(In Flex We Trust)
Geno Smith may be forced to beat the Patriots from the pocket tonight.
The New York Jets take to the road for the second consecutive week to open the season. Tonight’s opponent is the division rival New England Patriots. Both teams notched game-winning field goals in the closing seconds of regulation last week. The Patriots hope to have wide receiver Danny Amendola (doubtful, groin) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (forearm, back) in the lineup. The Jets just received word today that quarterback Mark Sanchez could be lost for the season with a shoulder injury.
Geno Smith’s NFL debut didn’t set the world on fire, but he did leave Tampa with a victory. Smith was 24-38 for 256 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He rushed for an additional 47 yards on six carries. Smith was able to spread the ball around — hitting eight different receivers. The Jets ran the ball for modest gains — keeping the pressure off Smith. Against the Patriots, it has to be more of the same. The Jets defense caused forced two turnovers and tallied three sacks. The possibility of the Patriots being without Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski could open the door for the Jets to take risks.
The Patriots allowed the Buffalo Bills to play themselves back into last week’s game and it almost cost them. Tom Brady has found another big play receiver in Julian Edelman. Shane Vereen rushed for over 100 yards and Steven Ridley added 47. Due to a possible shortage of receivers I don’t see Brady dropping back 52 times tonight. The defense will dare Smith to beat them from the pocket. The Patriots gave up 136 yards on the ground last week. In order to win big, that number has to be cut in half.
Prediction: Injuries to New England’s receiving corps makes this closer than we think. I believe the Jets defense will get to Brady. Look for a big night from either Ridley or Vereen. Smith has to play within himself and not try to win the game on two or three plays. Tonight’s game will be as much of a struggle as he makes it.
Patriots 23 – Jets 17