Florham Park, N.J.- Tonight the Jets will board a plane and fly out to Denver to prepare for Sunday’s game against the 2-3 Broncos. With the Jets facing a bye week after this game it is crucial for them to keep the momentum they have been building going and get a win so they can properly enjoy their week off.
On paper this seems like a game the Jets should be able to win rather easily, but we all know the games are decided on the field, not on paper. However in order to preview the game, dissecting the match-ups on paper is the only way to go.
Often times when looking at a preview of a game you will see people breaking each teams into positions and seeing who has the edge at what position. This can be helpful, but it completely ignores the fact that the quarterbacks, running backs and receivers don’t actually match-up on the field against the other teams offense and the defenses also don’t match-up with each other. So instead of breaking it down position by position the breakdowns will match-up unit against unit.
Where and when: Invesco Field at Mile High, in Denver @ 4:05 Eastern time on Sunday Oct. 17.
How the Broncos got to 2-3: The Broncos lost their first game of the season when they traveled to Jacksonville, losing 24-17, they then easily dismissed the Seattle Seahawks, 31-14, and followed that with a 27-13 loss to the Colts. The following week the Broncos traveled to Tennessee where they knocked off the Titans, 26-20, in a hard fought game. Last week they played the team that is most similar to the Jets as the Ravens beat the Broncos into submission winning 31-17.
In case you haven’t noticed the pattern the Broncos are trading each loss for a win the following week and with them losing their last game the Jets will be intent on putting a stop to this lose a game win the next nonsense.
Broncos Offense Vs. Jets Defense
Rushing - The Broncos have the worst rushing offense in the league, only averaging 51.8 yards a game, meanwhile we all know just how strong the Jets defense has been against the run. The Jets have the league’s fourth best rushing defense allowing only 79 yards a game and let’s just say they have faced far more dangerous rushing teams than the Broncos.
While no one should expect the Broncos to have much success running the ball against the Jets front-seven, you should expect them to steadily slip in a couple runs here and there, just to make sure the Jets have to respect the running game, at least a little. Still the Broncos know they can’t win this game by counting on the run game, they will instead try and use the run game only as a way to keep the Jets defense off-balance and set up the pass.
Passing - This is where things are going to get interesting. As awful as the Broncos have been on the ground they have been dominate through the air, ranking second in the league with 333 yards passing a game. After the Jets had the, by far, best passing defense in the league last year, the secondary has struggled due to communication problems and a lack of Darrelle Revis at times.
So far this year the Jets secondary has been victimized way too much as they have the 23rd ranked passing defense allowing 234.6 yards a game. One area the Jets defense has improved on since last year is in the turnover battle as they are applying heavy pressure and forcing mistakes and finishing the play to complete the turnover.
The Broncos love to spread the ball all around the field and their quarterback Kyle Orton has done an excellent job of doing just that and finding whichever receiver is open. With the Jets secondary playing better, but still not to it’s capabilities, it’s up to the front-seven and whichever extra defenders Rex Ryan blitzes to disrupt Orton early and often and not give him time to find the open receiver. However the Jets must be careful because not only is Orton dangerous when given time, he is also extremely good at getting rid of the ball quickly on hot reads when the defense blitzes him
The Broncos don’t have a Randy Moss or Brandon Marshall caliber receiver, but they have three solid, smart receivers who know how to find cracks in the defense. With or without Revis the Jets corners will have to press the receivers and smother them just long enough for the pass rushers to disrupt Orton’s flow.
Edge: Slight lean to the Broncos and only because it’s still questionable as to if Revis will be 100 percent. The stats are heavily in the Broncos favor, but besides the Ravens the Broncos have yet to play a solid defense, meanwhile the Jets secondary is still improving and did a great job of rattling Tom Brady, so in theory they should be able to contain this pass-happy attack for most of the game. But clearly this is the most dangerous part of the Broncos team and the Jets haven’t shown they can be consistent enough yet to just throw these stats out the window.
Jets Offense Vs. Broncos D
Rushing – The Broncos love to use eight-men in the box, particularly against a team that runs the ball as well as the Jets, but with Safety Brian Dawkins out for the game it will be interesting to see just how the Broncos decide to employ the eight men in the box strategy. The Broncos must also be careful to overload on playing against the run, just because the Jets have the number one rushing attack, they have proven they are not afraid to let Sanchez take his shots on first and second downs to take advantage of defenses playing against the run.
Linebacker Robert Ayers is also out for the Broncos and considering the Broncos already have the 25th best rushing defense allowing 127.4 yards a game, including 233 total rushing yards to the Ravens last week, expect the Jets to give the Broncos a steady helping of both their running backs and the Jets will look to exploit their strength and a Broncos weakness all at once. The Jets offensive line, full backs and two-headed monster at running back will simply be too much for the Broncos defense to handle.
