If the Jets are to secure a playoff spot by winning eight or nine of their remaining 10 games, the fact that Tom Brady’s name appears on the Patriots weekly injury report certainly gets things off to a promising start… except that Brady, who’s listed as “probable,” has about as good a chance of missing Thursday night’s game at Gillette Stadium as the Jets have of Joe Namath suiting up for them at QB.
Brady probably couldn’t beat the 71-year-old Namath in a race, especially now that the Pats QB is hobbled by an ankle injury he incurred before last week’s 37-22 win against the Bills.
The ankle obviously wasn’t much of an impediment in that game, though, when Brady completed 73 percent of his passes and threw for four touchdowns to his usual no-name crew of receivers (if you’ve got Tim Wright, Brian Tyms or Brandon LaFell, who rang up 2 TDs, on your fantasy team, I meant no offense).
The Jets would stand a much better chance against their archrivals if Brady’s malady was, say, a severed right hand. Were that the case, I’m confident the home team would be favored by no more than 3.
Still, this Patriots team is far from the juggernaut of years past. Brady will play, but two key players won’t: Stevan Ridley, the team’s top rusher and linebacker Jerod Mayo, the Pats’ defensive leader, both recently suffered season-ending injuries.
Even with Mayo and Ridley, the 4-2 Pats showed plenty of cracks in their armor. Remember, those two losses were by a combined 40 points to the so-so Kansas City Chiefs and the not-quite-so-so Miami Dolphins.
New England’s defense appears to be the usual Scotch-tape job Bill Belichick has patched together in recent years, with one very notable exception — lining up at cornerback for the Pats is the greatest Jet of the past four decades (lot of love for Broadway Joe this week), Darrelle Revis. Rex Ryan said earlier in the week that seeing Revis in a Pats uniform makes him sick to his stomach. Imagine how it makes Geno Smith feel.
On the other side of the ball, the Jets will surely have a hard time covering all-world tight end Rob Gronkowski, whose name—miraculously enough—doesn’t appear anywhere on the injury report. But then again, no defense in the NFL can effectively handle a healthy Gronk.
However, facing an even-more immobile than usual Brady and a Ridley-less running attack, the Jets D should be able to apply consistent pressure. It likely won’t be enough to emerge from Foxboro with a win, but that’ll just mean they have to go 8-1 (or, better yet, 9-0) the rest of the way.