|11.30.10 at 12:41 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Don’t expect to hear any trash-talking from Gillette Stadium and the Patriots – at least in the week leading up to next Monday night’s showdown between the Patriots and Jets.
Jets head coach Rex Ryan had some fun on Monday when he said he and Tom Brady have one thing in common – “supermodel” wives. There had not been any comments from the Jets in light of their 28-14 win over the Patriots in Week 2 before Tuesday morning.
Ryan on Monday told New York Newsday’s Bob Glauber that he badly wants to beat Bill Belichick and his Patriots, “I came here to kick his ass and that’s the truth.”
“We’ve been told to play football,” said Patriots tight end Alge Crumpler before Tuesday’s practice. “That’s all I’m worried about. I’m just going to play. I’m not worried about what’s being said.”
He may not be talking about what’s being said but Crumpler did not try to downplay the significance of the match-up between a pair of 9-2 teams atop the division and the AFC.
“It is a big game,” Crumpler said. “There’s no need to downplay it. It is a big game. It only counts as one. That’s the nature of the Jets. They’re going to do what they do. They take after their coach, they play well. We take after our coach. we play well.”
|11.30.10 at 11:08 am ET|
FOXBORO — Everyone and their brother ‘ and sister ‘ is looking ahead to next Monday night at Gillette Stadium and the battle of the Patriots and Jets, a pair of 9-2 teams battling it out for supremacy in the AFC East and the AFC.
Six days prior, we thought a look back might be in order. It was Oct. 18, 1976, when the 3-2 Patriots battled the 1-4 Jets ‘ coached by Lou Holtz, believe it or not. The Patriots would go on to finish 11-3 only to lose out on the division to the Baltimore Colts. As a wild card, the Pats went out to Oakland and were done in by the Raiders, with a little help from referee Ben Dreith.
On this night at the old Schaefer Stadium on Route 1, the Chuck Fairbanks-led Patriots had their way with the Jets ‘ and a quarterback by the name of Joe Namath ‘ in a 41-7 rout.
So, while we all get lost in looking forward, let’s take a look back at another Monday night showdown between the Jets and Patriots in Foxboro, courtesy the folks at ABC.
|11.30.10 at 7:08 am ET|
The battle for the AFC East title and the No. 1 spot in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings will be on the line in Week 13 at Gillette Stadium. For the third straight week, the Patriots (No.1), the Jets (No. 2), and the Falcons (No. 3) control the top three spots. That will surely change next week after the Pats and Jets collide. Tom Brady will be trying to break Brett Favre’s consecutive regular season home-game winning streak while the Jets will fight to stay unbeaten on the road.
The AFC East won’t be the only division up for grabs in Week 13. The Ravens (No. 4) and the Steelers (No. 6) will face off in a showdown themselves. The winning team will be in the driver’s seat to take the division and have a first-round playoff bye.
Continuing to climb are the Chargers (No. 9). There is something about the second-half of the season that flips a switch for Philip Rivers and crew. The “Super Chargers” have rattled off four straight wins.
Down in the bottom of the barrel, the last five teams have a new member. The embattled Denver Broncos come crashing down to No. 28.
1. (1) 9-2 The Patriots have scored more points this season than any other team in the NFL. Tom Brady and the offense are ranked third in the league after completing 45 percent of their third-down conversions. On the other side of the ball, Bill Belichick should be concerned about the amount of yards his defense has given up. The Patriots rank 31st in the NFL in total yards allowed. This team has relied on their ability to force turnovers. Their 15 interceptions lead the AFC.
2. (2) 9-2 Every good team must win on the road and the Jets certainly know how to do that. Dating back to last year, the Jets have won eight in a row on the road. Their most difficult task away from the Meadowlands will come this Monday night in Foxboro. Mark Sanchez has thrown an interception in six straight games after throwing none in the first five games of the season. Sanchez will have to protect the football against a very opportunistic Patriots defense if he wants to give his team a chance to win.
3. (3) 9-2 Matt Ryan is quickly becoming one of the top quarterbacks in the league. The BC alum has five game-winning drives this season. He’s also an extremely accurate passer and has only been intercepted five times. The Falcons are in a prime position to take the No. 1 seed in the NFC. If they can lock up home-field advantage in the playoffs, they’ll be the favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Ryan is 19-1 inside the Georgia Dome.
4. (5) 8-3 The Ravens are entering the last month of the season playing extremely well on defense. They’ve given up 23-total points in their last two games. Ray Lewis and crew must take that momentum into their AFC North game against the Steelers this Sunday.
5. (8) 8-3 The defending Super Bowl champs were successful last year because they caused turnovers in key moments of the game. On Thanksgiving, we saw the Saints once again make a turnover to save a game. This team plays smart football and is well coached. That’s just one of the reasons they’ll be extremely difficult to beat in the playoffs.
|11.29.10 at 11:30 pm ET|
Patriots coach Bill Belichick made his weekly appearance on The Big Show on Monday. In preparation for the much-anticipated showdown with the Jets next Monday night, Belichick said that he would talk to his players (especially the rookies) about preparing for the magnitude of the event. Even so, Belichick said that the gradual buildup of the season has already laid some foundation to deal with the AFC East tilt.
