FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) _ Every NFL team would be eager to knock off the New England Patriots and end their NFL record winning streak of 20 games. Not all of them would have as good a chance as the New York Jets.
In a matchup of two of the league's three unbeaten teams, Patriots safety Rodney Harrison expects the Jets to come into Sunday's game with great confidence.
They're 5-0,'' he said.Wouldn't you?''
With Curtis Martin leading the NFL in rushing, Chad Pennington tops in the AFC in passing accuracy and John Abraham first in the AFC in sacks, the Jets have a much better chance to beat their AFC East rivals than they did last year when they started 0-4 and finished 6-10 with two losses to the Patriots.
A win Sunday would match their victory total for all last season.
``Going up there, playing well and winning means we're making progress and taking the right steps toward being a championship organization,'' Pennington said.
That's what the Patriots are after winning their second Super Bowl in three years on Feb. 1. That was their 15th consecutive win, including playoffs. They set the record of 19 straight by beating Miami and can set the regular-season mark of 18, surpassing the 17 won by the 1933-34 Chicago Bears, with a win over the Jets.
But there's no gloating or celebrating in the locker room, only hard work, serious expressions and a coach, Bill Belichick, who won't let them get impressed with themselves.
You've got to be humble. You're playing against a 5-0 team that's playing really well right now,'' Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest said.We're not playing the way we want to be playing.''
Last season the Patriots ended a five-game home losing streak against the Jets. The Patriots are 18-3 at Gillette Stadium, where their last loss was against the Jets on Dec. 22, 2002.
Anybody that's coming in here is expecting to end the streak some way,'' New England cornerback Ty Law said.We were last year's Super Bowl champions and we're getting a lot of attention because of streaks.''
The Patriots did beat Indianapolis and Seattle, but the combined records of the five teams they've beaten is 9-17. That's impressive compared to the quality of the Jets' opponents, who are 6-22 with none of them having a winning record.
We are fortunate to be 5-0. We know that,'' New York coach Herman Edwards said. The Patriotshave really set the model for other teams to look at and say, `Hey, if you want to win games, this is kind of how you should orchestrate it.' ``
The Patriots do it with few stars, a team-oriented approach and a day-by-day focus. It does help, however, that they filled one of their few needs in the offseason by trading for running back Corey Dillon. He rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns in last Sunday's 30-20 win over Seattle.
He's a pretty decent runner,'' tackle Matt Light said with a smile.He's an awesome addition to this offense. Everybody loves when he goes out there and punishes these guys. It wears on a defense to have a guy like Corey go out there and do what he does.''
Dillon is ninth in the NFL in rushing, but Martin, with 613 yards, an average of 102.6 per game, is No. 1 and having one of his best seasons since he left the Patriots after three seasons to sign with the Jets in 1998.
He needs just 31 yards to pass Jim Brown for seventh place on the NFL rushing list. He has 12,282 yards compared to Brown's 12,312.
``Any time you have an opportunity, why not do your best?'' said Martin, a 10-year veteran.
The Patriots will need to play their best to keep him from another big rushing day.
When I played against Dillon, he was a very powerful back that had tremendous speed,'' Harrison said.Curtis Martin's the same way. He's probably one of the strongest backs, pound for pound.''
With Martin and Pennington, who has come a long way since throwing five interceptions against the Patriots in a 21-16 loss last Dec. 20, New England could have a tough time reaching 6-0 for the first time in its history.
But whatever the result, a playoff berth is hardly assured.
I know this is a big game nationally and people are making a big deal out of it,'' Jets guard Pete Kendall said,but it's the sixth game of the season for each of these teams and regardless of the outcome there's still a lot of football left to play.''