Can Mark Sanchez play in bad weather? The rookie had some struggles earlier in the year in less than optimal conditions against the Titans and Bills. It's going to be a cold day at the Meadowlands, and Sanchez will be nursing a bad knee. New York's Playoff hopes depend on his ability to block out the adversity.
He should have some help. Atlanta does not have a great secondary. They give up 257.8 per contest through the air. Their starting secondary of Chris Houston, Chris Owens, Erik Coleman, and Thomas DeCoud is no better than average. Houston sat out last week and is doubtful this week. Brent Grimes will start in his place. This is a week where both Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery should have advantages in their matchups.
None of the linebackers are great in pass coverage either. Curtis Lofton, Stephen Nicholas, and Mike Peterson are all middle of the pack in pass coverage. Dustin Keller's athelticism should give him an edge here.
Up front, the Falcons are a little banged up. Old friend John Abraham, Jonathan Babineaux, and Jamaal Anderson all battled injuries in practice this week, but there isn't any indication they will sit. Abraham is the most explosive pass rusher the Falcons have. His 3.5 sacks belie his ability to win matchups. Still, you have to feel confident about D'Brickashaw Ferguson's ability to contain him the way Brick is playing. Babineaux has 5 sacks. So does Kroy Biermann, who should replace Anderson on obvious pass downs. Anderson is better against the run than getting to the quarterback. Thomas Johnson, Atlanta's other tackle, isn't much of a pass rusher.
Watch out of Nicholas on blitzes from outside linebacker. He has 3 sacks and has done a good job winning his matchups.
Overall, though, this has the makings of a nice day for Sanchez if he can handle the elements.