jets do, what their keys are and who their players are. Whatever else has happened this year has happened. We’ve corrected those, talked about those situations, corrected them, but we’re focused on the Jets now."
Bill Belichick on Jets safety Jamal Adams: "He’s a real aggressive safety and they blitz him a lot. He’s really active in the running game, can rush the quarterback."
BY THE NUMBERS:
40 - the number of catches by Julian Edelman this season after he was suspended for the first four games.
0 - the number of catches by Chris Hogan in the last two games. The Pats should try to get Hogan more involved against the Jets.
4 - the number of straight wins by the Pats over the Jets.
0 - the number of sacks by Dont'a Hightower this season. Hightower has made two big plays this season. An interception of Patrick Mahomes against Kansas City and a blocked punt against Chicago. Both plays resulted in touchdowns. Hightower needs to make more plays if he is to return in 2019.
3 - the number of interceptions combined by Pats safeties (Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, and Duron Harmon) this season. Overall, this group has been respectable, but it would nice to see the safeties make a few more plays.
15 - the number of sacks by the Pats defense, which is 30th in the NFL. The late Tim Russert said during the recount in the 2000 election Florida, Florida, Florida as the result in Florida would determine the winner of the election. For the Pats, it is pass rush, pass rush and more pass rush. They need more pass rush.
Trey Flowers: Flowers must do a better job rushing the passer than he did against the Titans where he was a non-factor against a backup tackle. These last six games are critical for Flowers if he wants to receive a big contract in the offseason. Flowers has improved against the run, but most show more burst and creativity as a pass rusher to get to the quarterback. Flowers has only 2.5 sacks. The Pats also must get more of a pass rush out of Adrian Clayborn who had limited action against Tennessee. Clayborn has been a disappointment.
Rob Gronkowski: All signs point to Rob Gronkowski, who missed the last two games, playing against the Jets. Belichick said Tuesday the Pats are a better team with Gronkowski with him receiving numerous double teams this year. It would be nice if the Pats get Gronkowski involved early as it would open up other options like Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett.
Stephon Gilmore: Gilmore had his worst game of the year against the Titans with Corey Davis having seven catches for 125 yards. Gilmore, who could cover the Jets best receiver Quincy Enunwa, needs to play well. Gilmore said Tuesday "there is motivation every week" when asked about whether there was extra motivation after his struggles against Davis. Gilmore said Tuesday with the rules favoring receivers, it is critical to play your technique well. Gilmore was happy to have four days off last week for the bye week. "It is good to get some rest," Gilmore said. "So you can come back and play your best football." Gilmore said the Pats must start faster on the road. "That's what we have to do this week against a good football team. We can't get behind."
Player Spotlight: Shaq Mason: One of the reasons the Titans were able to get a strong pass rush in the Pats last game was Shaq Mason missed the game. If Mason returns, who is the Pats best interior linemen, it would help provide stability along the line and Trent Brown, who played with an illness against the Titans, being healthy will also help too.
Game Plan: Offensively, the Pats face a fast group of linebackers. Against a Jets defense (which gives up 25.4 points per game -21st overall) that can be scored upon, the Pats must get a lead early to prevent the Jets from playing with any confidence. All indications are that Rob Gronkowski will play Sunday and he should play well against the New York Jets. If Gronkowski plays well, it will allow other receivers to have more opportunity. Gronkowski should have increased blocking duty because blocking tight end Dwayne Allen will likely miss the game.
Defensively, the New York Jets are limited at wide receiver so don't allow Quincy Enunwa to have a big day. Enunwa is fast once he gets the ball in his hands so the Pats must limit his yards after the catch. Stephon Gilmore noted that he was impressed with the quick release of Sam Darnold so the Pats should jump the routes early to prevent Darnold from hitting his first option.
Quotes on Game: Devin McCourty, 31, on whether the Pats want to play especially well this game after the Tennessee loss. "I think any time you lose you look forward to getting back out there - you want to put a better representation of who you are and for us defensively it was not a good showing. Each side wants to get out there and get that bad taste out of your mouth."
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
-- Pats LT Trent Brown vs. Jets DE Leonard Williams: After getting beat by Jayon Brown in the game against the Titans, Trent Brown can be rebound with a strong performance against Williams.
-- Pats WR Julian Edelman v. Jets CB Morris Claiborne: Edelman will need to get open when he faces Claiborne who has two interceptions - second most on the Jets. Edelman was played well in the Titans loss when he had nine catches for 104 yards. Edelman and Rob Gronkowski will be a tough combination for the Jets to stop.