The TOJ staff discusses what match-up they are most looking forward to this Sunday when the New York Jets take on the Buffalo Bills. We also give our picks for the tonight’s NFL kickoff, as we will be tracking our record against the spread all season –
Joe Caporoso – Darrelle Revis vs. Stevie Johnson – There is nothing more overhyped than Johnson’s “success” against Revis and I’m thrilled it has been dragged through the headlines the past few days. Revis is lining up for a Defensive Player of the Year Award considering he is in a contract year and about to be the best player on one of the league’s top defenses. When the Jets are 7-5 heading into December and all the genius pundits who picked them to go 4-12 are bumbling for excuses, it will start with how dominant their defense turned out to be and that discussion will center around Revis, who will kick off a career year this week by blanketing Johnson. With Johnson out of the equation, who exactly will Ryan Fitzpatrick be throwing the football to?
Yes of course Austin Howard vs. Mario Williams will merit watching. Hopefully, Tony Sparano is smart enough to do everything in his power to limit the 1 on 1 match-ups between the two and to consistently roll Sanchez away from Williams. There is no way Howard could do worse than Wayne Hunter did against DeMarcus Ware last year and the Jets managed to win that game.
Chris Celletti – When your offensive line is bad, your offense has no chance of being consistently good. In today’s pass-heavy league, there’s nothing more important than keeping your quarterback upright. And if you’re the Jets who are stuck in 1954 and want to run the ball 50 times a game, you also need great play up front. There’s no question that the Jets’ offensive live is a big question mark as we begin 2012, and they have a tough task off the bat with the newly Mario Williams-led BIlls’ defensive front. All eyes will be on right tackle Austin Howard, and I’m sure the Bills will line Williams up over him often. Of course the way to neutralize a good pass rush is to run the ball well, but the combination of the Jets’ offensive line and Shonn Greene hasn’t lit the world up this preseason and didn’t during last regular season. How will the Jets’ o-line look in the Wildcat? We’ll finally get to see the super-secret offense on Sunday.
Mike Donnelly – The obvious matchups to watch in this game are Revis vs. Stevie Johnson (no contest), and of course Austin Howard against Mario Williams (sadly, also a big mismatch), and of course I’m interested in seeing how those play out. However, the matchup in this game I’m really looking forward to seeing are the Jets linebackers and new safeties against the Bills spread attack that features two solid pass-catching running backs in CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson. Can Bart Scott prove he deserves to play all three downs? Can Demario Davis make an impact for this defense? Can LaRon Landry lay some big-time hits and stay healthy? These are the slightly under the radar things I’m looking forward to watching this Sunday.
Rob Celletti – There’s been an awful lot of hype about the Buffalo Bills for the last 18 months or so; some of it well-earned, some of it a fabrication of the media. One element of Chan Gailey’s squad that is often cited as a reason that the Bills are expected to be in the thick of the wild card hunt is their defensive line, bolstered by the off-season additions of Mario Williams and Mark Anderson. Everyone expects the Bills to be a sack machine, of course, especially against what the media has told us for 7 months is a suspect Jets offensive line. And, well, let’s be honest: the Jets gave up 22 sacks in the preseason. Twenty-two! In four games! Yikes.
However, let’s not forget that this line boasts three first round draft picks and two Pro Bowlers. Yes, every Jets fan with half a brain is livid over the fact that last year’s most glaring problem – the right tackle position – was not addressed until the 11th hour. But it does appear that the Jets have upgraded, albeit marginally, at that position.
Week 1 provides a stern test for the Jets’ offensive line. Joe has already touched upon this in his early look at this week’s game, but it’s worth reiterating. The Jets, regardless of the evolution of the NFL into a passing-oriented league, are going to look to make their mark in the trenches, establishing Shonn Greene, and yes, Tim Tebow in the running game. Their passing attack will come second, though don’t be surprised to see the Jets attempt and complete more passes down the field in the first half of Sunday’s game than they did seemingly all of last season. But in order to complete the back shoulder throw to Stephen Hill or the seam route to Dustin Keller, Sanchez is going to need time. If he doesn’t have time, he’ll get sacked frequently. He may throw quicker than he wants to, into coverage. And with sacks and incomplete passes and interceptions come the calls for the quarterback’s head… and that’s a discussion the Jets need to avoid at all costs for this season to be successful.
So yeah, let’s hope the Jets’ line can keep #6’s jersey clean.
Chris Gross– Austin Howard vs. Mario Williams – People can talk about Darrelle Revis and Stevie Johnson all they want. Sure, considering Johnson’s self proclaimed success over Revis in the past, that is a very intriguing story line to follow. However,the match up between the two will not influence the outcome of the game nearly as great as Howard vs. Williams. In last season’s opener, DeMarcus Ware toyed with Wayne Hunter in his first career opening day start. Ware accounted for 2 of Dallas’s 4 total sacks that night, and gave Jets fans an unfortunate preview of what would become habitual throughout the entire season. How Howard and the entire offensive line handle the newly revamped defensive line of Buffalo could be a significant sign of how the offense will fare this season. Expect the Jets to give the new Right Tackle ample help with backs and tight ends to assist in blocking the former first overall selection out of North Carolina State. Although Williams has never beaten the Jets in his entire career,he certainly represents the strong point of a defense that will look to expose the Jets largest weakness at Right Tackle.
- Joe – Giants (-3.5)
- TJ – Dallas (+3.5)
- Rob – Dallas (+3.5)
- Mike – Giants (-3.5)
- Chris G – Giants (-3.5)
- Chris C – Giants (-3.5)