If you ask me it's a must-win. I say that a lot though.
If you examine the schedules of the teams still in contention, an 11-5 record is necessary to secure a playoff berth with confidence. This only really allows for one more loss, otherwise the Jets will need extra help or for a couple of teams to straight up implode. Don't get me wrong, it's still very early so to speak. But in order to be a playoff team NY must handily dispense of the softer portions of their schedule without overlooking the opponents. Another loss isn't really a problem, but we gotta save it for a tough week. 10-6 still gives you a decent shot of making the postseason, but in the AFC (especially when you're in the Eastern division) going 10-6 and still making the playoffs relies entirely on the failures of other teams.
As I had mentioned earlier in the week, experiencing a radical elevation change on a short practice traveling week does Gang Green no favors. Even if Tim Tebow isn't all that and a box of Nilla Wafers, Denver poses challenges. New England really took it to Mark Sanchez in the backfield, and the pass rush options the Broncos have make the Patriots defense look like the Golden Girls.
I gotta hand it to Fox & Company, they've managed to make something out of an offense with a QB whose own coach says is seriously flawed with an accuracy of less than 45 percent. Their defense is loaded with talent both young and old. I expect a low scoring game with both defenses being constantly tested. In a team that runs 55 times and passes 8, with a QB with an accuracy that bad, you have to sell out against the run and stop it dead in its tracks. If the Jets make it so the Broncos cannot run, I have a very hard time seeing Denver winning this game.
Full breakdown after the rundown and the jump. Feel free to leave comments, questions, predictions; possessed visions of the future, recipes, and all that other fun crap below. Sorry this one went up so late, it's just a short week and I'm bogged down with academic work.
Denver Broncos -- Today, 8:20 p.m. EST@
Location: Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Coverage: NFL Network. Sirius XM 93.
Record: The all time series including postseason is led by the Broncos, 16-15-1.
What happened last time? The Jets scored an improbable and exiting 4th quarter comeback victory you may remember, 24-20.
Offense: The Jets are 23rd in overall offense, 14th in points, 20th in passing and 24th in rushing. Denver is 22nd in yards, 20th in points, 31st passing and 2nd in rushing.
Defense: The Jets are 8th overall, 8th against the pass, and 15th against the rush. Denver is 18th overall, 20th against the pass, and 16th against the run.
Bronco to Watch: QB Tim Tebow
I know, it's a cop out, but give me a chance. The Broncos are 2nd in rushing and their two top backs are injured. Denver will be relying heavily on Lance Ball. Beyond that, Tebow ultimately chooses to run it himself on nearly half of passing downs, and he averages around 220 yards on the ground per game. This is no small feat. The first step is using our powerful front seven to take away Tebow's run support. Then the Jets need to stop Tebow on the ground before worrying about stopping him through the air. Once the ground game is completely neutralized on all fronts, Tebow will be forced to try and beat one of the best secondaries in the NFL through the air with his 44.8 percent accuracy.
This is very manageable, but it requires diligent coverage of Eric Decker and Eddie Royal as Tebow can identify home run shots and take them.
Jets X-factor: Nick Folk
As I detailed earlier in the week, the air density in Denver is lower and by effect there is less air resistance to things like footballs kicked through the air. The Denver Broncos defense has some teeth, and I won't be surprised if they give Mark Sanchez and Brian Schottenheimer fits all night. Even if the Jets are consistently stopped short, Folk will have repeated chances to set personal records while building up a score against a team that may have trouble keeping pace offensively speaking.
Potential Jets MVP: David Harris
The linebacker corps MUST perform tonight in order to keep the Jets in the game. Harris must be active against the run and while Aaron Maybin is the speed option, I like Harris much more for blitz potential because he is a far better tackler and his awareness is superior. Tebow's passes usually travel 4-5 yards, so Harris might share some work tackling on quick throws and check downs.
All in all I like Harris for this matchup because this is the sort of exploitable and flawed offense that David thrives upon.
Prediction: Jets 16 Broncos 6
I think the Jets have a very good defensive matchup and if they keep the QB runs in check they very well may keep the Broncos out of the endzone entirely. The Broncos defense and specifically their pass rush make me cringe, especially when I think of the field day the Patriots bottom-ranked defense had last week. Brian Dawkins and Champ Bailey will be waiting in the secondary for Sanchez to screw up. I think at the end of the day, the defense wins the game for the Jets.