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Monday Night Preview: Can the Jets Upset the Patriots?

Can Sam Darnold upset Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in primetime football?

This week's edition of Monday Night Football features the 6-0 New England Patriots traveling to New York to face the 1-4 New York Jets. In a key divisional game, both teams will look to create an edge on the competition and change the dynamic within the division ranks.

Getting Sam Darnold back last week, the Jets upset the Dallas Cowboys 24-22 to gain their first win. On the other side, New England extended their winning streak with a 35-14 win over the New York Giants. Despite the stark contrast in records, this contest brings a variety of exciting matchups.

Quarterback Breakdown

In his return from mononucleosis, Sam Darnold passed for 338 yards and 2 scores in the Jets' upset victory. This performance breathed life into the entire Jets offense and allowed Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder to each eclipse 95 receiving yards. Unfortunately for Darnold, the Jets run into the Patriots' top-ranked pass defense this week. So far this season, the Patriots have allowed the second-fewest passing yards per game (161).

On the other side, Tom Brady continues to defy Father Time in his age-42 season. Brady currently averages 290.5 passing yards per game, with four games above 300 yards. However, Brady enters Week 8 without Josh Gordon, and Julian Edelman and Phillip Dorsett both remain questionable. The Jets currently rank 15th in pass defense but allowed Dak Prescott to throw for 278 yards just last week. Either way, Brady sets up as a solid play.

Running Back Breakdown

On the New York side, the Jets continue to feed Le'Veon Bell touches. Struggling through incompetent quarterback play with Luke Falk, Bell only has 285 rushing yards on 85 attempts this season. However, he remains active as a pass catcher with 38 catches to his name. The Patriots rank 14th against the run, potentially affording Bell a chance to rebound in Week 7.

For the Patriots, Rex Burkhead has been ruled out, leaving Sony Michel and James White to handle the work. With the Patriots favored by 9.5 points, game script points toward Michel seeing volume. Michel has seen at least 16 carries in each of his last three games, with six total targets in his last two. Conversely, White remains the passing down back with at least nine targets in each of his last three games. However, with the Patriots nursing a few injuries in their receiver corps, White could step up in an enhanced receiving role this week.

Defensive Matchup

On defense, the Patriots rank first among all NFL teams, while the Jets slot in ninth, according to our schedule-adjusted metrics. The Patriots rank 1st against the pass and 14th against the run, while the Jets rank 15th against the pass and 3rd against the run.

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