2. Tom by the Numbers
This isn’t one of Tom Brady’s most dominant seasons. His TD rate (4.7% of his passes) is his lowest in five years, his INT rate (2.0%) his highest in seven years, his passer rating (95.4) his lowest in five years, his losses (5) the most since 2009, his drive metrics tamer. Add to that the loss of WR Josh Gordon to an NFL suspension and WR Cordarrelle Patterson’s sore knee and that means the Patriots are vulnerable, right? Hardly. Their offense is fifth in the NFL in total yards and eighth in points. And in Tom’s last 16 starts vs. the Jets at Gillette, he’s thrown 25 TD passes to four INTs, has a 95.1 rating and the Pats are 14-2.
3. Rookie Wrap
Darnold was sidelined for the first Patriots meeting. But the Jets QB is wrapping his rookie campaign with starts against Aaron Rodgers and Brady, and he fared well in directing four TD drives and taking the Packers to OT last week. Even though receiving consistency has been hard to find, with current injuries to Quincy Enunwa and Jermaine Kearse, he found WR Robby Anderson and TE Chris Herndon for a combined 15 catches, 222 yards and two TDs vs. the Pack. Darnold reminded he’s not fighting Brady in a steel cage — “Obviously we’re looking at the defense” — but admitted that in playing two NFL greats, “There’s a little something extra there.”
4. The Turnover Test
The Jets began the season with a five-takeaway bang at Detroit, and they would enjoy doing something close to that to the Patriots in their finale. It doesn’t seem likely, of course. In turnover margin, the Pats are plus-7 while the Jets are minus-7 this season. Then historically, in their last 17 games at Gillette, the Jets’ margin is a minus-17. Maybe the Bills’ three takeaways at New England last week served as inspiration for the Jets D this week. Adams and friends don’t have to pick Brady five times like they did Matt Stafford, but the TO game plan in their last five visits to New England — minus-10 margin, zero takeaways, five losses — isn’t working.