ACTUALLY, IT MATTERS
The game between the Patriots and Jets has some meaning. For the Patriots, a victory — or a Steelers loss — will clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. As for the Jets, they currently have the No. 7 pick of the draft based on strength of schedule tiebreakers over San Francisco and Chicago. That pick could change after Sunday’s games. A Jets’ loss would clinch one of their worst road records in some time. Currently the Jets are 1-6 on the road, the lone victory coming in Cleveland. The last time the Jets finished with one road win was 2007. In that season, the Jets went 4-12 overall with a 1-7 road mark.
QB AUDITIONS CONTINUE
The quarterback situation with the Jets is unsettled and might be that way going into the start of next season. Bryce Petty and maybe Christian Hackenberg will get their last chance Sunday to “audition” for the full-time gig or the No. 2 job. Petty, in two starts, completed just 47.4 percent of his passes with one touchdown, three interceptions and a 46.6 quarterback rating. Petty remains confident going into the regular-season finale despite being 0-2.
“It’s a process. It’s not the outcome, it’s the process,” he said. “For me, all I know is to keep grinding and keep working and keep working through this. That’s something that I was able to go to sleep well with the other night, just knowing that this isn’t the end per say. Things aren’t going to go your way, but it’s about how you react to it. It’s how you to respond to it, and I get another shot on Sunday.”
The last time Petty played in Foxborough, Dec. 24, 2016, he suffered a shoulder injury.
“Hopefully, we come out with both shoulders, so that will be a positive,” he said jokingly.
Todd Bowles hinted there’s a chance Hackenberg will play against the Patriots. If he does, it will be his first NFL regular season game since he was drafted last season.
Petty has been the No. 2 quarterback for all but Week 1 and will get the first chance — maybe final chance — to display his talents to the coaches and front office. But Petty will need to play well at the start of the game to hold off any substitution for Hackenberg. A possible scenario for the quarterback position this week could have Petty play the first half with Hackenberg taking over in the second.
“When I’m in there, take advantage of the opportunities that I have, make sure that I’m doing my job and do what I’m supposed to do,” Petty said. “If that’s the call, to put Hack in, then I’m going to be supportive for Hack and respect coach’s decision.”
BELICHICK-ING HIS LIST
You could say Patriots coach Bill Belichick is a modern day Lou Holtz. Every opponent the Patriots play is very, very good. On a conference call with reporters this week, Belichick said the Jets’ wide receivers were good, Robby Anderson was having a “great year,” the running backs were having a good year and Bilal Powell’s season was described as a “great year.”
Now Belichick’s best comments came for punt returner JoJo Natson.
“Natson has given them some explosiveness in the punt return game, and they’re a good coverage team,” Belichick said.
Natson is averaging just 2.4 yards per punt return.
Realistically Belichick just doesn’t want the Pats to overlook the Jets and in their first meeting, Oct. 15, his team trailed 14-0 before eventually winning, 24-17.
The Jets have nothing to play for, other than the evaluation of Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg. Belichick is trying to get his team ready for another Super Bowl run.
“Our game with them in the first game was very competitive, came down to a couple of plays,” Belichick said. “I think the Jets are a lot better than they were then. We know we’re going to have to play a lot better than we played in the first game to be competitive with them, so that’s what we need to do this week.”
Receiving yards by Robby Anderson, which are the third-highest total this season among second-year wideouts. The Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill, a fifth-round pick, leads second-year receivers with 1,183 yards and the Saints’ Michael Thomas, a second-rounder, is second with 1,151. Anderson, an undrafted receiver from Temple, is tied with Hill with seven touchdowns.
The combined number of sacks from inside linebackers Darron Lee (3) and Demario Davis (5) this season.
The Jets’ alltime record against the Patriots. The Jets are 0-6 at New England since beating the Pats, 28-21, in the 2010-11 divisional playoffs.