TOJ Week 4 NFL Picks

Last Week: 8-8

Season Record: 27-20

Week 4 Picks

  • Dallas (-2) vs. Detroit
  • New Orleans (-8) vs. Jacksonville
  • Philadelphia (-9) vs. San Francisco
  • Washington (-2.5) vs. St. Louis
  • Tennessee (PK) vs. Cleveland
  • Cincinnati (+4) vs. Buffalo
  • Minnesota (-3) vs. Kansas City
  • Carolina (+6) vs. Chicago
  • Pittsburgh (+3.5) vs. Houston
  • Seattle (+6) vs. Atlanta
  • New York Giants (-3) vs. Arizona
  • San Diego (-7) vs. Miami
  • Denver (+13) vs. Green Bay
  • New England (-6) vs. Oakland
  • New York Jets (+3.5) vs. Baltimore
  • Tampa Bay (-10) vs. Indianapolis

Jets vs. Ravens: 12 Pack Of Predictions

The 12 pack took a beating last week as the New York Jets lost their first game of the regular season. Yet, just like the team we cover, we don’t die easy. Here are 12 predictions for Sunday night football –

1. The Baltimore Ravens are going to pick on Antonio Cromartie early and often. Wouldn’t you? He will pick up a couple of penalties and allow a big play or two, but will also come up with a big play which he couldn’t do last week. I don’t expect to see him at all on kick return.

2. Speaking of kick return, Joe McKnight will have a big night as the deep man and will have a bigger role back there moving forward even when Cromartie is 100 percent healthy.

3. I am setting the over/under at 55 yards for Shonn Greene, and I am taking the under.

4. Mark Sanchez is going to have the pass rush in his face all game and take a few sacks. However, he will also create a few big plays outside of the pocket when the play breaks down and also burn the Ravens in a few situations where they leave Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress one on one. He will throw for over 275 yards.

5. Ray Rice will have at least a combined 125 yards rushing and receiving and get in the end-zone once.

6. Joe Flacco will turn the football over at least once, however he will also beat the Jets down the for a touchdown pass of 40 yards or longer. The Jets will only sack him once.

7. Santonio Holmes is going to have his biggest game of the season, in both yardage and receptions. He will also score his second touchdown of the season.

8. Darrelle Revis will keep Anquan Boldin under 40 total yards receiving if he is matched up on him throughout the night.

9. Kenrick Ellis and Aaron Maybin will both be active. Nick Mangold will be a gametime decision and won’t end up playing, as the Jets smartly work to get him near 100 percent for New England next week.

10. Nick Folk will miss a field goal, he is due for one.

11. Derrick Mason will score his first touchdown of the season.

12. Am I being naive for picking the Jets to eek out a tight victory, 21-20? Maybe so. We’ll see. This won’t be a pretty game but the Jets will find a way to gut one out late.

Time For Sanchez To Shine Under Bright Lights

You will be hard pressed to find a bigger Mark Sanchez supporter than myself. I fully believe he is capable of leading the Jets to a Super Bowl. Whatever that “it” thing is, that quarterbacks need to be winners and successful in the NFL, he has it.

There are plenty of holes in his game and he is still suffering through frustrating growing pains. Yet, there has been a steady progression to his game with each passing year. He has already doubled his career 300 yard gams through 3 weeks this regular season and does look capable of leading an offense that is rapidly becoming more pass centric.

Sunday night is a beautiful opportunity for Sanchez to demonstrate his increasing maturation. Last year in the same spotlight, the Jets handcuffed him and he stumbled into an ugly performance in a 10-9 loss. The training wheels are fully off now and it couldn’t come a moment too soon with a questionable collection of Ravens cornerbacks coming up.

Sanchez needs to navigate away from Ed Reed prowling the middle of the field and Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, and Haloti Ngata charging in his face, not an easy task. Yet, if he can manage to do that, he will have favorable match-ups on the outside where Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, and Derrick Mason should be able to get the best of Chris Carr, Cary Williams,  and Lardarius Webb.

Coming off their first loss of the year and facing such a strong opponent, the Jets need more than a steady, safe performance from Sanchez. They need him to step up and put up a solid 24 points on a very good Ravens defense.

It’s go time, #6.

