Blame The Horse That Kicked You: Looking At The NFL’s Worst Teams

Justin takes a look at the NFL’s worst teams and how they can make some type of improvement next year

“What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.”
― Christopher Hitchens

Everyone likes to watch the Colts suffer. After years of stomping out the AFC South, the Colts are showing the inherent weakness of putting an almost inhuman load on the franchise quarterback. Save for an aging Freeney and Mathis, the Colts have become a hopeless one sided team that can’t even rip off a few wins in a 16 game season.

Next year, a few things are readily apparent. Kerry Collins and Curtis Painter will be gone, Reggie Wayne is probably going to get traded for a draft pick or a younger, bigger target for what many can only assume is going to be Andrew Luck. Here is where the confusion begins. What if the Colts don’t drop Manning and trade the first pick for 2 first rounders and 2 second rounders? They can easily get two receivers and two defensive backs, but do they want to build a team or create a show? The NBA knows a lot about shows and the season hasn’t even started yet. The Thunder are a team. The Knicks are a show.

Before getting into the intangible insanity that is the Colts franchise, let’s squash a few glaring weaknesses with logic and sympathy for the devil. The offensive line, where the Colts drafted both a first and second round pick, can only do so much after being used to having a guy behind center do all the hard work for them. Changing protections etc. Two rookie lineman without Peyton Manning spells disaster for anyone not in the shotgun. Two rookie defensive backs (5th and 6th round respectively) aren’t enough to ail a defense completely out of their element.

If Peyton does come back, look for 4 down lineman and a linebacker blitz early and often. As of right now, the Colts have Drake Nevis (3rd round pick out of LSU) out on IR, a 1st round pick in Jamaal Anderson, a 1st round pick in Tyler Brayton, and a 1st round pick in Jerry Hughes all between Freeney and Mathis. This unit should be equal to the Giants in terms of pure pass rush, but when you have no linebackers of any value, and an almost laughable secondary, things backfire easily. Lineman don’t cause turnovers.

There are others. Dallas Clark could be gone. Joseph Addai could be gone. It could be a complete overhaul, take no prisoners, house clearing sort of stuff. That hideous factory of a stadium will glow red with anger. Luck could very well be steering a ship lost at sea. Coordinators fired. Assistants gone. There is nothing to show that this team even cares, so why not clear house and get some people on the cheap if Manning is going to be gone anyway?

The line on the draft as of now is that the Colts are going to take Luck, an offensive lineman, and most likely another cornerback. Will it help? Sure. But there’s going to be trouble getting free agents if they aren’t sure of the plan. Veterans will ride with Peyton, young players will want to jump on board with Luck. The Colts can go stay in the present or bet on the future, but they can’t do both.

The Rams are an ugly franchise. Sure the uniforms aren’t Colonel Mustard yellow anymore, but nothing looks sadder than Sam Bradford chucking a few straight into the ground while hobbling around like a 70 year old one legged sailor. Their 4th round receiver is out on IR, McDaniels is running the same sort of fruitless, clever pass happy offense that got him booted out of Denver, and he very well could become a head coach next year. Sensing a theme yet? Bad teams don’t have a defined method of winning. Patriots pass. Ravens run. Texans run and play action. The Rams should run. Problem is they have a weak offensive line, and almost all mock drafts have them picking Matt Kalil out of USC as the 2nd overall draft pick. Their secondary is paper thin and a guy like Jayron Hosley could at least give them a dual threat corner/kick returner that could help the struggling offense. The defensive line is too reliant on Chris Long and they need a big free agent linebacker pickup or grab someone high in the 3rd round.

Cadillac Willians is a stop gap solution so they could use a running back to lighten the load of Steven Jackson. With that said, here comes the trump card. If the Rams want to create a show, they will grab Justin Blackmon and make a top 10 receiving core with one draft pick. 29 year old Mark Clayton is a first round pick. Pettis and Salas are 3rd and 4th round rookies respectively. Brandon Lloyd at 30 is the veteran, and Blackmon would be the intermediate threat in his rookie year. It would be the welcome return of the spread no huddle, and at least they would put up more than 11.8 points a game. Again, show or team.

Overall, the Rams are a good draft away from being a contender in the NFC West, which could easily become the 49ers for the next five years if the Rams don’t take some risks in the draft.
In a past article, I wrote about the syndrome of bringing in a veteran quarterback and holding off the need to get a future franchise quarterback. For every year you rely on that, two years will be washed down the tank. 2 years of Favre? 4 years of irrelevancy. The Vikings are currently in the midst of irrelevancy. Depending on the final shakeout, the Vikings and Rams could exchange second and third picks. They need offensive line help, as Steve Hutchinson is 34 and his best years are behind him. They could also use Blackmon to help out Percy Harvin and Michael Jenkins in 3 receiver sets.

What the Vikings should really do is trade that pick and get some help at linebacker, cornerback and running back. Will they? If they want Adrian Peterson to be happy they will. Is Ponder the future? Will Joe Webb sub in at the wildcat on a regular basis? Let’s say they are. The Vikings have a few options. Take Blackmon, Brandon Thompson at defensive tackle, and grab an offensive lineman in the third round. The more conservative approach would be to get Matt Kalil in the first round, find the best defensive lineman available in the second round, and grab a guy like Nick Toon in the third round.

Some would say most efforts are futile in a division with the Lions, Bears and Packers. As we saw this year however, all teams can lose or gain three games from the last year.

The Buccaneers are not good. They aren’t even competent half the time. They have no one even worth mentioning at receiver, their defensive line should be the best in the league (McCoy and McCargo are both on IR), and their defensive backs should keep games close. They don’t. I want to give hope to Buccaneers fans and give them a few points worth mentioning next time someone rips their team, but they probably won’t help. Freeman is not the next great quarterback. Neither is anyone else from that draft class, but Freeman played at Kansas State, not Kansas City.

Unfortunately most mock drafts have them taking linebackers or defensive backs in the first two rounds. Look for a 4th or 5th round receiver and hopefully a free agent pickup next year from teams like the Giants or the Eagles. They need to get their defensive line sorted out in next year’s training camp as the ages of their lineman are 28, 23, 21, 23, and 30 respectively. The Bucs are the shining example of why rookies don’t start on defense.

From here on out it gets weird across the board. Nobody knows about the Jets, Giants, Eagles, Bears, Texans, Raiders, Chargers, etc. etc. Everyone is falling apart at the seams as the Patriots and Packers seem to be the head of their respective conferences. Teams are hurt, coaches have been fired, and the lame beginning of the bowl season gives me a thousand reasons to hate the BCS and lobby for a college playoff. Good luck San Francisco.

