The bizarre 2013 season of the New York Jets continues this Sunday in Baltimore, where they will face the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens who are currently 4-6. Despite the Jets having a one game better record, most are assuming the Jets are walking into a buzzsaw.
They could very well be right. This team has been terrible on the road, with a 1-4 record and three blowout losses where they looked about as competent as the Jacksonville Jaguars (too harsh?). Since Rex Ryan has taken over the Jets, they have generally not played well against “physical” teams or teams that Ryan perceives to be “physical.” We have seen it this season (Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Tennessee). We have seen it in 2010 and 2011 against the Ravens and 2010 and 2012 against the Steelers. We saw it emphatically last year against San Francisco, Seattle and in the Jets repeated struggles against Miami. Rex usually gets his team to play well for “finesse” teams (Saints, Falcons, Patriots, Texans and before last week, Buffalo).
Despite their 4-6 record, the Ravens are still tough at home. They are 3-1, with their only loss coming to the Green Bay Packers in a tightly contested 19-17 game. Despite their defense being a step or two down from their traditional dominance, they are only allowing a little over 13 points per game at home.
Offensively, they have struggled all season due to a much weaker than expected offensive line and an anemic running game. Ray Rice has 420 carries on 140 carries (3.0 YPC)…that is Shonn Green type action. Joe Flacco has been mediocre most of the season and currently only has 13 touchdowns with 13 interceptions to match, while completing less than 60% of his passes.
Theoretically, this should be a low-scoring slugfest dominated by the defenses. Yet, if the Jets turn the ball over, it won’t be. If the Jets insist on leaving their below average cornerbacks on an island, it won’t be. Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones still have the ability to get over the top of defense and Flacco has a great deep ball arm.
The Ravens have their share of flaws. They shouldn’t be able to run the ball…at all, on this defense. This is a game where the Jets need their pass rush to help force turnovers. Remember those? They aren’t winning this game on the road without forcing one or two. Defensively, the Ravens have been relatively average across the board most of the season. Nobody expects the Jets to throw up a 30 spot in this situation but if they can generate 17-21 points, without directly handing points to Baltimore, they will have a good chance for a win that would be an enormous boost to their playoff chances.
Turnovers. Turnovers. Turnovers. Can Geno Smith avoid them? The majority of this fan-base has given up on him already. It doesn’t sound like he has lost the locker room or coaching staff yet but realistically he is another performance or two like last week away from being in danger of losing his job.
Will Geno get his act together? Will his offensive coordinator, offensive line and receivers help him in that cause? Let’s open the 12 Pack to find out…
1. Chris Ivory will received 17-22 carries and finish with 85-105 yards rushing yards, along with his third touchdown of the season.
2. Bilal Powell will receive 8-12 offensive touches and finish with 40-50 offensive yards.
3. Josh Cribbs will run the ball 3-5 times out of the Wildcat formation.
4. Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce will combine for less than 60 yards rushing.
5. Joe Flacco will throw for 245 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
6. Torrey Smith will have 90 yards receiving and one touchdown.
7. Ed Reed will play in at least 80% of the snaps on defense.
8. Nick Folk will get back on the right track and go 2/2 on field goals.
9. Dallas Clark will have 45 yards receiving and a touchdown.
10. Greg Salas will see an increase in his playing time and have at least 4 receptions.
11. Geno Smith. The object of much debate this week, will look to run the ball more frequently than usual and finish with 30 yards rushing. The Jets will have a conservative game plan on offense this week. Smith will finish 15/23 for 190 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
12. The Jets will win 20-17…makes no sense, I know…but this season hasn’t either. Until they break the every other game streak, why pick against it?
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