Tom Brady knows a little something about playing the Jets. After all, he has faced the AFC East rival 27 times in his career as the Patriots starting quarterback.
Most of the time – 20 times in the regular season and once in the postseason -- in those meetings Brady's New England squad has come out on top. But TB12 is well aware that those victories are rarely easy. And he's expecting a true rivalry game this Sunday against the new-look New York squad that owns the NFL's No. 1 defense and a top-10 offense in its 4-1 start under new coach Todd Bowles. First place in the division will be on the line.
The Jets strengths heading into the latest Border War battle highlight Brady's comments from his Wednesday morning press conference in the media work room inside Gillette Stadium:
1. Jets is 'rivalry' week in Foxborough: It may not be quite the same as rivalry weeks in high school or college football. Maybe it's not like the Michigan vs. Ohio State experience Brady went through way back when in the '90s while in Ann Arbor. But there is no question that there is something special about the Patriots playing the Jets every year. It's a battle of northeast football teams that is different than most others, whether the likes of Bill Parcells or Rex Ryan or anyone else is involved.
"It's a great rivalry," Brady acknowledged. "I remember the first game in 2000 was a Monday Night game that I went down there at old Jets stadium. It was a great atmosphere for football. We've had a lot of great games against them, some real meaningful games. They are very similar to us in a lot of ways. They're a big, tough, physical team. You play in these elements. I think there are a lot of characteristics that make them tough to beat. So they play hard. They are obviously off to a great start this year. They have a phenomenal defense. I think they're in the top five in almost every category. It's a big challenge for us. They have a great secondary. A great defensive line.
"It's a great rival for us. They are very tough to beat. We've had a lot of close games with them over the years. A lot of situational football has come into play. A lot of two-minute drives and stopping them at the end. Overtime games. Not too many games have ever really gotten out of hand. We play them at home. So we have to be ready to go."
2. Looking forward to LaFell: Patriots wide receiver Brandon LaFell is now eligible to being practicing and join the roster at any time after missing the first six weeks on PUP while dealing with a foot injury that dates back to last season. While Brady has no say on the decision when LaFell gets back to action, he does very much look forward to getting back the guy who set career highs with 74 catches for 953 yards and seven touchdowns a year ago in his first and only season in New England.
"He's definitely working hard. That's a great thing," Brady said of LaFell, who's actually traveled with the Patriots each of the last two weeks to Dallas and Indy. "He's been a great contributor to our team since he got here. It will be fun when he's back out there. Hopefully soon."
3. Ready for Revis: Brady has seen plenty of Darrelle Revis over the years. First it was as a foe with the Jets. Last year, it was as a teammate in New England as the mercenary cornerback helped the Patriots win a Super Bowl title. Whether it was as a guy on the other side of the field during games of the past or going against Revis last year as a teammate in practice, Brady clearly has a lot of respect for, and knowledge of, Revis.
"There was a lot of competition in practice last year with him because he … he makes it tough. His instincts are incredible out there," Brady lauded. "He's one of those guys that sees everything on the field. He sees the formation and routes and splits. Anything pre-snap that can help give him an idea of whether the ball is coming his way, or the other way, or if it's a run or a pass, a deep throw or short throw. He's a very dependable, consistent player. He's been an incredible playmaker since he's been in the league. He covers the top guys every week. I got a first-hand look at that last year every day in practice and it was a great having him a part of the year but he moved on. Now he's our competition again."
There is no question that Revis is a big reason the Jets have one of the best defenses in the game, yet again.
"They put a lot of pressure on that secondary to cover guys," Brady said. "Those guys meet the challenge. There are a lot of playmakers. You have to be conscious of where you are throwing the ball."