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Pats know Jets present a true threat

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — It is rivalry week in New England.

The Patriots (5-0) are preparing to face the upstart New York Jets (4-1) on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium with first place in the AFC East on the line.

While last Sunday’s win in Indianapolis was hyped up for its obvious connections to the Deflategate controversy, this week’s battle with New York reignites a long-standing, passionate, hate-filled rivalry, dating back to the Border War days of Bill Parcells.

Though new New York coach Todd Bowles isn’t fueling the fire the way predecessor Rex Ryan did, he does have the Jets playing the type of defense the Jets were known for in recent times. Gang Green has the NFL’s No. 1 defense in terms of both yards and points allowed while ranking at the top of most all defensive categories.

“It’s a great rival for us,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said while preparing the NFL’s No. 1 scoring offense to take on the Jets. “They’re very tough to beat. We’ve had a lot of close games with them over the years, a lot of situational football has come in to play, a lot of two-minute drives and stopping them at the end, overtime games. Not too many games have ever really gotten out of hand.

“They’re very well coached. Coach Bowles has them playing really well. They’re very aggressive defensively. It’s a lot to prepare for. We play them at home, so we’ve got to be ready to go, got to have a good week of practice.”

As good as the Jets are on defense, buoyed by a tremendous front and the return of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie to the secondary, New York is also getting the job done on offense. The Jets lead the NFL in rushing, led by running back Chris Ivory, who leads the league in rushing yards per game.

So not only are the Jets the usual tough defensive test for the Patriots’ offense, but they also pose plenty of problems for a New England defense that’s a work in progress, at best.

“Obviously the Jets are doing a lot of things well,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “It’s a good football team — they’re big, they’re physical, they’re playing very good football. Turnovers have been a big part of their success. They’ve done a great job of that defensively and protecting the ball on offense. They don’t have a lot of negative plays, not many sacks.

“Obviously, a very good running game, good runners. Ivory’s been outstanding. A lot of explosive players on offense — (wide receiver Brandon) Marshall, (wide receiver Eric) Decker — and in the kicking game like (punt returner Jeremy) Kerley. Defensively, the secondary’s good, front’s good, they’ve got a lot of talented guys up front. They play them all. They’re all productive.

“It’ll be a big challenge this week, work cut out for us, we’re going to have to do a good job of matching up in all three phases and handling the things that they do, but they’re doing them very well, so it’ll be a big challenge for us Sunday.”

Though few expected it in the offseason, the Jets may be the toughest test the Patriots have faced to date this season — maybe even the toughest test New England will face in the regular season.

“It’s a great rivalry,” Brady reiterated, with clear respect in his voice for the hated foe. “We’ve had a lot of great games against them, some real meaningful games.

“You know, they’re very similar to us in a lot of ways. They’re a big, tough, physical team. You play in these elements — I think there are a lot of characteristics that make them tough to beat. They play hard. They’re obviously off to a great start this year. They’ve got a phenomenal defense. I think they’re in the top five in almost every category. It’s a big challenge for us.”

SERIES HISTORY: 110th regular-season meeting. Patriots lead series, 56-52-1. New England and New York have played twice a year dating back to the inception of the AFL in 1960 and transitioning to AFC East foes in the NFL a decade later. Aside from some Jets domination in the late ’60s and early ’70s, New England has had the longer streaks of success. But that success — Tom Brady is 20-5 against the Jets in the regular season — rarely was easy. New England won seven of the past eight meetings, though five of the games were decided by a field goal or less. The last three were decided by three points, two points and one point, and there were two overtime games since 2012.


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