Alas, the New York Jets schedule finally gets softer starting Week 7. But first, they have to go on the road and face arguably the most talented team in the NFL, the Arizona Cardinals.
This matchup will be personal for head coach Todd Bowles. He will go against his former boss and good friend, Bruce Arians. Arians made headlines when he brought the Indianapolis Colts to a playoff berth in 2012 while their head coach, Chuck Pagano recovered from cancer. Since being hired by Arizona, he was gone 25-11, but only 1-2 in the playoffs.
The Arizona Cardinals have an explosive offense, led by wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, John Brown, and J.J. Nelson. They have the best wide receiving corps in the NFL and pose a huge challenge to any secondary.
They are led by veteran quarterback Carson Palmer, who’s been rejuvenated late in his career with the Cardinals. Palmer, while posting stellar numbers, has actually held Arizona back. He is just not as good as the other playoff teams’ quarterbacks, such as Seattle’s Russell Wilson or Carolina’s Cam Newton.
The Jets will have to take advantage of Palmer’s limited mobility. They will need their secondary to really step up and be able to cover their wideouts man-to-man all game. Surely Bowles will dial up the pressure and make his friend Arians work.
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The Cardinals not only have the best defensive back on their roster, they also possess the second best one in the NFL. Tyrann Mathieu is the most versatile defensive back in the NFL. He can excel at free safety, in the slot, or even on the outside. He can do it all, along with lockdown cornerback Patrick Peterson. He makes a living shutting down top receivers on the perimeter.
The Jets must be able to neutralize the Cardinals pass rush because Marshall and Decker will be covered by two top defensive backs presumably the entire game.
On paper, this looks like a tough matchup that has the potential to get ugly for the Jets. Not only does Arizona have Mathieu and Peterson, they also are loaded in the front seven. Linebacker Deone Bucannon is quick enough to cover Matt Forte and Bilal Powell, and outside linebacker Chandler Jones will require extra attention.
In what may be the toughest game on the schedule, the Jets seem to be over-matched. Maybe they can get Arizona to take the Jets lightly or if Peterson has a bad game. The Jets should be extra motivated due to the game being on Monday Night Football. If they do pull this one off, expect the national media to take notice, as well as Arians not inviting Bowles for dinner after the game.