Jets vs. Jaguars: 12 Pack Of Predictions

Nothing is better than the cold weather and a 12 pack along with it. It feels like football outside today, which is a beautiful thing.

1. Joe McKnight will receive at least three touches on offense, as the Jets reward him for his game changing special teams play last week. What he does with those plays will determine how much of a role he starts to have moving forward. Also look for John Conner to play more reps this week and a catch a pass out in the flat. His hands are an underrated part of his game.

2. After this game, still nobody will know who the hell Jason Hill is.

3. Luke McCown is going to have a rough time against the Jets defense. He will throw for less than 175 yards, be sacked at least 2 times, and have at least one turnover.

4. Maurice Jones-Drew will have a solid day at the office but won’t rip off the big run that will kill the Jets. He will finish with 22 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown.

5. Mark Sanchez won’t turn the football over this week and will throw somewhere between 25 and 30 passes.

6. Santonio Holmes and Eric Smith are both questionable to play this Sunday. Both will suit up but will have a more limited role than usual. Look for more action from both Derrick Mason and Jeremy Kerley on offense and for more Brodney Pool on defense than last week.

7. Plaxico Burress will have another big game, finishing with over 70 yards receiving and another touchdown. He will also be more involved in the first half.

8. For the first time in just about forever, the Jets will score a first quarter touchdown.

9. Antonio Cromartie will have a much better performance than last week, recording an interception and ripping off a big kick return.

10. Shonn Greene will rush for less than 80 yards but will have an improved yards per carry from last week. LaDainian Tomlinson will have at least 4 receptions.

11. Calvin Pace will record a sack for the second straight week.

12. The New York Jets won’t pull away in this one until the fourth quarter but will ultimately win 24-13. Hello 2-0.

NFL Week 2 Picks: Saints & Texans Good Bets

Chris Celletti goes over the best bets for week 2 of the NFL

The mass uncertainty heading into an NFL Week 1 has come and gone, and while there are teams (ahem, the Giants) for whom the sky is falling, there is also extreme optimism across half the league. Week 2 should get everyone back to normal. Those teams who had a rousing Week 1 win, like the Bears, may get a reality check – while all will likely be right in Steelerland on Monday morning. Taking a look at the Week 2 NFL schedule, there are actually a lot of pretty miserable games on tap. The only thing that could make some of them watchable (Redskins vs. Cardinals, Browns vs. Colts – ouch), is what makes the NFL the most popular sport in the country anyway – betting!

Saints -6.5 vs. Bears

I love the Saints in this one. First off, because if you’ve ever been to New Orleans (and remember it), you know that the only things that matter in the Big Easy are food, alcohol, jazz, and the Saints (not necessarily in that order), so the Superdome will be rocking. Drew Brees looked silly-good against the Packers in Lambeau last Thursday, so I expect big numbers in the dome on turf. Despite missing Marques Colston, New Orleans will still be able to move the ball. The Saints D’ will come up with enough big plays, intercepting Jay Cutler a few times, and I think they win by more than a touchdown.

Texans -3 at Dolphins

The Texans’ defense is better than the Patriots’. Yeah, I said it. I’m sorry, Chad Henne is not throwing for 400 yards again this week. And while Matt Schaub is no Tom Brady, did you see the Dolphins’ defense in Week 1? My goodness. Add Andre Johnson into the mix, and the Texans should roll to 2-0 while covering this spread.

Steelers -14 vs. Seahawks

I usually stay away from a spread this high, but the Steelers are pissed after getting routed by the Ravens last week. Good night.

Bucs +3 at Vikings

I need to see something from Donovan McNabb to prove that he’s not a walking corpse before I have any confidence in the Vikings. I’ll give you Adrian Peterson, but outside of him Minnesota is weak. I think Tampa was overhyped last year and was the classic “new coach out of nowhere 10-6 team (see 2006 Jets under Eric Mangini), but I think they keep this a low-scoring affair.

Bonus Non-Football Bet of the Week!

Floyd Mayweather Jr. by KO over Victor Ortiz (+200)

Looking at the odds for the Mayweather-Ortiz fight, I think any Mayweather by KO odds are sneaky good bets. Especially if you can find someone to give you the Vegas lines that ESPN’s Dan Rafael tweeted yesterday, where a Mayweather KO in rounds 9-11 is at 12-1. Mayweather is no knockout artist but I can see this fight being eerily similar to Floyd’s December 2008 fight with Ricky Hatton. Ortiz is going to try to get inside and make it a brawl, and may have some moments in the early rounds. But by round four or five Mayweather will have adjusted, which he does better than anyone in boxing, and will be systematically picking apart Ortiz. Ortiz won’t pull a Shane Mosley and give up, he’ll keep coming in, hoping to land a big shot. As he tires, he’ll be ripe for the picking by Mayweather, and I think a 10th or 11th round stoppage is a good possibility.

