SERIES HISTORY: 112th regular-season meeting. The Patriots lead the series, 57-53-1. New England and New York have a storied rivalry that dates to the first season of the AFL in 1960. From players like Curtis Martin and Darrelle Revis bouncing between the teams to Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick's jumping between sidelines, the soap opera has often surpassed the on-field drama. New England has had the upper hand in recent years, winning eight of the last 10. The most recent battle was New York's 26-20 overtime win last December.
UPDATE, Nov. 27, 10:50am:
Tom Brady will start Sunday afternoon when the New England Patriots visit the New York Jets.
Brady missed back-to-back practices with soreness and swelling in his knee. Brady returned to practice Friday, and was joined on the field by tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was limited.
Gronkowski is expected to play Sunday afternoon.
"Like I said, everybody is dealing with some bumps and bruises," Brady said Friday. "It's just part of football. It's football season and I'm not the only one dealing with them. There are a lot of guys dealing with a lot of stuff, certainly in our locker room. It's just part of this game."
Reporters were present at practice for part of the team's warm-up and Brady appeared to be moving without restriction.
Gronkowski (chest injury) did not play last week at San Francisco.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
As game time neared, four key Patriots were listed as questionable on Friday's injury report -- quarterback Tom Brady (knee), wide receiver Julian Edelman (foot) and the league's top tandem of tight ends, Rob Gronkowski (chest) and Martellus Bennett (ankle, shoulder).
"I don't want to get into it much," Brady said when questioned Friday. "It's just bumps and bruises like everybody else. It's a tough time of year. A lot of guys have been going for a long time -- a lot longer than me. Everyone is dealing with something. It's part of football."
And that was representative of the tone from the other three stars listed as questionable.
New York's strength on defense is a front that's one of the best against the run in the league. But teams have certainly been able to throw on the Jets, who have not had a consistent pass rush and are fading in the back end as Darrelle Revis ages. Brady should be able to attack New York with quick passes and his usual efficient throws in the middle of the field. Even with Gronkowski dealing with a chest injury, Brady has Bennett, Edelman, wide receiver Danny Amendola and backs James White and Dion Lewis with which to spread out New York.
LeGarrette Blount will almost certainly be a secondary plan off attack against the big Jets front. Assuming the New England line can get adequate pass protection and deal with the wide variety of blitzes that are sure to come from Todd Bowles' defense, Brady and the passing game will challenge the Jets in the back end.
The Jets have rushed for 139 yards or more and averaged better than four yards a carry in each of the last four games. The Patriots have allowed more than four yards a carry on the ground in three of the last four, and the unit will likely be playing without suspended DT Alan Branch, which won't help the front. DC Matt Patricia's group must find a way to set the edge and tackle better to keep Matt Forte and Bilal Powell from balancing out an offensive attack that has scored 23 or more points in three straight.
When the ball is in the air or on the ground, New England has been able to take advantage of late. The Patriots have focused on improved hustle and getting more bodies around the football. This may be another week, building off last week in San Francisco, where Patricia dials up a few more blitzes to force Ryan Fitzpatrick into mistakes.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Patriots FS Devin McCourty. New England has gone three straight games without a turnover for the first time in more than a decade. New York has the third-most giveaways in the NFL, thanks in part to Fitzpatrick's 13 interceptions. McCourty is the Pro Bowl leader in the back end and has made it clear he and other top New England defenders must play better. A unit that's due for some big plays should get some chances against a quarterback who can make big plays for both teams.
--Patriots QB Tom Brady vs. Jets DE Leonard Williams. Brady continues to amaze with his play, including his much-improved mobility and ability to make plays on the run. In many ways that has been necessary for the Patriots' offensive success in recent weeks. Williams has been New York's most productive pass rusher in his second season. Brady and his offensive line must overcome a talented Jets front that probably will need to control the game to pull off the upset. Williams is a big part of that, one of the few Jets able to get to the quarterback with any consistency.
DE Jabaal Sheard. The veteran started the first eight games and was expected to replace Chandler Jones after the Pro Bowl pass rusher was traded to Arizona this offseason. But Sheard has just 3.5 sacks and seemingly has fallen into Bill Belichick's doghouse in recent weeks. He played just 16 snaps two weeks ago in a loss to Seattle. Last Sunday, he was a healthy scratch who wasn't even brought to San Francisco. Finding a way to get Sheard going in the right direction and making plays for a New England defense greatly lacking playmaking ability would be a good step toward helping turn around the struggling unit.
New England -- Out: WR Matt Slater (foot). Questionable: TE Martellus Bennett (ankle, shoulder), WR Julian Edelman (foot), WR Chris Hogan (back), CB Cyrus Jones (illness).
New York -- Out: CB Nick Marshall (ankle), CB Marcus Williams (ankle). Questionable: C Nick Mangold (ankle), DT Steve McLendon (hamstring).
The Patriots are 5-0 on the road this season, tied for the team's third-longest road win streak to begin a season.
The Jets' 9-6 loss to the Rams in Week 10 was New York's third game of the season scoring six or fewer points, the most in the NFL. The last time they did that four times was in 2005.
Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount has 802 rushing yards -- his most since rushing for 1,007 with Tampa Bay in his rookie season (2010).
Patriots QB Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes without being picked off last week in San Francisco; he has 13 TD passes and no interceptions on the road this season.
PREDICTION: The Patriots have felt right at home on the road, and they have a decided advantage at quarterback.
OUR PICK: Patriots, 31-17.