New York Jets Defense: Simple Questions, Simple Solutions

Justin looks at long term solutions for the New York Jets problems on defense

The New York Jets defense has problems. They’re not dominant against the run and they just got torched against the pass. The upside? They have seven draft picks this year, and while most teams are scrambling in search of quarterbacks, running backs and receivers, the Jets are already in prime position to stack up key positions on their defense.

Safety

The first, and obviously weakest part of the Jets defense is their safety play. Sure Jim Leonhard is smart, instinctive and hard working. He’s also 5’8 and 188 lbs. Matching him up on a tight end is a joke and picturing him taking down the elite running backs in this league is hard to imagine. And who is the other strong safety to back him up? Emmanuel Cook. Like Leonhard, Cook is undrafted, and probably with good reason.

At free safety, the Jets have their jack of all trades in Eric Smith (3rd round pick), and Brodney Pool (2nd round pick/traded from Browns), who has missed crucial time in their schedule with injury. Eric Smith, as this year has shown, should not be a starting safety, as he seems to get beat all over the field in pass coverage. Brodney Pool should be the starter, but missing this much time is not good for a guy who struggled without Leonhard’s guidance last year.

There is an obvious answer to all of this. Draft a safety. Anyone notice the difference a guy like Ed Reed or Troy Polamalu makes? A safety can play against the run, against the pass, blitz, or drop into double coverage. As their cornerback position is secured for the near future, a free roaming safety could provide huge plays in the secondary.

Enter Mark “fear of god” Barron. I made up the nickname, and it is appropriate. Projected as a second round pick, Mark Barron (Alabama) (6’2 215lb) has enough experience in a complex scheme to make an immediate impact at the safety position. Given a full offseason to get acclimated to the Jets scheme, he could be the blitzer who can get to the quarterback and also stop NFL running backs dead in their tracks. If you want proof, just YouTube Mark Barron and look at him against Penn State, and if you are a sadist, look at him put a nice lovetap on Jordan Rogers from Vanderbilt. Barron has already put his stamp on the big hitting Alabama secondary, which is currently giving up 7.1 points per game. Again, 7.1 points per game.

Linebacker

At outside linebacker, the Jets are in flux. Aaron Maybin is slowly evolving into their edge rusher, Calvin Pace is up and down but getting old, and Bryan Thomas is on injured reserve and simultaneously getting old. Jamaal Westerman being a legit pass rusher is not a realistic goal, but a good sub package rotation and Garrett McIntyre is simply filling space on the roster.

At inside linebacker, David Harris is the stud, Bart Scott is the aging complement and the Josh Mauga/Nick Bellore combination is the fallback in case of injury.

Dare I look at another Alabama defensive player? I dare indeed. Courtney Upshaw. He’s not the biggest, he’s not the fastest, but he is ferocious, and probably stronger than most of the tight ends that are going to try and block him in the NFL. He’s a first round pick and will probably be gone by the time the Jets get their number called, but if the Jets don’t make the playoffs,(no one wants that) they can swoop in with relative ease and snatch him somewhere in the middle of the first. You want a pass rusher? Look up Capital One Bowl highlights from last year. Be patient as most of it is Alabama scoring touchdowns, but there are a few great blind side sacks. In a game where Alabama scored 49 points, Upshaw was the MVP. Look up this year’s highlights if you want something in high definition.

If you put his hand down he beats your tackle, if you stand him up he runs over your running back or comes straight up against your quarterback. He also happens to be coached by the best defensive mind in college football. A transition to the Jets shouldn’t be too difficult.
So let’s say he is taken before the Jets can grab him. Then you’ve got this guy Dont’a Hightower, who unlike Upshaw usually lines up inside and knocks opposing guards about six feet off their block. He’s about as heavy as Upshaw and two inches taller.

Defensive Line

The Jets defensive line, like their linebacking core, is in flux. At nose tackle, Kenrick Ellis will hopefully at some point get into football shape and get healthy enough to take over the starting spot by next year. Sione Pouha, a guy who was always intended to be the complement to Kris Jenkins, has held up surprisingly well as a starting nose tackle. Martin Tevaseu is simply taking up space and is only active in case of injury to guys at defensive end.

At defensive end, Muhammad Wilkerson is taking the place of Trevor Pryce. Mike Devito will start at the opposite end of Wilkerson next year, while Ropati Pitoitua is most likely going to substitute for both guys or drop in on nickel and dime packages

Will the Jets become bold and go with defensive line again? Hopefully they will, for the sheer fact that they currently have no Pro Bowlers on their defensive line, and they can’t generate pressure without giving something up over the middle or the short screen.

Postscript

Is getting two Alabama players as your top two draft picks realistic? No. Is getting one? Yes. Though I have nothing against small school defensive players, guys that play on the Alabama defense are operating on another level. They read, react, and rush with the ferocity that teams like the Ravens, Steelers and Jets have come to make their trademark. Some people watch college football for the beauty of touchdowns, I watch it for the beauty of the Alabama defense. And beautiful it is.

I’m Coming Home: Halfway Through NFL Season (NFC)

Justin breaks down the NFC at the mid-point of the season. Who are the real contenders?

If the playoffs started today, the Bengals would lead the AFC in wins and get a home playoff game. Take a few moments to breathe, loosen your tie, and try and remember that there are 4 divisional games remaining for the Bengals, 2 of which are against the Ravens, and 2 of which are against the Steelers. The Bengals will win none of those games, if not for only the fact that both the Ravens and Steelers playoff chances hinge on divisional wins against the shakiest team in the hardest division of the AFC.

Enough hating on the Bengals….for now.

Let’s look at the playoff picture in its entirety, starting with the NFC. The Falcons notoriously took Julio Jones in the first round and gave up two draft picks. That will come to be one of their best draft moves for the next 5 years. While the Falcons are currently ranked as the 7th best team against the run, that will probably bump up to the 15th by the end of the season. The Falcons defense has two first round picks at defensive line, one at linebacker and one at defensive back.
There is a formula to the Falcons that makes it one of the potentially greatest offenses in the league. They have their big power running back with Turner, their safety valve in Tony Gonzalez, and two of the top 15 receivers in the NFL. Roddy White and Julio Jones will be huge threats in the second half of the year, especially anywhere indoors.

