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Monday Night Football Preview: Jets’ Road to the Super Bowl Begins Against Ryan’s Former Team

The 2010-11 season is now upon us, and there are high expectations for the Jets. Their front office spent a lot of money in the offseason in bringing in many new faces. With a possible return to the salary cap in the NFL looming, it is clear that this season is ‘Super Bowl or bust' for Gang Green. And why not? It's been 41 long years for Jets' fans, the drought has to end sooner or later.

The storylines going into the game don't disappoint, as Jets come into this game with targets on their backs after making enemies from ‘Hard Knocks.' Oh, did I mention this game will be Jets' first regular season game at their new $1.6B stadium, or that HC Rex Ryan spent a decade on the Ravens' coaching staff before coming to Florham Park?

This Ravens' team is no stranger to, and has performed well in the 'spoiler' role. They were the first visiting team to win at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field and also knocked off the Cowboys in the final game at Dallas' Texas Stadium just two years ago.

Tonight's game is a huge statement game for Gang Green, being pitted against a team (Baltimore) that many analysts are picking to win the AFC. Will the Jets and their new-look team live up to the hype?




Between the numbers:

(In 2009)

  • Jets fielded No. 1 rushing offense (167.5 ypg)  ((())) Ravens’ No. 3 rushing defense (88.8 ypg / 3.4 ypc) 

  • Jets’ defense ranked No. 1 in ypg allowed (269.1) ((())) Ravens No. 2 (293.3)

  • Jets allowed season-low 26 TDs while Ravens gave up only 27    

StatLine: 

Ravens are undefeated in season openers under coach John Harbaugh, while Jets have won three of their last four openers. 



Jets' Game-Changer----RB Shonn Greene:

Gang Green must find themselves in ‘3rd and manageable' downs to make Sanchez's job easier.  Last season, after RB Leon Washington went down with a brutal leg injury, Greene was called upon by the Jets --- and he answered. The rookie RB improved as the season progressed, racking up 461 yards in his last five games. Greene was a key player in Jets' postseason run last season, and we expect him to do more of the same with RB LaDainian Tomlinson as a great change of pace back to compliment him. Greene is a great down hill runner, and is extremely tough to bring down in the open field as we saw in the playoffs last year.

I look for Jets to ground-and-pound early, in an attempt to force the Ravens to sell out on the run and play man coverage down the field. After which, OC Brian Schottenheimer will dial up a deep play action pass to WR Braylon Edwards over the top. I'm calling it now, Edwards will burn this undersized secondary deep at least once.

Ravens' Game-Changer---- RB Ray Rice:

Being that he was born in Northern NY and played college football at Rutgers University, this is a ‘homecoming' game for him in a sense. Rice is the real deal and is already climbing into the top tier of RBs in the NFL, as the all-purpose back can beat you many different ways. He has great burst, can break tackles, can catch passes out of the backfield, and he can block. Once he is in space, he becomes extremely dangerous, as he is capable of taking it to the house on any given down.

DC Mike Pettine's defensive schemes are blitz-heavy, and Rice is an excellent 'safety valve' option for QB Joe Flacco to counter the Jets' pressure. Jets must drop a LB underneath often to spy on him as a pass-catcher. If he gets daylight and breaks through into the secondary, it could spell disaster for Gang Green.  Jets will need to utilize ILB David Harris's excellent closing speed and coverage skills to spy on  Rice,  preventing him from making some big plays.

Beat 'em through the air:

With CB LarDarius Webb doubtful for Monday night's game, Ravens will be without four DB's (assuming he sits) as well as FS Ed Reed. CB Josh Wilson is new to the Ravens' system and with Reed's absence they lack a strong presence who is familiar with Ravens' defensive schemes to hold the unit together. FS Tom Zbikowski will be calling the shots, a much more conservative safety who doesn't take many chances. Can he be the "glue" that Reed was to hold the new-look secondary together?  I don't think so, and I look for a couple of miscommunications in the back for them. Hopefully, Jets can capitalize on the mistake if it does occur.

All of the Ravens' cornerbacks are 5'11" or shorter and they struggle against bigger, more physical receivers.  WR Braylon Edwards is 6'3" and he is athletic as they come--- jump balls anyone?

Prediction:

Rex Ryan spent a decade in Baltimore, and it's safe to say he has a very extensive scouting report on his former team. He was also Ravens' defensive coordinator during Flacco's rookie season. While Baltimore may field a very tough defense, if anyone knows how to beat them, it's Ryan. On paper, this is a matchup between two very evenly-matched teams. However, I think the intangibles favor the Jets, which, coupled with their home turf, will be the difference en route to a close victory.

Jets talked a big game during ‘Hard Knocks,' and they will back it up on Monday night, in front of 80,000+ fans during their first game at New Meadowlands' stadium.

Jets 20, Ravens 17