The NFL returns to live action on Thursday night, as the seventh week of the 2014 season gets going when the New England Patriots square off with the New York Jets on Thursday Night Football. Rex Ryan’s Jets are just 1-5 and staring a lost season in the face, while Tom Brady and the Pats hope to keep a two-game winning streak rolling.

Let’s break down the key points to Thursday night’s NFL action and see what we’ll need to watch for:

Brandon Bolden’s Role

Stevan Ridley went down for the count with a torn up knee last week, which has opened the door to Brandon Bolden, Shane Veree and James White taking over New England’s offensive backfield. Exactly who takes it over and what they do with a bigger role remains to be determined, however. Vereen is easily the Pats’ most explosive and versatile player on the roster, but it’s Bolden who initially could get the “Ridley role”. That should mean early down and goal-line work. How he fares against a Jets run defense that had been elite before the last two weeks is going to be key for the outcome of this game.

Tom Brady Being Terrific

Tom Terrific returned the past two weeks after starting 2014 with four straight shaky games. The past two weeks, Brady has put up six touchdowns to no picks and he’s done it against supposedly solid defenses in the Bengals and Bills. New England has put up over 37 points in each game during that process, and Brady will look to keep it going against New York tonight. That should be easily doable, considering Gang Green’s pass defense was already in shambles before losing top corner Dee Milliner for the year. Yikes.

Rex’s Last Stand?

Rex Ryan is known for his brash approach and loud mouth, but he’s also known for his gameplanning and rivalry with his AFC East foes. His showdowns with Bill Belichick and the Pats are near the top of the list, but things haven’t gone so well for Ryan’s Jets in this matchup the past few years. This could be Ryan’s last stand, as falling to 1-6 would signal a lost season and could potentially have New York’s front office yanking Ryan from the head coaching spot.

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