Sunday, November 30, 2008

NFL Picks: Week 13

Last week: 2-0-1
Season: 21-12-3

Pretty impressed with my percentage of picks. I've been on fire the past few weeks. Have been very busy this week with work and Thanksgiving stuff, but I expect another plus week.

Panthers +3 over Packers
Sometimes you just have to look at the matchups. At 8-3 Carolina has had a great year, led by four straight 100+ yard games by DeAngelo Williams. This week Williams must be salivating to go against an awful Packers run D allowing 4.8 yards-per-carry. Carolina has been a little sketchy on the road, but while Green Bay needs this game to stay in the playoff hunt, the Panthers need this game to keep pace with Tampa Bay and Atlanta. Fresh off an extesion, I look for Chris Gamble to do a good job on Greg Jennings, and the Panthers can run the ball enough to win.
Carolina 24, Green Bay 21

Steelers and Patriots over 39
Pittsburgh will try to attack an overrated Patriot secondary with Santonio Holmes deep. New England has been vulnerable to a deep ball, and Holmes or Nate Washington could benefit. Matt Cassel has been on fire in this one, and he will be able to put up enough points to put this over. It's foolish to expect a pure shootout, but they should be able to put this over, and both teams really need this game.
Steelers 27, Patriots 20

Bills -7 over 49ers
San Francisco looked horrible last week, and now they travel to the East Coast for a 1:00 game, which have been money all year for the home teams. At 6-5 Buffalo needs to keep winning to stay in the Wild Card race, and if they jump out to an early lead, San Francisco might fold early. Still, on a cold day where there might be some bad weather, I'd much prefer to back the team used to the conditions. The 49ers will have trouble scoring points with big Marcus Stroud in the middle for Buffalo.
Bills 20, 49ers 9

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cutler and Broncos look to upset red hot Jets

First off, happy Thanksgiving everyone! I had a good time with my family, eating some stuffing, turkey, casserole, and bread all drenched in as much gravy as I could pour.

Hopefully Kris Jenkins doesn't show up Sunday having gained 25 pounds on Thursday. If not, it's hard to see the Broncos being able to generate much of a running attack Sunday.

The Jets come in as 7.5 point favorites against the 6-5 Broncos. Denver is coming off a horrific 31-10 loss at home to the Oakland Raiders. Their defense has largely been a sieve for much of the year, as only six teams have allowed more yards than the Broncos, and only four teams have allowed more points.

Thomas Jones and Leon Washington should be primed for a field day. Both backs have been on fire lately, as the offensive line has been an immovable force for the last few weeks. Denver allows 4.8 yards-per-carry, so the two should be salivating.

As bad as Denver's run defense has been, their pass defense may even be worse. Champ Bailey has been hurt, as he is questionable for this game, but even if he's back, they should struggle. Denver allows quarterbacks to complete almost 70% of their passes, worst in the NFL, so the short passing game should once again be extremely effective. Teams haven't thrown deep on them a ton, but they haven't needed to.

That is good news for Brett Favre. The Jets have sliced and diced opponents with short passes to Laveranues Coles, Dustin Keller, and Jerricho Cotchery. Keller has added another dimension to this offense that a lot of defenses simply cannot deal with. No matter how you look at it, the Jets should be able to put up a lot of points, especially at home.

But there is a reason why the Broncos are 6-5. Part of it is the ineptitude of the AFC West, which they lead by two games with their weak defense. But the main reason they have been able to win games is their deep passing game. Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal are one of the most prolific receiving tandems in the NFL, and Jay Cutler knows how to throw the ball down the field.

Marshall is clearly the number one option, and Darrelle Revis will surely match up with him. The Bronco star hasn't had a 100-yard game since tearing up the Chargers and Saints to start the year, and Revis will likely contain him. The matchup to watch is the rookie Royal against the veteran Ty Law. Royal is a very fluid athlete who could give the older Law some trouble, but you know that the former Patriot will not want to let a rookie beat him. He will play the rookie physically and try to take him out of his game.

Cutler against the Jets' pass defense will likely be the matchup that determines the game. It's hard to imagine rookie fullback Peyton Hillis, pressed into action because of injuries to the top four runningbacks, doing much against the Jets' dominant pass defense. Mike Shanahan will have Cutler air it out to Marshall, Royal, and tight end Tony Scheffler because if they are clicking, they may be the most dominant passing offense in the AFC.

But the Jets know this, too. They know that the Broncos will likely be one-dimensional, and it will be interesting to see how the Jets attack them defensively. One thing they will try to do is knock the ball loose. In four of Denver's losses, they've fumbled eight times, and the Jets are second in the NFL in forced fumbles (17).

In this game, there are two assumptions that can be made. First, the Jets should be able to put up points on the Broncos defense. Second, the Broncos won't be able to run the ball. Shanahan might abandon the run early and attack a secondary which at times has been vulnerable. If Denver can force Favre to throw a couple interceptions, they will be difficult because Denver's offense can be dangerous.

Both teams really want this game. Despite all the hype, the Jets are only one game ahead of the Patriots, so a loss combined with a Patriots win, and the Jets will be right in the thick of the playoff race. A win, and the Jets will be able to smell the playoffs.

Denver is two games clear of San Diego in their division, but the Chargers have so much talent that they can't be counted out just yet, especially the way Denver has proven they can lose to anybody. The AFC West title is their only ticket to the playoffs, so they can ill-afford to keep giving the Chargers chances.

Still, this is a game the Jets should be able to win. They are the better team on both sides of the football. Denver has the firepower to make it interesting, but hopefully the Jets can prove they can beat a one-dimensional football team and not let down after two big road wins.

Jets 38, Broncos 27

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Entire NFL is on Notice: Jets 34, Titans 13

The Jets proved they were a playoff contender last week, conquering the Patriots and finally taking control of the AFC East for the first time in years. But blowing an 18 point first half lead and allowing the Patriots to tie the game on the last play of the game ruined many people's perceptions of who the Jets are and what they can be.

Now those doubters are all gone. The Jets have now won back-to-back games on the road against New England and Tennessee, after dominating the previously undefeated Titans 34-13.

But more impressive than the victory itself was the way the Jets shoved around the Titans. They led 10-3 at halftime despite two turnovers as the defense simply could not move the ball against a stout Jet defense on a consistent basis, and they certainly did not help themselves out with several early drops.

