New York Jets:
GAME PLAN: The Jets will try to get their rushing game cranked up a little earlier than they did against Houston, and that task should be made easier because New England LB Jerod Mayo (knee) is expected to be out. QB Mark Sanchez can't get confused by the myriad looks and schemes the Patriots will throw at him. And the Jets' defense must be ready to adjust on the fly if Tom Brady and the New England offense start beating the blitzes.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Jets C Nick Mangold vs. Patriots NT Vince Wilfork. In this matchup of Pro Bowlers (Wilfork in 2007 and Mangold in 2008), Mangold will try to control Wilfork without the benefit of double-teams. If he succeeds, that will give the Jets advantages in numbers elsewhere along the line of scrimmage and help get their running game going.
Jets CB Darrelle Revis vs. Patriots WR Randy Moss. Although Moss didn't get in the end zone in the season-opening win over Buffalo, he had 12 receptions for 141 yards and gave the Bills fits all night. Revis, one of the NFL's premier cover corners, is coming off a game in which he shut down Houston's Andre Johnson. But this will be a tougher matchup for Revis.
NT Kris Jenkins vs. Patriots C Dan Koppen. Although he had only one tackle against Houston, Jenkins decimated C Chester Pitts and provided a constant push into the Texans' backfield, disrupting their passing attack and running game. But Koppen will provide a more formidable challenge.
INJURY IMPACT: NT Kris Jenkins (lower back) was limited in practice Wednesday. Coach Rex Ryan indicated it wasn't serious, and certainly the Jets hope that's the case. Jenkins struggled down the stretch of the 2008 season because of back trouble, although this isn't believed to be related. He is expected to play Sunday.
DT Sione Pouha (ankle), RT Damien Woody (ill) and special-teams ace Wallace Wright (hamstring) also were limited Wednesday.
If Wright can't play, that would be a huge loss for the kickoff and punt coverage units.
While DE Shaun Ellis has returned from an NFL-imposed suspension, OLB Calvin Pace must miss three more games because of an NFL-imposed suspension. Bryan Thomas has moved over from the other OLB slot to replace him, with second-year player Vernon Gholston sliding into Thomas' slot. Thomas played well at Houston and Gholston is showing signs of improvement. He had a tackle for loss in that game.
New England Patriots::
GAME PLAN: The Patriots need to attack rookie QB Mark Sanchez and try to get to him before he has a chance to unload with his rocket arm.
Going back to Monday, the Patriots were arguably at their best in terms of rushing the passer on Buffalo's final drive when they came up with two sacks against Trent Edwards. They need to execute a similar game plan against Sanchez, who is arguably more dangerous than Edwards despite not having someone like Terrell Owens on his side.
From an offensive standpoint, it should be more of the same for New England. The Jets improved their run defense last year and are still formidable up front, so it's probably in the Patriots' best interest to get that passing game going again and, in some cases, take more shots down the field.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Jets RB Thomas Jones vs. Patriots LB Gary Guyton. With Guyton replacing Jerod Mayo this weekend, expect the Jets to try to challenge the Patriots' run defense and set up their quarterback for a big strike down the field. Jones is a tough, inside runner, so the Patriots may need to adjust their scheme to avoid getting burned.
Jets CB Drew Coleman vs. Patriots WR Randy Moss. This is a big mismatch despite Coleman's experience (4 years). Moss had a big game against the Bills and can be counted on to put up big yardage if he's able to get open. Coleman will have his work cut out for him.
Patriots C Dan Koppen vs. Jets NT Kris Jenkins. Adding Jenkins last year made a significant impact on the Jets' run defense. They're much stronger and more physically imposing than in years past. Koppen needs to neutralize Jenkins to allow New England to run the ball effectively.
INJURY IMPACT: The key issue is how Mayo's absence will affect the run defense not only this week, but in the weeks to come as well. Guyton is a natural outside linebacker, so it's a tough adjustment for him to move to the inside, but if the coaching staff can work him into game shape by Sunday, the Patriots shouldn't suffer too much of a drop-off. Look for them to mix in more 4-3 at times, too, in an attempt to strengthen the line.
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