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.