The key to this game was time of possession. It has been an area of the game that both teams had been able to dominate in recent games. Something had to give, and to the surprise of many, it was the Titans' defense. Brett Favre was able to convert on third down 7/13 times, while Tennessee was just 4/11. As a result, the Jets held the ball for 40:30, over two-thirds of the game.

This dominance of the football allowed for the Jets' defense to stay fresh and the Titans' defense to stay on the field. As the game went on, Nick Mangold, Alan Faneca, and co. were able to physically overpower what had been the best defense in football more and more.

There is simply no category that Jeff Fisher can say his team won the football game in. Favre picked apart the Titans with quick, precise passes to the tune of 25-32 for 224 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT. Thomas Jones and Leon Washington ran for 96 and 82 yards apiece, with Washington gaining his yards on just eight carries. In the second half, both players were able to find holes and break consistent runs. Even seldom-used blocking back Tony Richardson had a 14-yard run.

Laveranues Coles had his best game in a few weeks with seven catches for 88 yards and a touchdown. Jerricho Cotchery, Dustin Keller, and Thomas Jones all had over 20 yards receiving.

On the other side, Kerry Collins was held to well under 50% passing for most of the game. He ended up 21-39 for 243 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions, but until the fourth quarter, those numbers looked much worse. His leading receiver was former Jet Justin McCareins with 43 yards, but he dropped a pass in the game, much to the delight of his former fans. Bo Scaife, Quinton Ganther, and Brandon Jones each had 40 yards receiving, and Justin Gage had one big catch for 37 yards.

Their two-headed rushing attack was pretty non-existent. The Titans were never on the field, and when they were, they were usually behind. As a result, Lendale White received just one carry, losing a yard. Rookie Chris Johnson fared better with 10 carries for 46 yards, but at the end of his best run, Abram Elam forced the ball out, giving the Jets a key turnover leading to a three-score game.

Elam was one of a number of defensive stars for the Jets in this game. Darrelle Revis and Ty Law pretty much shut down the Titans' top two receivers, and the front seven played very well.

But the key to this game was time of possession. When you're not on the field, it's hard to score. The Jets had realized that lately, as they had time-consuming drives in each of the last two games that pretty much used up the entire fourth quarter. This time, they had three drives over 6:49, whereas the Titans two best drives were 3:05 and 5:06. Tennessee punted on their first five possessions, even after two Jets turnovers, one in the red zone, putting their defense on the field a lot early, and the Jets made sure it stayed that way.

Now the entire NFL has to take notice. The Jets will come in, shove you around, give the ball to Coles, Cotchery, Keller, Jones, and Washington, with all five having the ability to be a number one target, giving the Jets fantastic balance on offense. The defense will make you throw the ball to beat them, and when the weather gets colder, that will only become a bigger advantage.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

NFL Picks: Week 12

Another 2-1 week, putting me at 19-12-2 on the year. I like these three picks this week, so I should at least break 20 wins on the season. So here we go!

Jets +5.5 against Tennessee

I love the Jets in this game to at least keep it close. I would be much happier if this were +6, but if the Jets win, who cares what the spread is?

Jets 23, Titans 17 (I know I changed this)

Redskins -3 over Seattle

This looks like a sucker bet, with the Seahawks at home with their leader having returned, but the Skins need this game, and they are just a much better team. 3 points doesn't scare me from taking the far superior team.
Redskins 24, Seahawks 14

Dallas -9.5 over San Francisco
This is when the Cowboys get their swagger back.
Cowboys 31, 49ers 17

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Jets visit undefeated Titans: A preview

Not having internet for a few days really gets me more behind than I'd like to on posts here. But I have it back (for now) and here's a preview for the big game tomorrow!

Last week the talk was of the Jets visit to Foxboro to face the New England Patriots being the game of the year for the Jets. New York won an exhilarating game, one that might have been the best game the NFL has seen all year.

But for the Jets, there is no break on the schedule, as they now must travel to Tennessee to face the undefeated Titans. At 10-0 they are just six games away from an undefeated season, but the Jets might be the best competition they have faced all year.

Gang Green can afford a loss here, as they will likely be favored in their last five games, but that would give the winner of the Patriots-Miami Dolphins game a share of the division lead. A win validates the Jets as not just a favorite in the AFC East but as one of the best teams in the NFL.

The Oakland debacle will be history if the Jets can pull off the upset here. No longer can analysts dismiss this team, and people will have to take notice of players not named Brett Favre.

But even for Favre, a win this Sunday will be validation, not just for him but the entire organization as well. A win virtually assures the team of a playoff spot barring a total collapse down the stretch, and that was the minimum this year. Anything else would have been a failure for this team with their nemesis Tom Brady on the sidelines this year.

To get to that point, however, the Jets need to win this week, and that will be a tall order. The Titans did not start 10-0 because of smoke and mirrors: they can both run the ball and stop the run, and they rarely lose games in the trenches.

The Titans will almost certainly try to establish the run first, even against the Jets stout front seven. Chris Johnson is a dynamic rookie with the speed to break open any run. Lendale White is the thunder to his partner’s lightning, and the Titan offensive line has opened holes almost all season.

When teams sell out to stop the two backs, Kerry Collins has been able to burn teams down the field to number one target Justin Gage. Brandon Jones and Bo Scaife handle the underneath balls.

Most importantly, Collins hasn’t been able to make mistakes. And nothing has contributed more to the Titans start than turnovers. They are number one in the league in turnover ratio, a stat that the Jets must take note of. Favre hasn’t thrown an interception in three weeks, and Jones rarely fumbles. If the Jets can stay mistake-free, they will have a good chance to win, but Tennessee won’t be giving out gift turnovers.

Defensively, the Jets actually match up quite well with Tennessee. When healthy, Gage has been Collins’s clear number one weapon, especially down the field. Darrelle Revis will almost surely be following his every move, with Ty Law guarding the sure-handed Jones. Law is expected to start in place of Dwight Lowery in just his second game back in the NFL, but he should match up well with Jones. Scaife will be dangerous at tight end as the Jets had trouble with Ben Watson last week, but the secondary matches up well.

