The 2-2 New York Jets will travel to Atlanta to take on the 1-3 Falcons in the Georgia Dome in a primetime matchup on Monday Night Football. The Falcons are coming off of a painful loss at home to the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football, and the Jets are looking to gain some ground in their division on the undefeated Patriots and the 3-1 Dolphins.
The most important thing to know about the 2013 Jets is that they are neither the 2012 Jets nor the 2011 Jets, a team that finished 6-10 last season, and 8-8 the season before. Mark Sanchez, usually good for a few humorous turnovers, was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury suffered in preseason, and rookie Geno Smith isn't looking like a tremendous upgrade at this point, but the Jets defense is another story.
The Jets' defense is currently ranked eighth in the league against the pass, allowing just 203.8 passing yards per game, and fourth in the league against the run, with just 79.2 rushing yards allowed per game. Their pass rush is also tied for third in the NFL with 14 sacks, and their defense is allowing touchdowns to opponents in the red zone just 38.46% of the time. Put simply, the Jets' defensive strengths do not match up well with Atlanta's weaknesses along the offensive line and in the red zone.
The Jets' offense is another story. For one thing, Geno Smith has already given the world his own version of the infamous Mark Sanchez buttfumble.
The Jets are averaging just 17 points per game, are missing key receivers Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill, as well as running back Chris Ivory, and Geno Smith has thrown eight interceptions, but just four touchdowns. New York's offensive line has struggled, also, allowing 14 sacks so far this season. It feels like Matt Ryan has been sacked constantly, but he has only taken seven sacks this season, so Geno has it twice as rough. Even with the Falcons' considerable injuries and relative inexperience on defense, they should be able to handle the Jets.
For some perspective on the Jets 2-2 record, let's consider the teams they've played so far. They beat the 0-4 Buccaneers by a one point margin, and beat the 2-3 Buffalo Bills by a touchdown. They lost to the 4-0 New England Patriots by three points in a sloppy game in New England, and they got destroyed last week on the road by the 3-1 Tennessee Titans. The Falcons lost to the 3-1 Dolphins on the road in a close game, and their other two losses came in close games to the 4-0 Patriots and the 4-0 Saints, who also handed Miami their single loss of the season so far.
A quarter of the season is gone, and this game is about as must-win as it gets. On paper, there is no way the Jets offense should be able to outscore Atlanta's offense on the road. A commanding win would allow the Falcons to go into the bye week with a little momentum, so they can rest up, get healthy, and prepare for the rest of the season.
What are you expecting from the Jets and the Falcons on Monday Night Football?