Reid Fischer's World of Rants

Looking at the sports world through orange colored glasses

Thursday Night Football Pick

Posted by mizzou1028 on November 13, 2008

The NFL Network certainly lucked out with its Thursday night game draw this week, a titanic AFC East showdown between the Jets and Patriots.  Both teams sit 6-3, and both teams have been hot lately.  The Jets have won five of their past six games, including a 47-3 thrashing of the Rams last week in which they had a 40-0 lead at HALFTIME.  Granted, two of the other Jets wins in that stretch have come against the Bengals and Chiefs, but they also hung 56 points on the NFC West leading Cardinals (how strange does that phrase sound?) and they also won a tough division road game in Buffalo.  New England, meanwhile, has managed to win three of its past four, including a win over the Bills themselves last week in which they sealed it with a 19 play, 92 yard drive that took 9:08 off the clock in the fourth quarter.  Basically the Patriots were able to hold the ball for two thirds of the fourth quarter to seal the win, which is needless to say impressive. 

The winner of this game takes over sole possession of first place in the AFC East, so it’s obviously a critical game for both teams.  This is exactly the kind of game the Jets signed Brett Favre for, an intense division game on the road.  Favre has certainly if nothing else provided the Jets a spark, which is an understatement considering the Jets have already surpassed their 2007 win total.  The Jets have run the ball well with Thomas Jones, and that will certainly help them control the tempo of the game, especially in trying to temper the intense crowd of New England fans that will be on hand.   The Jets’ defense has also been playing surprisingly well as of late, so that gives them a chance in this game.  If they can get pressure on Matt Cassel, they will have a chance. 

Speaking of Cassel, the Patriots have gotten very good play from him over the past month or so.  He hasn’t put up spectacular numbers, but he has made the plays he has needed to and has not made bad decisions.  Sounds almost like a carbon copy of the 2001 Tom Brady doesn’t it?  The Patriots haven’t been getting the big plays from Randy Moss that they got last year, but Wes Welker is among the league leaders in catches, and they’ve found ways to score enough points to win games.  New England has run the ball effectively despite being gashed with injury at the running back position, and the defense has done a good job keeping them in games. 

The key to this game will be whether or not the Jets’ defense can get pressure on Cassel.  For all that Cassel has done well, he has been sacked a whopping 29 times this season.  Even in his best game against the Broncos, Cassel was sacked six times.  Even last week against the Bills, there were times where he didn’t necessarily look comfortable in the pocket, although he was able to make the plays he needed to.  If the Jets can rattle Cassel and force him into turnovers, it will change the complexion of the game considerably.   Keep in mind the Patriots won the week two meeting in New York 19-10 primarily because they were able to pressure Favre and make him uncomfortable.  The Jets will need to do the same to Cassel in order to win.

This will certainly be an intense, tight game throughout, but I have to give the Patriots a slight edge in this one.  They are playing a night game at home, they won the first meeting on the road already, and they’ve won 11 of their past 12 games against the Jets.  I think Favre will make enough plays to keep the Jets in it, but it won’t be quite enough.  While the Jets defense might be able to get to Cassel a little bit, the Patriots will somehow find a way to pull this one out at home.  Even with a short week to prepare, it’s hard to bet against Bill Belichick when the game is this close. 

The Pick: Patriots 20, Jets 17

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One Response to “Thursday Night Football Pick”

  1. Doug Baker said

    I hope your pick is right!!!

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