More intriguing than that however will be the matchup of strengths in the trenches. Ex-Jet Kevin Mawae will have his hands full with Kris Jenkins, and the Jets have a good chance of slowing the Titans’ running game. Two weeks ago, Chicago was able to stop them, but Collins was able to use Gage down the field en route to a victory. If the Jets can stop the run without putting eight in the box all the time, the Titans could have trouble scoring.

However, while the Titans might not put up that many points, the Jets may struggle as well. Cortland Finnegan leads a good secondary while Albert Haynesworth is as dominant as Jenkins on the inside. Thomas Jones will not find running lanes as easily as he has in previous weeks. He was able to take a lot of pressure off Favre recently, but the Titans are very difficult to run on.

Like Tennessee, the Jets will likely try to attack the Titans with their tight end. Dustin Keller has emerged with back-to-back 100-yard games, and the Titans have allowed the eighth most yards to opposing tight ends. Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery have been somewhat quiet lately, and that may continue this week, as this appears to have all the makings of a pretty low scoring game.

Eric Mangini must have drilled the idea of turnovers in his team’s head. It’s how Tennessee is 10-0: they run the ball, they stop the run, and they don’t make mistakes. If you win the battle of the trenches and don’t make mistakes, it’s very difficult to lose. The Jets are somewhat similar to the Titans in style of play as that’s what the Jets have done in their recent run.

Special teams could be an x-factor. Jay Feely and Reggie Hodges seem to have shored up the kicking game (though Mike Nugent might return), but it’s hard to have full confidence in both right now. Leon Washington has been a dynamo in the return game, and if he can make a big play like he did in the New England game, it might push the Jets over the top. Bottom line, the special teams have the potential to either win or lose the game for the Jets.

On the other side, Tennessee has a formidable kicking duo with kicker Rob Bironas and veteran punter Craig Hentrich. Chris Carr is a steady return man who handles both kicks and punts and rarely makes mistakes, so this is yet another area where the Titans are solid.

This game should be close. Unless Favre self-destructs, the game should be pretty tight and low-scoring, and whoever makes the least mistakes and the most big plays should win. Red zone efficiency will also be a key, as the Jets will need to take advantage of every opportunity they get.

The Jets do have more confidence now than they have had all season, and the Thursday night game against the Patriots gives them an extra three days of preparation. That certainly couldn’t hurt, as the Jets will look to piece together some of what has worked this year against Tennessee and apply it to their own strengths and weaknesses.

The Titans are 10-0 and formidable. But they are not elite in any particular area, and a team like the Jets who could battle with them in the trenches might be able to defeat them. Kerry Collins has proven me wrong all season, but at some point, he’s going to lose a game for the Titans. That loss will come this week.

20-16 Jets.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

100th post...NFL Picks!

Another week, another 2-1. 17-11-2 on the season.

I wish I could have said I picked the Jets (as I thought +3.5 was pretty safe), but I didn't post it, so I can't count it.

But let's try to get 20 wins!

Tampa Bay -3.5 over Minnesota
Jacksonville +3 over Tennessee
Giants -6.5 over Baltimore

What's that I see?

New York Jets - 7-3
New England Patriots - 6-4
Miami Dolphins - 5-4
Buffalo Bills - 5-4

First place! Folks, it's time to start rooting against teams like the Steelers. If the Steelers lose to the Chargers, the Jets would be in line for a first round bye in the playoffs. Imagine that.

And the schedule?

at Tennessee
vs Denver
at San Francisco
vs Buffalo
at Seattle
vs Miami

Other than the Titans game, the Jets will certainly be favorites in every game. And why can't the Jets beat the Titans? With an extra three days of rest and preparation, the Jets should be confident and prepared. If the Patriots game was a gut-check to see if this team could be a good one, this Titans game will prove if this team can be a GREAT team.

As for some thoughts on the Patriots game, what can you say? The Jets were able to run the ball on the Patriots enough to win, and Brett Favre had his best game as a Jet.

Before Thursday's game, I would have told you the Jets could have been 6-3 with either Chad Pennington or Brett Favre.

Now the Favre effect has finally kicked in.

Sure, Pennington defeated the Pats up in Foxboro in 2002 and 2006. But his time had come and passed. Favre threw passes that Pennington could only dream of making, and his receivers did not let him down. Jerricho Cotchery's helmet catch v2.0 is one of the prettiest receptions you will ever see.

The first half was a thing of beauty. The Jets dictated the pace offensively, and the only thing that stopped the Jets early was Dustin Keller dropping a wide open pass in the end zone. At 24-6 the Jets were dominating the game, and they even got the ball back with a chance to basically put the game away.

Instead, they allowed a late touchdown to give the Patriots some momentum heading into the third quarter. This was far from the only time the SOJAPs would appear (same old Jets against the Patriots), but it was the first sign that the Patriots simply would not die easy.

To beat the best, a team needs to play all four quarters at its highest level. And the Jets did that. New England punched back, eventually tying the game at 24, ending any premature Jet celebrations, and giving fans and players feelings of, "Here we go again."

But then the Jets got off the mat with some swings of their own. A beautiful 14 play, 67-yard drive drained two time outs away from the Patriots as well as 7:08 off the clock. More importantly, it ended in a touchdown, making New England have to score a touchdown with limited time left.

And when the Patriots got the ball back, looking to tie it up, Kris Jenkins rose to the occasion and sacked Matt Cassel. Even Bill Bellichick couldn't go for it on a 4th and 19, so when Chris Hanson punted the ball away, it looked like the game was over.

Gain 10 yards, and the game was over. The Patriots managed to come up with a stop a yard short of the first down, so they would get the ball back, but with 1:04 to go and no time outs left, driving 62 yards and finishing in the endzone did not look very promising.

Then the SOJAPs reappeared, as a prevent defense allowed the Patriots to easily march down the field before running out of time at the 16 yard-line. 4th and 1. 8 seconds left. Stop them, and the game is over. Nevermind the prevent defense before, this is what you were hoping for, give them only one shot, and shut it down.

But rather than check Randy Moss at the line of scrimmage, which had helped hold him to just 10 yards on 2 catches, they put Ty Law on him, and when Cassel avoided trouble, he threw it to his star receiver, hoping he would make a play. The pass was perfect, and Randy Moss made the catch despite Ty Law being blanketed all over him.

