On Sunday the New York Jets head down to Baltimore to take on the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium (8:20 EST). The Jets are coming off of a very disappointing loss to the Raiders while the Ravens enter the game flying high after beating up the St. Louis Rams. Lets take a look at some of the keys to the game from the Jets perspective.
Mangold or Baxter- Nick Mangold appears to be a game time decision, which will be a huge factor in this match-up. If Mangold is unable to play Colin Baxter will take over for the All-Pro and will be asked to block Haloti Ngata, one of the best defensive players in the NFL. To say this is a concerning issue is an understatement as the Jets will have to find ways to get Baxter some help in terms of blocking and line calls.
Protect Sanchez- Over the past 3 weeks quarterback Mark Sanchez has been taking a beating and that trend must stop against the Ravens. The Jets must find ways to protect Sanchez by either moving him out of the pocket, utilizing the short passing game, or putting the young signal caller in the shotgun formation. Keep an eye on linebacker Terrell Suggs and safety Ed Reed as they both can disrupt the passing game.
2 minute offense- There is a very good chance that the Jets will look to use the “two minute offense” in order to get Mark Sanchez in rhythm early in the game. Sanchez is very effective running the hurry up offense and this strategy will keep the Ravens defense off balance and limit their opportunities to make substitutions and change coverages. If the Jets can get the passing game going early on, it will then open up the rushing attack.
Contain Rice- The Baltimore Ravens offense is built around running back Ray Rice. Gang Green’s defense must find ways to limit the dynamic back’s ability to make big plays. The Jets linebackers must control the edge and the safeties and corners must shed their blocks and consistently tackle the ball carrier.
Cromartie must shine- Defensive back Antonio Cromartie will have his hands full on Sunday night, especially considering the fact that he is playing with an injury to his ribs. Cromartie will be tested early and often by the Ravens and he must find ways to maintain coverage without penalties.
Maybin gets a shot- The New York Jets re-signed linebacker Aaron Maybin this week and the former first round pick will get a shot to rush the passer. Maybin’s quickness could help the Jets especially considering that some of the Ravens linemen (like Bryant McKinnie) are slow getting off of the snap.
This is going to be a very physical game between two teams that are going to try to break each others will. The Ravens are very similar in style to the Jets and an argument can be made that Baltimore is slightly better in a few areas. I expect Rex Ryan to have his Jets ready to play and would not be surprised to see Gang Green come out very aggressive. In the end the game will be decided by the play of Mark Sanchez. The Ravens should be able to stop the Jets rushing attack and will force Gang Green to beat them with the passing game. If Sanchez shines, the Jets win. If Mark struggles, Gang Green will be in for a long night. Ravens 16-13