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Each Tuesday morning, Whatifsports.com's NFL simulation engine will provide you with predictions, box scores and statistics for every NFL game that week. The NFL simulation engine generates detailed information, including the home team's chances of winning (Home Win %), average score and comprehensive box score link. If you want to share your newfound NFL knowledge with friends and family, make sure to check out our NFL Widgets on the WhatIf To Go page or click on the social networking share bar located at the top and bottom of the article.
The statistical inputs to the thousands of NFL games simulated are based on rigorous analysis of each team's roster, depth chart and statistically based player ranking. Roster modifications have been made for injuries and suspensions, and those players are not part of their team's game simulation.
To account for injuries and roster moves announced late in the week, we will be re-simulating some games on Thursdays throughout the 2010 NFL season.
NFL Divisional Playoff Game of the Week: Jets at Patriots
The Jets make provocative proclamations in the same fashion that Kellogg’s makes cereal. The Patriots let their play do their talking. Mark Sanchez was a heralded first-round draft pick who hasn’t quite put it all together. Tom Brady was a late-round selection who is playing at a level never seen before at the QB position. New York has one of the greatest running backs of all-time in LaDainian Tomlinson, enjoying a rejuvenation in 2010. New England has two running backs who spent time on the practice squad. Rex Ryan’s defense….
You get the idea. No matter the perspective, the Jets and Patriots fall on opposite ends of the proverbial spectrum. The common denominator between the two teams is success, as both teams find themselves in the playoffs after double-digit-win seasons. But even in that regard, both squads arrived at this destination in different fashions.
Dominating the preseason hype thanks to a late run in the 2009 playoffs and the spotlight from a reality TV program, the Jets entered the year as a favorite to reach Dallas. And after a 9-2 start (including a 28-14 victory over New England), that objective seemed highly probable. But three losses in four weeks soon pushed this outcome in doubt, highlighted (or from New York’s perspective, lowlighted) by a 45-3 thumping in Foxborough. For the second straight season, the Jets had backed their way into the postseason.
Not that New York is apologizing. Last season, the squad channeled the perceived besmirching into playoff upsets of Cincinnati and San Diego, and was beating the Colts in Indianapolis at halftime before Peyton Manning led a second-half comeback. But while the 2009 version of the Jets relied on heavy doses of the run, the acquisition of WR Santonio Holmes allows New York to become more aerodynamic. Granted, Sanchez is far from what one would call efficient, but the threat of a passing attack was nonexistent at this juncture last year.
Yet Gang Green’s bread and butter are still the rushing attack and a lockdown defensive mentality. Tomlinson and Shonn Greene led the ground game to an average of 148.4 yards per contest, while Ryan’s defensive unit was surrendering just 19 points a game. While far from “sexy,” these attributes usually correlate to conquest in January.
Meanwhile, New England headed into the season relatively under the radar, seemingly a first during the Brady-Belichick Era thanks to a 33-14 beatdown in the opening round of the 2009 playoffs. A young defense coupled with a stagnant running attack did not suggest success for the Patriots, and for the first few weeks of 2010, this sentiment seemed apropos. Yet the dismissal of Randy Moss seemed to revitalize New England to the glory days of 2001-2004 as the Pats rolled off 13 wins in their last 14 contests.
In Moss’ defense, his exodus wasn’t the only catalyst in New England’s turnaround. The surprising play from two undrafted backs, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead, gave Brady his first explosive backfield since the Corey Dillon days of 2004. Another duo gave New England a boost, with rookie tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez totaling 87 receptions for 1,109 yards and 16 touchdowns. Add in the arrival of former Brady favorite Deion Branch from Seattle and Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins ending his holdout in Week 9, and it’s easy to comprehend the formula behind New England’s resurrection.
And then there is Brady. The former Michigan Wolverine has not turned the ball over since Week 6 and has a meager four interceptions on the season. In nine of the past 10 games, the New England quarterback has registered a QB rating of 100.0 or higher, and his 36 touchdown passes led the NFL. In this instance, Moss IS the stimulus for this success, as the absence of the diva allowed Brady to spread the ball around rather than focus on the talented but troubled receiver.
So who comes out in top in Round 3 of Jets vs. Pats? According to the WhatIfSports simulation engine, New England wins 69 percent of the time by an average score of 22-17. For the rest of this week’s playoff predictions, check below:
NFL Week 19
|@ Chicago Bears||77.9||25||Simulate Game|
|New York Jets||31.0||17||Boxscore|
|@ New England Patriots||69.0||22||Simulate Game|
|@ Pittsburgh Steelers||60.2||21||Simulate Game|
|Green Bay Packers||53.7||22||Boxscore|
|@ Atlanta Falcons||46.3||20||Simulate Game|
Joel Beall is a Content Writer for Whatifsports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.