I admit, when I saw it at first, I couldn't believe what I had just seen. I thought it was a cruel nightmare.

So did the Jets' players. Shaun Ellis, who admitted during the week that he didn't think the Patriots respected them, admitted that he felt some SOJAP feelings coming back, and undoubtedly every Jets fan watching felt the same way.

But tails won the coin toss for the Jets, giving them another chance to win. The next three plays killed most Jets' fans' hopes though. Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski booted a touchback, not giving Leon Washington a chance to return a second kick to the house. Then substitute linebacker Pierre Woods sacked Favre on first down, already pushing the Jets back and hurting their chances of getting the first down. An incompletion on 2nd down brought up a 3rd and 15. Another incompletion, and the Patriots get the ball back with good field position against a tired and demoralized defense.

Brett Favre and Dustin Keller had other ideas. Favre hit an uncovered Keller, who managed to get just enough yards to get the first down. Jones and Keller then moved the ball down the field until a 16-yard strike to Laveranues Coles moved the Jets down to the 24-yard line, in range for a Jay Feely field goal. 3 plays later, and Feely's 34-yarder sent the Jets home happy.

What a win! Would it have been nice to dominate them the entire game? Yes, but give New England credit. They are a very good football team, and Matt Cassel is a good quarterback, despite having no deep ball.

But on this night, the Jets were just a little better.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Jets vs Patriots Preview

The day of reckoning is here.

Yes, today the 6-3 Patriots host the 6-3 Jets in what figures to be one of, if not the biggest game of the year for New York.

The Patriots won the first battle 19-10 in a game where Jay Feely missed a short field goal, Brett Favre threw an interception leading to the only Patriots' touchdown, and the Jets failed to score a touchdown from 1st and goal from the 1.

Bill Bellichick's squad did not play their A-game in Giants Stadium, but they played flawlessly, not turning the ball over once and committing just two turnovers for 10 yards.

The turnover and penalty differentials allowed for the Patriots to start five possessions in Jets' territory, a major difference in the football game. By contrast, New York never started a possession past their own 25-yard line.

The Jets feel that Reggie Hodges replacing Ben Graham at punter will help out the field position battle. More importantly, the team will try to cut down on their own mistakes and force Cassel into making mistakes of his own.

Blitzing will be difficult because of the nature of the Pats' offense. Wes Welker will catch a lot of quick passes, keeping Matt Cassel's jersey clean and preventing the young quarterback from making too many mistakes.

That also could be where Ty Law comes in. Don't expect too much from the veteran corner, as he's only been on the team for three days, but he should be able to provide some help to the 20th ranked pass defense guarding the Patriots' weapons. Darrelle Revis will cover Randy Moss, so maybe Law can help guard Welker, Ben Watson, or Jabar Gaffney.

Brett Favre will take aim at the 15th ranked pass defense in the NFL. Dustin Keller had a 107-yard game last Sunday, but this week Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery will be expected to step up and move the chains. Favre hasn't been asked to do much in the past couple wins, but he will need to generate some plays from the passing game to take pressure off Thomas Jones. The Patriots are too good a team to be one-dimensional against.

Both teams will try to run the ball, but the running game will likely be met with limited success. Opponents have only been managing 3.2 yards-per-carry against the Jets, while the Patriots allow 4.1 yards-per-game, though that has improved lately.

Sammy Morris will play tonight after missing the previous three games. Before that, he ran for 138 yards against the Rams. However, he struggled in the first game against the Jets, not earning a single yard on eight carries, though he did score.

Morris will be joined by rookie BenJarvus Green-Ellis and veteran Kevin Faulk, and all three are sure to see time.

The Jets will likely give Jones every chance to establish a running game. Leon Washington will get touches, too, as the Jets hope to get a few big plays out of him. Ty Warren and Adalius Thomas will not play tonight for New England, so the Jets will try to outmuscle the Pats' front seven for the first time in a long while.

This game will come down to who makes less mistakes. Man for man, the Jets are probably a better football team than the injury-riddled Patriots. But the games are not won on paper, and what the Patriots do best is allow other teams to beat themselves. Last time, the Jets complied. This time, the Jets will force Cassel into a couple mistakes and play a more even field-position game. It will not be easy. But the Jets are confident and ready.

Jets 17, Patriots 13.

(8:46 PM):
Good start so far. So far, both Jets drives have started in better field position than they did at all last game. 7-3 Jets as both teams have been able to convert on 3rd downs so far, until the Pats called a running play on 3rd and 5, bailing out the Jets defense. Favre looks sharp early.

(8:53 PM):
Dustin Keller with an awful drop in the red zone forces the Jets to kick a field goal. Against the Patriots, the Jets typically have not been able to recover from such mistakes. Let's see if today is different, as the Jets have dictated whatever they've wanted to do offensively for the most part.

(9:04 PM):
Patriots answer with a solid drive of their own, but the defense holds. On 2nd down, Randy Moss had man coverage outside with Revis, but Revis had good coverage and Cassel threw the ball over his head.

(9:06 PM):
Leon Washington strikes again! Who needs the offense, just give Leon a big wedge and let him take it all the way. 17-6 Jets. Two score lead!

(10:05 PM): Patriots come out in no huddle in the second half. They're moving the ball a little bit, but they have to mix it up because they know they are behind and being outmanned. AND A FUMBLE! Jets ball! 24-13 Jets. I wonder if they challenge.

(10:49 PM): 24-21, a Cotchery fumble, and it looks like a typical Jets-Patriots game. Not good...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Jets-Patriots: The Rant

Before I get to my main post, go check out this AFC East Roundtable, focusing on the Jets-Pats game. I offer some thoughts in that article, as well as several other writers.

But it is just over one day until kickoff, and I for one am amped up. So let’s get to the game. But first, I’d like to get one thing out of the way.

I hate the New England Patriots.

I hate Bill Bellichick. I hated Tom Brady. I hate the way they are still winning games (including over the Jets) with a guy who hasn’t started a game since high school. I hate their fans, who usually root for the Boston Red Sox, another disgusting team. I hate that their smug attitude. I hate players like Rodney Harrison and Vince Wilfork, cheap shot artists whose antics are ignored because of the media’s man-love for the Patriots. Hell, I hate the fact ESPN is in Connecticut, also known as Patriots country.

