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The New England Patriots edged out the reeling New York Jets en route to a 27-25 victory. With the win, New England has now won three straight games. The Jets, on the other hand, have dropped five in a row since their season-opening win against the Oakland Raiders.
The Patriots have knocked off divisional foes in each of the past two weeks, and are beginning to distance themselves from the pack in the AFC East. The Jets, meanwhile, kept the score close and avoided the blowout, but continue to fall further and further out of playoff contention.
Here are five takeaways from the Patriots’ win (and Jets loss) on Thursday night:
Brady rounding into form
After the first month of the season, it looked like Tom Brady was all but finished as an elite quarterback in the NFL. But when the Patriots began to turn a corner with their defeat of the Cincinnati Bengals, not surprisingly, so did Brady.
Brady has thrown for 914 yards and nine touchdowns without an interception in the last three games, with of course New England owning a 3-0 mark during that span. In contrast, Brady threw for 791 yards, four touchdowns and two picks in the Patriots’ first four games of the year, which coincided with a 2-2 record.
Suddenly the campaigns asking for Jimmy Garoppolo to take over seem wildly premature.
Jets’ season all but over. So what’s next?
Earlier this week, XN Sports named these Jets a team we’re ready to stick a fork in for the 2014 season. Dropping to 1-6 on Thursday night all but solidified our stance.
The Jets have never lost six in a row since Rex Ryan has been their head coach before now. Ryan’s job is very much on the line, barring some sort of freakish turnaround by his team.
Geno Smith, who sits last in the NFL in terms of passer rating, fared mildly well. The second-year quarterback completed 20-of-34 attempts for 226 yards and a touchdown, with his biggest mistake being an incompletion intended for Jeff Cumberland which would have made it 27-all with 2:31 remaining.
It’s a positive sign for Smith — to be able to step up with a somewhat impressive outing — when his job is becoming very much in question. He’ll need to build on this performance going forward in order to impress whichever coach and/or general manager are making the calls next year.
Patriots need to find a run game
260: 63? That seems a bit off-balanced. That’s the pass yardage to run yardage ratio by the Patriots in last night’s win. And while a win is a win, that’s not a balanced attack that the team can count on come the playoffs.
Stevan Ridley being out for the year has taken away New England’s top downhill runner. Shane Vereen has thrived as the team’s passing back, and on this night led the Pats with 11 carries. Jonas Gray and Julian Edelman combined for four.
The Patriots need to try and find a way to get Vereen 10-15 carries as a true running back, and also get James White or Gray more involved. Brady attempting 37 passes isn’t awful, but compared to only 15 carries it begins to spell trouble.
Wilkerson proving he’s the Jets’ best defender
Muhammad Wilkerson has reminded Jets fans just how dominant of a defensive player he can be. The defensive end earned a +4.1 grade from Pro Football Focus after hammering Brady three times, while also racking up a pair of tackles.
Wilkerson has been lights out this entire season, and leads a very stout Jets front seven. He’s one of the main reasons why New York owns the No. 5-ranked defense in the NFL, and is seventh against the run.
The Patriots look to continue their winning ways with two more home games against the Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos before their Week 10 bye. This team is 3-0 in the friendly confines of Foxborough, which bodes well for their chances against an inconsistent Bears squad and the Broncos. After the bye, New England travels to Indy, hosts Detroit, then hits the road for games against Green Bay and San Diego — arguably the toughest stretch from Weeks 9-14 in the league.
The Jets finally escape the most difficult portion of their schedule, but not without the damage already done. At 1-6, the Jets face winnable games against Buffalo, Kansas City and Pittsburgh before their Week 11 bye week. They’ll be lucky to enter their break at 3-7. The Jets return Week 12 with two divisional games before traveling to Minnesota and Tennessee. It would not be out of the realm of possibility to see New York at 6-8 before their Week 16 re-match with New England.
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