“The closer you get to the end of the season, the more important every game is, because there are so few of them left. Whether we were talking about the Pittsburgh game, the Indianapolis game or the Detroit game, each one seems bigger and bigger ‘ one fewer on the schedule as you march through the season,” said Belichick. “I just think it will be more of the same. We’re down to five to go. This is a division game. We’re back to division games now after a long break. I think we all know how important division games are. Every game is important, but division games even more so.”
Belichick discussed Jets coach Rex Ryan, and suggested that his New York counterpart had every reason to maintain his swagger.
“They were in the AFC Championship game last year. They’re 9-2. What is there not to be confident about?” said Belichick. “They’ve won a lot of games. I’m sure the players believe in what he’s saying and what he’s doing, and they should. They’ve had a lot of success. I think that’s the way you want a team to feel.”
|11.29.10 at 10:56 pm ET|
There’s been a lot of speculation that the Patriots’ in-season moves ‘ the trade of Randy Moss, the acquisition of Danny Woodhead and Deion Branch ‘ were done with an eye toward beating the Jets. Last month, Brian Baldinger of the NFL Network told WEEI.com that the moves were made ‘specifically’ with the Jets in mind.
‘They are building this team specifically to beat the Jets,’ Baldinger said of the Patriots. ‘You are not going to beat the Jets by taking seven-step drops and looking for Randy Moss 50 yards down the field. You beat the Jets by getting the ball to the quicker guys who can beat coverage. Between [Julian] Edelman, [Wes] Welker, [Deion] Branch and [Danny] Woodhead, that’s what they are doing. All of these changes are designed to beat the Jets.’
On Monday, Jets coach Rex Ryan was asked if his team was built specifically to beat a team like New England.
‘We just tried to put a great team together, that’s for sure,’ Ryan told reporters. ‘We did try to specifically, I felt we needed to get another corner to match up with New England. We drafted Kyle Wilson also, and that was to try to beat New England and Indianapolis and whoever else got in our way. We tried to build our team to win a Super Bowl. We thought to win a Super Bowl, you have to beat New England, so we’ll see if it works, if that blueprint works or not. We beat them once already.’
|11.29.10 at 9:36 pm ET|
It was something we wrote about earlier this month, and it was a point echoed by coach Bill Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio in a conference call with reporters on Monday afternoon ‘ as far as the Patriots are concerned, the real season starts after Thanksgiving.
‘There aren’t many games left, so each game becomes more important, more critical and has more influence in the final standings,’ Belichick said. ‘We just go into it with that kind of emphasis. Right now you just want to be in good position where you are still in contention, which obviously both these teams are for Monday night, and then go from there.
‘I think you can look back to just about any season and see teams that played well in September or October or got off to a good start, or maybe not such a good start but then played better at the end of the year or not as good, whatever the case might be, and that’s usually more the way their season gets defined.’
Saving your best football until the end of the season is a philosophy that’s worked for Belichick and the Patriots ‘ since 2001, New England has compiled an NFL-best 78-23 (.771) record after Nov. 1, a record that includes this year as well as the postseason. In addition, quarterback Tom Brady holds a 51-13 record as a starter in games played after Thanksgiving. When they have enjoyed success late in the regular season and into the playoffs, the seeds for greatness have been planted in November: In their three Super Bowl years (2001, 2003 and 2004), New England was a combined 33-2 after Nov. 1, with only one of those losses in three seasons coming after Thanksgiving.
Caserio said this week, there’s even greater importance because it’s a November game against a division opponent.
‘Later in the year, those games, they take on maybe a little more significance,’ Caserio said. ‘I think the implication from the perspective of being a division game, that’s important. You want to try and win those games in your division. Those are the teams that you see twice over the course of the season.
‘So, it’s a division game, it’s later in the year, they’ve obviously established themselves as one of the better teams in the league, they have the best record in the league. It’s an important game, but it’s just as important as any other game. And it’s the next one that’s on the schedule. Hopefully, our players will be ready to perform on Monday night.’
|11.29.10 at 5:36 pm ET|
I understand that no one really gets worked up about the NFL MVP.
It’s not like baseball – I mean, there is no NFL MVP debate to match Pedro Martinez/Ivan Rodriguez in 1999, Terry Pendleton over Barry Bonds in 1991 or Joe DiMaggio over Ted Williams in 1947. Have you ever heard anyone argue about Joe Montana over Randall Cunningham in 1990? Actually, can you even tell me how many MVP’s Joe Montana has won (two – and I had look it up)? Baseball MVP = Oscars. NBA MVP = Golden Globes. Hockey MVP (Hart Trophy) = Emmys. So I guess what we’re left with is the People’s Choice Awards.
Still, I’m a little troubled about something. There seems to be a wave building for Philip Rivers as MVP and I don’t get it. At first glance Rivers seems perfect casting for the MVP this year. He’s on pace for 4,890 yards passing, 33 TDs and has a QB rating of 104.9. And after Sunday night’s win over Indianapolis the Chargers find themselves over .500 for the first time all season and very much in the AFC West and wild-card hunt. Obviously a terrific year and is I think he’s as good a candidate as any to take over the title as Best QB On The Planet when the two guys who have swapped the top spot for the last decade or so begin the inevitable decline.
But he has not been the most valuable player in the NFL to this point in 2010. That would be Tom Brady.
And in my best WEEI.com fashion let me give you four reasons why (after the jump):
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