Passing - With Brian Dawkins as well as cornerback Andre’ Goodman missing this game the Denver secondary is far from full strength, but they still have one of the best corners in the game, not named Darrelle Revis, in Champ Bailey. Bailey is a smart, crafty veteran that Sanchez must be aware of at all time, look for Sanchez to avoid Bailey as much as possible to take advantage of other more favorable match-ups.
With the addition of Holmes and the progression of Keller, Sanchez will have his choice of which weapon to use and although the Broncos have the 16th best pass ranked defense, allowing 213.8 yards per game, with their injuries and them focusing so much on the run look for Sanchez to catch them off guard and hit his receivers for some big plays through the air when the Broncos load up the box.
The Jets also earn points in this area because just as much as their offensive line is a powerful force when running the ball, they are equally good at pass blocking. The Jets offensive line has only allowed seven sacks through the first five games and the Broncos defense only has five sacks on the season, this should allow Sanchez plenty of time to decide which open receiver he wants to hit and should allow him to continue limiting his mistakes.
Edge: Jets too many weapons, and really the Jets running game is too strong for the Broncos to ignore which is why the Jets should also be to take advantage of this defense through the air as well.
Special Teams – The Jets special teams have been beyond excellent all season long, whether it’s Nick Folk going 5-5 for field goals in a game, Steve Weatherford punting the ball pinning it inside the 20-yard-line or Brad Smith returning kicks to set the Jets up in great field position. The Jets win this match-up just about every week.
X-Factor: Revis’s hamstring
The Broncos deadly passing attack has been talked about over and over again, but if Revis is 100 percent and can stay 100 percent then all of a sudden this Broncos offense could find itself in trouble. If Revis can’t go the Jets still have the weapons to stop some of the Broncos receivers, but they might find themselves on the wrong end of some match-up problems further down the depth chart.
Braylon Vs. Champ - As previously stated Champ Bailey is a top-flight corner who is more than capable of shutting down most receivers. The Broncos could decide to just stick Bailey on Edwards all game to take him away, but even is he succeeds in shutting Edwards out that will still leave Holmes, Keller, Cotchery and L.T. for Sanchez to find in open space. But the Broncos can ill afford to stick Bailey on Edwards and have Edwards make plays too.
Jabar Gaffney Vs. Kyle Wilson - If Revis can play the entire game then this shouldn’t be a problem as Drew Coleman would most likely be covering Gaffney most of the time, probably switching on and off Gaffney and Eddie Royal as they take turns lining up in the slot. If Revis can’t play or is limited then look for the Broncos to test Wilson early and often. Gaffney is definitely the Broncos third best receiver, but he is an excellent route runner, and a savvy veteran who could cause problems for the rookie.
Keys to the game
Broncos – On defense the Broncos must stop the run and force Sanchez to make poor decisions when passing. On offense the Broncos won’t have much success running the ball, but they can’t abandon the run game and must be able to use play-action to keep the Jets defense honest. The Broncos o-line must protect Orton and give him time to find an open receiver if they have any chance of winning this game.
Jets- Get in Orton’s face and knock him to the ground, Press the receivers so they can’t bail Orton out by being open immediately. On offense, ground and pound to control the clock then set up the pass, although it might be best to switch it up for the first drive or two to force the Broncos to stop loading the box with eight guys and as soon as they back off that, then start pounding even more.
Red zone/third down conversions on both sides of the ball
Last week the Jets clearly struggled when they got into the red zone as they had to keep settling for field goals, against a team that can move the ball through the air as well as the Broncos field goals won’t be enough the Jets need to score touchdowns. The red zone problems of last week can be attributed to the combination of the Vikings bend but don’t break defense and the sloppy weather, but the Jets can’t expect to continue the sloppy play and win every week.
The real problem for the Jets have been on third downs, the Jets have had far too much trouble both converting on third downs on offense and stopping the opposing offenses on third down. Every time the defense gives up a first down on third-and-long, it breathes life and confidence into the other offense and the Jets must look to frustrate this Broncos passing attack from the first snap of the game. Getting big stops on first and second down does no good if they’re just going to let them convert on third down, this is something the Jets need to fix, not just for this game but for the rest of the season as well.
The Pick - Expect Orton to make some big plays through the air, but also look for the Jets to try and get a lead and then keep Orton off the field by pounding the ball on the ground and eating up clock. The Jets will dominate this game on the ground, but Sanchez and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will take their shots when they are there and the Jets should win this one rather easily. Although don’t be surprised if the Broncos make a late run in the game to make the final score seem like the game was closer than it really was.
Jets win – 27-17