We’ve finally made it, as the season is coming to an unfamiliar end for those in Patriots Nation. This will be the first time that Week 17 closes out New England’s year since 2008 when the Tom Brady-less Patriots were unable to make the postseason despite having an 11-5 record.
This year’s version of the Patriots would’ve been extremely happy to come close to double-digit wins, as this week’s match-up against the Jets could make them 6-10 which would be the team’s worst record since Bill Belichick first season in 2000.
And, while the Jets may be a team that’s solidified that their second overall draft position, they are still a team that could cause problems for New England.
This is why the Patriots should be concerned with the Jets in this 2020 season finale.
Sam Darnold and Adam Gase are playing/coaching for their futures.
The Jets haven't exactly been a tough opponent for many teams this season. They're currently 2-13 and have stamped their ticket to make the second overall selection in the draft. However, the two most important parts of the team, the head coach and quarterback, will be extremely motivated to continue winning. Sam Darnold is 13-24 in his career as the Jets starter, and he hasn't really jumped off the page all that much. With Justin Fields and Zach Wilson both available to the Jets at their draft slot, Darnold may be on the move. Adam Gase's success as the Jets head coach has been essentially non-existent. In his two years with the franchise, the team is 9-22. With it being a forgone conclusion that he's relieved of his duties after this game, Gase will be looking for a new position in 2021. His performances in games like this could be the difference between being offered an offensive coordinator job or being a quarterbacks' coach.
The Patriots are missing three starters on the offensive line.
Isaiah Wynn has been on injured reserve since Week 12 with a knee injury. The Patriots have been able to get by without him as Justin Herron and Jermaine Eluemunor have filled in and haven't completely blown up the left side. Now, however, New England will be without both David Andrews and Shaq Mason as well. Both these offensive linemen are extremely important to what the Patriots want to do in running the ball. Andrews' role as the leader of the group will also hurt in defensive recognition and line adjustments. Without any knowledge of what the line will actually look like, it would make some sense to guess that the line will be Herron, Joe Thuney, James Ferentz, Michael Onwenu, and Eluemunor at the five spots from left to right. This could make for a long day for Cam Newton and the running backs.
The Jets are hot right now.
If it's possible for a 2-13 team to be hot, this is what it looks like. Two weeks ago the Jets outlasted a comeback attempt by the Rams to beat them 23-20. Those are the same Rams who, the week prior, dominated the Patriots 24-3. Then, last week, the Jets were able to knock off a talented, hungry team in the Cleveland Browns 23-16 who were looking to earn a playoff birth. And, while the Browns were left without many offensive weapons due to a COVID outbreak, they still had talent there to be competitive. Meanwhile, the Patriots have lost their last three, so momentum is in Jets' hands.
The Patriots front seven is decimated.
This is a list of all players in the front seven who have a questionable game status heading into the weekend.
Now, they won't all miss the game, but it's likely that a few of these guys won't be active against the Jets. This makes stopping the run even more difficult, and the Patriots are already one of the worst teams against the run this year, allowing 132.8 yards per game on the ground. Butler, Uche, Jennings, and Calhoun are supposed to help in passing scenarios as well, so New England's already-struggling pass-rush won't be getting after Darnold in this one.