PREVIEW: NY JETS (1-0) vs. STEELERS (0-1)
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The New York Jets have a tall task in front of them in the form of the Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday — a team that they’ve beaten only once in Pittsburgh. The task has gotten a lot taller with the news breaking that All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis will not be suiting up after not being cleared to play due to a ‘mild concussion’.
Additionally tight end Dustin Keller will also be out due to an ailing knee injury and Bryan Thomas is out with a hamstring injury as well.
The Jets, coming off a very impressive 48-28 victory over the Buffalo Bills, are not the only team that’s been bit by the injury bug early on. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that both James Harrison (knee) and Troy Polamalu (calf), while running back Rashard Mendenhall is listed as doubtful after missing last week’s game with a knee injury.
New York is in a redemption state of mind following their crushing loss in the 2010 AFC Championship game at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh, 7-0 in home openers with Ben Roesthlisberger under center, are trying to avoid their first 0-2 start since 2002.
Shots have already been fired and posted up on the bulletin board as LaMarr Woodley stated on Twitter, quite definitively, that the Steelers will not be 0-2. Jets safety LaRon Landry, meanwhile, has been on his soapbox stating that his team can line up, position for position, with anyone in the league.
“If you look at the starter at each position … I like the matchup. I choose my guys over any of their guys, especially in our defensive scheme,” he said earlier this week.
Rex Ryan chose to take a different route, drawing on the comparisons between the two teams — particularly on offense.
“I think you build both of these defenses, you’ve got Pittsburgh’s (defense) and the Jets, and they’re kind of built the same way. I don’t know if you want your kid going against Casey Hampton and against James Harrison, (LaMarr) Woodley, Troy Polamalu, or Ike Taylor. You certainly don’t want your kid going against Darrelle Revis. No chance. He’ll end up in the Gatorade. The teams are kind of built that way. It’s still tough, old-fashioned football, and I think that still wins on defense,” he said Thursday.
But enough about the bulletin board material, here’s everything you need to know before kick-off.
WHEN: Sunday, September 16, 2012 @ 4:25 p.m. EST (Can be seen on CBS or heard on ESPN Radio).
WHERE: Heinz Field / Pittsburgh, PA (capacity: 65,000)
SERIES HISTORY: Steelers lead all-time regular season 15-4(postseason 0-2).
LAST MEETING: Steelers 24 — Jets 19, Heinz Field (01/23/11 — AFC Championship).
NOTABLE: New York has won tow-of-the-last-three regular season meetings against Pittsburgh. the Jets lone loss came in the clubs’ last game, a 24-19 defeat in the AFC Championship.
- JETS — Rex Ryan / Fourth Season / (including postseason).
- STEELERS — Mike Tomlin / Sixth Season / 55-26 (including postseason).
- JETS — OUT – TE Dustin Keller (hamstring), CB Darrelle Revis (concussion), LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring), OL Dennis Landolt (knee). QUESTIONABLE – FB John Conner (knee), CB Isaiah Trufant (ankle). PROBABLE – LB Nick Bellore (shoulder), CB Antonio Cromartie (shoulder), DT Mike DeVito (calf), WR Stephen Hill (calf), WR Jeremy Kerley (back), S LaRon Landry (heel), LB Joshua Mauga (rib), G Brandon Moore (hip), DT Sione Pouha (back), WR Chaz Schilens (ankle), S Eric Smith (hip, knee).
- STEELERS — OUT – LB Stevenson Sylvester (knee). DOUBTFUL - RB Rashard Mendenhall (knee). QUESTIONABLE – LB James Harrison (knee), S Troy Polamalu (calf). PROBABLE - RB Jonathan Dwyer (foot), DE Evander Hood (back), T Max Starks (illness).
- Kyle Wilson vs. Antonio Brown — This will be the biggest game of Wilson’s young career to date. Drawing the number two receiver of the “Young Money Crew”, Wilson will have to keep up with the Central Michigan alum who torched the gridiron for 1,000 yards receiving and 1,000 yards returning. With Mike Wallace getting the Antonio Cromartie treatment and Brown getting 113 targets from Ben Roethlisberger, expect an equal number of targets Sunday.
- Jets Safeties vs. Heath Miller — Miller is arguably the most unheralded tight end in the NFL today. Truly the definition of a quarterback’s safety valve, Roethlisberger targeted Miller seven times last week against Denver, four of which were on third downs. The combination of LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell did a bang-up job stopping Scott Chandler (4 receptions, 38 yards, 1 TD), but Miller will prove to be a much taller (and bigger) task.
- Quinton Coples vs. Max Starks – After posting a team-high 4.5 sacks in preseason, didn’t come up with anything numerically against the Bills. Much like the rest of the defense, Coples did not record a sack but provided numerous pressures on QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. The problem won’t be getting to Roethlisberger, but bringing down the burly Miami (OH) product. To mirror his size and speed, the Jets have been using Tim Tebow during practice. Offensive lines have given up 308 sacks to their Pittsburgh QB in his 111 games through the 2011 season. He was sacked five times by the Broncos last week.
X – FACTORS:
- Nick Folk, K, Jets — An unlikely x-factor, no? But keep this in mind. Five of the last six meetings between these teams have been decided by six points or less. These two foes are very similar and familiar with each other — particularly with regarding the history between Ryan and Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. The Jets don’t want to play catch up at Heinz field, so it’ll be on the arm of Sanchez and the leg of Folk if Gang Green leaves with a victory.
- Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Steelers – The number three receiver of the “Young Money Crew” will draw a much more favorable match-up against Isaiah Trufant/Ellis Lankster with Revis out of the game. Sanders is a speedy, possession receiver who can burn the secondary if they’re not on their toes. The Steelers run a lot of no-huddle, spread offense for that very reason — catching the defense on their toes and exposing the mismatches.
THE PICK: The odds are stacked against the Jets, but they still have a puncher’s chance in this game — if they can keep Roethlisberger off the field and keep the defense fresh. Having said that, I can’t see Pittsburgh losing at home. STEELERS 21 – JETS 17.