Game Breakdown: Jets vs. Ravens

Offense: Logically it makes sense for the New York Jets to attack the Baltimore Ravens primarily through the air, particularly outside of the hashes, away from Ed Reed. The weakest spot of the Baltimore Ravens is their cornerback position. The more one on one match-ups the Jets can get for their starting receivers, the better. This isn’t a day for Dustin Keller and Derrick Mason. This is a day for Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress.

I am not saying Keller and Mason can’t have their moments contributing in the short passing game and in third down situations. Yet, if the Jets want to win this game it will be on a collection of big plays from arguably their two biggest playmakers, Holmes and Burress. I am also not saying the Jets should be completely one dimensional. A complete ignorance of the running game will only fuel the Ravens pass rush. The Jets need to keep the defense honest by occasionally hitting the edges of the Ravens defense with Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson.

This is a night for Mark Sanchez. He has put together his share of “big boy” performances and now is time for another one. Let’s see our young quarterback go on the road, in primetime, against one of the league’s best defenses and put together a 22/30, 275 yard, 2 touchdown performance without any turnovers.

Defense: Gut-check time. It has been an ugly stretch of football for the New York Jets defense against NFL opponents (sorry, I don’t count Jacksonville). How about it Rex? How about it Mike Pettine? More importantly, let’s see the linebackers and Antonio Cromartie get up off the mat after last weekend. I don’t buy any talk about this defense losing their swagger. This is still a confident unit, who is in need of a performance to hang their hat on.

The linebackers need to set the edge on Ray Rice and keep him contained, and put this game on Joe Flacco. This unit is built to man up with Darrelle Revis and Cromartie, and send the house after the quarterback. Hit Joe Flacco in the mouth, early and often and he will throw you a few interceptions. If the Jets can create a couple of sacks and turnovers, they will be in good shape to move to 3-1.

Special Teams: Always a potential x-factor with a unit as talented as the Jets have. Jeremy Kerley looked like a major weapon on punt return last week and Joe McKnight will get a shot to make a statement this week on kick return.

Roster: Nick Mangold will likely be a game time decision. It would be unbelievably impressive if he returned this quickly from his high ankle sprain. Antonio Cromartie is going to start at corner but likely won’t be used on kick return. The Jets would be wise to make both recently signed Aaron Mayin and rookie third round pick Kenrick Ellis active this Sunday. They need help on the pass rush and in stopping the run, so why not give them a shot?

TOJ Roundtable Week 4: Jets/Ravens Key Match-Up

Joe Caporoso: I am putting this on the shoulders of our quarterback Mark Sanchez taking on a star studded Baltimore Ravens defense. Despite the big names of Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Ed Reed, and Haloti Ngata the Ravens have been susceptible to the pass. Sanchez and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer need to find ways to attack Lardarius Webb, Chris Carr, and Cary Williams with Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, and Derrick Mason consistently. The pass protection has been questionable and we all know the Ravens will be coming, but the Jets need to roll out their best blitz beaters and scheme to get the ball in their hands of three veteran wide receivers in space. Sanchez needs to protect the football, while still being aggressive down the field and standing in the face of a stacked Ravens front seven.

Rob Celletti: Going with the obvious one this week: The Jets’ front-seven, which was absolutely miserable last week, vs. Ray Rice. Like Darren McFadden, Rice is an elite running back who can hurt you inside or outside of the tackles. Even more importantly than the issues that have been addressed this week such as “containment” and “setting the edge”, I want to see the Jets get back to solid fundamentals: good positioning and tackling.  Holding Rice in check is the first step towards getting back on track this Sunday.

TJ Rosenthal: The biggest matchup for the Jets will be their ability to protect Mark Sanchez and create holes for the running backs against the Ravens front seven. We expect the Jets to come out with intensity especially after the loss to Oakland where many including Broadway Joe Namath came out and questioned whether the Jets are treated with kid gloves by the coach, and too confident in themselves as well.

The Jets screen and run game worked until they went away from it last week. Maybe the Raiders forced them out of it, but this week, the protection must hold up longer in order to get the ball to key playmakers Dustin Keller, Plaxico Burres and Santonio Holmes. The jury is out as to whether they will be able to.