But most of all, I hate their success, both in Super Bowls and against the Jets. Their three Super Bowl victories in the new millennium are two more than the Jets have in their history. They were the first 16-0 team in NFL history (though the ending was so fitting and so sweet). Most importantly, the Jets haven’t beaten them a home in eight seasons, and they haven’t had much more success in New England. Victories in 2006 and 2002 were extremely satisfying.

I’m far from alone in those sentiments, too. Clearly, Eric Mangini and Mike Tannenbaum are sick of being the Pats’ patsies. Brett Favre, Alan Faneca, Damien Woody, Kris Jenkins, and Calvin Pace prove that. So does newcomer Ty Law.

Even Shaun Ellis admits he feels the Patriots do not respect the Jets. And why should they? After all, the Patriots have simply been a different class of football team lately. Jets fans look fondly upon the 2002 season when the Jets were 9-7, won the division and one playoff game. We blame Doug Brien for costing us a shot at the AFC Championship game in 2004.

Patriots fans are disappointed with a season in which they went 19-1.

That’s the difference right now between the Jets and the Patriots, and it’s a big reason for an inferiority complex that began with the “Same Old Jets” and has continued with the recent one-sided rivalry with the Patriots, whose rise to power is intertwined with the Jets, as Mo Lewis’s hit on Drew Bledsoe gave Brady the job, and Bellichick infamously resigned after one day as the “HC of the NYJ,” only to take the same job up north.

But all dynasties eventually collapse. And Tom Brady’s gruesome injury is certainly a catalyst. But if the Jets want to be the team to dethrone the Patriots, the team must step up and take the division from them. Thursday night’s game is that opportunity. It’s not a must-win, but it’s hard to imagine the Jets winning the division while getting swept by the Patriots. It’s also a major mental block because if this team truly thinks it can be the best, it has to beat the best. Yes, they play the Titans next week, and a win there would cushion the blow if the Jets were to lose this week, but there is no doubt which game is more important to the team's psyche.

The Jets are third in the NFL in sacks and second in points. The team is gelling more and more each week, and for the first time in years, the running game is something opposing teams have to fear and respect. The Patriots are missing several starters, including Brady, Harrison, and Adalius Thomas, so the time to strike is now.

The task at hand is not easy. Thursday nights in Gillette Stadium are not conducive to opponents coming away with victories. The Patriots are 6-3 and playing well. But if the Jets want to accomplish big things this year, the objective is simple.

Beat the Patriots.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ty Law: Why not?

Yesterday the Jets signed Ty Law to a one-year deal, much to the chagrin of many Jets fans on TGG.

Well, with all the troubles the Jets have had with slot receivers this year, I wonder how it would hurt. Law isn't a top 5 cornerback in the NFL anymore, but he doesn't have to be. If he is an upgrade over Dwight Lowery, it's worth it. If Lowery can learn anything from Law (on the field), than it's worth it.

How much will he play Thursday? Law seems to think he's going to be getting a lot of time, but I can't see it. I imagine he'll be active, and he'll get on the field, but I doubt the Jets risk it too much unless they really are confident in his abilities. Since he hasn't played in 11 months, they probably can't be too confident right away, but I'm not involved in Law's private workouts, so maybe there's something more to it.

Still, it's low-risk, high-reward. As much as fans hated him, he still had 10 interceptions. Sure, many of them were meaningless, but he still made plays. If he can still do that opposite Darrelle Revis, then this could shore up the primary weakness the Jets have left.

By the way, to make room, they cut Justin Miller, the 2005 2nd round pick. It's safe to say he's a bust now, but expect Bill Bellichick to bring him in. Why? Because that's just the type of guy he is. Ironically, Miller is also the last Jet to make the Pro Bowl.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Trap game? HA! Jets trounce Rams 47-3

Most teams in the NFL will wish they had a lead all season of 40 points or more. The Jets had a 40-0 lead at halftime.

What is there to really say about this game? The Jets were able to get pressure on Marc Bulger and Trent Green, leading to a strip sack touchdown, two interceptions, and an overmatched Rams offense. They ran the ball better than expected, but most of the game was garbage time, so the Jets were playing pass.

Just look at these numbers.

*The Jets scored on all eight first half possessions and even once when the Rams were on offense.

*Reggie Hodges only had to punt once.

*All four Jet possessions in the 2nd quarter started in Rams territory.

*Thomas Jones ran for 149 yards on 26 carries for 3 touchdowns, his best Jets performance.

*Leon Washington added another 54 yards on 12 carries.

*On the Jets final drive, which they could have easily scored on if they wanted to, they moved 67 yards on 13 plays, every one a handoff, followed by three kneel downs. taking off the final 11:09 off the clock.

The mood in the Jets locker room was very amicable, but from listening to the postgame show, players seemed focused on the upcoming game against New England, fully aware of what is going to be at stake. The Rams game, however dominant, is just one win against an NFC opponent. This week is the biggest game of the season.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

NFL Picks: Week 10

2-1 last week, 15-10-2 on the year. Don't have much time, here we go.

Jags/Lions under 43.5
Bears/Titans under 37.5
Packers +2.5 over Vikings

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.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Midseason Review: Grading Each Position

Wow, the Buffalo win really puts a different twist on this season so far. Big divisional road wins like that are not easy, and that certainly helped wash out the bitter taste of the previous three weeks. 4-4 and a week away from heading into New England and Tennessee back to back would not look so good. Now, Jets fans have to feel like they have a fighter's chance to split those games (and beat the Rams on Sunday). These grades also would not look so good if it weren't for that win.

Quarterback: B
How can you grade Brett? In his short time here, he's made Jets fans forget and then yearn for Chad Pennington. He's broken personal records, and has given fans thrills and heart attacks so far. On the whole, he's played well enough to win 5 games, and for a guy who had only been in camp for a month before the season starts, he gets a bit of a pass. Now the pressure is on.

Runningbacks: A-
Thomas Jones is 4th in the AFC in rushing while Leon Washington has been a spark plug all over the field, making big plays. The two have clearly benefited from improved run blocking, but they have also been able to find the holes and make plays. I don't know how you could ask for much more from them so far, but they will be tested in upcoming weeks to prove if they are for real, but so far, so good. Tony Richardson has also made several key blocks, playing steadily at fullback.