The problem for a defense facing the Falcons in the second half of the year is that they understand how to roll their three headed dye with precision. If you get double coverage on either receiver, check down to Gonzalez, if Gonzalez has double coverage, find one of three on the outside, and if the defense drops 2 deep and man coverage on both receivers, run it up the middle. Packers have more explosive receivers, Bears have a better running back, but no one has a tight end as good as Gonzalez unless you count Hernandez and Gronkowski for the Patriots as one unit.

The only issue I have with the Falcons is the fact that they have only one quality win this year. Philly? No Vick. Colts? No Manning. Detroit? My feelings on Detroit are mixed, and I think they have a few more losses throughout the year as people start to pick up on how to stop Calvin Johnson and confuse a still relatively inexperienced Matthew Stafford.

Moving on. As I described previously, I have mixed feelings on the Lions. They have flash on defensive line and at receiver, but I don’t think they have enough experience to dig themselves out of a hole against a playoff team when the weather gets cold and Matthew Stafford is asked to find guys that aren’t Calvin Johnson. Next year? Sure, Lions easy playoff team. This year, I still can’t see them getting out of the first round of the playoffs, even though they have three first round picks on their defensive line and the 6th ranked pass defense halfway through the season.

The Saints. Next to Green Bay, the Saints have the best offense in the league. In fact, I would call the Saints the Big Brother to the Packers, if only because of experience in the playoffs. Are they a better overall offense? That depends on if you consider the running game as important as the passing game. The Saints easily have the best tandem at running back in the NFC. Darren Sproles and Mark Ingram is the best 1-2 potential, and there is simply no argument against the potential of Mark Ingram as a power running back in the second half of the season if he can stay healthy.

The Giants, despite the strange tendencies of their offense to be able to run the ball, pass the ball, and then not be able to do those things in the same game, still have the best defensive line/linebacking core in the NFC. This despite the fact that Goff and Sintim are on IR for the rest of the season. If they can get a shutdown corner with Prince Amukamara, then the Giants defense will be able to get nearly as insane as the Jets do in terms of blitz variety and amount of guys they can send to rush the passer.

Someone completely out of their mind may assume the 49ers are the second best team in the NFC. That sort of proclamation can easily be countered by looking at the number of quality wins they have. Philly? Didn’t have their team together yet. Lions? A team so up and down you never know what you’re gonna get. They will face the Giants, Ravens and Steelers, and most likely lose 2 out of 3 games there. Those defenses will show everyone that they are at least a 4 loss team.

Where will I give the 49ers credit? For finally utilizing the pieces that should have been walking all over the NFC West for the past 3 years. Mike Singletary was a great player. He was a below average coach and the turnaround by Harbaugh is most likely split credit between the coach and the division.

Look at what they’ve had. Justin Smith is a 2 time Pro Bowler. Patrick Willis is a 4 time Pro Bowler who will be the only linebacker to be mentioned in the same sentence as Ray Lewis. Vernon Davis averages 12.7 a catch and has over 29 receiving touchdowns as a tight end. They had pieces, and the fact that the 49ers took a defensive back in the third round and the sixth round while grabbing another linebacker in the first round makes it clear that Jim Harbaugh is going to have the perfect mix of youth and experience on defense. The fact that they did not take a quarterback in the first round may have been the best decision by the front office in years.

The Green Bay Packers have caught that Patriots bug of luck mixed with insanely efficient quarterback play. Cullen Jenkins? Gone. Nick Barnett? Gone. Nick Collins? Out on injured reserve. They get Jermichael Finley back, resurrect the youth of Donald Driver, and sling it to Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Greg Jennings in no particular order. They’ve got their future linebacker tandem of Hawk and Matthews for another 7 years and the secondary is stacked with young value talent. The only thing more terrifying than this year’s Packers is what next years Packer’s will look like when Randall Cobb finds his role at receiver and their two tight end draft picks (5th and 7th round) start to see more playing time.

By the end of the season, look for the 49ers to win their division easily, sneak in at 11-5, and lose at home to either the Lions or the Saints. The one thing I think can happen is the rematch of Falcons/Packers in the divisional round. If the Giants play the Packers I think they’ll be able to get to Aaron Rodgers, but only for a half. He will exploit the middle of the field and keep the pass defense on their toes. The Packers are much harder to scheme for than the Patriots. There has been a torch passed, whether people are willing to admit it or not.

New York Jets Bye Week – A Call To Arms

In response to Rich CImini, Justin with a solution on how the New York Jets should handle their bye week

The NFL bye week is a vicious assault on the glory of the organized violence we call football. It makes even the most brutal of thugs snap out of their psychopathic routine and fall backwards toward reading trash like Twilight on their wife’s kindle, spending time with their children, and going to pansy events like poetry readings at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Hell even Ray Lewis spent his bye week writing a pacifist manifesto to be handed out to the protesters at Occupy Wall Street.

Upon the start of bye week, all cell phones should be temporarily disconnected and every player should be taken on a 13 hour bus ride to Binghamton (a place once called, by it’s own sheriff “the place where hopes and dreams die”), where they will begin readying themselves for the inhuman brutality of the east coast winter.

Upon arrival in the 9th circle of hell, the lineman, in an effort to slim them down and tone them up, will be given a rucksack consisting of raw meat and various bottles of unlabeled whiskey. The raw meat will be accompanied by a small roll of kindling and a flint to start a fire. The whiskey can be used either for the treating of turf infections or to accompany the meat.

A nice 5 day survival expedition into the wilderness of upstate New York would do wonders for team morale. Let’s start with the defense, because after all, if you can chase down a grizzly and tear it to pieces with your bare hands, tackling starry eyed quarterbacks trying to find tight ends on a hitch route would look as difficult as beating the Seahawks in Madden 12. Though there may be a few armless quarterbacks, the constant influx of young talent from college would give guys like Tony Pike and Pat White a second shot as an NFL starter.

An alternative: Drop the whole offensive line into the heart of Trenton at 3am and see if defensive ends are as intimidating as the thought of having to duck into some project building in efforts to avoid the intermittent stray gunshot. I’m pretty sure if guys like Colin Baxter were able to manage getting themselves out of Trenton in the hour of the demon, the defensive stunts of the Buffalo Bills would not be as complex as they seem today. To illustrate, the showdown between offensive lineman and the opposing defense would look like Michael Douglas trying to pay for his soda in Falling Down.

