On Sunday the New York Jets (5-5) take on the Baltimore Ravens (4-6) in a game that has huge playoff implications. A victory for the Jets will keep the team in the hunt for a wild card berth while a loss for the Ravens would all but eliminate Baltimore from the post season. Lets take a look at some of the keys to the game from a New York perspective.
Improved line play- The New York Jets offensive line is going to face a ton of pressure as the Ravens are going to stack the box in order to stop the run. Baltimore is going to give a variety of looks in order to confuse both Geno Smith and his linemen. New York’s line must be up to the challenge and respond with physical play and sound blocking. The unit cannot afford blown assignments and communication issues as the Ravens defense will be quick to capitalize. Keep an eye on left guard Brian Winters as he comes off of a disappointing performance against the Bills last week. Winters and the rest of the line will have their hands full with Terrell Suggs (9 sacks) and Elvis Dumervil (8.5 sacks).
Better decision making- Rookie quarterback Geno Smith is coming off of a dreadful performance last week where he made several poor decisions with the football. Smith must do a better job of identifying pressure and using his legs when the pockets starts to collapse. Geno cannot continue to force throws and has to take what the defense gives him.
Maximizing resources- The New York Jets are facing a very aggressive defense therefore the unit must find ways to slow down the pass rush. Gang Green has to utilize the short to intermediate passing game which will open up the ground game. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg should look to feature Kellen Winslow and Jeff Cumberland over the middle and incorporate more quick slants to Santonio Holmes and David Nelson. Predictable/conservative play calling will spell trouble for Geno and the Jets.
Contain Rice- Running back Ray Rice is having a disappointing season for the Ravens but he remains a dangerous threat with the ball in his hands. The Jets defense must win the battles in the trenches and slow down the Baltimore running attack. Gang Green’s linebackers and safeties have to remain consistent in pass coverage as Rice (36 receptions) has become a safety valve at times in the offense.
Beat up Flacco- The Baltimore Ravens passing game has struggled with quarterback Joe Flacco throwing as many interceptions (13) as touchdowns. The Jets defense must find ways to get consistent pressure on Flacco and force the Ravens signal caller into poor decisions. New York’s defensive line must become a destructive force which will take pressure off of the struggling secondary.
Smith vs. Cromartie- It is no secret that the Ravens are going to test the Jets’ secondary as the unit has been consistently giving up big plays. Look for Joe Flacco to try and spread the field with Torrey Smith (46 receptions, 785 yards, 3 tds) and Jacoby Jones. The spotlight will be on New York defensive back Antonio Cromartie who will more than likely shadow Smith.
The biggest key for the Jets is to start out strong. Gang Green has been outscored 34-6 in the first quarter of road games and the poor starts cannot continue.
On offense the Jets are going to have their hands full as Baltimore is stout against both the run (11th) and the pass (13th). There have to be some concerns with how Geno Smith and company are going to handle the early pressure and hostile crowd.
On defense the Jets should be able to stifle the running game and get after Joe Flacco. Gang Green’ secondary will surely be tested early and often.
The outcome of the game will predicated on the defense that creates the most turnovers. Unfortunately for the Jets I think Flacco will outplay Geno. Ravens 21-13