Wide Receivers: B-
Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery make a nice starting tandem, but Coles has dropped a few too many balls this season, and Cotchery has been inconsistent in performance. Chansi Stuckey and Brad Smith have chipped in with nice plays from time to time, but there is room for improvement from this crew. Part of the problem has been the newness of Favre, but the receivers need to step up.

Tight Ends: C+
With Chris Baker and Bubba Franks limited by injuries, Dustin Keller has had to step in and play early. He's dropped a few passes, but he's also made a few plays. Mangini hasn't had him block too much so far, but he says he's gained more trust in the rookie's blocking. This group should also improve in the 2nd half.

Offensive Line: B+
What a difference a year and a boatload of money can make! The worst offensive line in football has helped turn a pedestrian running game into one of the better attacks in the NFL. Favre has also normally had time to throw, though the pass blocking has lapsed at times. Still, after last year's disaster, anything is an improvement.

Defensive Line: A+
What can I say about Kris Jenkins that hasn't been said already? He's getting publicity all over the media for his performance so far, not an easy feat for a nose tackle. His presence has been a huge part of the improvement of the run defense. Shaun Ellis has also had a resurgence, with 6.5 sacks already from a position that typically does not carry high sack totals. Opposite the underappreciated Ellis has been Kenyon Coleman, who is a key run-stopper. The backups have also stepped in and done a fine job, though when Jenkins is out of the game, the whole defense takes a step back.

Linebackers: A
Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace have been all over the field making plays, while Eric Barton has quietly led the team in total tackles. David Harris hasn't been as flashy as he was as a rookie, but he also hasn't needed to be. The linebackers have been so good as a whole that Harris doesn't need to make all the plays. Just think, the number 6 pick in the draft barely gets off the field. Of course, that might have as much to do with Gholston being a bust (so far) as it does the play of Thomas and Pace, but that's a story for another day.

Secondary: B-
The secondary has been victimized by the short pass, but they've done pretty well forcing teams to make big plays to beat them. Darrelle Revis is one of the best cornerbacks in football. He did a fantastic job guarding Lee Evans last week, barely letting Trent Edwards get the ball to his number one target. When teams have tried to throw at him, he's made four interceptions. Kerry Rhodes hasn't been the player we're used to seeing so far, but we were wondering the same thing at this point last year, and he turned it around in the second half. Dwight Lowery has been a surprise for a rookie, but he, Drew Coleman, and others have struggled at times. Eric Smith and Abram Elam have both started games at safety opposite Rhodes, but until Elam's interception for a touchdown last week, neither had really distinguished himself from the other.

Special teams: B
There are two ways to look at the Jets' special teams this year: the kicking game and the returning game. On one hand, Leon Washington averages 27 yards per kick return and 13 per punt return, providing one of the more dynamic return games in football. On the other hand, the Jets have gone through two kickers and two punters and are still searching. Mike Nugent is getting closer to coming back, so that should eliminate Feely, who is just 5-8 from 30-39 yards out. Ben Graham struggled this season, but his replacement Reggie Hodges promptly got injured as well. Hodges is healthy now and kicking well, but time will tell if he is the longterm answer.

Coaching: C-
I've been a fan of Mangini since he got here, but he and his staff have been very disappointing. Brian Schottenheimer's offensive gameplans have been incomprehensible at times. It's not that he's been too aggressive or too conservative, it's that many of the play calls seem to defy logic. The entire NFL was running all over the Chiefs, yet he had Favre throwing all the time. I've had less of a problem with the playcalling on defense, but at some point, the Jets need to stop letting teams slow-kill them down the field with short passes. By that, I mean, don't let Wes Welker have 12 receptions next Thursday.

At times, every part of the team has been up to the task. Favre's six touchdown game, Jones's 100-yard games, Jenkins and co. stopping the run, and Darrelle Revis's four interceptions have all been indicators that the pieces are all there. It's up to the coaching staff to get consistent balance in the offense and to get the pass rush and pass defense up to the same level as the run defense.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Midseason Review: Part 1. Inside the Numbers

This week I will provide some of the numbers behind the 5-3 Jets this season. Some interesting, some startling, some confusing, but all important so far.

905-608. That is the difference in rushing yards between the Jets and their opponents this year. Gone are the days of teams gashing the Jets on the ground, while Thomas Jones and Leon Washington have done the job behind a revamped offensive line.

15. The number of touchdown passes Brett Favre has thrown in half a season. Also the number of touchdown passes Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens combined totaled last season.

29. The number of sacks the Jets have tallied this season, with Shaun Ellis having 7, Bryan Thomas, David Bowens, and Calvin Pace 4, Kris Jenkins 3, and Eric Barton, Kerry Rhodes, Darrelle Revis, and Hank Poteat each getting 1. 29 is also the number of sacks the Jets' defense manufactured all of last season.

16. The number of times Brett Favre has been sacked. Compare this to the 53 times Jets quarterbacks were taken down last season. The offensive line has been night and day compared to last season, and that should only get better.

-4 With all the new sacks, protection, and touchdown-scoring the Jets have added this season, you would expect a better turnover ratio than -4. The dull, overmatched, dink and dunk Jets last season were -4 last season, too.

7. The number of tackles Vernon Gholston has recorded so far. Add in the number of sacks, forced fumbles, recovered fumbles, and interceptions he's had so far, and it's still 7. The Jets insist he's making progress, but add another impact pass rusher to the defense, and think of the possibilities.

4. Number of kickers and punters used by the Jets so far. Throw in Waylan Prather's short stay on the practice squad, and Ben Graham's return after his initial release, and it has been a crazy ride for the kicking game. Mike Nugent is still out, and who knows when he will be back. One note about Graham, the Saints just released him after one game last week.

12.75 and 12.98.

What are these numbers? Well, 12.75 is the "scoreability index," created by Cold Hard Football Facts to rank efficiency in terms of yards and points. For every 12.75 yards the Jets earn, they score a point, good for 6th in the NFL and 3rd in the AFC. This shows the Jets have been very efficient, though we know at times that has not been the case. The 12.98 number is more disturbing, as it means the defense has only allowed 12.98 yards per point, 27th in the NFL. I imagine both of these numbers will regress to the mean, but the defense surely has more room to improve.