Running backs are not spared, as they should all be sent to the nearest army obstacle course and forced to scale 50 foot rope walls while holding on to a football caked in Vaseline, followed by a nice 50 yard swim across an alligator infested lake while holding onto a 20lb medicine ball. It will be beautiful…receivers being forced to run through a paintball field while avoiding fire from both sides….all sorts of mortars, land mines going off in the distance akin to the first day of Navy Seal training….there will be a point when the sheer will to get to the end zone will outweigh childish fantasy football stats, the game clock, or even what some call being “down by contact”.

Yes the bye week will allow these things and so much more. A hand to hand combat version of capture the flag, a friendly game of rugby with the only athletes who seem to make NFL players look like they have a paranoid fear of injury, and even some good old bare knuckle boxing would make the Chiefs recent fascination of bean bag toss look as dainty as the exercise routines of golfers.

Football is a wonderful game, but as Terrell Suggs and Scott Van Pelt said, it’s getting soft. Time to throw out the moisturizer.

Two Months & Still No Answers: NFL, College Football, NBA

Justin breaks down what we have learned through two months of the college football and NFL season, along with a look at the NBA Lockout

Questions remain. Is Oklahoma the best college team in the country? Don’t bother thinking about it. They’re the most explosive offense, but as Oregon found out against LSU, great defense beats great offense every time in college football. Oklahoma will fear the LSU or Alabama defense if they so happen to meet in the BCS championship game.

They will fear it because it hits hard. See Jordan Rogers. They will fear it because it causes turnovers, whether through the air or on the ground. They will fear it because it keeps coming, and even after the ball gets thrown Landry Jones will still have to pick himself up off the ground and wait for the blue moon blitz.

Alabama put a beating on Ole Miss, as LSU did to Tennessee earlier on Saturday. The debate as to who is better comes down to the running game, because both quarterbacks are probably not even in the top 10 in the country. Now LSU gets the beauty of a quarterback controversy heading into the November 5th early SEC championship game.

To break this down to those who have not witnessed Alabama and how they go about outscoring opponents by 40 every weekend I have devised this 8 part script:

Part 1 – Let the opposing offense march down the field, giving a false sense of hope
Part 2 – Start to stop the run game
Part 3 – Take away the pass game
Part 4 – Introduce Trent Richardson to opposing defensive backs
Part 5 – With 21 point lead, take Richardson out of the game
Part 6 – Hit someone so hard on defense they stop looking for screens and passes over the middle
Part 7 – With 30 point lead, insert Eddie Lacy or Marcus Fowler
Part 8 – Enjoy victory

Oh Denard. Michigan is currently sitting at the great precipice of what may be the end to their season. How did Michigan fall apart against Michigan State? They couldn’t play their game. Their game that consists of power run, option run, screen pass, QB sneak, and repeat. Michigan always runs up scores in the first few weeks against subpar teams, but Michigan State knows their game plan, and as long as Denard Robinson is around that isn’t going to change much. He, unfortunately, cannot throw the ball. What some call back shoulder, some call luck.

So there you go. Alabama will be in the title game, LSU will destroy some Big 12/Pac 12 team in a bowl game as Alabama did to Michigan State last year, and Oklahoma will finally be exposed as the pass happy big brother to Oregon. Stanford will have to beat the elusive, speed first Oregon if they are going to get anywhere close to the BCS championship, all the while praying to god Oklahoma has some sort of huge slip up. Neither may happen, so we may again be wondering if the smartest team in the country can actually hang with either the Big 10 or SEC. After this season it won’t matter, so if they are going to do it, they better do it this year.

If Clemson survives the rest of their schedule, they will make a nice story, but the great matchup of an undefeated Georgia Tech against an undefeated Clemson is sadly not to be.

Don’t trust Oklahoma State. They are horrible on defense, and they will ultimately rely on the play of their quarterback and running back to put up 50 if they have any chance to make it through the Big 12 with only one loss (Oklahoma). Giving up an average of 27 a game is not a method for long term success.

The Big East, whom I love like Gilbert Grape, will not exist in five years, so no point in getting sentimental about teams like West Virginia and Rutgers and Syracuse.

The Big 10 championship will be ugly. There will not be many points scored, and if it ends up as Michigan State against Wisconsin, look for something truly hideous.

TCU can’t pass and they can’t stop the pass, so the temporary love affair from analysts is most likely over. Someone print up posters of Kellen Moore and Justin Bieber side by side. I love Boise State, and will until I am cold and rotting. They average 14.5 points against, so I can love the defense and let Kellen sling it all over the field.

As I stated previously, the South Carolinas and Floridas are sadly not going to be a part of the SEC championship. I have a respect for Florida’s defense, and I have unabashedly announced my fascination with both Marcus Lattimore and Jadaveon Clowney. Despite this, they are a rung below the machinelike efficiency of both LSU and Alabama.

Anyone care about the Sun Belt? No? Good.

On to the NFL. Who’s the best team in the AFC North? The Ravens. They are what the Jets wish theywere. Greatest linebackers and safeties of their generation, an All Pro defensive tackle, and a running back who is the lighter/faster version of Shonn Greene. The Patriots are probably going to meet them in the AFC championship, but as we all know, defense wins in the playoffs. Can’t Wait.

NFC North? Packers. There are few things that can beat the Packers, save for some ridiculous pressure and or speed that no defense has at the moment. Aaron Rodgers will run circles around the rest of the NFC north for the rest of the season. God help any NFC team that happens to run across the Packers indoors the rest of the season.

What will happen to the weirdest team in football? Carson Palmer will probably throw for 150, two interceptions, and two touchdowns this weekend. They will not sling it out, accuracy is key when you’ve got Bush and Mcfadden in the backfield. 3rd and 4. That is until Moore and Heyward-Bey get loose and Carson Palmer says to himself, “hey now, these guys can run better than the guys in Cincinnati!”

The only question is, would Carson have fared better with AJ Green and Jermaine Gresham than he will with Kevin Boss and the two burners on the outside?

At this point, I must make my confession about the NFC East. The Redskins are a QB and a receiver from the playoffs. They should do well in this year’s draft, probably ending up with the 16th pick and finally getting the offensive help to add to one of the NFC’s best defenses. If they can get a big fast receiver and a first round quarterback, they may actually stand a chance against the overhyped Eagles and the under-hyped Giants.