Please don’t blame me if you lose all your money this weekend.

Jets vs. Jaguars: Game Breakdown

Offense: For the second week in a row the Jets are facing a defense that will be more susceptible to the pass than the run. Jacksonville is solid up front and won’t be easy to run the football on. However, that doesn’t mean the Jets need to be dropping Mark Sanchez back 44 times in this game. You would like to see them try to establish some type of balance and get Shonn Greene rolling with some type of confidence. The Jets are going to have favorable match-ups in the passing game that will be there to exploit, but being able to create the threat of the run will only open that up more.

Sanchez needs to do a better job of protecting the football this week and getting the offense off to a quick start. He can contribute to that by getting Plaxico Burress and Dustin Keller involved early.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Joe McKnight get a few reps on offense this week, along with Jeremy Kerley maybe getting a longer look. The Jets are going to show the Wildcat at some point and using Kerley and McKnight in the backfield together could be a good way to break through against the Jaguars tough front seven.

Also keep an eye out for former Jets defensive backs Dwight Lowery and Drew Coleman, who both have quickly picked up large roles on the Jacksonville defense. Coleman had a sack last week and Lowery recorded an interception.

Defense: Jacksonville is lacking on major offensive threats in a big way. Maurice Jones-Drew is a beast but if the Jets can contain him, which they are equipped to do, Jacksonville doesn’t have many options to turn to. Mercedes Lewis is a very good tight end who would have the ability to gash a Jets defense that struggles to stop his position but he isn’t expected to play on Sunday. Their top two receivers, Mike Thomas and Jason Hill, shouldn’t be able to get free on Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Yet, let’s hope Cromartie is motivated to return with a strong game after a weak opening performance.

The Jets took the time to look at multiple pass rushers on the free agent market this week, including Tully Banta-Cain. It Is time for Jamaal Westerman to break through and make a statement if he wants to be a major part of this defense moving forward. I would also like to see Muhammad Wilkerson come up with an impact play or two. Jacksonville will be running right into the teeth of the Jets defense early and often, so Wilkerson should be able to fill up the stat sheet a little bit.

Luke McCown is going to be asked to manage the game and not make any turnovers. If the Jets can establish an early lead, they should tee off on McCown who is lacking in experience. I simply can’t see him being able to find open receivers down the field with a myriad of Jets blitzes coming at him.

Special Teams: It was hard not to be very impressed with both Nick Folk and TJ Conley last week. Let’s hope they can keep it up and maintain some degree of consistency. Mike Westhoff said this week Antonio Cromartie is going to handle the majority of kick return duties, with Joe McKnight occasionally spelling him. Cromartie has the natural ability to be one of the league’s best returners but he needs to refrain from trying those 109 yard returns. Jeremy Kerley will continue to handle punt return duties and did a nice job fielding the ball last week.

Jets Won’t Force It, Yet Better Find Their Rushing Attack

The flexibility in Rex Ryan’s approach to gameday was needed and welcome last Sunday night but the Jets running game must deliver better in 2011 than it did against Dallas. Otherwise, Mark Sanchez and the Jets defense must both reach much higher levels of output, in order to help Gang Green return to playing games in late January.

At a press conference earlier this week Rex Ryan spoke about a coaching error he made halfway through the 2010 campaign that may have played into his thinking against the ‘Boys. The mistake occurred in Detroit, when Ryan declared that the club HAD to run the ball a specific amount of times. Thirty five times to be exact, against the Lions. The rushing attack then of course struggled all day. Worse, the albatross of having to reach a carries quota almost did the entire team in. Ryan jumped ship though, reneging on that plan. This allowed the Jets time for some late heroics through the air, on their way to a 23-20 comeback win in OT.

Fast forward to the Cowboys, where the Jets abandoned the run sooner than anyone expected them to. Sixteen carries for a paltry 45 yards. A 2.8 average that forced Ryan and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to rethink things at halftime, trailing 10-7.

