Patriots at Jets
An unexpected showdown for first place in the AFC East will take place when the surprising New York Jets host the New England Patriots on Sunday afternoon. Preseason forecasts were dire for the Jets with some projections of an 0-16 campaign, but they have ripped off three consecutive victories to grab a share of the division lead.
New York squeezed out a 17-14 victory at winless Cleveland last week and has yielded 40 points during its three-game run, but the players know the bar will be raised Sunday, particularly with the Patriots having an extra three days of rest. "They are more dangerous because ... if you have somebody that's good at preparation and you give them extra days, that doesn't mean they get bad, they get better," Jets quarterback Josh McCown said. "We know it's going to be a tough matchup." The Patriots, who already have lost twice at home, are averaging an NFL-best 419.4 yards per game but are also surrendering a league-worst 447.2. Quarterback Tom Brady suffered an injury to his non-throwing shoulder in a 19-14 victory at Tampa Bay but said he will be ready when New England goes for its 11 win in 13 regular-season meetings against New York.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Patriots -9.5. O/U: 47.5
ABOUT THE PATRIOTS (3-2): New England owns the top-ranked passing attack and Brady has thrown for a league-high 1,702 yards, but it has come at a cost -- he has been sacked 16 times through the five games, one more than all of last season. Despite the absence of star tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is dealing with a thigh injury that caused him to sit out at Tampa Bay, Brady threw for 300 yards for the fifth consecutive game, although he was intercepted for the first time. Oft-injured wideout Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan each had eight receptions versus the Buccaneers but speedster Brandin Cooks is the team's most dangerous weapon. The Patriots have been gashed for an average of 36 points in three home games, but they have surrendered a combined 34 points in road wins at New Orleans and Tampa Bay.
ABOUT THE JETS (3-2): New York is barely averaging 300 yards of total offense and has yielded 14 more points than it has scored, so the team is under no illusions -- "We have, in no way, arrived," left tackle Kelvin Beachum acknowledged -- of the need for improvement. The well-traveled McCown, with his fourth time in five seasons, has registered a passer rating above 100 three times in five games, but he could be without his top two running backs as Bilal Powell and Matt Forte are both nursing injuries. Former Seattle receiver Jermaine Kearse leads the Jets with 22 receptions and three touchdowns. The defense, which has notched only seven sacks, ranking 31st in the league, needs to apply pressure on Brady.
1. Brady has 26 touchdowns passes against only four interceptions in his last 13 matchups against New York.
2. McCown ranks second in the NFL with a completion percentage of 71.4.
3. Cooks has seven touchdowns in his last seven games versus AFC foes.