This Sunday, the Jets head to Detroit for their week 9 matchup with the Lions. The Jets are the favorites in this game, but by no means is that an excuse to take this one easy. The Lions may only be 2-5, but they are 6th in the NFL in scoring and finally got starting quarterback Matthew Stafford back last week from injury. Fortunately, the Lions are 26th in the NFL in points against, while the Jets are 2nd. This would normally be great news, but after the poor offensive showing by the Jets last week against the Packers, who knows which offense we will see?
Mark Sanchez is ready to stop taking steps back and continue forward in his progression. Hopefully, against Detroit’s 27th ranked rush defense, he will not have to. This is the third straight game that the Jets went up against failing rush defenses, and the ground game has failed to reach its potential in both of the last two. Detroit should expect us to try to run the ball a large amount in Sunday’s matchup, so they will probably bring more men in the box to try and stop the run. This is why Mark Sanchez will need to be safe, yet, effective in Sunday’s game. LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene should be able to get the Jets down the field and into the endzone on Sunday, but Sanchez will need to throw some good passes on play action and third downs. I would like to see Sanchez throwing to Braylon Edwards more this week than the last few. Edwards has been holding onto the ball and creating big plays this season, and I’m sure coming home to Detroit, where he will have family and plenty of University of Michigan fans in attendance, will fire him up even more. Hopefully the hatred for Ohio State alumni, Santonio Holmes, will get him going as well. Jerricho Cotchery will also be looking to rebound from last week’s disastrous game.
It’s time for LT to get back on track this week. The Jets are fully capable of rushing for more than 200 yards against the Lions, like they did week 4 in Buffalo. This would mean Shonn Greene would have to eat up his fair share of yards as well, and he definitely deserves a few more carries this week. I also expect Brad Smith to have 5 or 6 looks from the wildcat as well. Tomlinson and Greene will have the chance to break a few big runs in this game, but this all depends on the ability of the offensive line to block Ndamukong Suh and Kyle Vanden-Bosch. The Jets have one of the strongest and most experienced offensive lines in the NFL and one that is highly capable of accomplishing this task, especially if other lines have been able to do it. One interesting matchup will be Nick Mangold and Brandon Moore against Suh. Suh has already proven to be a dominant defensive tackle only 7 games into his rookie season. His ability to take away blocks and break through the line has significantly helped the Lions pass rush, making them 7th in the NFL in sacks. Mangold and/or Moore versus Suh will be one of the more crucial matchups in this game. If he can be stopped, or at least limited, then everything else can fall into place.
Another big matchup to look for is Darrelle Revis covering Calvin Johnson. Revis had an outstanding, or “Revis-like,” game last week against the Packers. Rex Ryan announced that Revis will be shadowing Johnson in this game like he used to do to other #1 wide receivers last season. He will no longer be sticking to one side of the field. I feel that this is one of the bigger tests Revis has had in his career, and definitely the best all-around receiver he has had to cover this season. After seeing the way Revis played last week, I am confident that Calvin Johnson will be taking a nice relaxing vacation on Revis Island this Sunday afternoon.
The Lion’s running game has not been anything spectacular this season, but Jahvid Best and Kevin Smith are great receivers out of the backfield and are very dangerous when thrown to. The Jets will need to blitz often, like they usually do, to force the Lions to keep their running backs in the backfield to pick up the blitzes. This will eliminate a large part of the Lions’ passing game. They will also need to hit their backs before they can reach the line and keep them from getting free. This, and Revis’ coverage on Calvin Johnson, will set the tone for the Lions’ passing game on Sunday and could force Stafford into making some bad decisions that could cost his team plenty of points.
It would be great to see the Jets bounce back from last week’s disaster with a big win this week. Like Braylon Edwards, linebackers David Harris, Bart Scott, and Calvin Pace all call Detroit home and will be looking to have big games in front of their family and friends. The lead up to this game is very similar to the lead up to the game in Buffalo in week 4. Many football “experts” called it a trap game, but the Jets were able to score early and often. The Jets should come out big from the beginning and establish a nice-sized lead early in the game. The best teams need to win the games that they should win. Avoiding big upsets is what will keep this team confident and winning. They’ll be out to prove a point this weekend and I think they come out firing from the get go and put up some big points.