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Setting the scene from MetLife Stadium: Patriots-Jets

EAST RUTHERFORD — The forecast calls for clear skies and temperatures in the mid-40s for the 8:20 p.m. kickoff between the 7-3 Patriots and the 4-6 Jets at MetLife Stadium.

The Patriots will be without Rob Gronkowski [1] (broken left forearm), Logan Mankins [2] (calf/hip) and Chandler Jones (right ankle) when they take on their arch-rival in the AFC East.

With Gronkowski missing his first game, tonight could mark the return of Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez [3] to the lineup after a three-game absence with a recurrence of his right ankle sprain. Ironically, Hernandez last played against the Jets on Oct. 21 at Gillette Stadium [4].

The Patriots are aiming for their fifth straight win. They are a combined 18-0 in the second half of the season, dating back to Jan. 3, 2010, when they lost, 34-27, at Houston.

The Patriots could essentially end the slim playoff hopes of the Jets with a win, as they would sweep the season series. Each team has 14 season sweeps in the long history of the rivalry, but New York hasn’t turned the trick since 2000. This is the 108th meeting between the teams, including the playoffs. The Patriots lead the series, 54-52-1, including 2-1 in the postseason.

Tom Brady [5] is 2-0 in his two previous appearances on Thanksgiving, beating the Lions both times, including 45-24 two years ago at Ford Field [6]. The Patriots played their first Thanksgiving game 28 years ago to the day, losing to the Cowboys, 20-17. They lost in Detroit, 34-9, in Bill Belichick [7]‘s first season in New England in 2000.

Just four hours before the game, the team announced the activation of offensive lineman [8] Markus Zusevics for depth, while releasing wide receiver Greg Salas.

The Jets also made several moves prior to the game, signing CB Donnie Fletcher, CB Darrin Walls and WR Jordan White from the practice squad to the active roster.

White (WR/6-0/215/Western Michigan/Cleveland, OH) was a seventh-round selection of the Jets in the 2012 NFL Draft [9]. He was signed to the team’€™s practice squad (09/02/12) after being waived following training camp (08/27/12). White was waived from the practice squad on Sept. 28 before re-signing with the Jets on Oct. 2. In four years at Western Michigan, he started 32-of-43 games he played and produced 306 receptions for 4,187 yards and 32 touchdowns. White will wear number 17.

Fletcher (CB/6-1/195/Boston College [10]/Cleveland, OH) entered the NFL after signing with the Jets as an undrafted free agent on May 4. He joined the Jets practice squad Sept. 1 after being waived following training camp on Aug. 31. New York signed Fletcher to the active roster from the practice squad on Sept. 22 for their game at Miami. He was waived Sept. 24 later re-signed to the Jets practice squad the next day. Fletcher will wear number 34.

Walls (CB/6-0/190/Notre Dame [11]/Pittsburgh, PA) entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with Atlanta July 27, 2011 and recorded one interception and two passes defensed in five games as a rookie. He was waived by the Falcons during the preseason Aug. 27 and later signed to the Jets practice squad Sept. 12. Walls will wear number 27.

Who will pick up the most slack for Gronk tonight?

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