1) How big of a loss is the news that offensive lineman Damien Woody is lost for the season due to an Achilles injury?
Dyer: Not as big as you might think. Wayne Hunter filled in very well for Woody during the three game stretch to close-out the regular season and was solid. Hunter is versatile and gets plenty of snaps on special teams and as a jumbo tight end. While he hasn't played in a game of this magnitude, he did start at right tackle in the win over Pittsburgh, a game whose feel and intensity will somewhat match Sunday. That game three weeks ago was his first NFL start.
Dyer: Quite frankly, I think Cromartie may have thought it was an off the record moment with a reporter and just let loose. I don't think he intended it to go out to the world. With that being said, I'm pretty sure that deep down, underneath the designer duds and the facial stubble, Brady feels the same way about Cromartie.
3) The Rex Ryan vs Bill Belichick matchup that Ryan tried to promote as the central theme this week. Is that the main story, or should it be something else?
Dyer: Quite frankly, all that is is the Jets head coach trying to take the pressure off of his team. After the Week 13 loss, he needed to get the attention away from revenge and his team's horrendous performance.
The goal was to make himself out to be the one who let the team down. Language such as "level" ground to describe these two teams talent wise is proof-positive of this mentality from Rex. He's trying to pin the loss on himself and not on the fact that the Jets aren't as good as the Patriots.
It's an interesting twist. Belichick notoriously spends all week playing mind games with his opponents and Rex is playing them with his own team as he tries to rebuild their egos. I'm not sure if they've fully recovered from that loss.
4) Aside from the trash talk, the news around Foxboro is how the Jets were able to get past the Colts by shutting down Peyton Manning. Did New York do something different than usual, or did they benefit from a playing a banged up Indianapolis team at the right time. (seemed to be lots of key drops by Colts).
Dyer: They ran the ball. Using Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson the way they did, the Jets held the ball six more minutes than the Colts. They effectively took the ball out of Manning's hands and their defense did a good job of bending and not breaking.
Look for the Jets offense to run a lot on Sunday. They couldn't in Week 13 because they fell behind 17-0 by the end of the first quarter. But if things are close around halftime, the Jets will have a chance in the second half because they will run, run, run and eat up clock. This could come down to a battle of field position. If that is the case, the Jets are built for this kind of game, one that they won in Pittsburgh. Punter Steve Weatherford set a NFL record for most punts inside an opponent's 20-yard line, averaging nearly three a game. Even the Patriots high power offense would rather not drive 80 yards if they didn't have too.
5) Outside of New York, few people are buying into the Jets being a Super Bowl favorite. Bodog.com has them at 12/1 Next to last in the 8 teams that are left (Seattle is 40/1). What kind of impact does that have on the Jets players? Do they feel motivated by that, or is it a non-issue?
Dyer: This is a good question and I do think that the Jets enjoy being under dogs and have an "Us Against the World" mentality. They've undergone six major off the field distractions this year since Week 1, and they hold a 5-1 record in the games immediately after the backpage headlines broke. The Jets remain focused through a lot of controversy and they can turn this underdog role into another motivational factor.
6) What's the one main weakness on the Jets team that New England can take advantage of in this game? (can you share an example of another team that exploited the weakness?)
Dyer: It was the weakness exploited in Week 13 – the linebackers have a tough time in coverage. Get those rookie tight ends out in the open and they can get good, steady yards. The game plan should really be that simple for the Pats. If Brady can start finding his tight ends, everything else will open up.
PREDICTION: (final score and why)
Dyer: New England wins 21-10. This game is closer than Week 13 but the Patriots have too much depth and team speed.