National Football League
Preview
N.Y. Jets at New England
When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, December 31, 2017
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts

The New England Patriots have the No. 1 seed within their grasp and can clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs by beating the visiting New York Jets on what is expected to be a frigid Sunday afternoon. The Jets are a bitter rival of the Patriots, who had to overcome a 14-point deficit in a 24-17 win over New York in Week 6.

New England knows the value of securing home field -- it has advanced to the Super Bowl in five of the six seasons in which it had the No. 1 seed and hoisted the Lombardi Trophy three of those times (2003, 2014, 2016). Coach Bill Belichick was peppered with questions about the Patriots' surprise signing of veteran Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison earlier this week but left no doubt where his focus is. “Well, we’re playing the Jets this week,” Belichick said. “I don’t really know what that has to do with it. Maybe I’m missing something. I don’t know.” New York, which has dropped three in a row and eight of 10 since a three-game winning streak, has struggled on the road this season with its lone victory coming over winless Cleveland (17-14) in Week 5.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Patriots -15.5. O/U: 44

ABOUT THE JETS (5-10): Starting quarterback Josh McCown was lost for the season in Week 14 at Denver and backup Bryce Petty has struggled in his place, completing only 47.4 percent of his passes (36 of 76) for 312 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. Christian Hackenberg, a second-round pick out of Penn State in 2016, has yet to take a snap in the NFL but reportedly has been working with the first team in practice this week and may see the field against New England. Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins had eight catches for 46 yards and a TD in the first meeting while Jermaine Kearse and Robby Anderson combined for eight receptions for 155 yards. Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson is expected to be inactive for the third straight game.

ABOUT THE PATRIOTS (12-3): Tom Brady leads the NFL with 4,387 yards passing, but he has four touchdowns and four interceptions over the past three games and completed only 52.8 percent of his passes in the earlier matchup against the Jets. One potential concern for New England -- star tight end Rob Gronkowski, who snagged both of Brady's scoring passes in Week 5, was not at the portion of practice open to the media on Thursday, although he's not listed on the injury report. Running back Dion Lewis was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week after scoring twice and setting season highs with 129 yards on 24 carries in last week's 37-16 win over Buffalo. The Patriots rank among the bottom fourth in the league with an average of 119.7 yards rushing allowed.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Brady has 11 TD passes and zero interceptions in his last five home games versus New York.

2. Jets RB Bilal Powell, who missed the earlier matchup, has rushed for a TD in three of his last four games.

3. The Patriots have won lost 11 of the last 13 regular-season meetings.

PREDICTION: Patriots 26, Jets 16
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W‑L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf OT Div Conf
N.Y. Jets 5-10 L3 19.5 23.7 4-4 1-6 1-4 0-1 - - 5-6
New England 12-3 W2 28.8 19.3 5-2 7-1 4-1 1-0 - - 9-2
Last Meeting
N.Y. Jets New England
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
10/15/17 NE 24 NYJ 17 408 74 334 375 118 257
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
N.Y. Jets J. McCown 66.0 354 2 2
New England T. Brady 52.6 257 2 1
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
N.Y. Jets M. Forte 9 22 2.4 0
New England D. Lewis 11 52 4.7 1
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
N.Y. Jets J. Kearse 4 79 19.8 0
New England B. Cooks 6 93 15.5 0
Touchdowns Player TD
N.Y. Jets J. Kerley 1
New England R. Gronkowski 2
Season
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
N.Y. Jets J. McCown 67.3 2926 18 9
New England T. Brady 67.5 4387 30 8
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
N.Y. Jets B. Powell 165 726 4.4 5
New England D. Lewis 154 803 5.2 5
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
N.Y. Jets R. Anderson 62 939 15.1 7
New England R. Gronkowski 69 1084 15.7 8
Touchdowns Player TD
N.Y. Jets R. Anderson 7
New England R. Burkhead 8