One of the big storylines heading into Jets-Patriots will be the Jets' defensive strategy. For the better part of three-plus years, they simply assigned CB Darrelle Revis to WR Randy Moss, and cooked up a by-committee plan to cover the rest of Tom Brady's options.
Well, now Moss is gone, and the Patriots' passing game has shifted toward WR Wes Welker and the tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez (six catches for 101 yards in the first meeting). The two rookies have combined for 61 receptions, while Welker leads the team with 65. The Jets have struggled against tight ends, creating some interesting decisions for Rex Ryan and his defensive coaches.
Do they put the taller Antonio Cromartie on one of the tight ends? Revis? Who takes the slippery Welker, one of the best slot receivers in the game? Clearly, it's not as cut-and-dried as it used to be.
"We have a lot of flexibility in our system," Ryan said Friday. "Whether we lock our guys inside, outside, we'll do what's in the best interest of the team."
When the Patriots had Moss, they saw a lot of Cover-2 defenses, with opponents protecting themselves against the long ball. Because of Revis' skills, the Jets took a different approach, often employing a Cover-1 scheme -- man-to-man on the outside, with a single-high safety.
It'll be interesting to see how Ryan & Co. adjust. According to Ryan, the Patriots have tweaked their passing game, using their inside receivers on vertical routes and the outside targets for underneath stuff. Ryan is a terrific defensive mind, and he'll have to cook up something special to slow down the Patriots, who have scored 115 points in their last three games.
One thing is certain: It'll be weird not having a week to hype another Revis-Moss showdown.
HEALTHY SECONDARY: It'll be all hands on deck for the secondary. DB Dwight Lowery (concussion) and DB Marquice Cole (hamstring) should be ready to face the Patriots, according to Ryan. That will give him game-planning options.
R&R: Coming off Thursday night's win, the Jets will be off until Monday, when they'll have a light practice to begin on-the-field preparations for the Patriots.
SOMETHING HAS TO GIVE: The Jets have won a franchise-record eight straight road games. The Patriots have won 14 straight at home in the regular season, but they were blown out of last season's wild-card game by Ryan's old team, the Baltimore Ravens, 33-14.
BART BEATS FINE: LB Bart Scott won his appeal for $30,000 in fines for violating the league's uniform policy (unbuckled chin strap), according to the New York Daily News.