The lead in the AFC East will be up for grabs in Week 7 as the Jets and Patriots renew a fierce rivalry. While all four teams are deadlocked at 3-3, only the Jets (2-0) or the Patriots (1-0) can remain unbeaten in the division after this weekend.
The Jets are coming off a breakout performance by the run game, which led the NFL in attempts, yards and touchdowns (three, tied with Washington) in Week 6. The 127 rushing yards after first contact were more than the total rushing yards of 18 teams on the weekend.
Meanwhile, the Patriots will play host as the NFL's No. 1 offense in scoring and total yards. The Pats are the only team in the NFL with double-digit rushing and passing touchdowns. Tom Brady ranks second among qualified players with a 76.4 Total QBR and will guide the air attack once again after a career-high 58 pass attempts against Seattle.
Let's break down three key stats that could determine Sunday's outcome:
1. The Patriots' offense has evolved in recent years, utilizing an up-tempo pace to dictate substitutions on defense. As a result, New England has rejuvenated the run game by averaging 4.8 yards per rush when five or more defensive backs take the field, compared with 2.7 against all other packages. The Pats try to move defenders around the chess board with a spread attack, as they have run more plays (11.0/game) with an empty backfield than any team in the NFL. Without Darrelle Revis, the secondary could be stretched thin for the Jets as a result.
The Patriots also work the whole field, sideline to sideline, by running more plays (30.0/game) outside the painted field numbers than any other team. When Brady passes to either sideline, however, it will be against a defense that leads the AFC with five interceptions on attempts that wide.
2. While the Patriots drafted a home run in Chandler Jones, who leads all rookies with five sacks, the secondary has been vulnerable and given up 13 pass plays of 30 yards or more, the most in the NFL. On throws that travel more than 20 yards in the air, New England has given up the most yards and completions of any defense in the league. The formula for Total QBR ranks the Patriots last in the NFL for the most points allowed above the average rated quarterback on throws that deep.
Mark Sanchez ranks third in the AFC in average throw distance, has two touchdowns with no interceptions and has a better completion percentage on the deep ball than Robert Griffin III, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan, who all rank Top five in the NFL in total completion percentage.
Fewest Yards Allowed Per Rush,
After Contact (2012 Season)
3. The ultimate success in this matchup could be determined by which run game will show up. Since the beginning of last season, the Jets are 8-0 in games with at least 30 rush attempts. While Gang Green led all teams in yards after contact last week, they will match up with a Patriots defense that leads the NFL in fewest yards allowed after contact.
On the other side of the ball, the Pats have run more than any team in the league, with an average of 36 attempts per game. New England is physical and leads the way in highest percentage of rush attempts resulting in a first down when contacted before the sticks.