Chris Celletti: The most important matchup will be the Jets’ cuurently-maligned run defense against Ray Rice and the Ravens’ offensive line. Including last year’s AFC Championship game loss to the Steelers, Rex Ryan’s defense has been torn apart in three of their last four games. Two of those times, including last week’s horror show against the Raiders, the run defense has been carved up. The Jets need to bottle up Rice and make Joe Flacco beat them. If they can’t do that and allow the Ravens to control the clock, it could be a long night.

Preliminary Thoughts: Jets vs. Ravens

The New York Jets are back in primetime this week with a showdown against the Baltimore Ravens, who knocked them off in the season opener last year, 10-9. This season the Ravens are off to a 2-1 start and are coming off a 37-7 beating of the St. Louis Rams. This promises to be a physical, emotional game as Rex Ryan, Bart Scott, Derrick Mason and Jim Leonhard return to their old franchise.

As we all know, Baltimore is loaded on defense led by Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, and Haloti Ngata. Mark Sanchez and company will have their hands full, especially with Nick Mangold not likely to play this week. It will take a strong, smart performance from Sanchez coupled with a creative game-plan by Brian Schottenheimer to put enough points on the board to win. The Ravens can be thrown on. Let’s not forget they lost in week 2 to the Tennessee Titans, 26-13. In that game Matt Hasselbeck threw for 358 yards and a touchdown. The Jets have struggled to consistently keep their starting receivers involved, Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress, but they must work the football to them early and often to take advantage of the Ravens cornerbacks.

Baltimore went to the air more than usual last week, bombing it up to rookie Torrey Smith for three first quarter touchdowns. I got news for you, with Darrelle Revis likely matched up on Anquan Boldin, there are going to be plenty of deep balls to Smith coming Antonio Cromartie’s way. A scary thought at this exact moment. You can say Smith is a rookie and only had one big quarter but keep in mind what we saw last week. It is a feast or famine with Cromartie, so you never know what you will get. Ray Rice could also be problematic for the Jets considering his speed to the outside and ability to catch the football out of the backfield. They will likely look to attack the edges in a similar way the Raiders did.

In order to pull out this road victory, the Jets will need to be on top of their game in every third of the game. Their special teams have been a major weapon so far this year, and a big Jeremy Kerley punt return or Antonio Cromartie/Joe McKnight kick return could go a long way on Sunday night.

A win in Baltimore should erase any lingering sour feelings over last week’s ugly loss and give the Jets momentum heading into New England the following week. One loss should be a little adversity but with this team everything is magnified so last week has become a huge deal, let’s see how the Jets respond on a big stage.

Epitaph To The 2011 New York Jets Season

The New York Jets had a hell of a run this season, an emotional roller coaster that peeked when they hit the 2-0 mark, but came to an abrupt halt with a 34-24 loss to the Oakland Raiders. The loss ended a season that was supposed to see Rex Ryan’s team finally get over the hump to reach that elusive Super Bowl title, which has avoided the franchise since 1969. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case as the organization, fans, and local media members are forced to ponder where it went wrong before the season went down in flames in the Black Hole.

Joe Namath, the face of the franchise, has called out Rex Ryan and his lackadaisical preparation. The coach’s message clearly is falling on deaf ears in the locker room. The 2-1 record is a clear demonstration of that fact. Mark Sanchez, has regressed to a point that even Chad Henne is now considered more talented to him, after the division rival quarterback led his team to a brilliant 0-3 start. The defense is done. The running game is dead. Bury the Ground and Pound with the football they buried after the 45-3 New England loss last year and get ready for plenty of more games like that in the coming years.

This Jets team can’t compete in the stacked AFC anymore. In their own division, they are the third best team behind a Buffalo Bills team that hasn’t lost since the Jets beat them 38-7 in the final game of the 2010 regular season. Since then they have strung together a record breaking 3 game winning streak, winning in dominant fashion the past two weeks. The New England Patriots, who have lost 2 of the last 4 times they took the field in a game that matters, including once to the Jets in their own building to end their season, are also light years ahead of a bumbling Gang Green.

