Patriots: Starts with stopping run

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The Jets came out throwing against the Patriots on Dec. 6, putting quarterback Mark Sanchez in the shotgun and running a no-huddle attack early in the first quarter.

The plan backfired, so common sense leads one to believe that things will be different this time around. The Patriots are preparing for a ground assault, especially after the Jets plowed through the Colts on Saturday.

“They’re known for pounding the rock, the offensive line is known for being physical,” defensive lineman Vince Wilfork said Thursday. “They’re built for playoff games.”

So when breaking down some of the important Xs and Os matchups on Sunday, the Patriots’ run defense against the Jets’ ground-and-pound approach is near the top of the list.

“That’s the biggest thing about this week – having a tough attitude towards the run,” outside linebacker Rob Ninkovich said.

The Patriots have health concerns on the defensive line, with Ron Brace (elbow) and Mike Wright (concussion) landing on injured reserve last week, and Myron Pryor (back) held out of practice of late.

Wilfork and veteran Gerard Warren top the depth chart, and in the season finale, rookie free agent Kyle Love was the third option on the three-man line.

It is often said that stopping the run starts up front, so this is a big area to watch on Sunday.