First a few updates:
1. The Jets moved up to #19 in ESPN’s Power Rankings today. They are behind Atlanta, which I don’t agree with. The Falcons looked simply awful at home last week and are decimated with injuries. Pittsburgh is also ahead of them despite losing to Oakland at home (the Jets beat Oakland 38-0 by the way).
2. It is looking like Eric Smith will start his third straight game this week. According to the beat reporters, he ran with the starters in Monday’s walk through. I don’t see any reason why Kerry Rhodes should have his job back after a somewhat weak performance against Buffalo.
3. Backup offensive lineman and extra tight end in short yardage sets Robert Turner is going to be out this week and probably the following week. Corners Donald Strickland and Dwight Lowery are improving with their respective injuries but I wouldn’t bank on either of them playing on Sunday. I would rather see them at 100 percent against Indy then rush back this weekend against the Bucs weak receivers.
4. Green Bay helped the Jets playoff cause last night by beating the Ravens 27-17. Make sure you check back tomorrow for “Jets Playoff Pipe Dream: Week 14 Viewing Guide,” where I will discuss all the playoff scenarios and who Jets fans should be rooting for this week.
Jets vs. Bucs First Look
Tampa Bay’s Key Players: On offense Josh Freeman has breathed some life into Tampa. However, he is coming off his worst game of the season. Freeman threw five interceptions last week in a loss to Carolina. On the season he has 7 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and is completing 54 percent of his passes. He is mobile in the pocket and has already racked up 134 yards rushing in a limited number of starts. Cadillac Williams is the Bucs leading rusher with 572 yards, with Derrick Ward chipping 304 yards. Neither of backs has an overly impressive yards per carry (4.0 for Williams and 3.6 for Ward). Tight End Kellen Winslow is putting together a strong season with 58 receptions for 633 yards, with 5 touchdowns. Maybe the Jets should put Darrelle Revis on him, since the top receivers for Tampa both have 27 catches. Yet, Antonio Bryant is averaging an impressive 17.6 yards per catch. Also watch out for ex-Jet fullback BJ Askew, who has 3 total offensive yards this season.
On defense, the Bucs are very young and they struggle to stop the run (Run, TJ, Run). However, they do have some talented pass rushers. Stylez White has 5.5 sacks and Jimmy Wilkerson has 6 on the season. Barrett Ruud is a solid linebacker and leads the team in tackles. Aqib Talib is beat often at corner but does make some big plays. He currently has 5 interceptions and 11 passes defensed. Ronde Barber is still playing but doesn’t have an interception yet this season, despite having 2 sacks.
Typical Jets: How typical would it be for the Jets to go on the road and lose to the 1-11 Bucs? They got everybody excited about some type of crazy playoff run in December. They are getting help at every turn, with Oakland winning in Pittsburgh, the Dolphins losing to Buffalo and then coming back and beating New England, the Ravens losing on Monday night, the Texans melting down and on and on. Of course all these wacky playoff scenarios go to the wayside if the Jets can’t beat one of the leagues worst teams. Can we avoid the obvious loss this week and keep the pipe dream alive for another week?