We're still a week away from the Jets-Patriots game to end all Jets-Patriots games.
There's still a week for it to be blown out of proportion.
Still a week to be reminded that Tom Brady said he hates the Jets, still a week for Rex Ryan to do a ton of talking.
But the truth is, this is a really big Jets-Patriots game.
Certainly the biggest since the rivalry intensified in the last decade or so...and possibly the biggest ever.
Both teams are 9-2 with first place - and the inside track to a first-round playoff bye - on the line.
Here's a look at 5 other big Jets-Patriots games, plus a couple of honorable mentions, just to show you how big next Monday's game really is.
Let's go back to 2001. September 23, 2001
to be exact. The week football returned following the September 11th attacks. And during that game, Mo Lewis laid out Drew Bledsoe on the sideline. The hit (which seriously injured Bledsoe) allowed Tom Brady to take over the Patriots and lead them from Jets equals to Jets tormentors...oh yeah, and 3-time world champions. Now, I realize that at the time this was not a huge game between the teams, but when you put on the hindsight glasses, you have to throw this into the rankings - it changed the course of history for both teams. (Honorable Mention in this category would be September 12, 1999, when Vinny Testaverde tore his Achilles tendon in the season opener against New England. Again, a possible history-changer, though I have my doubts Testaverde would have recaptured 1998's magic in 1999. Anyway, moving on...)
4) October 17, 2004 - This was THE Jets-Patriots matchup of all-time at the time. In the shadow of the Yankees-Red Sox ALCS, the 5-0 Jets took on the 5-0 Patriots with the best record in the NFL on the line. Though early in the season, it was a tone-setter. The Patriots beat the Jets, 13-7. Both teams went on to successful seasons - the Jets bowed out in the divisional round. The Patriots...oh yeah, they won the Super Bowl. The Red Sox also did well that October.
3) November 13, 2008 - It turned out to be a meaningless game for the Jets and hurtful to the Patriots, but it was big at the time. Brett Favre led the Jets to a 34-31 win on Thursday night, improving the Jets to 7-3. The Jets would win the next week to get to 8-3, but finished the season 9-7 and out of the playoffs, losing on the final week to the Dolphins, who won the division. The Patriots (led by Matt Cassel) also missed the post-season despite finishing 11-5.
2) November 12, 2006 - Eric Mangini gets his first win over Bill Belichick with a 17-14 victory. The win improved the Jets to 5-4. They went 5-2 the rest of the way only to lose in the playoffs...to the Patriots. That would obviously be considered a huge game between the teams, but let's keep this list to the regular season. (Honorable Mention here: Last year's 16-9 Jets win on September 20, 2009. Not a huge game by any stretch in week 2, but a message from Rex Ryan to Bill Belichick that the Jets were back to contender status)
1) December 22, 2002 - This was a pretty big one. The Jets entered the game a game behind the Patriots in the division. They won 30-17, and the standout memory for me is the twisting Wayne Chrebet touchdown. The win for the Jets puts both teams at 8-7, but gives the Jets control of their own destiny, which they exercised by blowing out the Packers and taking the AFC East.
Whatever the result next Monday, the game will take its place at the top of this list.
Just one more week.