Welcome to another edition of #PickSix, and as we kick off the season there is palpable excitement for the Jets and their week one opener against the Cleveland Browns. We’re going to look at six key matchups, as the Jets try to go to 1-0.
1. Eric Decker v Tramon Williams
Eric Decker is coming off his 3rd straight 70+ catch season, and now enters this season with some help around him in the form of Brandon Marshall. Marshall will draw Joe Haden, and that’ll be a good matchup all day long. However, it’s the matchup of Decker v Williams that would go a long way towards determining who wins and who doesn’t. Decker should be able to dominate every second cornerback that the Jets face, and I think Decker is poised for a big season. It begins Sunday.
The Browns boast the best center-left guard-left tackle trio in the NFL in my opinion, with Alex Mack, Joel Bitonio, and Joe Thomas. Many people will focus on Mo Wilkerson versus Joe Thomas, but Williams is starting in place of Sheldon Richardson and his matchup with a top 5 guard in Bitonio will go a long way towards determining whether Josh McCown is comfortable in the pocket and whether Isiah Crowell can get any traction running the ball. A lot of people have compared this game to the Oakland game last year, but people forget that Derek Carr hit a bunch of easy and early throws and was in a rhythm early on. The Jets shouldn’t allow McCown to do the same thing, and Williams winning his matchup against Bitonio will help them weather that.
3. Antonio Cromartie v Brian Hartline
You would think a player with 39 catches and 474 yards wouldn’t be much of a factor, but Hartline is the kind of player that has given Cromartie fits his entire career. He’s only one season removed from a 76 reception and 1,016 yard campaign and Cromartie limiting Hartline’s ability to get yards after the catch and to help McCown get in a groove is going to be interesting to watch.
4. D’Brickashaw Ferguson v Paul Kruger
The decline of Brick has been talked about but kudos to the man for missing one snap in 9,344 snaps throughout his career. He’s present every day and has proven to be an excellent draft pick by Eric Mangini. He begins his 11th season facing a really good pass rusher in Paul Kruger. 30 sacks in the last 4 seasons makes Kruger a player to watch, and his ability to set the edge against the run is an underrated part of his game. Brick will have to be on his game or Kruger will be living in the backfield enduring that The Kraken doesn’t get going.
5. Nick Mangold v Danny Shelton
The second member of the New York Jets’s version of the Core 4 (Mangold, Ferguson, Revis, and Harris) is still the best center in football. It’s because of Mangold, the only above average starter on this OL, that the Jets ranked top 5 in rushing last year. Danny Shelton is a rookie starting at NT and is tasked with beating Mangold in order to free up the Browns LBs for free runs at Ivory. Mangold handling Shelton will free up Carpenter and Colon to reach the second level of the Browns defense and create massive holes for the Jets running backs.
Fitzpatrick missed the Texans playing against the Browns last year, so he didn’t get exposure to Mike Pettine’s defense. It’ll be interesting to watch what Fitzpatrick does against Pettine, one of the better defensive minds in the NFL, because Cleveland is an opportunistic defense that takes advantage of wayward passes. That’s been Fitzpatrick’s specialty so far in his career, but the only way the Browns stay in this game is by taking advantage of interceptions and wreck less play. Fitzpatrick needs to take care of the ball for the Jets to win this game going away.
1. Jets win 31-9.
2. Eric Decker (11 catches, 186 yards, 2 TDs)
3. Chris Ivory (21 carries, 101 yards, 1 TD)
4. Darrelle Revis (2 INTs)
5. Leonard Williams (1.5 sacks)
6. Quentin Coples (2 sacks)
7. Jets defense will not allow an offensive TD
8. Bilal Powell will have 6 catches for 70 yards
9. Muhammad Wilkerson (.5 sack and extension announced after the game)
10. Quincy Enunwa (5 catches, 50 yards)
11. Demario Davis (fumble recovery for a TD)
12. Cromartie will allow Brian Hartline to go over 100 yards
(Editor’s Note: DO going for the jugular!)