Ryan admitted Tuesday, that since the Lions game, he’s gone with the idea that the method of attack will be based not upon a script to follow, but in assessing the flow of the game and what opposing defenses want to take away. Hopefully for the Jets, Ryan’s talk of reacting rather than force feeding rushing attempts, is not a cover up for a “Ground and Pound” mentality that has been grounded more than it has pounded since the departure of Thomas Jones prior to the 2010 season.

The original plan as far as bringing in future Hall of Fame RB LaDainian Tomlinson was NOT to switch the 2009 roles of a backfield that let Jones plow ahead for three quarters while letting Greene add the final punishing late game blows to a worn out opposition. It was rather to expand the variety. Tomlinson was seen as a player who could open up the screen game and widen the field while Greene was projected as a younger version of the hard hitting inside running Jones.

However, Greene struggled right from day one in the feature role. Greene’s careless week one fumble late in the first half against the Ravens not only sent the momentum of a tight game to Baltimore (10-9 winners over the Jets that night), it sent Greene back to the bench.  LT was then forced back into the top billing. A status that his long time former team, the Chargers, had felt was beyond his current capabilities as a back in the latter stages of an amazing career. The very reason for LT’s availability on the open market prior to the start of last season.

Monday night the Jets were set to try it again. “Take two” if you will, using Greene as the primary, and Tomlinson as the added ten touch flavor. However, Greene struggled again with just ten carries for 26 yards.

The Jets then flipped the script on Rob Ryan’s run heavy defense. A unit also aided by the dominating pass rushing prowess of DeMarcus Ware. By using LT with screens, the Jets killed two birds with one stone. They covered up an inability to gain yardage on the ground AND slowed down the devastation that Ware was leaving in his wake on the Jets passing game.

It worked. LT was key in the come from behind win. Catching balls and moving chains the entire second half. The Jets won the game, yet there are those who wonder if we are witnessing another painfully slow start for Greene in 2011.

Greene HAS been a force though late in seasons, and especially in the playoffs for two years straight. Greene has amassed 502 total yards and three TD’s with a five yard plus per carry average in five and a half postseason games (he got injured and missed the entire second half of the AFC championship at Indy in 2009).

This year though, the Jets may not be able to wait until the year is half over. Hated AFC rival the Patriots look as explosive as ever. A three game road stretch that includes the Raiders, (where the Jets always struggle), Baltimore and Pats follows Sunday’s battle with the Jaguars. Falling behind in the standings early would mean that the Jets would be playing for a wildcard before Greene typically heats up. A troubling scenario that again would leave the Jets to have to fight their way out of the AFC playoff field on the road.

Maybe the Jets in fact, whether they want to admit it or not, wont become the pre 2010 backfield hybrid design of Greene inside and LT sprinkled in through the passing game. Rather, they will end up as one that runs and dumps off screens equally.

If so, there will be those who will find this potential “flex” like blueprint for the backfield to be a slow death sentence. Concerned with any ideas of rebranding the Ground and Pound into the Run and Screen. One of those is former Jets OL and current ESPN analyst Damien Woody who told us via twitter this week:

“that’s all good but you have to be able to run the ball in November and December.”

Sunday’s game against the 1-0 Jaguars, who have alot of late newcomers on defense due to the NFL Lockout, seems like a good place for the Jets run game to start kicking it into gear. Ryan won’t force things if it doesn’t  though, and that’s a good thing. However, if Rex has to keep pulling the plug on the run, then the onus will REALLY be on Sanchez and a Jets defense that still lacks a game changing pass rusher.

The Jets won’t shove the Ground and Pound down anyone’s throat in 2011, but they better see signs of life from Greene and co. before we reach Halloween on the calendar. Otherwise, as Woody alluded to, November and December could become empty and cruel to a franchise that has for the past two years, lived for the cold weather.

TOJ Week 2 Roundtable: Jets/Jaguars Key Match-Up

What is the key match-up in the Jets/Jaguars game?

Joe Caporoso: I am going to say the New York Jets linebackers against Maurice Jones-Drew. With Mercedes Lewis likely out, Jones-Drew is the only person who you have to worry about gashing the Jets defense. It is key the Jets keep him contained and force Luke McCown to make some throws to keep the game competitive and considering the Jaguars wide receivers versus the Jets secondary, I doubt that will happen.

