Mark Sanchez looks to the bench for the call in...

Mark Sanchez looks to the bench for the call in the first half of a game against the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium. (Oct. 28, 2012) Credit: Getty

Strange as it may sound, the Jets are very much alive in the playoff hunt at 4-6 and coming off a 27-13 victory at the St. Louis Rams. No, they’re not in the driver’s seat, but a victory against the New England Patriots on Thursday night at MetLife Stadium will help. Here’s what they’ll have to do on Thanksgiving to stay in the postseason race.
No Gronk, no problem
Tight end Rob Gronkowski made six receptions for 78 yards and two touchdowns in New England’s 29-26 OT victory during Week 7. A broken forearm suffered in Sunday’s 59-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts has him out for well beyond this week. With tight end Aaron Hernandez’s status up in the air, the Patriots may have one less dimension of their offense for the Jets to worry about.
Stop three-headed beast
Stevan Ridley is the preferred option on handoffs, but the Patriots have used multiple backs for years. Ridley averaged just 3.8 yards on 17 carries in Week 7, while Shane Vereen gained 59 yards on nine touches and Danny Woodhead went for 48 yards on 10 touches as well. Taking the running backs out of the equation puts a lot of pressure on quarterback Tom Brady.
Light up the scoreboard
The Jets are 4-1 when they score more than 20 points and 0-5 when they don’t. Fortunately, the New England defense is very generous. Mark Sanchez played well for the most part the first time these teams met, and he’s coming off a solid game. 

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