The New England Patriots are, according to BetNow Sportsbook, favored to beat the New York Jets on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. So some things still are as they should be, even if not all is the way it used to be.
For instance, not only are the Pats 3-2, but so are the Jets. New England has lost two games and could have very easily lost two more, while the Jets have won three in a row, which, in and of itself, is a small miracle. The Jets' 17-14 win over the Browns on Sunday gave 15-year veteran Josh McCown the first three-game winning streak of his career. What's next? Dogs and cats living together?
This weekend's divisional matchup gives the Patriots a chance to start over with a clean slate, at least division-wise. Unlike the Jets, or, for that matter, the Dolphins and Bills, the Pats are 0-0 in AFC East play. A victory in New York would, with the Bills on bye this week, propel the Patriots to the top of their division.
That is, of course, easier said than done.
"You've got to be impressed with what the Jets have done," New England head coach Bill Belichick said in a news conference earlier this week. "They've had three weeks in a row that they've played well. They've done a good job offensively, defensively and in the kicking game. They've made some big plays in all three areas, don't turn the ball over, play good defense, play well on special teams."
Jets players and coaches called their 20-45 blowout loss to the Oakland Raiders in Week 2 the wakeup call they needed to snap them out of their funk. Sort of like when Rocky lost to Apollo Creed in the first Rocky; it was not just a moral victory but also the launching pad from which he gained the momentum he needed to ultimately go on to win the Heavyweight Championship.
And the Jets, like the Italian Stallion, know what it's like to be an underdog — it took the Browns for Todd Bowles's team to be a two-point favorite, and not only did they won straight-up, but also covered the spread. They're not unfamiliar either with overcoming the odds, as they did against the Dolphins and Jaguars.
As good as the Jets are the moment, "there's that lingering thought around the league that says, 'Yeah, but they're still the Jets,'" Adam Kurkjian of the Boston Herald says.
On the other side of the same token, the Pats have not looked quite like themselves this season, but they're still the Patriots. And their defense did, against the Bucs on Thursday, display some much needed, much welcomed improvement. New England is in a sort of holding pattern.
"We're still trying to figure out what we are and what we're good at and what we need to do consistently to score more points," Pats quarterback Tom Brady said. "It's still relatively early. We've only played five games. There is still a lot of football left to be played. Hopefully our best football is still ahead of us."