The season can’t go on. Nobody wants to suffer through watching the Jets lie down and take beatings the next four weeks. How could the Jets find a way past the Ravens who managed to get smacked around by a dominant Tennessee Titans team 9 days ago? Why bother to fly to New England, where the Jets haven’t won since the last time they went there? Miami owns the Jets and features Drew Brees Jr. aka Chad Henne under center. The San Diego Chargers never lose in the first half of the year and never lose to the Jets, except in 2009 when the Jets ended their season.

This team has never proven to have character since Rex Ryan has taken over. They don’t fight back. Remember in 2009, after they lost 6 of 7 to fall to 4-6 on the season. What happened? They gave up to finish with a 9-7 record, make the playoffs and win two road playoff games…pathetic.

How about last year after that brutal beat-down in New England, followed by an ugly loss to Miami? Remember how they went into Pittsburgh and won to basically clinch a playoff spot? They actually then had the audacity to end both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady’s season in their own buildings. No heart, no character, no fight. Those comeback victories in Denver, Detroit, Cleveland, and at home versus Houston in 2010…textbook same old Jets.

You would be a fool to think this team has the ability to get up off the mat after such a devastating week 3 regular season loss, where they were so thoroughly outplayed and manhandled that they looked like a Big East team. They only managed a 10 point lead at one point in the contest and were smashed around on a dropped kick return, a broken halfback option pass and reverse, and pass interference penalties.

Rex and the Jets had a nice run but all that is over now. Hand the crown over the Giants in New York. Let New England and Buffalo battle for the crown in the AFC East. Let the Ravens, Steelers, Chargers, Patriots, and Bills fight it out for a AFC Championship.

When it is over, it is over and after that Oakland loss…it is over.

Joe, Rex & The Confidence Of The Jets

Check out TOJ Friend Jeff Capellini’s opinion on the issue as well

Joe Namath’s opinion that Rex Ryan’s instilling of too much confidence in his players reared it’s ugly head in Oakland on Sunday, was met with a sharp response by Ryan Monday after both spoke on 1050 ESPN radio. Ryan invited Namath to practice to see how hard the Jets work and how diligently they prepare everyday for upcoming opponents. Namath perhaps was trying to share a hard lesson he had once learned himself on the way to a Super bowl title. Ryan was rightfully defending the positive results of re-branding an organization that eternally felt sorry for itself before his arrival. The harsh words from Namath may not be entirely applicable or appropriate, but the drama that played out over the radio airwaves yesterday can become a helpful foundation for the Jets. A team that has publicly stated that they must win as often as possible, in order to reach their immediate goal: playing home playoff games in January.

Namath is the symbolic patriarch of the Jets. Dick Wood. Mike Taliaferro. Remember them? We didn’t think so. Wood was the QB for the Jets in 1964, one year prior to Namath’s arrival in Green and White. Talafierro hung around backing up Namath as the Alabama star got his feet wet in the AFL. A league that Namath helped raise the awareness of, while simultaneously aiding the Jets in the local football conversation. One that was monopolized by the storied franchise from Yankee Stadium, the Giants, before Jets owner Sonny Werblin made Joe a Jet.

On Monday, Namath may have subconsciously been trying to help his beloved Jets get over the hump, by offering a warning about the thin line between having an inflated self opinion and playing desperate.

Namath’s self proclaimed turning point during the Jets only championship season came early on in 1968. Defensive coach Walt Michaels gave him an earful on the plane ride back to New York, after a putrid loss to an awful Buffalo team. In the Sept 2h9t, 1968 game at War Memorial stadium, Namath tried to do too much, throwing five interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns in a shocking 37-35 loss.

Michaels implored him to let the defense do their job too and to take better care of the ball as the field general. Perhaps even going deeper into the psyche of Namath by in turn reminding him to respect all opponents in the meta message. Namath adjusted from that point forward and it showed. The Jets took off. Winning week after week in taking the Eastern division before knocking off the Raiders in the AFL championship at Shea Stadium 27-23. This prior to the miracle in Miami against the Colts.

Maybe Namath saw the ghosts of that day at Buffalo’s War Memorial Stadium when he ranted with radio host Michael Kay. A flashback to a moment during his own prime, where an opponent was clearly beatable had the proper execution taken place on the field.

