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Jets/Bucs Preview & Prediction

Two down, four to go.

On Sunday the Jets travel to Raymond-James stadium to take on the 1-11 Bucs. Still alive in both the WildCard and divisional race, they will do something they haven’t in two years -- start Kellen Clemens at QB in a regular season game. Forced to throw only twice when he entered the Bills game last Thursday for  an injured Sanchez, Clemens will look to continue the Jets winning ways.

The Jets plan on offense will be clear. They will run the ball 40+ times. On defense, Tampa will stack the box and force Clemens to throw. Unfortunately for them, they may be outmatched upfront. Buffalo also knew what we were bringing but couldn’t stop the rush. The Jets Pro-Bowl, veteran O-Line should dominate the lackluster TB defensive front in the trenches here and carryThomas Jones to another 100-yard-game.

31st in the NFL- That’s TB’s rush defense ranking -- they’re giving up 160.1 yards/game on the ground. Even with a second string QB at the helm, when you’re the #1 rushing offense in the NFL(168.8/game)  going up against 31st worst rush defense (160.1/game), good things happen to you. The Jets have an extremely favorable matchup here on offense and should be able to find themselves in a lot of "3rd  and managable" situations, making Clemen's job easier.

Don't Force it- To his credit, Kellen Clemens has a strong arm and good mobility to maneuver around in the pocket with, but his problem over the years has been turnovers. During his four-year career in NY he's thrown 11 interceptions and just 5 touchdowns. Fortunately, TB only forces 1.6 takeaways/game so hopefully with a powerful running game making his job easier, he can be an effective game-manager on Sunday.

Bucs may be without a key component in their running game. RB Cadillac Williams is questionable and may not play due to a back injury he sustained in practice on Thursday, which means Derrick Ward  and Ernest Graham would split the carries. Two RBs that have had solid years in the past, but I believe have definitely shown signs of regression this season. Ward has only 1 TD on 85 carries this year. The Bucs OL is mediocre also as they rank 18th in the NFL.

Jets defense finally showing the tenacity they were lacking -- they’ve forced 7 turnovers in the last 3 games. Josh Freeman threw 5 INTs last week against Carolina. There’s a good chance Revis will come away with at least one pick if they try to force the ball to Bryant. Even if Tampa employs a conservative game-plan, expect a couple of turnovers from their end tomorrow.

As John mentioned, with Tampa banged up at WR2 (the main position that has burned us this year), the Buc's only favorable matchup in coverage would be Eric Smith on TE Winslow (who leads the team in receptions with 58). With Williams possibly out, Winslow is arguably their best red-zone and 3rd down threat. He leads the team with 58 catches and 5 TDs. Hopefully the Jets can neutralize his effectiveness by playing some zone  coverage zone to get help from the LB core.

DE - FENSE!- The jets finally got their first defensive TD of the season last week against Buffalo when Darelle ("Robot") Revis picked one off and took it to the house.  Freeman was given the green light and threw the ball 44 times last week against Carolina. If he makes a big mistake and the Jets can capitalize early it would be a huge boost to Clemens and his confidence...  and also a big lift for them and they could play off of it (as it was in the Oak game).


-Jets are 7-2 vs the bucs in L9 matchups.

-Tampa has averaged just 10 points in each of their last 3 games.

Bottom Line:

The Bucs are simply a bad team and this game has a similar feel to the Buffalo game. The Jets get the benefit of facing another squad with an awful defensive front and inaccurate quarterback. This plays right into their strengths as they can manage the game by running the football and also let their defense dictate field position. They have allowed more then one offensive touchdown to a losing team just once this year (vs. Tenny), and with Williams likely out I don't see how they will be able to continually move the football effectively against this stout (ranked #2 in the NFL)  Jets defense.


J-E-T-S 20, Bucs 13.