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Better Know the Enemy: New England Patriots

A look ahead at this week's Jets foe

By Josh Alper
|  Wednesday, Oct 17, 2012  |  Updated 6:45 PM EDT
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Better Know the Enemy: New England Patriots

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Another spin on the carousel with Tom Brady.

Every week during the season, we’ll scout out the Jets' next opponent. This week, that opponent is the New England Patriots.

Rex Ryan isn't afraid to offer up his opinion on just about anything, including Patriots coach Bill Belichick. 

Ever since Ryan opened up his tenure in New York by saying that he isn't here to kiss Belichick's rings, it has been clear that one of the ways to define the relative success of the Jets is by comparing them to the Patriots. That comparison hasn't always worked out well for them, but right now, it looks pretty good with the two teams tied at the top of the AFC East at 3-3 (and the bottom since the Bills and Dolphins have the same record).

That makes this something of a strange time for Ryan to suddenly get in touch with his humble side, but that's just what he did with the media on Wednesday. Asked to compare himself to Belichick, Ryan said there really isn't one at this point in time. 

"If it’s just between Belichick in me, he’s going to win that battle. I recognize that, but it’s not going to be for lack of effort," Ryan said, via the Newark Star-Ledger. "I don’t think I’m the best head coach in the league. I think he is. I was truthful about that."

It's hard to argue with Ryan, although there have been a couple of different occasions in the last three years where Ryan's beaten Belichick behind superior game plans and adjustments. The most notable of those came in the 2010 playoffs, when Ryan muted the aggressiveness of the defense to halt Tom Brady in the best win of the Ryan era. 

That's significant because the Jets right now are a team that's going to seriously help their chances of winning by outplanning and outthinking the opposition every week. They'll need to do an especially good job of it this week because there's a big talent gap between the two teams and the Jets can only close it by coming up with something that confuses New England while also executing at a high level. 

Ryan might not be a better coach than Belichick, but a good impersonation of being one would do a lot for the Jets this weekend. Here's some other things to keep in mind, starting with one place the coaches will surely square off. 

No Huddle, No Problem - The Patriots have stepped up the pace of their offense this season, forcing defenses to manage with the same set of players on the field play after play without a chance to substitute. The Patriots make that difficult by both running and passing liberally, so the Jets will have to avoid lineups that make it simple for them to do one or the other without too much risk. 

Stevan Ridley - The Patriots haven't had a traditional feature back in a very long time, but Ridley is showing signs of changing that through the first six weeks of the season. There's still a lingering issue with fumbles, but it is one that might be the last stumbling block for Ridley to clear before getting full control of the job now and into the future. 

Chandler Jones - New England knew they needed to fix their defense after last season and they addressed that by drafting heavily on that side of the ball. It's still a work in progress, although Jones has proven to be the kind of edge rusher the team was sorely lacking last season. 

Rob Gronkowski/Aaron Hernandez - Both have been ailing this year and Hernandez returned last week after missing three games with an ankle injury, but they're taken lightly at your own peril. The Jets upgraded at safety this offseason in large part because they couldn't cover these kinds of dynamic tight ends and Sunday will be our first chance to see LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell make a real difference. 

Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

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