Ryan had an entirely different set of circumstances facing him as he entered the Jets family. “The Same Old Jets” 2008 version, had just went from 8-3 led by coach Eric Mangini and QB Brett Favre, to 9-7. A typical collapse that took them from first place to out of the playoffs, an ending to another once promising season, that only reinforced the nickname that Jet loyalists had loathed wearing through endless offseasons.

Ryan wasted no time in rebranding the Jets when he told the world during his first press conference that he wouldn’t kiss Bill Belicheck’s rings. He then took the Jets in his debut season of 2009 from almost dead to the AFC Championship in Indianapolis. It was the first sighting for many, of a Jets team would fight until the last second on the clock, until the last breath of a dying season. Jets fans have loved him and stuck by him ever since. Just like his players do.

Ryan’s encore began with a look inside the team, thanks to HBO’s Hard Knocks. A view that furthered the die hardsappreciation for a coach who maybe for the first time in club history, wears his colors loudly and proudly. What followed was yet another road tour through the AFC playoffs in January, which included an improbable win in Foxboro. A victory perhaps only trumped in Jets history by Namath’s Jets 16-7 Super Bowl upset in 1969.

When the 2010 season ended in Pittsburgh, Ryan then took it a step further. He declared New York the Jets town, and the new shared stadium the home of the Jets. Not the Giants. The bravado was not received well by many on the outside to say the least. Especially Giants fans. It was music to the ears of Jets fans though. A cult like collection of crazies who have had to endure second class status since it was stamped on the New York Titans birth certificate back in 1960.

On Sunday the Jets began an imposing road swing that included Ryan’s former team the Ravens and the hated Patriots. Directly in front of them however, was a team that many saw as the weakest of the three teams in this stretch. The Raiders. An organization that has undergone a decade of confusion, a myriad of coaches and quarterbacks, and to put it plainly, has not been very Raider-like.

Without three time All Pro C Nick Mangold, the Jets came out with a shrewd dink and dunk gameplan on offense thatprotected a makeshift offensive line and helped Gang Green jump out to 17-7 lead. Then an old time Jets Raiders AFL battle ensued as the Silver and Black, using a world class speed that may soon demand attention across the NFL, raced their way to 24 unanswered points. The barrage was enough to help lead Al Davis’s “Rai-duhs” to a 34-24 win.

The loss surprised many including Namath who attributed it to the Jets being too self absorbed. A personality that he opined “started at the top.” Maybe however, a better way for the Jets to keep their edge in the future, especially in getting ready for games that sit before “marquee matchups” in prime time, might be the one that CB Darrelle Revis suggested. Instead of toning down the good feeling inside of Florham Park, the Jets might want to listen to, and follow their defensive leader Revis who said that ALL teams are gunning for the Jets. This fact alone should of course keep the Jets on their toes at all times.

Revis is right. The Jets ARE the hunted now. Not only because for the first time since Namath dropped back to throw, they’ve sat in the national spotlight for an extended period of time. Or because they make news when they talk. It’s because Rex Ryan’s Jets are good. Very good. Exciting too. With notable NFL stars all over the field, on both sides of the ball. With that comes the new responsibility for being ready every Sunday for sixty minutes.

The adjustment from being confident to delivering knockout punches before opponents can get up off the canvas, will lead to a stockpile of victories that can finally put them in position to overtake AFC East kings, New England. A group that, aside from their slip up on Sunday in Buffalo, makes a habit of giving lesser teams no chance and no life right from the first drive of the game.

One can argue that the Jets greatest legend, Joe Namath, was out of place when he stuck his nose in Rex’s business. It can’t be argued however, that the Jets can only benefit from Ryan’s miraculous psychology work that began in 2009, by improving upon it in this way as this season develops.

If nothing else, the loss to the Raiders combined with Namath’s comments, can be the foundation where upon the Jets can springboard themselves from a team that has fallen just short two years in a row, to one that wins the amount of games required to host postseason ones. A scenario that could help change the Jets flight of 2011 from one that again misses the ultimate mark, to a safe landing inside of Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5th, 2012. Date and site of Super Bowl Forty six.

NFL Week 3 Review: Not Buying Early Hype

1. Three games into the NFL season and the tickets are being punched for a Detroit Lions/Buffalo Bills Super Bowl match-up. Don’t get me wrong, Detroit is a talented team and their comeback over the Minnesota Vikings was a gutsy win to hang their hat on. Buffalo’s win over New England was even more impressive considering the way New England has handled them as of late and how they dug themselves out of a three possession hole for the second week in a row.