4. Number of interceptions for Darrelle Revis, tied for the league lead. This despite teams rarely targeting him in favor of rookie Dwight Lowery who has held his own.

5-3, 2-1, 4-3. 5-3 is the Jets' overall record, tied for the division lead. 2-1 is the Jets' divisional record, with road wins over Miami and Buffalo and a home loss to New England. 4-3 is the Jets' conference record. These are the most three pieces of information when gauging a team and looking at their playoff chances, and the Jets are in good shape.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Jets vs Bills live blog!

I'll update this blog as the game goes on as my internet allows me to. Go Jets!

Inactives list:
QB Brett Ratliff
K Mike Nugent
WR David Clowney
CB Justin Miller
SS Eric Smith
ILB David Harris
TE Bubba Franks

For the Bills:
DE Aaron Schobel
WR Josh Reed
RB Xavier Omon
CB Ashton Youboty
RG Brad Butler
T Demetrius Bell
DT John McCargo
QB Gibran Hamdan

First Quarter

(1:02 PM): Jets win the toss and receive. Leon Washington with a nice return to the 38 yard-line.
(1:04 PM): Huge screen pass to Leon Washington! Getting the little guy involved early for a huge game. 80 all-purpose yards for him so far and the Jets are in business.
(1:07 PM):The third screen pass of the game (all three of Favre's passes so far) falls incomplete. 3rd and 8 and Keller drops a pass over the middle, so here comes Jay Feely for an early field goal. Bills have sent pressure. Feely makes the kick. 3-0 Jets.
(1:10 PM): Leodis McKelvin with a great return, as he patiently waits for a backdoor hole to arise, giving the Bills the ball at the 43.
(1:11 PM): Big lapse in coverage as Marshawn Lynch hits a 42 yard gain, wide open. Edwards was under pressure, but a linebacker (Bowens?) blew coverage.
(1:14 PM): Big return by each team, followed by a big screen pass. The Jets settled for 3 after a dropped Dustin Keller pass on third down. Can the Bills capitalize? Dwight Lowery was just called for a borderline pass interference. The good news for the Jets defense in the 2 pass plays is that they got to Edwards each time. Unfortunately, he was able to get the passes off both times. The Jets have been there, they just haven't made the plays so far.
(1:15 PM): Another play, another blown coverage. Touchdown Bills. 7-3 Bills.
(1:19 PM): You get the sense that special teams will be a big factor in this football game. If that's the case, advantage Bills, but Leon Washington is always dangerous as well. By the way, so much for Robert Turner not lining up as a tight end eligible, as he just lined up out wide as a receiver.
(1:21 PM): Leon Washington is pretty damn impressive, isn't he?
(1:22 PM): 3rd and inches, and the Jets get stopped, wasting a great effort by Leon Washington. This is not a good start, but a good punt pins the Bills back at their own 15.
(1:25 PM): PRESSURE KNOCKS THE BALL OUT! EDWARDS FUMBLES! Darrelle Revis forces and recovers a fumble! Jets in business!
(1:26 PM): Favre and the Jets try to give it right back with a fumble on the next play. Leon Washington pounced on it, but that's a waste of 1st down. Favre then gets hit as he throws, and 3rd and goal from the 6.
(1:27 PM): Favre throws it away. Phenomenal coverage by Buffalo, and the Jets waste a golden opportunity. Ugh. At least he threw it away, something I clamored for from him last week. Feely makes the 26 yard field goal, 7-6 Bills.
(1:31 PM): Coles was wide open on the 3rd down play. Favre didn't see him. Still, at least he didn't force a pick. Lynch fumbles, Bills get it back though.
(1:32 PM): The Jets run defense has answered the call early on. Will the pass defense ever catch up? The tackling has been quite poor so far, but a Bryan Thomas penalty will give the Bills 15 more yards.
(1:39 PM): Finally the Bills make a mistake, as Fred Jackson dropped a screen pass. Good pressure on Edwards on 3rd down should force a field goal.
(1:40 PM): The Jets had them with a 4th and 11. Instead, Mangini gets cute, takes the penalty to push them back, and they get the first down as the defender fell down. Horrible.
(1:43 PM): Mangini is praying his team can get a stand here on 3rd and goal. NEVERMIND! MANGENIUS IS FORGIVEN AS ABRAM ELAM RETURNS AN INTERCEPTION FOR A TOUCHDOWN!!! 13-7 Jets!

Second Quarter

(1:53 PM): Kris Jenkins is a monster. And this run defense has continued to be pretty dominant. The short passes continue to be deadly though. Having the lead makes things much better though.
(1:56 PM): 2nd and 12 at the 19. The Jets have to hold them to a field goal to make up for the offense's inability to put touchdowns on the board.
(1:59 PM): The defense holds! A huge stop on 4th and inches, and the Jets take over on downs!
(2:03 PM): What an interesting stat, 15:08 without the Jets' offense even getting on the field, and the Bills lose 7-0.
(2:05 PM): Coles caught that pass. That should be a first down. Let's see if they overturn it. As for a few other games, 21-3 Kansas City? Really? Tyler Thigpen caught a 37 yard touchdown pass; I can't wait to see that highlight. Cincinnati is also up 14-0 on Jacksonville. If the Jaguars lose, they'll be 3-5 and will have a tough uphill climb. Detroit also is up by 10 early on Chicago, so the bad teams are showing up early on. And the play stands.
(2:11 PM): Favre has been under pressure, but he's been hitting his receivers well this drive. Nice to see a hurry-up offense trying to gain some momentum. First down throws are making 2nd down consistently short yardage this drive.
(2:16 PM): Thomas Jones with a big run, and the Jets are once again in the red zone. A touchdown here would be absolutely huge.
(2:20 PM): A screen pass and a draw play, and the Jets are back in 3rd and long. The Jets are taking as much time as they can off the board because the Bills have no time outs left, so they will have plenty of time to think of a play to get 12 yards.
(2:23 PM): A receiver screen? I know you don't want Buffalo to score, but that is the definition of conservative. I don't have a big problem with it, but it's definitely from the playing not-to-lose style of coaching. Assuming Feely makes the kick, they will be up by 9 points heading into half most likely.
(2:25 PM): And then Feely shanks the kick. Playing not-to-lose fails again, and you have to wonder when Jay Feely runs out of opportunities.

