New York Jets @ New England Patriots
When The Pats have the ball...
|Gronkowski and Hernandez|
The Jets D has Top 5 stats in almost every category, but the feeling is that as the season progressed they regressed...it was looking like if you can avoid Darrelle Revis and just pick on the other DB's you can make hay vs this D...that was not the case in the Wild Card game...Revis was amazing holding WR Reggie Wayne to 1 yard on 1 catch, but the rest of squad was good too...Safeties Eric Smith and Brodney Pool will need to have even better games in Foxborough, especially as they will need to account for the aforementioned Patriots TE's...for me the loss a short time ago of S Jim Leonard and really the loss of DT Kris Jenkins are monster losses for this Jets D, especially in this game...Leonard because of the Pats TE and running threat, and Jenkins is a huge loss IMO as I believe to beat Tom Brady you need to be able to bring pressure up the middle to collapse his passing pocket...the Ravens and Steelers are both much better equipped for the task as the Jets lost Jenkins some time ago now...teams try to pressure Brady on the edges with blitzes, but coming from the edge takes 1 extra second and that is all the time Brady needs to find the match-up he wants to exploit and deliver the football...the last time that Brady threw an INT I still had hopes for the Dolphins season...that was a l o n g time ago...that is bad news for the Gotham Green as they only forced 12 INT's all season long
When The Jets have the ball...
Of the 4 remaining teams in the AFC the Jets with Mark Sanchez have the worst QB...I would not say Sanchez is bad, and I would not say he did not take steps forward in 2010, but we would all rank Brady/Flacco/Big Ben ahead of Sanchez...The Jets coaching staff credit Sanchez for the play call at the end of the game on Saturday where he put a good pass on Braylon Edwards...that allowed Nick Folk to kick a much closer Field Goal to win the Colts game...his maturation and his accuracy on that play are both examples of his progression...still, we have said all year if you are going to go into Foxborough to play the Brady Bunch you had better bring your A+ Offense which we said is 30+ points with zero turnovers...Dropped passes were not an issue for the Jets in the Dome, but in frigid Foxborough we could see a different story...there will be multiple times where Sanchez and the passing game will need to convert third-and-long situations leaving Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, and Dustin Keller to go against a poor New England Secondary (only Washington and Houston were worse for yards allowed in 2010)...now to be fair to that Pats Secondary usually teams are forced early in a game to throw a lot vs the Pats D as Tom Terrific normally has one or two TD's on the board before smoke from the pre-game fireworks has even cleared out so we can cut them some slack...the numbers are very bad, but it does seem to be a unit that is improving...For me the Jets will have to really rely on the running game to beat the Pats...New E allows 4.2 yards per carry and Ladanian Tomlinson needs to have a similar day to the one he had on Wild Card Weekend ie 2 TD's...the guy I will say is the key on Sunday is Shonn Greene...do we see similar talent give-or-take between Ray Rice and Greene? Well then let's remember the 83 yard TD scamper on the games first play 1 year ago from the day I write this (Jan 10, 2010) to stun the Pats, and stun the crowd...before anyone could catch their breath from that play the Ravens had added another TD and 5 minutes into that game, at New England by the way, the Ravens led 14-0 and they never looked back...If this game plan by the Jets O is standard and isn't planning to try to get Greene multiple touches then I can't see anything but a Pats blowout W...Greene ran for just 2 TD's all season...I think he needs 2 TD's this game alone to have the Jets competitive in this one
|MONSTER season for Jerod Mayo|
All-in-all it seems to me like Baltimore and Pitt have legit chances to beat this Pats team...the Jets just do not seem to me like a roster that can beat Tom Terrific et al...
Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers
When Baltimore has the ball...
|Can Joe Flacco get the passing game going?!?!|
This Pittsburgh D is #1 for fewest points allowed per game (14.5) and #1 for fewest rushing yards allowed per game (this team allows an average of only 62.8 yards per game...wow)...they run a 3-4 base D (as does Baltimore, New E, and the Jets)...this team has slightly more INT's than Baltimore, and way more Forced Fumbles and Fumble Recoveries...the unit is banged up...really at this time of the year for any team that is par for the course...Troy Polamalu is on the same level as far as controlling a game with talent and intelligence as guys like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are known to be on the Offensive side...ILB's James Farrior and Lawrence Timmons are healthier perhaps than most on this unit and they will have to control how much of a factor Todd Heap is over the middle - and Ray Rice out of the backfield...a big game is likely needed this weekend from S Ryan Clark...we know the key guys will be Polamalu and OLB James Harrison and the havoc they wreak on a regular basis
When Pittsburgh has the ball...
|STILL on another level|
Speaking of Reed there is a question as to how effective he will be on Saturday as he is with his family this week in Louisiana attending to a situation where his younger brother jumped into the Mississippi River last Friday as he was running from the police and he has not yet been found...the one thing though is that Reed knows this D, and knows this Steelers O inside and out so he shouldn't be too far behind the game plan this week as far as X's and O's go...this Ravens D is Top 5 in points allowed per game (16.9) and rushing yards allowed per game (93.9)...future Hall Of Fame LB Ray Lewis is the inspirational leader of this unit...at 35 years old his 139 tackles led the team, and were his most in the last 6 seasons...Lewis had a Sack and a Forced Fumble in their Wild Card win @ KC...the entire D surrendered just 161 yards to KC...OLB Terrell Suggs is back on the map as a bad-ass s.o.b...he had 11 Regular Season Sacks, plus 2 more @ KC...Suggs said earlier this week that the Baltimore-Pittsburgh rivalry is "definitely Armageddon"...Strong Safety Dawan Landry had a great season, but his INT vs KC last week was his first INT of the year
NFC Divisional Weekend blog to follow soon... firstname.lastname@example.org