As a Jets fan, it makes me sad to realize that the Giants are a better built organization. Just look at the first round picks:

Hakeem Nicks, Jason Pierre Paul, Mathias Kiwanuka, Antrel Rolle, Aaron Ross

The offensive line: Four Pro Bowls. Defensive line: Four Pro Bowls. They have consistency that most teams envy. They will make the playoffs this year and the rest of the ALL STAR teams (Cowboys, Eagles) will have to deal with quarterback inconsistency that makes Eli Manning look like Peyton.
Enough love for the NFC East. I feel sick.

There is a sad end to all of this, the NBA

The NBA will not have a full season this year. It will probably not have even half a season. If there is a season, it will be weird, short and as exciting as the last 6 weeks of college football.

We already missed the Heat vs. Knicks, Thunder vs. Mavericks and to keep the list going would make every NBA fan seethe with rage. As the NFL taught us, it isn’t over till its over but this time it feels like it’s been over since the beginning. And now the players are talking about a ten game world tour, something you wouldn’t do unless you have little to no hope. Here comes the NBA equivalent of the XFL, and it will not last. Even the most diehard fans will feel cheated.

The Underdog Goes To New England Part 1: The Offense

The New York Jets are not a top 5 NFL team in terms of talent. Let’s look at this with some perspective, as many are trying to do amongst a 2 game slide that makes the season feel like it’s already over.

Quarterback: Mark Sanchez is 6’2, and does not have the arm strength of a Stafford or a Freeman. He may be more mobile than both of those guys, but when you toss it 30 yards for an interception, you can dance all you want, the results are the same. The NFL is ushering in the new breed of quarterbacks that have huge arms and are more around the 6’4 to 6’5 range. If Sanchez succeeds, he will have to do it with accuracy, which seems to be harder and harder with an offensive line that is full of scrubs and aging players.

Running back: John Conner is one of the best 5th roundfullbacks (something that most teams don’t even consider a vital position) an NFL team has been able to use on both offense and special teams. Could Tony Richardson help? Yes. Some sort of two fullback set could prove brilliant if the defense plays man on either Burress or Holmes, and Sanchez has enough time to let routes develop.

Shonn Greene is a 3rd round pick that had an explosive year in college, and has the power to run over corners and safeties with relative ease. The problem with Greene has been that he is a downhill runner who isn’t agile enough to switch holes and cutback with the speed of most new era running-backs a la Darren Mcfadden. They need to utilize the speed of McKnight (whose confidence has to be at an all time high) to keep defenses on their toes, instead of continuously running a 3-4 stack defense and clogging all the gaps between the tackles. Teams know Greene isn’t going to tiptoe behind the offensive line, so he needs to be the Earth in the Jets version of earth, wind, and fire. (My apologies for any relation to the Giants former trio).

McKnight looks more and more like a guy who is going to be the ace in the hole of the Jets. If they decide to utilize him on pitch, toss and off tackle plays, he has the speed to elude linebackers and grab first downs at will. With his performance last week as a punt returner, the Jets may have finally found their speed guy who can catch out of the backfield if given the opportunity.

LaDanian Tomlinson is running on fumes at this point. He won’t last a whole season sharing the load with Shonn Greene, so look for his role to diminish over the next few weeks, especially in third and fourth quarter situations. 3rd down back, as cliche as it sounds, is entirely appropriate at this point in his career.

Bilal Powell is the third 5’11 running back in the trio of new Jets in the backfield. It is strange, but he literally fits between the 198 lbs of Mcknight, and the 225 lbs of Shonn Greene as the middle man. As the Jets like to test any new draft pick on special teams, he will probably only see time if there is some sort of injury to either Tomlinson or Shonn Greene. He needs to learn the playbook, and having a Pro Bowl veteran, a two year starter, and a rookie who struggled should give Powell a huge amount of information as to how the Jets approach their running game.

All in all, the Jets running game is probably a top 10 running attack with a great ratio of veteran to rookie players that is being hampered by offensive line woes. It is not necessarily a weak point, but the fact that any run game only goes as far as their blocking up front illustrates how interdependent many facets of an NFL offense are.

Plaxico Burress: At 34, he does not have the quickness to overpower man coverage on short routes, and he doesn’t have the top endspeed to outrun young corners on vertical routes. Luckily, he has shown that he can block with the best of them, so look to Burress in bunch formations more often and less kicked out wide. If it is a jump ball, I’ll take Burress all day. He’s experienced, and hasn’t taken the beatings of football for two years. Look for him big in the second half.

Santonio Holmes: Rex Ryan was not kidding when he said Holmes was his best offensive weapon. With the loss of Cotchery and Edwards, they need Holmes to be the leader of the entire offense. After two weeks of inefficiency on offense, look for Holmes and Burress to be in two wideout sets for the majority of the game. Holmes is only 27, with the experience of a 35 year old receiver. As one of the few first round picks on the Jets, and the only one with a Super Bowl MVP, this will be the year that Holmes is a focal point and his first full year under the offense.

Jeremy Kerley is a smaller, faster version of Brad Smith. He didn’t play quarterback, and I just don’t think he’s big enough to be any sort of legitimate threat at wide receiver. If Burress is old, Mason is ancient. He doesn’t have the size of Terrell Owens or the speed of a Randy Moss. He is a panic pickup because of the Jerricho Cotchery loss that the Jets will have to use in interesting ways. His last Pro Bowl was 2003, and it is no surprise that the Ravens saw him as the fourth best receiver on their team. He will help coach up Mark Sanchez, but will not be a serious factor throughout the season. If the Jets can get Edwards back next year, they need to do it, because Mason isn’t getting any younger. He will make some plays, but there’s nothing that stands out at this point at this career.

Both Logan Payne and Patrick Turner are emergency valves that will probably only see time as run blockers, or stopgap solutions if the Jets lose either Burress or Mason. I don’t see either of them playing unless there are injuries, as they both had relatively poor showings in the preseason. They will not be the Jets version of Victor Cruz. Again, sorry for the Giants comparisons.

As a unit, the receiving core is going to have more learning to do than they should at this point in the season. Mason, Burress, and Kerley are all still trying to learn this offense, which is hard to do when the ball isn’t even coming in your direction with all the hits Sanchez is taking this early in the season. There is no hiding the fact that this crew is a downgrade in terms of chemistry and a wash in terms of physical skill compared to last year’s unit.

Tight ends: Tom Moore is supposed to do interesting things with tight ends, so look for jumbo packages to reemerge for the Jets with no fullbacks early on in the Patriots game. Matt Mulligan, like Josh Baker, is one of those nameless pieces that will probably not be around at the end of the season. He’s going to be subject to replacement if the Jets draft a tight end in the 3rd or 4th round next year. If ground and pound is to have any longevity, a taller, faster Dustin Keller could do wonders for run blocking and quick slants in the flat. Guys like Coby Fleener and Ladarius Green could provide the size the Jets need up front to keep their I formation strong.

