Pats at Jets Preview: Brady vs Revis, Jets WR Duo, and Muhammad Wilkerson

It has been nearly a month since the Patriots faced an AFC East foe (Week 11 vs Buffalo), but this week they get a familiar opponent in the New York Jets.

The Patriots have gotten the better of the Jets 9 out of 10 times in the last 10 regular season meetings between the two.

However, five of the last seven meetings have been decided by 3 points or less.

The Jets always seem to play the Patriots tough. A lot of that is due to familiarity, and the Jets having the right personnel to slow down Tom Brady.

Let’s taking a look at some key story lines as the Patriots try to lock up the #1 seed in the AFC:

Can Tom Brady Solve Revis/Cromartie Combo?: Tom Brady has gotten the better of the Revis/Cromartie combo in the win column (4-2, including playoffs), but the corner back duo has slowed Brady more than any other duo in Brady’s career. In fact, both Revis and Cromartie rank in the top 5 in terms of lowest career passer rating when targeted by Tom Brady. The following boards show just how stingy the Revis/Cromartie duo has been against Brady and the Pats: 

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Can The Patriots Slow Down Marshall/Decker Duo?: Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall have been arguable the best wide receiver duo in all of football this season. They set a Jets franchise record for combined TD receptions for a duo (21) and are tied for first in the NFL in that stat this season. In Week 7, the Patriots deployed a familiar game plan against the Jets passing attack. Many times this season the Patriots have opted to double the opposing team’s top WR with Logan Ryan and a safety over the top. They did this to Marshall in Week 7, Demaryius Thomas in Week 12, and DeAndre Hopkins in Week 14. The double-team on Marshall then allowed top CB Malcolm Butler to shadow Eric Decker (the Jets #2 WR) for most of the game. Take a look at how prolific the Jets wide receiver duo has been this season: 

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Can The Patriots Protect Brady?: Since Week 9, no team in the NFL has more sacks than the New York Jets (24). Most of that has to do with the strong season (in a contract year) for Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson. Wilkerson has a team-high 12 sacks (5th-most in NFL) this season as the leader of a very scary Jets front seven. Wilkerson has also added 26 quarterback hits and 11 tackles for a loss to his stats this season. The Jets don’t have any true “edge rushers” on their defensive line, but Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and rookie Leonard Williams are three of the best interior rushers in the league. Last week, the Patriots interior line of Shaq Mason, David Andrews, and Tre’ Jackson struggled with Titans DT Jurrell Casey, especially in pass protection. Casey belongs in the same conversation as the Jets trio, but Wilkerson especially is even more effective.