Monday Night Football (MNF) fans are going to need a program to keep track of who is who on the field when the 2-5 New England Patriots meet the 0-8 New York Jets at Met Life Stadium tonight.  Week 9 in the NFL is almost over and this game, while not a factor for either team or the playoffs, should still be an interesting contest.

The Jets To Play Without Darnold

The unusual rules the day.  The Patriots are coming into the game on a four-game losing streak.  No one can even remember when Bill Belichick lost four games in a row, but he and the Pats are ten-point favorites to beat the Jets tonight on MNF.

Jets quarterback Sam Darnold is sidelined with a shoulder injury, so Joe Flacco will be starting for New York against New England.  Flacco said in an interview, “The bottom line is, it’s a lot easier going into the game knowing that I’m playing now that it is to come off the bench at some point in the game.  I’ve gotten my feet wet and all those kinds of things, so I feel really good going into the game.”

The Jets are also without linebacker Blake Cashman due to a hamstring injury and tight end Trevon Wesco with a bad ankle.  They are also without their first string kicker, Sam Ficken, which means that Sergio Castillo will be in there again for the third consecutive game.

With Tom Brady sweating it out down in Tampa Bay, Belichick and the Patriots have turned to Cam Newton to hold down the quarterback spot, but is not having his best year up in New England.  He has thrown for 103/156 passes for 1,143 yards.  But only two touchdowns and a not so good seven interceptions in the same number of games.

The Team Who Loses The Least Wins

This may not be exactly a marquee matchup, but both of these teams are tired of losing and looking to save some face by making a good show of it on MNF, so, this could turn out to be a pretty good football game, such as it is.   New England running back James White said after the last game, “Nobody plans for a bad season, that’s for sure.  We’re still competing.  Everything we want is still out there in front of us.  We just have to turn the sense of urgency up a lot more.”

Jets head coach Adam Gase is concerned about containing Newton, who has been known to run the ball whenever he takes a notion to.  Cam in a big guy and an elusive runner, and the Jets are worried about keeping him out of his hot rhythm, when he has been known to dominate the field for a while.  Everyone knows that he is struggling in his first year with the Patriots and that he has stepped into some pretty big shoes to fill.  Gase and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams are worried about Newton getting outside the pocket and finding a way to make it past that first down marker.

The Patriots could end up in last place in their division and miss the playoffs for the first time in living memory.  The Pats won the AFC East 11 years in a row, and 17 out of the last 19.  On the other hand, the Jets have had trouble with third downs all year long.  That must be rectified if they are going to beat the Patriots on MNF when everyone is watching.

Long Odds For Little Gain

The Pats are getting -435 against the +360 Jets on Unibet, and there’s little reason to believe the winless Jets can succeed tonight.  The Over/Under sits at 42.5 (-107) and, despite the poor showing by both teams this season, this could be a high-scoring game.  Taking the Over might help sports gamblers pad their wallets a little bit.