After leaving Lucas Oil Stadium with the scalps of Peyton Manning and co., Rex Ryan and his New York Jets are blabbering about the “personal” nature of Sunday’s rubber match against the New England Patriots who are coming off a first round bye. Business in New England, however, is business as usual. The press will have to wait until Sunday for a Patriots rebuttal.
New England’s last response to the New York rhetoric was an emphatic 45-3 drubbing on Monday Night Football. The win propelled the Patriots to the top of the division, and they never gave up the crown.
If the AFC championship game is to be held at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots defense has to come out swinging on Sunday. If they are flat or hesitant, Mark Sanchez won’t have to drop back at all. The aging LaDainian Tomlinson will be able to average five YPC on clock killing drives, which will leave no. 12 precisely where Rex Ryan wants him, all while tiring the young defense.
Last year in the Wild Card round, Ray Rice rolled for an 83 yard score on the first offensive play at New England. The Baltimore Ravens were able to dictate the entire feel of the game with that first round haymaker, and were able to fly out with a convincing road win.
A fast start on defense is imperative for a New England victory this weekend.
On the other side of the ball, Tom Brady will find his looks. Darrelle Revis has proven to be a force and when he’s in man coverage, whomever he’s on seems to disappear. Without Randy Moss, though there is no longer any one player Revis needs to focus on. Deion Branch, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, and Danny Woodhead have all proven to be viable options. It’s a cast of offensive nobodies – Revis thrives when covering the big names.
This New England team has a similar demeanor to those dynasty teams of the early 2000s. Look for them to come out strong and respond to the tabloids with fast, hard-hitting football.
This game should be closer than the last match, but I like the Patriots in a comfy one (knock on wood).
Prediction: Patriots – 30, Jets – 20