|Television:||This week's game will be broadcast regionally on ABC (locally on WCVB Channel 5 in Boston). Al Michaels will provide play-by-play detail alongside broadcast partner Boomer Esiason. Lesley Visser will report from the sidelines during the contest.|
|Radio:||WBCN's Rock Radio Network 104.1 FM. Gil Santos, the voice of the Patriots, will call all the action along with Gino Cappelletti, his broadcast partner for 16 years.|
For the first time in 19 years, and just the fifth time in franchise history, the Patriots have reached the midseason mark with a 6-2 overall record. Their reward? How about a bye week and 15 days to prepare for their next opponent, the New York Jets. They will host the Jets on ABC's Monday Night Football on Nov. 15, their first of three divisional games. It will also be the Patriots' only MNF appearance of the season.
The Patriots opened the season clutching their first two victories out of the jowls of defeat, courtesy of a couple last-second, game-winning field goals by Adam Vinatieri. Wins over the Giants and the Browns gave the Patriots their second 4-0 start in three years. A chance to extend that win streak to five games was snapped when a would-be game-winning field goal caromed off the right upright at Kansas City and resulted in a 16-14 defeat. A one-point loss to Miami in Week 6 dropped the Patriots to 4-2, but they rebounded the following week by snapping a 19-year jinx with a 24-23 victory over the Broncos. Prior to the bye, the Patriots traveled to the Valley of the Sun and blistered the Cardinals, 27-3. Not only did Drew Bledsoe burn the NFL's third ranked pass defense with four touchdown tosses (tying a career-high), but the Patriots also rushed for a season-high 142 yards on 43 carries.
The Patriots enter this week enjoying a two-game win streak and a 6-2 overall record that has them in the thick of the AFC East divisional race. While the Patriots were enjoying their bye weekend, the four teams in action from the AFC East were all victorious. The Patriots now find themselves tied for second place with the Indianapolis Colts (6-2), one game behind the Dolphins (7-1) who currently sit atop the AFC East. The Patriots' division has become one of the toughest in the NFL. Last season, four of the six playoff qualifiers from the AFC resided in the East and this year they hold the most victories (27) of any division in the NFL.
The Patriots used the bye week to rest their wounded and prepare for a critical three-game stretch. Much like the networks' "November Sweeps," the Patriots' success this November will be critical to their overall success this season. After hosting the Jets, the Patriots will travel to Miami and Buffalo. In the past two years, the Patriots are 6-1 during the month of November against divisional rivals. Last year, those victories included dramatic come-from-behind victories over Miami and Buffalo. During Carroll's tenure, the Patriots' success in those critical November games have propelled the team into the playoffs. The Patriots have been to the playoffs each of the last three seasons, which is a franchise record.
The Patriots improved to 6-2 on the season with their 27-3 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. It is the fifth time in the franchise's 40-year history and the first time since 1980, the Patriots have won six of their first eight games. In the first half the past three seasons, the Patriots have a 16-8 record (.666).
This week's game will be the 80th encounter between the two teams, dating back to the inaugural season of the AFL in 1960. The Patriots have a 35-42-1 record against the Jets in the regular season and a 1-0 mark in the playoffs. New England snapped a three-game losing streak against the Jets, with a 30-28 victory on opening day. Prior to their losing steak, the Patriots had enjoyed a six-game winning streak versus the Jets, the longest of the series.
The two teams have met once in the playoffs, following the 1985 season. The Patriots defeated the Jets 26-14 in the wild-card round at the Meadowlands on their way to Super Bowl XX.
The Patriots will host the New York Jets on Monday Night Football, on Nov. 15, their third of four nationally televised games this season. New England has won its first two prime time tilts this season. This will be the seventh appearance on MNF for the Patriots in the past three seasons, tying a mark set in 1978-80. All of the Patriots' prime-time contests this season will be held in Foxboro and available on local television.
The Patriots opened the 1999 season with a 30-28 victory over the New York Jets in the Meadowlands. Patriot's kicker Adam Vinatieri nailed a 23-yard field goal with just three seconds remaining for the victory. The win was the Patriots second opening day victory in three years and their first win on the road to open the season since 1991 (16-7 at Indianapolis).
Patriots' linebacker Chris Slade intercepted Jets' back-up quarterback Rick Mirer on the Jets 49-yard line with 3:30 remaining in the game. Quarterback Drew Bledsoe led the team 44-yards on 10-plays, completing all three of his pass attempts on the drive to move the Patriots into field goal position for the win.
Bledsoe has helped the Patriots overcome 14 fourth quarter deficits, including last week's last second victory over the Jets. The game-winning kick was the fifth of Vinatieri's four-year career.
The AFC East has developed into one of the toughest divisions in football, as evidence in the fact that the division locked up four of the conferences' six playoff spots last season. They have continued their exceptional play through the first eight weeks of the 1999 season, notching the most victories of any division in football, 27.
"There is absolutely no breathing room in this division," said Drew Bledsoe about the AFC East. "It's going to be a battle, but the team that comes out of the season on top of this division, I think should be a team that's in good shape to win the Super Bowl."
The Patriots will start the second half of the season against three division opponents, vs. NY Jets and will travel to Miami and Buffalo. They have won two of three games against divisional opponents this season. Since Pete Carroll took over the coaching responsibilities of the Patriots in 1997, the Patriots have put together the best record within the division, including a 5-0 mark against the Colts and a 3-1 regular season records against the Buffalo Bills. With their 2-1 record this season, the Patriots are now 13-6 within the division since 1997.
The Patriots are 3-1 at home and have a 21-7 overall record at home since 1996. It is the sixth best mark in the NFL.
The Patriots will extended their home sellout streak to 58 games in next week's game against the New York Jets on Monday night football. The streak, which dates back to the 1994 season opener, includes preseason, postseason and regular season games.
|New England Patriots||6||2||0||.750|
|New York Jets||2||6||0||.250|