New England Patriots at New York Jets – NFL Week 8 Game Preview

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"New York Jets on the goal line about to score" by Marianne O'Leary is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

One of the best rivalries in the NFL resumes on Sunday as the New England Patriots visit MetLife Stadium to take on the New York Jets. The Patriots were trampled in primetime in Week 7 on Monday Night Football in a 33-14 loss to the Chicago Bears. The Jets were able to stay hot on the road in Denver last Sunday, stopping the Broncos 16-9.

As these two teams look to remain in the hunt in the AFC East, we’ll take a closer look at three things to watch in this game.

Musical Quarterbacks

Many people like to promote the narrative that NFL teams have starting quarterback controversies, but it is only true in a handful of situations. As it stands right now with the New England Patriots, it at least feels possible that head coach Bill Belichick would consider moving away from 2021 first round draft pick Mac Jones in favor of Bailey Zappe.

Both played against the Bears on Monday night, although neither was particularly impressive. Zappe led the Patriots offense on two touchdown scoring drives when he entered the game, but turned the ball over in subsequent series. Belichick cited Jones’ health as the reason why he utilized both players, but if Jones is not ready to play a full game against the Jets, look for him to rely on Zappe this Sunday.

Replacing A Budding Star

New York has been one of the biggest surprises in the NFL this season, and it was due in large part to the remarkable play of rookie running back Breece Hall. The former Iowa State running back appeared to have the potential to be amongst the best ballcarriers in the game, as he was slicing up opponents on the ground and as a pass catcher. Unfortunately for the Jets, Hall tore his ACL last week in Denver, and will not play again this season.

It’s always the next man up in the NFL, and the Jets will give 2021 draft pick Michael Carter a lot of Hall’s workload. Carter played well for New York last year when given the chance, and should be a viable option for head coach Robert Saleh. The team also traded for James Robinson earlier this week, who has shown surprising burst coming off of an Achilles injury last season.

Flipping The Script

As alluded to above, New York has relied on different parts of their team in order to win games this year. Quarterback Zach Wilson has been decent since returning from a knee injury, but the offense has not centered around him throwing the ball. This might not be the week to air it out either, considering Wilson’s past experiences against New England.

In two games versus the Patriots last year as a rookie, the former BYU star didn’t throw a touchdown, while tossing four interceptions and completing less than 60 percent of his passes. It’ll be interesting to see whether Wilson is able to fare better against Belichick’s defense on Sunday.