Saturday, November 8, 2008

Jets vs Rams Preview

Tomorrow at 1:00 ET, Jim Haslett's St. Louis Rams come to the Meadowlands. After an 0-4 start got Scott Linehan fired, the Rams responded by playing well for three weeks before the Arizona Cardinals rocked them 34-13 last week.

This game will come down to the Rams offense against the Jets defense. Without star runningback Steven Jackson, the Rams will rely on a runningback by committee with Antonio Pittman, Samkon Gado, and Kenneth Darby. Darby is likely to see most of the carries, as Pittman is banged up, and Gado is a journeyman.

No matter who gets the carries, it might not matter as Kris Jenkins and the Jets run defense have dominated opposing teams so far. The Rams will be lucky to generate any sort of rushing attack.

That puts the pressure on quarterback Marc Bulger. Linehan had benched him for one game, but Bulger is still a good quarterback when he has time to throw. The problem is that the offensive line usually doesn't afford him that time, so he gets hit a lot. That's the key to this game. If the Jets can get consistent pressure, Bulger will make some mistakes, the Jets will get good field position, and they should be able to beat the Rams pretty soundly.

But if Bulger has time, he can still hurt you. While Torry Holt has not put up his typical numbers this year, he and Donnie Avery form a potent duo at wide out. The first receiver taken in this year's draft, Avery is healthy and productive, especially down the field. Arizona neutralized him last week, but he burned New England the week before. If the Jets allow Bulger to get comfortable, this will be a scary footbal game.

In that sense, it reminds me of the Jets vs Cardinals game. A western team with a prolific passing attack, but quarterbacks who could be prone to making mistakes, coming east. Arizona is much better than St. Louis, however, and the Jets embarrassed the Cardinals.

On the other side of the football, the Jets should be able to have their way with the Rams on paper. The Rams have allowed 30 or more points five times this season already, though they have competed much harder under Haslett. They haven't forced too many turnovers this year, but if they do, it will likely be caused by OJ Otogwe, who has four of the Rams six interceptions. Leonard Little, rookie Chris Long, and James Hall will try to get after Favre, but none are particularly fearsome. Their leading tackler is Pisa Tinoisamoa, but they've been equally bad against the run and the pass, 29th and 28th in the NFL respectively.

On paper, this is a game that the Jets should be able to win. However, this has all the makings of a trap game. After a big road win in the division, the Jets travel up to New England for a Thursday night game, probably the biggest game of the season. The Rams are an irrelevant NFC team, but they already snuck up on Washington and Dallas, and nearly beat New England two weeks ago. Still, without Steven Jackson, the Rams will surely be one-dimensional, and that should help the Jets get a victory.

Jets 27, Rams 14.

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