Preview: Jets (2-2) vs. Falcons (1-3)

Cromartie and the Jets secondary need to step it up this week despite injuries

The Jets are coming off their worst game of the season. At 2-2 they’ll be traveling to Atlanta trying to avoid falling below .500 for the first time this season. They’ll likely have to do it without star receiver Santonio Holmes. Holmes and second-year receiver Stephen Hill were hurt in the game last week against the Titans, but Hill might be able to make it back for the game. He practiced on a limited basis on Friday.

The Falcons are coming off a disappointing loss of their own. Last season they were the top seed in the NFC, and came into this season with similar expectations. But they’ve started the season 1-3, and are dealing with injuries to top offensive playmakers Roddy White and Steven Jackson. No one is ready to write them off, though, and they’ll be at the Georgia Dome where the Falcons have only lost 8 times since Mike Smith and Matt Ryan joined the team in 2008.

When: Monday, October 7, 2013 8:30 p.m. EST (ESPN)

Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA

Injury Report (As of Thursday):

Jets – Probable: Stephen Hill (concussion), Chris Ivory (hamstring); Questionable: Kellen Winslow (knee), Clyde Gates (knee), Out: Santonio Holmes (hamstring), Mike Goodson (hamstring), Dee Milliner, Oday Aboushi

Falcons –Probable: Johnathan Babineaux;  Questionable: Roddy White (ankle), Julio Jones (knee), Asante Samuel (thigh), Chase Coffman; Out: Stephen Jackson (hamstring)

Game Keys:

The Secondary – It’s no secret the secondary struggled against the Tennessee last week. This week they’ll be going up against a Falcon offense that is loaded with playmakers and big bodies. It should be a challenge for Darrin Walls and Kyle Wilson with Dee Milliner missing another week. The good news is the defensive line should have an easier time getting pressure on Matt Ryan, and that’ll make things easier on the backend.

Geno Smith – The rookie dug the Jets in a hole early. The defense has been great, but they were put in a tough position last week. Smith can’t have a repeat performance, especially against a team as talented offensively as the Falcons are.

The Running Game – The Jets got Mike Goodson back from suspension, but he’s ruled out this week for a hamstring injury, which is unfortunate as this week looked to be the first look at the three headed monster they were expecting to have in training camp. Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell will be out there again. With the injuries at receiver, a strong running game would be a big boost on offense. There is also the added bonus of keeping Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense on the bench.

X-Factor:

Jeff Cumberland – The receivers are hurting. Kellen Winslow would be a good option, but teams have been trying to take him away after the rapport he showed with Geno week one. Cumberland has been a bit of a forgotten man, but this may be a week that Marty decides to feature the tight ends.

The Pick: The game will be closer than the spread. The Jets were embarrassed last week, but the defense will bounce back. The running game will take off, and Geno will be more careful with the ball. But the Falcons don’t lose at home often, and aren’t going to do it in two straight weeks. Matty Ice will find a way to win it in the fourth.

Falcons win 24-17

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