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Ryan wary of Brady as Jets prepare for key showdown with Pats

Tom Brady isn't having a season that approaches his 2010 MVP campaign, but Jets coach Rex Ryan still has a great deal of respect for the Patriots star.

"The guy's a tremendous quarterback," Ryan said during his Wednesday news conference. "Clearly, without Peyton playing, I'd say he's the best quarterback in the league right now."

With one sentence, Ryan let us know where he falls on the eternal "Brady or Manning?" debate, while also revealing he hasn't watched much Packers game tape this season.

Still, Ryan was on his best behavior during his news conference at Jets' headquarters in Florham Park, N.J., and a conference call with New England-area reporters, giving the Patriots little in the way of bulletin-board material.

Ryan did credit the Patriots for decisively beating the Jets in Week 5, the last game New York lost before running off three consecutive wins to pull into a first-place tie in the AFC East.

Center Nick Mangold returned to action for the first meeting between the teams after missing two weeks with a high ankle sprain, but he clearly wasn't his typical All-Pro self. Ryan acknowledged it was difficult not having Mangold at full strength.

"We never make excuses, but I wanted to," Ryan said. "He's the best center in football, kind of like the Darrelle Revis of corners, and that's what I think Nick Mangold is at center. Having him out was obviously a great loss to us."

The Jets and Patriots are going in opposite directions, and you know Ryan is aware of the opportunity New York has Sunday night to seize control of a division New England has dominated for a decade. The stigma of "Same Old Jets" has dissipated in the Ryan era, and taking care of Brady and the Patriots at home would be another example of why that's happened.

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