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200 Miles From the Citi


December 8, 2009 7:45 AM

THINKING ABOUT THE DIVISION

Sad_Brady_Wk13.JPGLet's not spend too much time pining over the wins the Jets should have had (Miami twice, Buffalo in OT, the Jaguars game)...let's just establish that any one of those games would have the Jets in a first-place tie in the AFC East right now.

But let's take a long hard look at the team that is in first place - the New England Patriots - a team with two remaining road games, and just one road win this year.

The Jets would need to make two games up on New England, with four to play, in order to win the division. A tall task for sure, especially when you throw in the fact that the Patriots have just lost two in a row and they don't make a habit of long losing streaks.

But it doesn't hurt to examine them a bit:

-Their remaining schedule is: 1) Home vs. Carolina, 2) at Buffalo, 3) home versus Jacksonville, and 4) at Houston. For some reason, the Patriots just can't win on the road (their only road win came "at" Tampa Bay, a neutral site game in London), which makes the two road games dicey. Throw in the fact that Buffalo almost beat the Patriots in Week 1 and you have an interesting game brewing in two weeks. But I really don't think any of those games is really losable for the Patriots, unless you factor in....



-They're losing games they don't usually lose, in fashions that they don't usually lose them in. For example - they're not employing the kicking game. There was the infamous non-punt in Indianapolis last month, and then on Sunday in Miami, the Patriots went for a first down on 4th and 1 inside the 10-yard line and were stuffed. A field goal would have gone a long way toward burying the Dolphins. They usually cash in on those situations...or at the very least their return trip to the red zone later in the game when Tom Brady threw an interception in the end zone. These things don't usually happen to the Patriots...they might be compensating for.....

-An ineffective defense. I have a hard time thinking of a defense as ineffective when they give up just 22 points - that's not a terrible game. It's terrible, though, when you consider Chad Henne did what he wanted all game on Sunday against this defense - and what he wanted was to complete passes along the right sideline. I can't believe how on every pass (literally, he looked left maybe twice all game) Henne was able to get a pass completed to the right side of the field. Either the Patriots didn't shift their coverage very well, or they just couldn't make up for whoever their defensive player was who was exposed over there.

Something tells me it's not just the Dolphins who are figuring out a way to attack New England - I'm sure a desperate Jacksonville, possibly a desperate Carolina or Houston, or a Buffalo team looking to spoil can find ways to exploit the Patriots. There's another strategy that's been effective too, especially this year when he's most vulnerable - knock down Tom Brady.

With the Jets in the thick of things in the hunt for the wild card, all this proves is that the division flame hasn't quite been extinguished yet.

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