Three nuggets of knowledge about Sunday's Jets at Patriots divisional playoff game:
The Jets simply cannot pull off a 43-point swing in six weeks. Essentially, the same Jets are going into the same Gillette Stadium to play the same Patriots that obliterated them 45-3 on Dec. 6. The Jets must do two things: 1) find a way to undercut the Patriots, who have scored at least 31 points eight straight games; 2) escalate production from an offense that has been known to disappear without relying too heavily on erratic quarterback Mark Sanchez. I don't see the Jets holding the Patriots to 16 points like they did the short-handed Colts. The Jets' best shot to close the gap will be with a domineering ground attack from LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene. The Jets have been running the ball effectively, and the Patriots appear most vulnerable on the defensive line. But rushing their way to four or five touchdowns doesn't sound plausible.
Unlike the Colts, the Patriots can beat the Jets running or throwing. The Jets won last week by making Colts quarterback Peyton Manning hand off. Manning counted seven Jets defensive backs simultaneously on the field at times and marveled at seeing reserve cornerback Marquice Cole line up at defense end. The Jets could get away with that when the Colts' best running back was Dominic Rhodes. He couldn't make the Bills' roster out of training camp in 2009, spent most of the year with the UFL's Florida Tuskers and signed with the Colts last month. The Patriots, on the other hand, have BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead out of the backfield with support from Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris. Green-Ellis was the AFC East's lone 1,000-yard rusher this season and ran for 13 touchdowns. Woodhead gained 926 yards from scrimmage and scored six TDs.
The Patriots have more potent defense and special teams, too. The Jets lost their reputation for being opportunistic. Brad Smith returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. Dwight Lowery had two defensive touchdown returns, and Cole had one. But the Patriots scored nine touchdowns on defense and special teams. Inside linebacker Gary Guyton, Kyle Arrington and kick returner Brandon Tate scored two touchdowns apiece. The Patriots also led the NFL with 25 interceptions and tied for seventh with 13 fumble recoveries. The Jets finished second with 18 fumble recoveries but collected only 12 interceptions.