A better title might be “Playoffs Week 3”, because we all know what the Jets are up against. They need to win out and run their record to 11-5 to have a realistic shot at another playoff run. The Jets and their 7-5 record play host to the Kansas City Chiefs and their 5-7 record. Head coach Todd Haley returns to familiar territory, as he was a member of the 1998 Jets’ staff under Bill Parcells. Let’s take a look at the all time series between these two teams:
The series is tied all time at 16-16-1. These two teams last met at the old Giants Stadium in 2008, when the Jets came out on top 28-24, on a late TD pass from Brett Favre to Laveranues Coles. A game the Jets need, and a game they can win. Here’s how.
STOP DEXTER MCCLUSTER
The Jets have had their ups and downs stopping the run in 2011, and this is where the Jets could have their biggest trouble on Sunday afternoon. After losing Jamaal Charles for the season, you would have thought that the Kansas City running attack would be down the toilet, but not so.
The Chiefs are 9th in the league in rushing, averaging over 120 yards per game. We are all familiar with Thomas Jones, whose numbers have been down lately but is always tough. They are led by Jackie Battle, with 471 yards rushing, but the explosive edge runner, the one that can drive the Jets nuts, is Dexter McCluster.
So far in 2011, he has rushed 90 times for 425 yards, a whopping 4.7 yards per attempt. He has rushed for over 5 yards per carry in 2 of the last 3 games. He has edge speed, and we have seen how the Jets have difficulty with edge speed. Setting the edges, and keeping him in check will be key this Sunday afternoon.
STOP TAMBA HALI
Another well documented issue with the Jets in 2011 has been keeping Mark Sanchez off of his back. The offensive line has played much better in recent weeks, and they will get a test on Sunday against a tough pass rushing linebacker. Tamba Hali has 8 sacks on the season, needing only 3 more to join Mike Bell, Neil Smith and Derrick Thomas as the only Chiefs to record double digit sacks in back to back seasons. If Tamba Hali spends the afternoon in the Jets’ backfield, they will have a tough time winning. Stopping him will be imperative.
GET UP EARLY
If you take a look at the stats of Chiefs’ QB Tyler Palko, you know that the Chiefs will have a tough time coming from behind. Palko has thrown 1 TD and 6 INTs after taking over for the injured Matt Cassel, and has amassed a paltry 57.7 QB rating. Let them stay in the game, and the running game will kill the Jets. Get ahead of them, and stay ahead of them. How do we do that?
Pressure on offense. Santonio Holmes is seeking his 3rd straight game with a TD reception. Shonn Greene needs just 28 yards to eclipse his career high from 2010 of 766 rushing yards. The much maligned QB Mark Sanchez has thrown 5 TDs and 1 INT in the last 2 games, putting up a QB rating of 87. The offense seems to be coming together, and they need to keep it up.
Pressure on defense as well, led by Mayhem. Aaron Maybin has been a diamond in the rough for the Jets. In the last 2 games, Maybin has recorded 3 sacks and a forced fumble, giving the Jets a much needed pass rusher off the edge.
One final note on the embattled QB, Mr. Mark Sanchez. He is the 5th QB in the Super Bowl era to win 30 games, including playoffs, in their first 3 seasons, and he joins some pretty good names. Dan Marino, Ben Rothlisberger, Joe Flacco, and Matt Ryan. Whatever Mark Sanchez is, which can be debated, he wins.
There you have it, a week 14 preview. Enjoy the game, see you on the other side.