Yet, I have to laugh at the comments received about the New York Jets now being the third best team in the AFC East and when I hear talk of the Lions currently being a top five team in the NFL. The Bills have been down by 18 points in two straight weeks, there are plenty of flaws in their feel good story. They have found ways to win two tight games late, an admirable and important quality. Let’s see them handle being a favorite for a few weeks now. Let’s see them go on the road and take out some contenders. Let’s see them win a game when they aren’t capable of laying a 34 spot on the board. I am not buying it yet, not after 3 games.

The Lions have a beautiful thing on offense with Matthew Stafford throwing to Calvin Johnson. The comeback against Minnesota was a hell of a win, but if you haven’t noticed it, everybody is doing that this year. Again, let’s see them play as a favorite now and let’s see them stay ahead of Chicago in the standings into the second half of the year and how they handle the Packers and Saints down the stretch of their schedule. Are they a playoff contender? Sure, everybody is at this point. Are they one of the best teams in the league? I haven’t seen that yet, not after tight wins over Tampa Bay and Minnesota and beating the ACC caliber Kansas City Chiefs.

2. Nobody takes more cheap shots at the New York Giants than yours truly. I have been surrounded by a group of annoying Giants fans my whole life…otherwise known as all of my best friends. Yet, that doesn’t mean I won’t credit them for an impressive win over the Philadelphia Eagles on the road. I am aware Mike Vick didn’t play the fourth quarter but with the amount of injuries the Giants are dealing with, I am not taking anything away from them. How about North Jersey’s own Victor Cruz by the way? What a game. I am not sure who deserves their new contract less at this point Nnamdi Asomugha or Antonio Cromartie.

I do have to take time to mention what a dirtbag Antrel Rolle is on the field though. I am looking forward to Plaxico Burress giving him one of these shots on December 24th.

3. Week 5 Games to look forward:

  • Pittsburgh at Houston – Very interested to see how these two AFC contenders come out in this game.
  • New England at Oakland – Hoping Oakland can do to New England what they did to the Jets last weekend.
  • NY Jets at Baltimore – Game of the week and I’m not even being biased.

Final Thoughts On Jets/Raiders

Game MVP – LaDainian Tomlinson, who ripped apart the Oakland defense as a receiver out of the backfield. For the second year in a row he is off to a very strong start.

Game Goat – Antonio Cromartie…the feast or famine act is growing old very quickly.

Play of the Game – Cromartie’s muffed kick is where the game went down the toilet. Fortunately, I can’t find a YouTube video link of it because I don’t want to see it again.

Trending Up

  • LaDainian Tomlinson – The Jets most consistent playmaker on offense through three weeks.
  • Plaxico Burress – He is still a match-up nightmare when given the chance.
  • Derrick Mason – Finished with 6 receptions and a handful of huge third down conversions.
  • Colin Baxter – Held his own in his first NFL start.

Trending Down

  • Wayne Hunter – A weekly regular in this category.
  • Antonio Cromartie – A lung injury could keep him out this week.
  • Santonio Holmes – Not necessarily on him but Jets must do a better job of getting #10 involved.
  • Bart Scott/ Calvin Pace/Bryan Thomas/David Harris – Not a pretty week for the Jets highly touted LBs.

1. I said before this game that the only way the Jets would lose is if they laid a complete egg. They found a way to do that in spectacular fashion for a key stretch of the game that put them in too big of a hole to climb out of. Penalties, turnovers, and missed tackles equal losses. It happens in the NFL. Too many people are making broad proclamations about the implications of this game as I will get into later today.

2. Jamaal Westerman is not an answer as a pass rusher. This team has to stop procrastinating each off-season when it comes to adding a player who can get after the quarterback.

3. Look for more Joe McKnight on kick return, especially if Antonio Cromartie will be nursing an injury. If Cromartie can’t play on defense, Kyle Wilson will likely get the start. He will get quite the chance for redemption after his rough season opener against the Baltimore Ravens in 2010.

TJ reviews his top five from the game

NFL Week 3 highlights