How long ago was the Jets' 28-14 victory over the Patriots? Wade Phillips still had a job, Brett Favre still had people supporting his decision to return to the NFL and Randy Moss was still on his first team of the season.
That was the Patriots, of course, and you surely recall the touchdown Moss caught against a gimpy Darrelle Revis all the way back in Week Two. It was certainly the last great moment of Moss's Patriots tenure and, based on the way things are going, it could well wind up being the last great moment of his entire career. His departure is just one of many changes that have reinvented the Patriots team that lost by two touchdowns in September.
There's the arrival of former Jet running back Danny Woodhead, who, along with BenJarvus Green-Ellis have given the Patriots a new look in the backfield. Kevin Faulk and Fred Taylor, each of whom played in that Week Two game, are out for the season with injuries, The Patriots haven't missed a beat with their departure and may actually be a better team without them.
The same goes for the passing game without Moss. When he was playing at the height of his powers, Moss gave the Pats a dangerous weapon but too often he left them playing 10 on 11 because of his propensity for turning it down a notch based on a whim. Whatever they lost in big plays, they've more than made up in the sheer variety of options Tom Brady has at his disposal.
Woodhead, Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski, the returning Deion Branch and, of course, Wes Welker will give the Jets defense fits because they can all line up in any spot, run any route and Brady will look to any of them at any time. That's harder to guard against than simply making sure Moss doesn't beat you.
The changes keep on coming. Logan Mankins is back at left guard, solidifying an offensive line that was shaky in the first meeting. Darius Butler is no longer starting at cornerback after the Jets abused him and the team's defensive line is constantly in flux and features players like Brandon Deaderick who didn't even play back in Week Two.
Change hasn't passed the Jets over either. Santonio Holmes, the key player on the Jets offense right now, was suspended earlier this season. Revis was battling rust and injury when Moss ran by him for that touchdown. Now he's up to his old tricks just in time for a game where he'll need to be at his best and most versatile to make Tom Brady's life miserable.
That's not quite as much chang as we've seen in New England, but this Jets team is a better one than we saw way back when as well. So are the Patriots. Taken together, it means we're going to get a whole new, if just as tense, matchup when they finally get on the field on Monday night.