Halftime thoughts

Both teams go into half wondering what might have been. The Bills can't be pleased that they had the ball for 15 minutes without letting the Jets touch it, but they couldn't come away with points either time. The Jets can't be happy that they're finally winning the turnover battle and have had three chances in the red zone leading to 6 points. The Jets take the 13-7 lead, but the Bills get the ball to start the 2nd half. It wasn't pretty on either side, but it's been entertaining.

Third Quarter

(2:57 PM): 4 trips to the red zone. 3 field goals. 20 yard field goal from Feely caps a very good drive, but still not 7 points. 16-7 Jets.
(3:00 PM): Marshawn Lynch is back, but the Bills still have no hope rushing the ball so far. Jets need to cover the receivers better though.
(3:07 PM): Jets had a good opportunity to stop them on 3rd and 8, but Drew Coleman is beaten from the slot. Still, it's always good to see other team's fans booing their home team.
(3:09 PM): Jets with a big stop on 2nd down, but an 8 yard pass on 3rd down gives Rian Lindell a long 53 yard kick. And he drills it. 16-10 Jets.
(3:14 PM): Leon Washington is a genius. And the underneath passing has been there all game. They've been bending but not breaking. This is a big drive to extend the lead back to two scores.
(3:16 PM): 35 yards on the play action to Cotchery! 1st and goal Jets. THOMAS JONES TOUCHDOWN! 23-10 Jets!

Fourth Quarter

(3:33 PM): So right after a Rian Lindell missed field goal, Favre throws a bad interception to Jabari Greer returned for a touchdown. Unreal.
(3:38 PM): Jets get one first down, but the Bills have some momentum now. 10 minutes ago, this game could have been over. Now, the Bills will make every yard difficult.
(3:45 PM): This is one of those drives where the Jets are telling the Bills, "We are going to run the football, and you can't stop it." 7 minutes off the clock in this drive and counting. A field goal makes it a two score game, so a touchdown is not necessary.
(3:54 PM): 8:41 off the clock that drive. Buffalo is gutted with no time outs and just 2:12 on the clock, needing to make up two scores. 26-17 Jets.
(4:01 PM): And Darrelle Revis intercepts Trent Edwards to ice the game. 26-17 Jets is your final! The Jets move to 5-3, tied with Buffalo. A New England loss tonight and your New York Jets are tied for first in the AFC East!

NFL Picks: Week 9

Game day, late picks, let's roll! 2-1 last week. A respectable 13-9-2 on the season, but as usual, I hope this is a good week. At least the one game I lost, Carolina and Arizona going over, provided me a fantasy football lift with DeAngelo Williams.

Detroit +12.5 over Chicago
12.5 is a weird number, but it tells me people are begging you to take Chicago. Detroit just signed Daunte Culpepper to a two year deal, but Dan Orlovsky hasn't been that bad. Look for Orlovsky to attack Chicago through the air with Calvin Johnson to score enough points to keep it close. Big favorites have struggled this year to cover, and I expect that to continue to be the case. Detroit has been better recently, and you know they want to win. Chicago is coming off a bye, but this still could be a trap game with the undefeated Titans coming to town next week. The Bears aren't a blowout team.
Bears 24, Lions 17

Minnesota -5.5 vs Houston
The Texans spent a month at home, and now this is their first road game in a while. The Vikings are coming off their bye week, so they are well-rested for a Houston team which has looked good in recent weeks, albeit at home and against bad teams. They will try to throw on the Vikings, but don't expect Houston to be able to generate much of a running game with Steve Slaton. Minnesota should be able to run the ball at will against a somewhat suspect Texans defense. This is mostly a matchup play against a Texans team that will be in a tough environment after being in the friendly confines of Reliant Stadium for a while.
Vikings 34, Texans 24

Tennessee -3.5 over Green Bay
I hadn't planned on making this pick, but the Titans have been the best team in the NFL this year. Do we want to give them some respect and some credit? How will Green Bay stop the Titans' rushing attack? The Packers should (and probably will) attack through the air, but until the Titans lose, giving 3.5 points at home to a non-elite team is just something I can't really pass up.
Titans 28, Packers 21

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Jets vs Bills Preview

The New York Jets travel up to Buffalo for a key divisional matchup Sunday at 1:00. Win, and all is forgiven for the last three weeks, and the Jets are either tied or a game out of first, depending on what New England does Sunday night against New England. Lose, especially badly, and you bet fans will start (or continue) to jump off the bandwagon.

Clearly, the most important reason for the recent sluggishness is the -8 turnover ratio. Posting another -2 or -3 performance will surely lead to defeat because Buffalo is on a whole other level than Kansas City, Oakland, or Cincinnati. The Jets currently sit at 5.5 point underdogs in Las Vegas as the Bills have shown more in beating teams that they should beat. They did lose to Miami 25-16 last week, but Buffalo is always a more formidable opponent at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

The Bills now sit at 5-2, tied for the division lead with the Patriots, but they are just 0-1 in the division. A win would give the Jets a 2-1 record in the division with two home games left against Miami and Buffalo and one road game at New England two weeks from today. Any reasonable fan would have taken 5-3 with a 2-1 divisional record, especially if the Pats lose Sunday night, creating a three-way tie on top of the division.

But it is folly to assume a victory. The Bills do everything you can ask for from a football team, as they can do everything offensively and defensively. On offense, they can hurt you deep with Lee Evans (remember last year’s game with Abram Elam taking out Darrelle Revis for an 80+ yard touchdown?), and Trent Edwards being efficient. He can be rattled a little by pressure, so that will be a priority as usual.

This is a huge statement game for the Jets. If they play the way they have the previous three weeks, they won't win. Gang Green needs to prove that the Arizona game wasn't simply a Cardinals team self-destructing in all aspects. Win and all is forgiven. Lose and 4-4 with a revitalized St. Louis team coming in before trips to New England and undefeated Tennessee, and the season could quickly fall apart. All the players have shown flashes of playing very well at times, but there has been little consistency by either the players or the coaching staff. A win is certainly not out of the question, but I need to see more before I can predict a big road win. My heart says yes, my head says no.
Bills 24, Jets 22