Patriots at Jets
Riding a four-game winning streak, the New England Patriots have to prepare for Thursday night’s game against the host New York Jets without tight end Rob Gronkowski. In the midst of another dominant season Gronkowski broke his forearm in the Patriots’ win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. Gronkowski underwent surgery Monday morning and could miss the rest of the regular season. With him sidelined, the Patriots may look to run the ball more against the Jets, who are sixth in the NFL against the pass but rank 30th vs. the run, giving up an average of 141 rushing yards.
The Jets finally got back on the right path in beating the St. Louis Rams to end their three-game slide and rebound from two straight blowout losses. New York needs to go on a winning streak to get back in the playoff picture. It trails New England by three games in the AFC East standings but is just two out of a congested wild card race.
TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Patriots -5.5, O/U 49
ABOUT THE PATRIOTS (7-3): The loss of Gronkowski is a major setback. Fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez has missed six games overall and three straight with a nagging ankle injury. Hernandez has been listed as questionable for several weeks and played just twice since sustaining the injury early in Week 2. Although New England expects him to be ready for Thursday, how well he’ll play is uncertain and tight ends have been a crucial part of the Patriots’ top-ranked offense. New England scored 59 points in its win against Indianapolis, the second time this season it has topped 50 points. The rest of the NFL has only done it twice.
ABOUT THE JETS (4-6): New York finally got its offense in gear in its 27-13 win at St. Louis. Reserve running back Bilal Powell ran for the first two touchdowns of his career and QB Mark Sanchez was efficient and turnover-free. Sanchez ranks last among starters in completion percentage but fired a scoring pass against the Rams and completed 75 percent of his passes. The Jets nearly won at New England in Week 7. New York scored 13 straight points in the fourth quarter to take a three-point lead with 1:37 to play. But the Jets watched Tom Brady move the team into field goal position to tie the game and New England won it in overtime with another field goal.
1. Jets PK Nick Folk booted a pair of 51-yard field goals against the Rams. He has missed just three of 17 attempts this season, two of which were blocked.
2. Gronkowski scored twice against the Jets earlier in the season.
3. Sanchez threw for a season-high 328 yards in the 29-26 loss at New England