The extrapolation approach represents a tricky tact when analyzing the National Football League, entirely due to the unpredictability governing any given game. A gambler can factor in variables such as momentum, positional match-ups, weather, home field advantage, anything under the sun to draw conclusions, and still be betrayed by a fluke bounce or terrible officiating call.
There was a hilarious scene on “The Sopranos” one time, where Furio, the foreign enforcer, berates a bar owner who lost his place on a bet because of a missed extra point. The guy is in hysterics, eyes bawling, cursing the Vikings’ kicker who ruined his life, while an unfeeling Furio throws a drink in his face. Ah… what a show. The point is, one never knows in football. It defies explanation with regularity. The Bengals’ heartbreaking loss to Denver back in week one was stunning, the result of a wild finish that wouldn’t occur ninety nine times if the Broncos had a hundred chances to manufacture a miracle. Equally improbable was Cincinnati bouncing back and winning three straight. So, why bother with predictions? Well… I have to. And this Monday Night showdown could have me falling into the trap. [Furio! Hear me out! It was a sure thing!]
In my mind, this one is definitely tilting toward the Jets. They will be highly motivated after being dealt their first loss by the Saints. The defeat was a setback, for sure, but didn’t compromise their identity one bit. The defense was stout, stifling a high-powered offense operating within their home confines. The running game, while not explosive, was steady, consistently setting up third and short opportunities that were simply squandered. Basically, the disappointing outcome could be attributed to a rookie quarterback having a substandard game in a hostile environment. Frustrating as it may have been for Jets fans to witness, especially with the defense providing such strong support, this kind of performance was inevitable for a novice. Joe Flacco wasn’t exactly torching the opposition early in ‘08, either. The Jets were beaten, but not embarrassed by New Orleans.
If New York needed even a slight placebo after being outplayed for the first time in ‘09, two major additions to the roster should provide a spark. Calvin Pace, ultra athletic outside linebacker and able pass rusher, will return from a four game suspension for using a banned substance. Pace will unseat Vernon Gholston, who, despite praise from coaches applauding his intangible contributions, wasn’t exactly making his preseason critics look foolish. Fact is; Gholston, for all his obvious talent, will probably be a long-term development project. Pace can change games immediately, especially rushing the passer. “My plan is to go out there and put more pressure on the quarterback,” said Pace when asked about his outlook for the game. “You can’t do that enough. Stop the run, especially this week with two great running backs. Go out and do the same thing I did last year. Cause some turnovers, fumbles and go out and be an impact player.”
Head Coach Rex Ryan seems thrilled to have Pace back, eager to utilize his abilities. “Calvin is a tremendous player, there’s no doubt, and that’s not being disrespectful to the men that were filling in for him because I thought they played well in his absence,” said Ryan earlier this week. “This is a unit I feel that can be tremendous, and we’ve said that from day one. We’ve got depth, and right now it’s unfortunate we’re having to use it. We’re having to use the depth at the back end that we talked about, we’re having to use the depth at the outside linebackers, but now with Calvin back, I’m excited about that. I really am.”
Pace was a major signing preceding ’08, and now has a chance to reestablish his value. The combination of he and Bart Scott attacking an offensive line could be devastating. It’ll be a major concern for Miami on game day.
The other fresh ingredient will be Braylon Edwards, the prodigiously talented wide receiver who has struggled with consistency in his brief career. Edwards is the league leader in drops dating back to last season, and has been accused of possessing less than stellar character. Recent incidents, like slugging 130-pound friends of LeBron James, have done nothing to alter these perceptions. In terms of immediate impact, Edwards can affect this contest just by stretching the field vertically. Ryan was thrilled with the acquisition. “Again, our goal is to win a Super Bowl. I have a great appreciation for Mike (Tannenbaum) because he’s always trying to make our football team better. And when this opportunity presented itself, again, you make a move based on will this give us a better chance to have a shot at our goal? This move’s really going to help us.”
Edwards benefits from having experience in an offense extremely similar to the one he’d just been exiled from. “I think I was lucky and fortunate that Rob Chudzinski was the former offensive coordinator in Cleveland,” said Edwards after the trade. Especially because he spent some time in San Diego and worked under Schotty (Brian Schottenheimer). I know a lot of the terminology. I was able to pick it up and really move today as opposed to pointing in this direction, that direction.”
Edwards’ big play potential could open wider running lanes for Thomas Jones, who has not yet resembled the excellent running back from last year.
With all these favorable circumstances lined up, the Jets seem like a sure pick. After all, a defense that nearly blanked Drew Brees should be able to dominate a troupe headed by Chad Henne.
The Dolphins arrive into this game with new life after trouncing Buffalo last week. They will surely be pumped on a Monday Night in front of a full house, with the chance to officially resurrect their season. They have Channing Crowder, a young linebacker just now being recognized as a force by mainstream fans and media, who totally loathes the Jets’ coach. They have a phenomenal duo of running backs that could help them control the clock. The Dolphins lead the league in rushing for a reason, capable of owning time of possession just as they did against Indianapolis, a superb team.
But it’s not going to happen. Vegas has this a pick ‘em. That is insanity. This just seems too obvious… The Jets will not have to fret about Miami’s under whelming group of wide receivers. Darrelle Revis will be on an island all night. This will free Rex Ryan to send the house at Chad Henne with regularity, not to mention stacking the box against Brown and Williams. Braylon Edwards will benefit the running game immediately, his presence precluding Miami from pinching the line of scrimmage.
No blown extra points to worry about here. Put your business interests on the Jets… you know… if you’re into that kind of deal. Just don’t blame me if you find yourself in this situation…
New York 27 – Miami 10