New England Patriots at New York Jets
Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC, Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya
Gameplan: The Jets' plan to keep it simple against a complex Patriots offense sounds like a Rex Ryan smokescreen. Matching their nickel defense against QB Tom Brady and three-wide receiver sets has been a better recipe in the past. The Jets still have to stop a deep Patriots running game led by Stevan Ridley, although they do catch a break with TE Rob Gronkowski (forearm) out. The biggest bodies, not fleet skill-position types, hold the key for both sides. If Jets DEs Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples can effectively filter Ridley back inside and get enough push to make Brady get rid of the ball early, it also eliminates most of the quick-strike potential the Patriots hold over a team that doesn't play well from behind. Finding creases in the Patriots' front seven isn't always easy, but the Jets haven't won without the running game being emphasized. When QB Mark Sanchez finds one-on-one coverage, he can't afford misses.
Need to know: Gronkowski had four touchdown catches in the past two meetings. ... The Patriots have sacked Sanchez 11 times in the past three meetings.