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Monday, December 6, 2010
Do Patriots or Jets need home-field more?


The gang on "Sunday NFL Countdown" examined which AFC team would benefit most from home-field advantage in the postseason.

The analysts were split. Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson claimed the New England Patriots needed it more. Mike Ditka and Cris Carter said the New York Jets must have it.

Heading into Monday night's showdown, the Patriots are 5-0 at Gillette Stadium this year. Quarterback Tom Brady has won 25 straight regular-season games at home. The Jets are the NFL's last unbeaten road team at 5-0 and won a pair of road upsets in the playoff last season.

"When you think about New England," Jackson said, "they do not lose at home and the Jets don't lose on the road. I know you go back to the playoffs and that doesn't hold true, but the New England Patriots before they lost to Baltimore in the playoffs last [season], 31 years you have to go back to find them losing. I'm going to take that 31 years as a pattern that if you have to go to Foxborough, you are going to lose."

Johnson added the Patriots will benefit from their home crowd more because their iffy defense requires all the help it can get.

"They need the hostile environment at home," Johnson said. "They need that crowd noise. They need all sorts of those things."

For the woebegone Jets' franchise, Carter noted the euphoria of hosting an AFC Championship game could carry them into the Super Bowl and would be "enough to supersede any other variable we see."

Ditka tacked on the most interesting point, melding the concepts. With home-field advantage so imperative to the Patriots, it would be helpful to the Jets' outlook to make sure the Patriots don't have it.

"If you take Rex Ryan and his game plan, what he does with this organization, this is where he wants to be," Ditka said. "Now, he's got to put the final pieces in the puzzle. You've got to go to New England, and you've got to beat them. You've got to get New England away from home-field advantage."