N.Y. Jets at New England
When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, December 30, 2018
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
FOXBOROUGH – In a season in which they lost back-to-back games in December for the first time since 2002, the New England Patriots still can secure a first-round bye and have an outside chance at the top overall seed in the playoffs. New England has control of the first scenario, needing only to beat the visiting New York Jets on Sunday to earn a bye for the wild-card round.
The Patriots won five in a row and 14 of 16 against the Jets, including a 27-13 victory at New York on Nov. 25, but they know how high the stakes are Sunday. “Yes, this is as close as it can get to a playoff game for us, as it is during the regular season,” tight end Rob Gronkowski said. “Every time we play the Jets, no matter what, at their place or here, it’s always a challenge mentally and physically. They’re always bringing it.” New England is a perfect 7-0 at Gillette Stadium and has not lost to the Jets at home in the regular season since November 2008. Rookie quarterback Sam Darnold missed the first matchup against the Patriots but has five touchdown passes and zero interceptions over the past two games.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Patriots -13.5. O/U: 44.5
ABOUT THE JETS (4-11): Darnold, the third overall pick in this year’s draft, is coming off his best game in last week’s 44-38 overtime loss to Green Bay, posting a 128.4 passer rating while throwing for three touchdowns and a career-high 341 yards. Robby Anderson has emerged as a weapon for Darnold since his return from injury, scoring a touchdown in each of the past three games and hauling in 20 passes for 312 yards. Running back Elijah McGuire, who spent more than half the season on injured reserve, also is providing a jolt out of the backfield by rushing for a touchdown in the last three games as well as catching a scoring pass against the Packers. New York ranks 26th in the league against both the pass (254.7 yards) and the rush (126.0).
ABOUT THE PATRIOTS (10-5): Tom Brady threw for a season-worst 126 yards and was picked off twice in last week’s 24-12 win over Buffalo, but New England leaned on the running game and churned out 273 yards rushing while possessing the ball for 35 1/2 minutes. Rookie running back Sony Michel registered his fourth 100-yard game overall and first since he piled up a season-high 133 yards yards and a touchdown in the win over New York last month. In the first game since wide receiver Josh Gordon was suspended, Gronkowski was held without a catch for the first time this season, although he had three receptions for 56 yards and a score in the previous meeting. The Patriots have permitted 17 points or fewer in four of their past five games.
1. Brady has 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions in the past four at home versus New York.
2. Jets S Jamal Adams had 10 tackles last week and 10 versus New England last month.
3. Patriots WR Julian Edelman has at least 80 receiving yards in three straight games against the Jets.