Expect wintry weather as Patriots take on Jets

Glen Farley

Today’s Foxboro forecast calls for cold shoulders and a wintry mix.

The New York Jets are landing at Gillette Stadium this afternoon (1 p.m., Channels 4 and 12; WBCN-104.1 FM) where they’ll meet the New England Patriots for the first time since the season-opening spying scandal that only added to a rivalry whose bitterness already bordered on Wile E. Coyote vs. The Roadrunner.  

The weatherman is expecting a balanced attack from Mother Nature – snow, rain, sleet, freezing rain and strong winds.

“The traction’s going to be a big difference,” Patriots linebacker Junior Seau said. “So therefore it’s going to slow a lot of these track guys down, which is good for me. Being as old as I am, I probably can catch them. But other than that, it’s going to be hard-nosed football. I don’t know if the game plan will change on the offensive side.”

The two AFC East rivals have certainly been on opposite sides of the ball this season.

At 13-0, with an average margin of victory of 21.6 points, the Patriots are playing for a ring.

At 3-10, with two of those victories coming at the expense of the winless Miami Dolphins, the Jets are playing out the string.

“Obviously, there’s perhaps a little more hype about this game because of New England’s record and their chase to try to do something that only one other team has done in NFL history,” said quarterback Kellen Clemens, referencing the 1972 Miami Dolphins’ perfect season, “but as the New York Jets we can only control what we can control.

“Our approach is consistent,” said Clemens, who, truth be told, has been inconsistent since succeeding Chad Pennington at the Jets’ controls (2-4 as a starter, with nine interceptions, four touchdown passes, a 52.2 completion percentage and 61.1 passer rating this season). “We’re just going to prepare the best we can and, hopefully, play a good game on Sunday.”

Wasting no time in setting the tone for the season, New England was at the top of its game when it routed New York, 38-14, on Sept. 9, getting three touchdown passes from Tom Brady and an NFL-record 108-yard kickoff return for a TD from Ellis Hobbs in the teams’ season opener in East Rutherford, N.J.

As you may have heard, though, the highlights from that game were overshadowed by the confiscation of a video camera from Patriots video assistant Matt Estrella that was subsequently found to be trained on the Jets’ sideline, illegally taping their coaches as they signaled to their players. 

The fallout from that?

The Patriots were subsequently stripped of their first-round pick in the 2008 NFL draft (they still own San Francisco’s first rounder, acquired via trade) and docked $250,000. Head coach Bill Belichick was personally fined $500,000.

All this only served to widen the chasm between Belichick and Eric Mangini, who had an icy split when the latter left his job as Patriots defensive coordinator to take over as the Jets’ head coach in 2006.

Losers of two straight to start the season and eight of their first nine to, for all intents and purposes, end their season, the Jets simply have never gotten it together in Mangini’s second year at the helm.

Things sure have changed in a year’s time. Last season, Mangini was guiding the Jets to 10 wins – including a 17-14 decision at Gillette - and a playoff berth.

For that matter, things sure have changed in three months’ time, most notably, of course, at the quarterback position.

“I think this is quite a bit different from what we saw in September,” Belichick said. “Certainly there’s some similarities, I’m not saying that, but there’s a lot of things that are new. It’s been three months and they’re doing some things differently that we’ll have to prepare for this week and that will be a big challenge for us.”

The Enterprise