The Jets won the first round, the Patriots won the second - OK, they didn't just beat the Jets on the second try, they obliterated them - and now it's time for the rubber match. As it should be, according to Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
"We split with them this year, so now it will be the best two out of three," he said Sunday on a conference call. "It's probably the way it should be. We'll find out which team is going to advance."
The Jets beat the Patriots, 28-14, in Week 2 as Mark Sanchez threw three touchdown passes and outplayed Tom Brady at New Meadowlands Stadium. But the Patriots crushed the Jets, 45-3, in December's rematch at Gillette Stadium as Brady threw for 326 yards and four touchdowns.
What to expect in this one?
"Of course, nobody knows for sure, so you have to prepare for a lot of different things," Belichick said. "In the end, you still have to put your chips on something. You have to anticipate what you think is most likely to occur."
In other words: Who the heck knows?
One thing Belichick does know is that the Patriots are going to take the Jets very seriously, even after last month's beatdown.
"The most important thing is the week of preparation and how the teams prepare on Sunday," he said. "I don't think what happened last week or in some game in December or some game in September or some game in October, I don't think that's going to have too much bearing on it. I think what happens between now and kickoff and how the teams perform once the game starts, I think that's what will decide the winner."
Don't expect Belichick to add any fuel to the fire that defines this rivalry, which is among the most heated in sports. Rex Ryan is likely to say just about anything in the buildup to Sunday's game, but Belichick will maintain his usual low profile. He has an unassuming look under his sweatshirt hoodie on the sideline, and it's the same way in print. He won't engage in a war of words with Ryan.
Case in point: Ryan suggested last week that Peyton Manning prepares harder than Brady and that Brady gets more help from Belichick than Manning gets from his coaching staff. Any reaction, Bill?
"I really don't think a whole lot about stuff like that," Belichick said. "I just try to coach our team. I think you have to ask Rex or somebody else about that, whoever said it, whatever the context was, I don't know. I'm worried about getting our team ready."