The Turn On The Jets staff gives their predictions for the New York Jets week 4 match-up against the San Francisco 49ers. Make sure to give everybody a follow on Twitter!
Joe Caporoso – 12 Pack
Chris Gross – Jets 16, 49ers 9. While this will surely be one of the most difficult tasks the New York Jets have faced in recent memory, last week proved just how difficult it is to win on the road in the NFL. San Francisco looked unbeatable until they were upset in Minnesota by the Christian Ponder led Vikings last week. Conversely, the Jets went into Miami as favorites, where the ended up squeaking out an overtime victory against a Dolphins team that lost its best offensive player prior to halftime. While New York has struggled mightily to defend the run this season, Frank Gore is the type of back that this defense is built to stop. Unlike CJ Spiller and Reggie Bush, Gore is much more of a power back, rather than a speedster, which should make him relatively easy to defend for New York’s sluggish linebacker corps. Alex Smith has been extremely efficient, and the loss of Darrelle Revis will certainly hurt the Jets ability to defend the pass, however, I think Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine get more creative with their blitz packages and pressure schemes than we have ever seen before. After all, without the security blanket of Revis in the secondary, they have no choice. New York is in a kill or be killed situation when it comes to defending the pass from here on out.
Offensively, the Jets will certainly struggle in the early portion of the game. Shonn Greene will get the start at running back, but after about 8-10 carries of 3 yards or less, Tony Sparano will begin to get creative with his personnel. Expect to see more of Bilal Powell, who still may not turn heads on the stat sheet against this Patrick Willis led defense, but will certainly be more effective than Greene. Tim Tebow should get ample playing time as a ball carrier as well, and the deciding score in this game could come as a result of some trickery out of the wild cat.
New York is also hopeful that Dustin Keller will return this week, which would be a huge upgrade at Tight End, and would help Quarterback Mark Sanchez tremendously. Over the first three games, Sanchez has targeted Jeff Cumberland and Konrad Reuland a combined 15 times. Together, the tight ends have hauled in only 6 balls. Keller will provide Sanchez with some nice insurance, and will help this offense move the sticks on third down. Don’t expect either team to light up the scoreboard, but in the end, the Jets do enough to steal one from San Francisco in what turns out to be one of the most physical matchups of the 2012 season.
Mike Donnelly – The way everyone is talking about this game, you’d think the Jets shouldn’t even bother to show up. Apparently the 49ers are some kind of unbeatable powerhouse, while the first place Jets are a complete and utter joke who have no chance to win any more games this year with Darrelle Revis out. Well, I don’t quite see it that way. Nobody believes in the Jets at all and that’s when they play their best. I think the offense is going to come out throwing the ball and we are gonna see our first glimpses of an opened up Tebow package. On defense, Rex Ryan is going to show that all his talk about being the best defensive coach in the league was more than just talk, and Quinton Coples is going to make his presence felt. Plus Evan Silva called for a 20-6 49ers win and virtually everyone else in the world thinks this is a lock for the 49ers as well. Nope. Jets win, 23-20 in a nail-biter.
Chris Celletti – There are two football teams everybody is absolutely head over heels for this season, and they happen to be the Jets’ next two opponents; the 49ers and the Texans. Listen to any sports talk radio, read the papers and blogs or just talk to football fans, everybody wants to tell you how incredible both of these teams are. I think they’re both good. I don’t think either of them are unbeatable – how’s this…the 49ers lost last week to Christian Ponder and the Minnesota Vikings. Now, I do think the 49ers present a bad matchup for the Jets. The Jets are really going to struggle to score points. They’ll try to pound the ball with should-be-benched Shonn Greene, and to no ones surprise they’ll struggle there. I think Mark Sanchez could have some success throwing short to Dustin Keller but overall the Jets passing game is going to have a tough time out there and likely won’t hit any big plays. The bigger ifs for me come on the defensive side of the ball. Can the Jets not get run over by Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter? I still think the Jets are much more equipped to handle a north-south running attack like the Niners, so I don’t think that matchup will be as in favor of Frisco than most people think. If the Jets secondary can hold up its end of the bargain (a big, big if), I think this is game that comes down to the wire. At the end, the Nines are just too good, too tough, too well coached, too amazing….oh, screw it. Jets 21, Niners 20.
Rob Celletti – Darrelle Revis’ injury diagnosis on Monday reminded me of a similar moment in recent Jets’ history. Two seasons ago, a few days before the 9-2 Jets traveled to New England to take on the 9-2 Patriots in what was supposed to be the Monday Night Football game of the year, the Jets lost Jim Leonhard to a broken leg suffered in practice. The demeanor of the Jets the rest of the week told you that they simply had no chance of going into Gillette Stadium and winning that game. While the circumstances this week are quite different, the demeanor of the Jets has been similar. Rex Ryan delivered the news that Revis would be out for the year grimly. Joe McKnight was moved to cornerback in a move that smacks of desperation from a team that seems to be losing its way (remember, the Jets are $8 million UNDER the salary cap; Mike Tannenbaum, somehow, still has a job), or never had a plan to begin with.
So should Jets fans be at all confident this Sunday? No, probably not. But this is the NFL, where every year it seems that games might as well be decided with a coin flip. I’ve said to people, half-jokingly, that I will witness a season, before I leave this earth, where every single one of the 32 teams finishes 8-8, and playoff berths will be decided by tiebreakers, and yes, coin flips. The parity (or is it mediocrity) is astounding. The 49ers are an excellent team, and they’re coming in angry. But the Jets are at home and they’re getting Dustin Keller back. The run defense has something to prove. I’ve essentially picked every single Jets game to be, in a word, ugly this year, so why stop now? A tightly contested defensive battle leaves the Jets just short, as they fall 20-14.