I keep asking myself this question. Is Dustin Keller a Pro Bowl tight end? Probably not, but he can certainly get his career highs in yardage this year. He’s not as big as a Gronkowski, and he’s not as fast as Aaron Hernandez (undoubtedly the new breed of tight end). Was he worth it as a 1st round pick? That remains to be seen, but if he does make a Pro Bowl I will again issue formal apologies to the entire Keller family. It should be noted that all tight ends rely on the play of their QB, so looking at Tony Gonzalez going to the Falcons should provide all the context necessary.

Offensive line: Wikipedia says that Colin Baxter was one of the best center prospects in his class. That class was probably not very deep at center. Can Colin Baxter be a good backup? Yes. Not when you have to face the Raiders and Ravens back to back with two weeks to learn all the line protections. That’s right. No training camp. No OTA’s. Two weeks. No undrafted rookie can come in and do that, which resulted in god awful results with Mark Sanchez on his back more often than not. If you’re not comfortable with the center, you speed everything up, and suddenly one missed rusher throws the next three downs off. Baxter will be useful, just not this season.

Vlad Ducasse is slowly proving my pessimism in his ability at the NFL level correct. He has the size to be a good tackle, but he didn’t face elite competition at college and relied more on his size and weight to throw off much smaller pass rushers. He doesn’t have the instincts to play at the NFL level, and no amount of physical training can overcome mental mistakes. If he can’t at least start this year, he’s going to be relegated to the practice squad, and the Jets will be looking for a veteran free agent to help provide the push up front. He will get one more year before they give up on him altogether.

Between Nick Mangold and D’BrickashawFerguson, the Jets have nailed two of their best draft picks in a long time. There is no doubt either of these guys are both top 5 at their position in the NFL. If the Jets can get it together in the run game, it will be because of these two. They are the good half of what is slowly devolving into a bottom half offensive line. Mangold can arguably be considered the best center in the league next to Jeff Saturday, and Ferguson has been their only good tackle. If Tannenbaum was a gambling man, he won big with these two.

I think Matt Slauson is the type of player that proves offensive line players can be boom or bust. A 6th round pick from a major school (Nebraska) that is head and shoulders above a 2nd round pick from a small school. (I will get into this later, but look at Kenrick Ellis from Hampton as a defensive equivalent)

I shuddered when I realized Wayne Hunter was a third round pick. Then I saw that pick was by the Seahawks, who also took Aaron Curry and James Carpenter in the first round. Bad picks bad. This guy is getting $15 million for four years? Are you kidding me? This guy has been with the team, and nothing seems to indicate he will be around next year if the Jets don’t make the playoffs.

If you want stability on the offensive line, look at Brandon Moore, who went undrafted and has been the best guard since the departure of Alan Faneca. Rob Turner probably won’t get his due, but it could be argued that the Jets have done better on those two undrafted players than they have in Ducasse and the acquisition of Wayne Hunter. Seriously. $15 million. AJ Burnett has a new classmate. Somebody needs to move from guard to tackle.

Hangovers, Brunch and Wake Up Calls From The Front Desk: 3 Weeks of College Football

Week 2

College football is a beautiful thing, made even more so by new technology. Before the expansion of cable, the choices in college games were at most 4 games throughout the day and night. Thanks to networks such as ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, Versus, MSG, CBS, NBC & ABC, there were approximately 20 games I had my choice of watching last weekend. Naturally the best games are usually on ABC, CBS or the ESPN night game, but there were a few surprises, as in the USC vs. Utah game. So what made week 2 great? Great players.

Jadaveon Clowney is perhaps the only defensive end in college football that will eventually outsize Julius Peppers. In brief, he is big, fast, and stronger than most grown men. He was also the #1 high school player in the nation last year. Barring any sort of career threatening injury, Clowney already has the length and the motor to chase down even the most nimble of quarterbacks in the SEC.

If you watch his game clips from high school, you see a player that was 6’6 and 235 lbs and literally throwing off offensive lineman like they were toys. People who played against him were rumored to have gone mute, switched to defense themselves, or decided their efforts in football were pointless and thought they would be better suited to the spirit squad. Quarterbacks suddenly pulled hamstrings, got leg cramps or decided it was in their best interest to give their backup a few reps.

On Saturday the boy became the man. In the first half, there were few moments when Clowney was able to dominate offensive lineman, that is until a left guard decided to cover a blitzing linebacker and let Clowney have a 5 yard dash to Aaron Murray. That move of brilliance resulted in a strip sack and a touchdown for the South Carolina defense. It may have also cost Mark Richt a contract extension.

To say the Gamecocks are lucky to have Clowney is an understatement. To note they also had last year’s #1 RB recruit in the country Marcus Lattimore is what may get them to the SEC championship game.Lattimore is a 6’0 220 lb running back that plays like he’s always on the goal line. He finds a hole and jumps through it, very rarely getting caught trying to make a second cut. His numbers, 4.8 YPC and 1197 rush yards as a freshman, do not even speak to how good he can be. If Stephen Garcia can air it out and not grow a beard, Lattimore will get over 1500 this year, in the SEC.

So are the Gamecocks the best team in the SEC? No. That would be Alabama. As an introduction, the only thing you need to know is that 8 of the 11 defensive starters are predicted to either go in the first or second round of the 2012 draft.
If it is defense that sets the tone for Alabama, it’s going to be their running back tandem that closes games out. Trent Richardson is the sort of physical prodigy that makes linebackers and safeties look like they’ve been watching Glee and taking too many yoga classes. Trent Richardson goes to the weight room. He benches 475 and squats 600, which is better than most lineman. NFL lineman.

So if Richardson is the bruiser, what is Eddie Lacy? A clone with a spin move. Circle Button. If you looked quickly, you would think he IS Richardson. Same cut, same insane physique. Same insane ability to run over linebackers and safeties without losing any steam. Alabama will not put up big passing numbers. Neither will teams playing against them. If anyone wants to test what they’ve got, do it against Alabama, not against anyone in the PAC-12. They’re all smoke and mirrors out there anyway.

P.S. – Alshon Jeffery does look fat.

Week 3

Maryland unveiled their 2nd imitation of the Nike Pro Combat line. Normally I wouldn’t care about something like this, but the whole point of that line is to be a relevant school in a featured game of the year. Maryland will be in no featured game this year, and there will be no point in advertising mediocrity.