TJ RosenthalGround and Pound vs Jags run defense: The Jaguars come into the game second in the NFL against the run. We know. It has only been one week and a rusty Chris Johnson had a mere nine carries last week for the Titans. However, the Jets come into the game still searching for their rushing attack. The Cowboys took the run away from the Jets. The Jags have a slew of free agents that were added to Jack Del Rio’s unit. It is time for Shonn Greene to get it going early in a season.

Rob Celletti: The key match-up this week – and it is one I think the Jets will ace – is their front seven vs. the Jags rushing attack (Maurice Jones-Drew).  To me, MJD is the only person that can really hurt the Jets and make this game close if he has a huge day. The Jets got some great play from Mike DeVito, Sione Pouha and Bart Scott in week 1, so if those same guys contribute again and are joined by the rest of the bigs up front, the Jets will stuff the run and – absent some truly boneheaded plays on offense and special teams – be on their way to a win.

Shonn Greene In The Crosshairs

We spent a good chunk of the off-season hearing the hype about Shonn Greene becoming the lead back for the New York Jets. Many writers, including myself, were excited about the prospect and carry the belief that Greene has the ability to be a true lead back if given the appropriate amount of carries.  A strong finish to last year and a good pre-season seemed to fuel that belief.

Despite that, week one of the 2011 season was reminiscent of the early portions of the 2010 season. It was Greene not making much of an impact, while LaDainian Tomlinson was finding a way to consistently come up with big plays in a similar number of snaps. It is too early to rush to any judgment on Greene for this season. Yet, he needs to show a little punch this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars

I am aware the Jaguars have a tough run defense and the Jets gameplan will likely be more pass centric for the second week in a row. However, Greene needs to break through and at least get to the second level a few times. He will receive more than 10 carries this week, but he needs to   do more with those carries. Let’s not even worry about him ripping off the long run, how about a few 8-12 yard runs to get some confidence going?

Nobody is expecting to Greene to register a 22 carry, 150 yard performance against Jacksonville, but if he can give the Jets a solid 15 carries for 70 yards it would be a step in the right direction.

Preliminary Thoughts: Jets vs. Jacksonville

The Jets will stay at home in week two to face the Jacksonville Jaguars as 9.5 point favorites, which should make just about every fan nervous. Being such a large favorite still isn’t a comfortable spot for this team. However, this should be a very favorable match-up for the Jets. There is no reason they shouldn’t be leaving for Oakland next week without a 2-0 record.

Jacksonville surprised people around the league by releasing starting quarterback David Garrard right before the opener and handing the reigns over to Luke McCown. Despite the move, they won their opener at home against the Tennessee Titans 16-14. In the game, Jacksonville showed an ability to run the football and completely shut down the run, but not too much else. Matt Hasselbeck was able to rack up 263 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns, while Kenny Britt had a monster day, finishing with 136 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns on the Jags defense. On offense, Luke McCown managed the game, going 17/24 for 175 yards.

Even though we’d like to see the Jets establish their running game, the match-up may dictate the Jets spread out Jacksonville’s suspect secondary and attempt to pick them apart with Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, Derrick Mason, and Dustin Keller. I am sure they won’t want Mark Sanchez throwing 44 passes again, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him somewhere in the 30s. On defense, the Jets are equipped to handle Jacksonville’s power rushing attack and beyond equipped to handle their meager passing threat. Their most dangerous weapon is tight end Mercedes Lewis who would be a nightmare for the Jets but there is a good chance he will miss the game with a calf injury.

Former New York Jet cornerback Drew Coleman will returning to face his old team. He recorded a sack in his Jaguars debut last week.

Jets Fans Hate Blue And Gold Jerseys

It was announced today that the Jets will be wearing their blue and gold New York Titans throwbacks this Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, here is some reaction via Facebook and Twitter –

@TurnOnTheJets: Jets wearing Blue and Gold New York Titans jerseys this week, thoughts?

@P_Rut5: i hate whenever the Jets wear anything other than Green at home, and this includes when they wear their normal whites at home

@CMSexton: Please no.

@Chrisp2213: Screw the old Titans jerseys. Give me some 80’s retro kelly green. Looks silly. Fan base with green, team blue/gold.

@JetsFanFlorida: DESPISE throwback Jerseys. Coming to game from Florida this weekend and GangGreen won’t be GREEN = Stupid! No one likes!

@ChrisMitro: no no no no no no yuck

@Chris_Leach_NYC: doesn’t make any sense…save it for the bills or something.. If so, go white jersey gold pants…

@ZazzyJets: As long as the offensive line improves, and we win, they can wear pink for all I care.