Although the New England Patriots have beaten the New York Jets in 14 consecutive meetings, today’s game is now the only one that matters. The Patriots could have their playoffs hopes dashed before September ends if they aren’t able to walk away with a Week 3 win against the Jets. It’s important that New England learned what has worked, and what has not, in their two losses. If they have, the Patriots should be able to secure their first win.
Statistically speaking, a few categories have proven exceptionally telling in New England’s losses. Although they have won a few of these categories, it hasn’t been enough to win the games. It’s crucial for the Patriots to continue achieving what has succeeded for them through two weeks. It is also imperative that they’re able to improve in the areas where they’ve fallen short. With a razor-thin margin of error in each game, there is no room for further regression.
Here are this week’s seven keys to success for the New England Patriots:
1. Start Strong
Against the Eagles in the season opener, the Patriots fell behind 16-0. As a result, “starting strong” was part of the keys to success for New England a week ago against the Dolphins. Instead, Miami took a 10-0 lead after the first quarter, extended to 17-3 at halftime. Needing to dig themselves out of holes on a weekly basis in a bad trend. Starting strong needs to be a point of emphasis. Get a Jets team that has lost 14 straight against the Patriots to doubt themselves early.
2. Win the Ground Game Battle
Another returning point of emphasis from last week, New England’s run game needs to improve. In each of their first two games, the Patriots opponents have had more carries, rushing yards, and yards per carry. This has contributed to the opposition leading in Time of Possession both games as well. If the offensive line is healthy for the first time, it will be a huge factor in helping turn this trend around.
Rhamondre Stevenson rushed for 1,040 yards on 5.0 yards/attempt in 2022. After two weeks, he is on pace for only 638 yards on 2.8 yards/attempt in 2023. The Jets defensive front is excellent, but it is still important for the Patriots to establish a ground game. This would also help set up play-action passes, something defenses have not needed to worry about. Meanwhile the Patriots run defense needs to do a better job against Jets running backs Breece Hall and Dalvin Cook than they did against Raheem Mostert and the Miami Dolphins a week ago.
3. Effective Passing Attack
QB Mac Jones has not been the problem for the Patriots this season, but the lack of big gains in the passing game have been costly. New England has more completions and attempts than their opposition, but both the Eagles and Dolphins had more yards per attempt. The intermediate passing game has been solid for New England. Hunter Henry has been Jones’ most dependable target and should continue to get plenty of targets. It will be important to utilize the wide receivers this week as well. DeVante Parker in particular should have a substantial size advantage if he matches up against D.J. Reed, which the Patriots need to exploit.
4. Continued 3rd Down Efficiency
New England has converted a higher percentage of third-down attempts than their opponents in each game so far. Their offense has converted on 40% of third downs, while their defense has allowed 34.78% of conversion attempts. The New York Jets, meanwhile, have moved the chains at a 26.09% rate, and allowed 45.16% of conversation attempts. The New England Patriots must continue getting the opposing offenses off the field, and converting third-down attempts themselves. If they can do so, they will be able to avoid game-deciding fourth-down conversion attempts this week.
5. Continued Red Zone Efficiency
Another area that has been an advantage for the Patriots, red zone efficiency must continue to be excellent against the Jets. Two games are a small sample, but the improvement over the 2022 Patriots offense in the red zone has been astonishing. Last season New England scored touchdowns on only 42.22% of their red zone possessions. This season, that number has increased to 71.43%. An offense able to score touchdowns, combined with a “bend but don’t break” defense should be a winning formula over the long-term.
6. Ball Security
In New England’s first two games, the team that had more turnovers lost both. Unfortunately for the Patriots, it was them both times. In last week’s game, rookie Demario Douglas lost a fumble, and didn’t get another offensive snap all game. Mac Jones has thrown one interception in each of New England’s losses. As head coach Bill Belichick said this week, “nothing is more important than ball security.”
It is also a necessity for the Patriots defense to force turnovers of their own. Rookie cornerback Christian Gonzalez snagged his first NFL interception a week ago. There will need to be more of the same from the defense against the Jets. New York QB Zach Wilson leads the league with four interceptions thrown this season. Affecting his comfort and confidence is paramount to earning a win for New England.
7. Play Desperate
The Patriots have played their best football this season when playing desperate. They have been behind by multiple scores, yet still given themselves chances to win in both games. It seems the more hopeless the situation, the better they play. The reality is, the Patriots are desperate for a win, and need to play accordingly. At 0-2 there is no room to drop another game to open the season, especially a winnable one.
Last week the Patriots hit on only one of seven keys to success. Despite this, they still managed to have a chance to defeat the Dolphins. This week, New England hopes to increase the number of keys they succeed in achieving. If they can do so, they should finally find themselves in the win column.
Final Score Prediction: New England Patriots 23, New York Jets 10