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?