On Thursday night, the New York Jets and New England Patriots go at it again, the 106th game in the rivalry. For the record, the Patriots lead 53-51-1. I did a quick check, determining that I've covered no fewer than 52 games between these two teams. That's pretty much three full seasons of Jets-Patriots, not to mention a lot of off-the-field news between them.
There have been so many memorable contests over the years, but I think the most memorable occurred Jan. 16, 2011, when the Jets stunned the Patriots in the AFC divisional playoffs, 28-21. It was defintely the highlight of the Rex Ryan era, and it probably was the franchise's most significant win since Super Bowl III in 1969.
Some folks thought the Jets had overtaken the Patriots with that playoff victory, but look what's happened to the teams since that fateful day in Foxborough: The Jets have declined sharply, going 15-18 in the regular season. The Patriots? All they've done is go 26-7, proving once again the Jets are only wannabes.
Once again, the Jets are a heavy underdog, facing a depleted New England offense that includes Tom Brady and a lot of no-names. Even so, not many people are giving New York a shot.
"We're going to hear that every week," guard Willie Colon said. "Nobody gives us a chance. We'll just have to quiet the naysayers."
News of the day: It's game day. To get you ready for kickoff, here's the latest on Geno Smith and the challenges he faces in this game. This will be a great test for the rookie quarterback. ... The Jets have to find a way to make due without one of their most versatile players, Jeremy Kerley. He plays wide receiver, returns punts and can run the Wildcat. And here's something not many people know: He's their emergency quarterback. They dressed two quarterbacks last week, Smith and Matt Simms, knowing Kerley could step in as the disaster quarterback. Without him, do the Jets dress a third quarterback, Brady Quinn? ... The previous meeting was last Thanksgiving, when one fateful minute changed the Jets' franchise. Surely, you remember. The Jets tried to block out the nightmare as they prepared for this game. "If you look behind, you can't see what's in front of you," linebacker DeMario Davis said. "What I see in front of us is a great opportunity to be off to a very fast start this season."