EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 13: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots gets sacked by Muhammad Wilkerson #96 of the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on November 13, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
There are countless storylines heading into Sunday's Jets-Patriots get-together. There's the inevitable Rex Ryan vs. Bill Belichick discussion, Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow, the annual lamentations about Tom Brady's (in)effectiveness, and what this all means for the rest of the season. Let's take a closer look at some of these storylines below:
Tebow could see time at running back. Makes sense since given that it's his best position. Ryan was asked about it on Thursday. "That's a possibility," he said. "The thing about Tim, with him being a football player like we've always talked about, by playing quarterback he knows all the positions. So can you plug him in at running back? Can you plug him in at tight end? I think the answer is yes."
With all the injuries, the Jets might not have a choice.
Jets LB Calvin Pace isn't a fan of the Pats' no-huddle. We know this because he said as much -- and then some. "It's borderline illegal because sometimes the guys aren't always set when they snap the ball," he said on Wednesday. "But it's smart. Why not hurry a team up? I wish we would do it. For a defense, it just puts pressure on you."
That's the point, obviously. And it's one that concerns not only Ryan but also safety Eric Smith, who said "With this offense (the Pats are) running this up-tempo it’s going to put a lot of stress on us.”
Linebacker David Harris agrees. "It's very difficult," he said. "You'll see defenses not even lined up and they're already running a play. They get a lot of extra yardage because of it. It causes guys to lose their mind. You can see it on film."
Jets CB Antonio Cromartie chooses honey over vinegar. Cromartie isn't a huge Tom Brady fan. This isn't news. But the team's second best cornerback and wide receiver (according to Cromartie, anyway), has taken a more diplomatic approach to the Patriots ahead of their latest matchup. "When you have a dynasty team like coach (Bill) Belichick has put together, they're always going to be talked about," he said. "That's why I call them the new America's Team."
What happens when no-throwing Mark Sanchez faces the Pats' no-defending secondary? A lot of pregame cliches, that's what.
"They're a great group of players," Sanchez said of New England's secondary. "I know they're always capable of having big games, and I know they're going to be in the right position, so it's my job to be smart with the football. It's always a challenge, no matter what the numbers say, against these guys. I have a lot of respect for their team. It's going to be a good challenge for us."
Despite overstating just how good the Pats' defensive backs have played this season, there's some truth to New England keeping Sanchez in check. According to ESPN.com's Field Yates, the Jets' fourth-year QB has averaged fewer than 200 yards passing in six career games against the Pats, including nine picks and eight TDs.
That said, there's a reason Vegas has the Pats favored by 10.5 points.