Trent Richardson is going to prove he is worth more than Michael Dyer. He will get more 3rd downs, while Eddie Lacey becomes the faster clone. Don’t trust Auburn’s defense, it will leave you cold and alone. Why Cam why? The defense of Auburn will keep them out of the top 10 in the final FBS rankings, and may keep them out of the top 25 by the end of the year. The SEC has no mercy for the weak, ask Tennessee and Georgia.

There is a certain trifecta of teams that I consider “old world”. Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin always seem to be of interchangeable parts. Power run. Big defensive line. Nameless quarterbacks, but it’s ok. It’s the system, and the system works in the waterless, landlocked midwest. It makes men of boys.

No one put faith in any Notre Dame quarterback. I’ve seen too many conversations between Brian Kelly and his young quarterbacks and we’re not even a quarter way through the season. They will win a few off pure luck and circumstance, but whatever Notre Dame was before I was born, it is gone and it is not going to be back any time soon. Sorry Golic, this is the age of the SEC.

Florida. Florida will finally make a return to the SEC front, bringing back many a fundamentalist flashback of the great holy ghost of Tebow. Florida defense is probably 3rd biggest in college football after LSU and Alabama. They will run through opposing quarterbacks, and halfbacks will think twice about off tackle runs.

Has anyone noticed Marcus Lattimore’s machinelike tendencies? Even when the game is getting out of hand against Navy, he stands like a statue, waiting to go 5, 8, 6, yards at a time. Gets hit, gets up, walks right back over to the huddle without saying a word. There are few things as terrifying as a running back with Lattimore’s skill set that don’t react to anything.

On the thought of South Carolina, shouldn’t they be more of a threat? Having a top 10 running back and a top 10 defensive end should scare people, right? Well Stephen Garcia is at the helm, and the ship is taking on water. You never know what you get out of Garcia, but it will make things interesting. 3 interceptions and the winning touchdown pass.

Belief in Miami? Who is Lamar Miller? Frank Gore with speed? Will he lift Miami out of the swamps of unranked teams? We all know Jacory Harris will win 2 games himself and lose 2, in no particular order.

They must be doing something right in the state of Florida, because if Florida has a big fast defense, then Florida state has the same thing, except they play with the intensity of rabid wolves. Big hits, big blocks, scary stuff.

Week 4

Penn State is beating up Eastern Michigan, who is looking like the redheaded stepchild of Michigan for another year. Even Michigan State is enduring beatdowns akin to the one Alabama gave them last year after a baffling end of season slew of losses to Auburn and LSU.

Tommy Rees is again talking to Brian Kelly, who is probably having his Proust moment (A Remembrance of Things Past) with the duo of Mardy Gilyard and Tony Pike putting ridiculous numbers up. Kelly lives in the big time now, and the clergy are waiting for him to lose his cool. Fat paychecks and the attempt to get Michael Floyd the ball keep him up very late at night. How does Kelly cope with having opposite ends of the talent spectrum at quarterback and receiver? Lord only knows.

Why the obsession with teams that don’t matter anymore? History. Penn State and Notre Dame are two of the most historic franchises that are literally running on fumes at this point. Notre Dame hasn’t done anything significant in terms of postseason play in 10 years, Brady Quinn couldn’t keep a starting job and Penn State is a semi talented coachless joke against serious competition (any team from the SEC). Notre Dame will suffer losses against USC and Stanford, while Penn State already got beat again by Alabama, and will have their offense shut down against Nebraska and Wisconsin. I will give them good marks for their defense, but they will not make it back into the top 25 this year.

Oklahoma State is being exposed as a finesse team that relies on the spectacular play of a few, although never count out the heroics of Justin Blackmon. Maybe Texas A&M will make it in the SEC after all.

Alabama is making it clear that they have the best defense in the SEC. LSU may have faster players, but Alabama is bigger, stronger, and more experienced. They are making Arkansas look silly about halfway through the 3rd quarter, holding them to one touchdown, with the possibility another looking less and less likely with every hit they put on the quarterback. 38-14 with 8 minutes left in the 4th is the mark of a team that believes they have something to prove, and Trent Richardson is yet again proving that he is faster and much stronger than most linebackers and defensive backs in college football.

As of now the SEC is beginning to look like it will yet again put a team in the national championship, Oregon looks again to be the only real contender in the PAC 12, Boise State looks like it can go undefeated, and Stanford continues to defy expectations. By the end of the night, there will be fires in Morgantown, and living rooms across West Virginia will be without seating.

TOJ Roundtable Week 3: Jets/Raiders Predictions

Joe Caporoso: Read the 12 pack

TJ RosenthalJets Win if: The makeshift line holds up long enough for Mark Sanchez to work the short passing game. Sanchez will throw for 250 plus yards on the day the Jets will offset the loss of Nick Mangold with the addition of the “Wildcat” some Joe McKnight, and more unpredictability in the Jets run game as far as the point of attack is concerned. The Jets secondary will continue their hot start with another handful of interceptions. FINAL: 23-17 JETS

Raiders Win if: The loss of Mangold becomes too much for the Jets to overcome. Backup C Colin Baxter gets beat in crucial moments. The lack of confidence and mutual trust by the makeshift O line up leads to too many false starts. QB Mark Sanchez tries to do too much, and is picked off three plus times. The ground game remains pedestrian. Darren McFadden gashes a tired Jets defense that is on the field too long too many times. FINAL: 31-20 RAIDERS

Chris Celletti: The Jets need to be careful here. West coast trip, no Nick Mangold, two BIG road games coming up after, and Oakland’s home opener? To quote the great (kidding) Mike Francesa, It will NOT be easy. I think the Jets will be able to handle the Raiders’ offense for the most part, but will struggle to run the ball without Nick Mangold at center. The Jets should be able to exploit some mismatches on the outside with Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes, as long as Brian Schottenheimer has his head on straight. I think the Jets will be able to make enough plays in the passing game to get by, and will win in a game that is decided late in the fourth quarter.

Justin Fritze: Colin Baxter is not the name you want to hear today. The Jets will be forced to test the run and play action their way to two touchdowns. I see this one going to the wire in a 21-17 penalty filled game that will finally legitimize the Jets as one of the top 5 teams in the league. Dustin Keller will have a few good catches, look for Santonio and Plaxico to get involved early with a few shots down the field.

