There are 200 miles separating Foxborough from East Rutherford, but the distance between the 11-3 New England Patriots and the 3-11 New York Jets is closer than it appears.
The AFC East opponents will meet again at MetLife Stadium on Sunday for a 1 p.m. kick, nine weeks after a blocked kick sent the Jets home with a 27-25 loss. And when the two sides do, the personnel connections between them will also meet again.
Here is a look into 12 of the ties.
Phillip Adams, Cornerback: The 26-year-old Adams has been a member of six different NFL teams since entering the league as a seventh-round pick in 2010. And during the 2011 season, the cornerback was a Patriot. Adams signed with New England that September and was waived that October before re-signing and being waived again. But the 5-foot-11, 195-pound South Carolina State product remained nearby, rejoining the 53-man roster for an eight-day stint in November to record his first career interception. The Jets signed Adams this September. He has gone on to start four games and play in 11 for New York this season, recording 22 tackles, three pass deflections and his fourth NFL interception.
Willie Colon, Guard: Colon is one of four NFL players remaining from the Hofstra University football program, and in Week 16, he will be across the line from another in Kyle Arrington. The 6-foot-3, 315-pound guard and the 5-foot-10, 190-pound cornerback played their final years for the Pride in 2005 and 2007, respectively.
Jeff Cumberland, Tight End: In the same class as fellow Illinois tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, Cumberland and his Patriots counterpart played for the Illini from 2006 through 2009. The two combined for 99 catches, 1,491 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns before Cumberland went undrafted and Hoomanawanui went to the St. Louis Rams in the fifth round of 2010. Both have played in all 14 games for their teams this season.
Wesley Johnson, Guard: Before Johnson was a Pittsburgh Steelers fifth-round pick in May’s draft, the 6-foot-5, 295-pound offensive lineman was a Vanderbilt Commodore alongside current Patriots practice-squad wideout Jonathan Krause. The redshirt senior left tackle and the senior receiver played 49 games in the same offensive huddle.
Zach Sudfeld, Tight End: Sudfeld caught eight passes for 101 yards and a touchdown over the course of four preseason games with the Patriots in 2013. From there, the 6-foot-7, 260-pound undrafted rookie went on to make the team’s 53-man roster, playing in three games before being waived on Oct. 3. He was claimed by the Jets the following day, and two weeks later, he was an honorary captain for the pregame coin toss against his former team. The 25-year-old has caught two passes for 35 yards in 14 contests this season.
Jermaine Cunningham, Outside Linebacker: A Patriots second-round draft choice in 2010, Cunningham played in 36 games for New England over three seasons, netting 59 tackles, 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. But the 6-foot-3, 255-pound Florida Gator was released with an injury settlement leading up to the 2013 season, and he later signed with the San Francisco 49ers before joining the Jets. Cunningham played in two games with New York last season, but the Jets placed the 26-year-old on injured reserve with a torn Achilles before the start of this season.
Greg Salas, Wide Receiver: Salas was traded from the Rams to the Patriots for a 2015 draft pick in September of 2012. The former fourth-rounder was waived by New England and re-signed to the practice squad later that month. Yet that November, Salas was promoted to the 53-man roster to play in one contest before being waived and claimed by the Philadelphia Eagles. Thenceforth, the Jets signed him off Philadelphia’s practice squad. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound receiver went on to catch eight passes for 167 yards in 10 games with New York this year, prior to being placed on injured reserve.
David Harris, Linebacker: Two Michigan Wolverines came off the board just 14 picks apart in the second round of the 2007 draft. One was Harris at No. 47 overall, while the other was Alan Branch at No. 33 overall. But the Jets linebacker and the Patriots defensive tackle will man two different fronts on Sunday.
Jeremy Kerley, Wide Receiver: Teammates with Patriots guard Marcus Cannon at Texas Christian, Kerley and Cannon both arrived as fifth-round draft picks in 2011. And they were joined by wideout Josh Boyce as a Patriots fourth-round pick in 2013. Kerley has caught 34 passes for 322 yards and five touchdowns this season, while Cannon has played in all 14 of New England’s games and Boyce has resided on the team’s practice squad.
Brian Winters, Guard: Winters started all 12 games as a Kent State freshman in 2009, and he was joined by a redshirt sophomore named Josh Kline for seven games in 2010. The two accomplished wrestlers proceeded to start every game together on the Golden Flashes’ offensive line in both 2011 and 2012. And in 2013, Winters was drafted by the Jets in the third round, while Kline was signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent. Winters started 12 games as a rookie and another six this season before being placed on injured reserve with a torn ACL. Kline, meanwhile, started one game as a rookie and another two this season.
Darrelle Revis, Cornerback: The 14th overall pick in the 2007 draft, Revis established himself as one of the premier cornerbacks in the NFL over his six years with the Jets. And along with the 98 pass breakups and 19 interceptions he accrued during his tenure there, the Pittsburgh Panther also accrued four Pro Bowls, three first-team All-Pros and one AFC Defensive Player of the Year award. Revis has broken up 14 passes and intercepted two since coming over to the Patriots from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last March.
Bill Belichick, Head Coach: Once a Patriots assistant under head coach Bill Parcells in 1996, Belichick was named the Jets interim head coach in February of 1997 while Parcells was in the process of negotiating an agreement to depart from New England to coach New York. The agreement came to fruition less than a week later, and Belichick earned the title of Jets assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. But after two years, Parcells stepped down as Jets head coach and Belichick was named head coach for one day. From there, he resigned and took the head coaching position back with the Patriots. The Jets received a first-round pick in the 2000 draft as compensation, and the rest is history.