Despite the Patriots dominance over the last two decades, especially over the AFC East, road games against the Jets have often given them more trouble than the end-of-season results might have you think.
The Jets put back-to-back wins on the Patriots in 2009 and 2010 under Rex Ryan and since then have only won two more overtime games - one in 2013 and another in 2015 - but the win-loss records don't tell the whole story. Despite the Patriots 4-2 record in the Meadowlands over the last six seasons, the average margin of victory is just six points.
Even the Patriots teams headed toward Super Bowl titles had their struggles with Jets teams that wouldn't even sniff the playoffs. 2014's Patriots beat a 4-12 Jets team in New York by a single point. The 2016 Pats needed 10 fourth-quarter points to escape with a 22-17 win over a 3-8 Jets team. Even in last year's game with Josh McCown quarterbacking the Jets to another 4-12 record, the soon-to-be Super-Bowl-53-champions were tied with them 10-10 at halftime.
Why is it always tougher than expected when the Pats hit the road to face the Jets?
"When you play rivalry games like this, records go out the window, they mean nothing," said Matthew Slater on Friday. "They know us, we know them. They're going to give us their best shot, we're going to try to give them our best shot. That's going to make for a good competitive football game. Certainly that's been the case down there, I expect it to be no different."
Captain Elandon Roberts echoed those sentiments when asked what makes these games so tough.
"It's a division rival," said Roberts. "Every division game going to be hard. You gotta play those guys twice a year. You just gotta lock in and play fundamentals, play within your defense and do your job."
Having already played once before this season, both teams have a renewed familiarity. That familiarity breeds contempt and also provides a jumping off point for a second game plan. There's more film available now in Week 7 than there were entering Week 3's first match up. Each team has had their ups and downs, their injuries and their new emerging players.
Roberts agreed that the second time around in the division is tougher.
"I would say yeah because you already played once so they know what they had success with, what they didn't have success with, what other teams had success with," said Roberts. "You gotta be able to go out and eliminate errors and play within what you practiced. Sometimes it's new stuff that gets thrown at you, you gotta play with fundamentals, play within your defense."
Then there's the other element of the rivalry that goes deeper than football.
"For me personally, all those games are a little more intense when you're playing a divisional opponent," said Slater. "New York and Boston kind of have a thing and I learned that 12 years ago and it's definitely held true."
The Patriots know what they're getting into, especially coming off an extended break. They might be 6-0 and the Jets might be 1-4 but none of it really matters once Monday night arrives.
"These guys will be ready to play," said Roberts. "They're well-coached, it's going to be a 60 minute game."
Practice & Injury Report
Ryan Izzo was the lone new absence at practice on Friday, joining Michael Bennett (suspension), Matt LaCosse (knee) and Josh Gordon (knee/ankle) as the only players not in attendance. Mike Reiss reported that Izzo was being evaluated for a concussion. Losing another tight end, with LaCosse already expected to miss significant time, is another significant blow to the offense. It could thrust Ben Watson and Eric Tomlinson, both added to the roster earlier this week, right into significant roles against the Jets on Monday night.
After Izzo the rest of the injury report remained unchanged.
DID NOT PARTICIPATE
WR Josh Gordon, Knee/Ankle
TE Ryan Izzo, Concussion
TE Matt LaCosse, Knee
RB Rex Burkhead, Foot
S Patrick Chung, Heel/Chest
WR Phillip Dorsett, Hamstring
WR Julian Edelman, Chest
Locker Room Sound Bites
Jordan Richards on what he saw on the Colts' fake punt in 2015.
"It took me by surprise, but you figure they gotta have some sort of plan, so we follow our rules for funky formations. But schematically we had it covered down, maybe they still felt like had what they wanted in terms of to run it."
Was Richards surprised they still snapped the ball?
"Yeah, I was. I was ready but I thought they were gonna shift back because it felt covered to us, to me."
Punter Pat McAfee gives a fun re-telling of the play from the Colts perspective below.