Rob Celletti: The superstitious side of me says that it’s a bad idea to keep picking the Jets to win every week, but this is part of getting used to the Jets actually being a team that should expect to win almost every single week.  And so I’ll take the Jets in this one, 23-13.  The consensus this week seems to be that the Jets should be able to throw for a bunch of yards on the Oakland secondary, and while proclamations like this usually lead to unmet expectations, I think it’ll happen.  The matchups just seem right, though I am worried about the makeshift offensive line’s ability to protect Mark Sanchez.  I think the Jets will contain Darren McFadden for the most part and force Jason Campbell into some turnovers by not only pressuring, but also confusing the quarterback with different coverage looks.  Campbell does have a huge arm, so the Jets need to be mindful of the deep ball.  The Raiders will move the ball but mostly be forced into field goal attempts.  The Jets will kick more field goals than you’d like to see, but will do enough to secure their 3rd victory of the year.

Check out the week 3 NFL highlights and picks

NFL Week 2 Review: Strange Times On The Sabbath

The second week is better than the first. 16 teams are undefeated. There has been separation. Now some undefeated will go win again while the list of the undefeated gets shorter. 2-0 teams feel good. Week 2. Some teams are lost at quarterback, and even for the good teams, things often go sideways.

Break this down. The Jets beat the Jaguars, who beat the Titans last week, who beat the Ravens this week, who beat the Steelers last week. Who beat the Jets last year in the AFC Championship.

The Buffalo Bills let Al Davis take one right in the mouth. That track team defense of Skinny Al let Ryan Fitzpatrick march right through his secondary, causing mass paralysis amongst the fat and wheezing Raider Nation. Dreams of Jason Campbell slowly turn to nightmares.

Who cares about the President’s approval rating? The Redskins are leading the NFC East. Yes it is a beautiful fact. Scott Van Pelt has finally taken out the old Redskins hat, and fit it like aged leather. They already owned the Giants last week, who are looking less and less likely to make the playoffs with every victory by the Eagles and Cowboys.

Monday Night Preview? The Giants will be forced to put on a show on defense tomorrow night, because the axes for Coughlin will get sharp if Eli tosses it all over the place against the Rams defense and gets picked more than once. A loss to the Rams on Monday Night loses the mystique of the Giants as a playoff contender for the rest of the year. Guaranteed.

Tony Romo put the Cowboys on his back against the Spikesless 49ers, which at the moment edges him ahead in the Jay Cutler poll of weakness in big games. Anyone see Taylor Mays?

Where did the Ravens go? Jets in the AFC Championship? What happens in Tennessee? Matt Hasselbeck doesn’t get sacked by the Ravens defense?

Donovan Mcnabb at the end of the rope? Adrian Peterson will soon regret any year longer than the next on his contract. Peterson is on a team that has no idea what it wants to do on offense and can’t get any younger on defense, a strange directionless ship without engines.

Will this be the year of Stafford? Could be. He has Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew, which seems to be the only thing you need when your defensive line is one of the best in the league. Keep him upright and feast on the carcass of Chicago and Minnesota towards the end of the season.

Can the NFC West do something relevant at any point this season? No. No exciting offense or defense will get you no love in the league of the Packers offense and Jets defense. If you don’t dominate on at least one side of the ball, you’ve got no room. 32 teams. Only 12 are relevant for longer than a week. And only 12 make the playoffs.

TOJ Roundtable: Jets/Jaguars Picks

Joe Caporoso: See the 12 pack.

Justin Fritze: Looking at this with the scientist’s eye, I notice a few things. The Jets defensive line should have a field day. 4 down lineman, 5 man rush should be sufficient. They’re going up against a bunch of scrubs, a 3rd round rookie out of Lehigh (Editor’s Note: again not thrilled with the shot at Lehigh), and a former first round pick in Eugene Monroe. Kenrick Ellis and Muhammad Wilkerson should see serious playing time, and the Jets can probably sit back and have some fun confusing Luke McCown, mixing up coverages, perhaps bringing the famed “cloud coverage” back and tee off from there.

What else do I like about this game? The Jaguars have nobody at linebacker. The Jets will have to run it to death, for one because they need to find out if Joe McKnight can be the change of pace they need, if Shonn Greene can tire a defense, and if Jeremy Kerley and the wild Hornfrog can create some confusion.  The Jets will also occasionally play action with Keller and take a few shots over the middle with Plaxico Burress as he outsizes all the Jaguars DB’s by 3 feet, give or take a few inches. I may be crazy, but I’m gonna go Jets over Jaguars by 6. Don’t ever count out the short man with a “bum knee”. Lot’s of Jets field goals.

Chris Celletti: I think the Jets get this done fairly easily…by Jets standards. I just simply can’t see them having too much trouble with the Jaguars’ offense and Luke McCown specifically. The Jets’ defensive strength is in their run stopping, and the Jaguars lean heavily on Maurice Jones-Drew. While MJD is one of the top runners in the league, the Jets should keep him in check. Mark Sanchez and the Jets offense won’t put up a ton off points, because I think Brian Schottenheimer and Co. will try to really pound the run and get Shonn Greene going. The Jets play an overall solid game, get a few turnovers on defense, and roll to a 24-7 victory.

Rob Celletti: I was originally going to pick the Jets to win in a close game, because as a Jet fan, I know not to get too confident in this team, especially when they’re favored by more than a touchdown.  But Jason Hill’s (who?!) comments today, calling the Jets’ defense “overhyped”, might light an early fire under the team and particularly their defense, so now I expect them to dominate.  Luke McCown is going to have a miserable game with less than 125 yards passing. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville’s only credible threat, will have a decent game, but not much of an impact.  The Jets will get back to a more balanced attack on offense and be able to dominate time of possession, holding the ball for around 35 minutes.  Plaxico Burress, Derrick Mason and Shonn Greene will get in the endzone in a 27-7 Jets win.

TJ Rosenthal: Jets Win: If the Jets start fast and begin to show they are putting all phases together together Sunday, we see them winning 31-10. This scenario has Shonn Greene with a 100 yard day and a deep ball to Holmes or Burress for a TD. Keller will shine in this type of game as well. Maurice Jones Drew will cut the Jets lead to a harmless 21-10 at some point with a short yardage TD.

Jags Win: The Jags win 17-10 if the Jets continue to struggle on offense and come out of the gates slowly. The snails pace by Sanchez and co. will allow the Jags to settle in until they can find a few spots to pull off a big run or long completion in order to pull of the upset.