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NFL Week 2 Preview: New York Jets vs. New England Patriots

All offseason long, there were plenty of detractors who said that the New York Jets were one of the worst teams in the NFL, destined to finish with one of the worst records in the league, and head coach Rex Ryan was nothing more than a lame duck coach whose firing was only a matter of “when.”

After their stunning Week 1 victory, it appears that Rex Ryan and the Jets missed the memo that they were supposed to just roll over and die. If it’s true that Ryan’s out at years end, (and I’m not convinced that’s anywhere near true) then he’s going to go down swinging. Jets fans wouldn’t have it any other way.

Of course, a Week 1 home win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won’t be enough to convince the nonbelievers that the Jets are no pushovers. A much tougher task is at hand this Thursday night, when the Jets head north on short rest to face their AFC East rivals, the New England Patriots.

Like the Jets, the Patriots narrowly escaped Week 1 with a win, as they too needed a last-second field goal to propel them to victory. You don’t see too many people dismissing the Patriots’ win as a lucky fluke, though. They were expected to beat the Buffalo Bills, and they did, but certainly not as convincingly as many expected.

That’s the beauty of the National Football League, how on any given Sunday (or Monday, or Thursday) any team can beat any other team. With the right game plan, execution and a little bit of good fortune, nothing is impossible in this league.

To that point, why can’t the Jets go into Gillette Stadium and upset the mighty Patriots? New England had their hands full with the Buffalo Bills and their rookie quarterback, who’s to say the Jets can’t replicate that? The Patriots are, at the time of this writing, 12.5-point favorites. The Bucs were favored as well, by the way.

For the Jets to upset Bill Belichick and the Patriots, they’ll have to play fundamentally sound football on offense, defense and special teams. They’ll have to contain Tom Brady the same way they did in January 2011, when the Jets knocked the Patriots out of the playoffs with a stunning road victory.

The Jets are relatively healthy coming into this game, but the injury bug has bitten the Patriots early this season, and that could give the Jets an advantage. The Patriots are already working in a number of new faces as it is, and with injuries likely keeping Rob Gronkowski, Shane Vereen and Zach Sudfeld (among others) on the sideline, the Patriots might be ripe for the picking. Or at least, as ripe as they’ll ever be.

It’s certainly no easy task to go to Gillette Stadium and beat the Patriots, but nothing leading up to this moment has been easy for the Jets. They’re expected to lose, and right now, they’re playing with house money. While most of the football world treats them with little regard, Belichick and the Patriots know better. They know firsthand how dangerous a disrespected Jets team can be. Both teams know what’s at stake. Thursday night, with a national audience looking on, the Jets will look to prove that they’re for real. They’ve got nothing to lose.

Jon Presser is the lead host of NGN’s New York Jets podcast, “Press Coverage: Jets Talk with Jon Presser,” live every Tuesday at 7:30 pm ET. Follow “Press Coverage” on Twitter: @PressCoverNYJ


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