|Jets at Patriots Point Spread Odds, Trends, Injuries & Matchup|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Thursday, 13 November 2008 06:00|
Thursday Night Special
Foxboro, MA - Injuries are nothing new for the New England Patriots. Neither is first place in the AFC East.
After absorbing a likely season-ending injury to another defensive stalwart, the Patriots try to contain Brett Favre and the surging New York Jets' offense on Thursday night in a matchup for the division lead.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Patriots –3.5 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 57% of bets for this game have been placed on Jets +3.5 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
New England (6-3) earned a key division win Sunday, controlling the clock for nearly 38 minutes and outgaining Buffalo 370-168 en route to a 20-10 victory. Matt Cassel continued to show improvement as Tom Brady's replacement, completing 23 of 34 passes for 234 yards and running for a touchdown for the second straight week.
Casting a shadow on the win, two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Adalius Thomas injured his arm in the second quarter. Although the Patriots - as per their usual policy - did not release additional information, reports indicated Thomas broke his left forearm and will likely miss the rest of the season.
The team leader with five sacks would join a list of players out for the year including Brady, starting running back Laurence Maroney and veteran safety Rodney Harrison, but the Patriots aren't feeling sorry for themselves.
"Any time you lose a player, especially an impact player like (Thomas), it hurts," cornerback Ellis Hobbs said. "But he'll tell you himself: the machine can't stop. It has to keep on rolling."
New England has kept on rolling despite the injuries, winning three of its last four to claim a share of the division lead as it seeks its sixth consecutive AFC East title.
"We've been through this before; '03, '04 had been the same thing with numerous injuries," defensive end Jarvis Green said. "Guys just filling in and playing their role, that's part of the game. It happens and we have to make the best of what we have in this locker room."
While Cassel has improved steadily since replacing Brady in Week 1, compiling a 69.6 completion percentage over his last four games, running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis is the latest unheralded Patriot to make a big offensive impact.
Injuries to Maroney and backups Sammy Morris and LaMont Jordan have thrust Green-Ellis into a starting role the last two weeks, and the undrafted rookie from Ole Miss has not disappointed. Green-Ellis rushed 26 times for 105 yards against the Bills, including a 1-yard TD run for New England's final points.
Despite the fact he was undrafted and began the season on the practice squad, Green-Ellis' success comes as no surprise to coach Bill Belichick.
"He is a good runner. We have seen that from Day 1," Belichick said, but "we carried five backs and he was the sixth."
Wes Welker has emerged as Cassel's favorite target with 66 receptions, including 10 for 107 yards last week. In doing so, he became the first player in NFL history to catch at least six passes in each of the season's first nine games.
The Jets (6-3) have virtually no time to bask in the most-lopsided victory in their history, as they take the field again four days after a 47-3 drubbing of St. Louis. This game against their bitter rival promises to be much tougher, especially with the winner taking sole possession of the division lead.
"This is a huge game," said running back Thomas Jones, who gained 149 yards and had three TDs on 26 carries against the Rams. "It's a divisional rival, first of all. It has a lot of implications as far as who's going to be in sole possession of first place in the division, which leads into other things as the season goes along. It's a really big game for us and we really look forward to it."
On Monday, the Jets signed five-time Pro Bowl cornerback Ty Law - who played the first 10 years of his career in New England from 1995-2004 - for his second stint with New York, adding another subplot to a rivalry already rife with them.
Jets coach Eric Mangini - a former assistant under Belichick - helped break last season's Spygate scandal, in which Belichick was fined $500,000 and the Patriots lost a first-round draft pick for videotaping the signals of New York coaches on the sidelines.
Belichick's acrimonious history with the Jets goes back nearly a decade. Shortly after being promoted to New York's head coach following the 1999 season, the former Bill Parcells assistant resigned to become coach of the Patriots.
The Jets, though, are more concerned with recent history as they seek to avenge a 19-10 home loss to New England in Week 2. Although the Patriots outgained New York by only four yards, they took advantage of a Favre interception and a missed field goal by Jay Feely to beat the Jets for the 13th time in the last 16 meetings.
"After that game, it was disappointing, but we knew we had to keep moving on," New York defensive end Shaun Ellis said. "One thing I remember people saying in that locker room after the game was, 'We'll have another shot.' Here's our opportunity, so we have to go out and get a win in their home stadium."
Since the loss to New England, the Jets have gone 5-2 and won their last three games as Favre has grown more comfortable in the offense. New York is averaging 32.1 points over its last seven contests, and its 255 points lead the AFC.
"It definitely feels good to be at this point right now," Favre said after going 14-for-19 for 167 yards and a score against the Rams. "A game like this does a lot for you, but I don't think this team will be overconfident."
The Jets are seeking their first four-game winning streak since they opened the 2004 season 5-0. That run ended with a 13-7 loss at New England.
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Posted: 11/11/08 8:46PM ET