There's something sad, and faintly pathetic, about this week's "big" matchup between the Jets and the Patriots. These are supposed to be the huge division rivals: blustery Rex Ryan versus hooded evil mastermind Bill Belichick, the new guard versus the old guard, the upstart versus the empire. The problem is that, these days, they both feel like the old guard.
The Jets and Patriots face off Sunday afternoon in Foxboro, and the game just doesn't have the same vibe as it used to. Each of these teams is struggling, with the glory of their past reflecting poorly on their current incarnations. The Patriots are losing at home to teams like the Arizona Cardinals, and the Jets ... well, you know what's up with the Jets. Rex Ryan is coaching for his life right now; the idea of taking down big, bad Belichick is the least of his concerns these days.
That said, these teams are tied for first place, so the game certainly has importance. A win for the Jets on Sunday could propel them in a big way; a home game against Miami next week could conceivably have them at 5-3 heading into their bye week and 4-0 in the division. The question, as always, is whether or not the Jets can score enough. They've had two weeks when they could, one when the passing game broke through (versus Buffalo in Week One) and one when the running game did (versus Indianapolis last week).
The Patriots can be had on the ground, even if Tim Tebow is the running back. (!) But it's tough to see how the Jets can score enough to make up for Tom Brady, to catch up with him. This could be a breakthrough win for the Jets, changing almost everything everyone has been saying about them all year. But we don't see it. Patriots 31, Jets 17.