So here we are in week 16, and even though the Patriots have secured a spot in the playoffs, there is still work to be done. Today in New York (okay, New Jersey) the Patriots can ensure that they will get a bye in the first week of the NFL Playoffs. All they have to do is win.
Win this game today against the Jets and the Patriots will host a team in the second round of the playoffs and will be one win away from a chance at the AFC Championship. On paper it sounds like a fairly simple task. You are 11-3 and the top seed in the AFC. The Jets are a mirror of you at 3-11, with a coach more than likely on the way out and players that are probably doing their best not to get hurt so they can enjoy the off season.
I say probably because, you never know. The players seem to love playing for Rex Ryan, and with this probably being his last home game (they travel to Miami next week) – you may see the players go “balls to the wall” to try to give Rex one more win against the hated New England Patriots.
Still, that alone should not be enough, right? The Patriots are just a better team with better talent. A team with something other than pride to play for. So it should be easy. New England should destroy them. Right?
With the NFL you just never know. Today, the Pats will be without leading receiver Julian Edelman and running back LeGarrette Blount. The former has been a huge part of the offense all season, the latter has been a big part since joining the Patriots a few weeks back. Edelman has been dealing with a thigh injury and also sustained a concussion recently. Blount is dealing with a shoulder injury.
I hope to hell that this is just a “better to be safe than sorry” precaution. This is Jets week, and you’d think they should win anyway – so let these guys rest and get better. That’s assuming the Patriots win.
They will win. Right? Again, in this league you just never know. But my prediction?
Win. Patriots 34, Jets 17. Patriots secure a first round bye.
The next step will then be securing that home field advantage. Of course it would help if the Bengals could beat the Broncos tomorrow night. It could happen.
You just never know….
Mike is currently on his couch watching last night’s SNL. You can follow him on twitter at @mikey_c