Game Scout: Patriots at Jets

The SportsXchange

New England Patriots (5-1) at New York Jets (3-3)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J. - TV: CBS

*TV announcers: Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf

*Keys to the game: Jets QB Geno Smith had a stat line in Week 2 reminiscent of most rookies facing a Bill Belichick defense for the first time - 15 of 35 passing for 214 yards, no touchdowns, three interceptions and a 27.6 passer rating in a 13-10 loss in New England. Smith has certainly shown progress, but he has 13 turnovers on the season. The Patriots' defense is minus NT Vince Wilfork and ILB Jerod Mayo, so look for RB Bilal Powell to attack between the tackles and attempt to keep Smith in manageable situations. Still, it's up to the quarterback to know when to throw the ball away and live to play another down. The Patriots managed just 2.3 yards per carry in that first meeting and the Jets boast the league's No. 2 run defense. QB Tom Brady will need to rely on short and intermediate routes to complement the ground game and likely exercise patience in engineering lengthy drives.

*Matchup to watch - Patriots WR Kenbrell Thompkins vs. Jets CB Antonio Cromartie: The 25-year-old Thompkins has gone from a rookie who struggled to run the right routes to QB Tom Brady's go-to target - including a jump-ball for the game-winning touchdown last week. Cromartie is one of the league's best, but he's also less than full strength due to a sore knee.

*Player spotlight - Patriots ILB Jamie Collins: The rookie from Southern Miss has been in the rotation all season, but his profile gets ramped way up filling in for Mayo, who leads the team with 66 tackles. Dont'a Hightower takes over the defensive headset for Mayo.

*Fast facts: The Patriots are 26-7 in rematches against AFC East rivals since the move to eight divisions in 2001 - including 4-0 against the Jets and outscoring them by 110 points in those games since Rex Ryan took over. ... The Jets' defense has only one interception on the season, and none in the past 22 quarters.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

It's odd to see the Patriots and Jets finish up their season series before the halfway mark - cold-weather battles between Bill Belichick and Rex Ryan are almost a winter right of passage. The Patriots can only take so many hits on defense, but the track record of Belichick's ability to win rematches speaks for itself - as does Jets QB Geno Smith's propensity for turnovers.

*Our pick: Patriots 27-23
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