No Jet fan, including myself, can honestly say that they saw this team having a 3-0 record entering New Orleans on Sunday afternoon. But, these are the new Jets and Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez are taking baby steps at proving that. The “Same Old Jets” would’ve lost last Sunday to the Tennessee Titans (0-3) and at one point, it looked like they would, but in the end the Jets did enough to win the game and at the end of the day, that is all that matters. The duo of Ryan and Sanchez are out to write a new chapter in Jets history, but for now they will be going up against statistically the best offense in the NFL so far this season.
QB Drew Brees (67-97, 841yds, 9 TD, 2 INT) leads the NFL in touchdown passes through the first three weeks and leads the Saints number one passing game (and number two rushing game, surprisingly) up against the Jets defense which is letting up the 3rd least amount of yards (256) per game and 2nd least in points allowed (11). That number is higher than it should be because one of the three touchdowns given up by the Jets this season was not allowed by the defense. Veteran LB Bart Scott hopes to bring the same success to New Orleans that he and Ryan had against the Saints high power attack in 2006 when both were in Baltimore. That day the Ravens forced four turnovers by Brees and won the game 35-22, but the score indicates a close result than it really was. At one point, Baltimore led the game 35-7.
Speaking of turnovers, both teams are on the positive side of the turnover margin. The Jets are +3 while New Orleans is +4. It is no secret in the NFL to win you need to be able to limit your mistakes if you want to win a championship and so far this season, both teams have done a very good job at doing so. Sanchez fumbled the ball twice last week and is looking to find ways to limit his recent fumbling issues.
Another thing you need in the NFL to win is a ground game (Yes, yes, I know the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals defied that logic last season but remind me how well those teams are doing right now.. fluke season for Arizona and nobody wins consistently without a ground game). The Jets had the AFC’s leading rusher in 2008 in Thomas Jones but so far Jones has struggled. Jones posts a measly 3.8ypc average (48 carries, 181 yards), however those numbers are inflated. His counterpart Leon Washington (41 carries, 164 yards) has been the more consistent of the two. Establishing a running game will be crucial in beating the Saints. The offense needs to find a way to keep Drew Brees and his weapons off the field, the defense is not going to be able to save this team in all 16 or more games.
Speaking of Brees’ weapons, Marques Colston (15 receptions, 195yds, 3 TD) heads an amazing cast of weapons for the Saints offense and the former Hofstra University play maker will be facing his home town Jets for the first time in his NFL career. While Colston has the height, his counterpart Devery Henderson (11 receptions, 214yds, TD) has the blazing speed to burn past defenders, this is a dynamic one two punch that compliment each other better than most tandems in the league. Other weapons include RB’s Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell as well as former Giant TE Jeremy Shockey. How many balls will Shockey drop Sunday? You know you can always count on at least one bone head play from Shockey in a big game and a battle of two 3-0 teams is a big game.
Jet CB’s Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland, who both missed the Titan game last Sunday, still have not practiced although Lito has been running around and he seems to have a much better shot at playing than Strickland. If Lito can play, Dwight Lowery and Drew Coleman will take time in the Nickel, if neither can play, Lowery will start for a second straight week and Coleman will main the Nickel. Against the Saints hire power offense, it would be a welcomed addition to have even one of the two injured corner’s back in the lineup.
Bottom Line: This is the biggest test for the Jets so far this season. New England at home Week 2 was a great game, but right now, even the Saints are playing better than the Patriots, and this game isn’t at the Meadowlands, this is at the Superdome. Rex Ryan is going to have to dial up some creative blitz packages and pressure Brees into mistakes or otherwise this could be a very long day and a humbling experience for Gang Green.
Jets – 27
New Orleans – 24
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