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Jets vs Bears Preview

The New York Jets host the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football. GGN breaks down the prime time matchup.

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Christian Petersen

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Although the Jets played a close game and had a significant lead for much of last weeks tilt against Green Bay, you could fill an ocean with the mistakes and flubs that were made. One thing is clear: the Jets might not be the disaster some were predicting them to be even with injuries, but there remains a great deal of room for improvement.

The New York Jets look to rebound against the Chicago Bears on Monday night after a tough loss against another NFC North team. The Green Bay Packers outpaced the Jets last Sunday while the Bears upset the San Francisco 49ers in a comeback win. Both historically stout defenses have loosened in recent years, and look to regain that elite standing. You can be assured both teams will leave nothing on the field as they desperately try to fight their way back to a winning record.

Where Each Team Is

The Bears are riding high and have shown the league that they are no slouches after a victory over the 49ers last week. Chicago has been playing to and against the pass most successfully, while they are shaping up to be a dismal rushing offense so far this year. Jay Cutler and a power duo of wide receivers are what keeps this franchise competitive.

The Jets had a pretty disappointing outing against the Bears division rivals, the Green Bay Packers. With respective lead passing threat and defender Eric Decker and Dee Milliner nursing lingering injuries, the Jets found themselves unable to keep pace at Lambeau Field and are woefully short on skill players on either side of the ball when it comes to passing. The Jets are trying to hold it together as a patchwork team until critical players return to full health.


Sister Site: Windy City Gridiron

Location: Metlife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ.

Field: Open air, artificial turf.

Coverage: ESPN. America's sweatiest network.

Weather: Sunny, high of 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Record: Bears lead the all-time series, 7-3.

What happened last time? The Bears beat the Jets in a post-Christmas shootout by a score of 38-34 back on December 26th, 2010.

Who is favored? Jets from 1.5 - 3 points, depending on the bookie.


Players designated "Probable" status are omitted.



CB Dee Milliner (ankle)


WR Eric Decker (hamstring)



C Roberto Garza (ankle), LB Shea McClellin (hand), CB Sherrick McManis (quadricep), DT Jay Ratliff (concussion), G Matt Slauson (ankle)


DE Trevor Scott (foot)


WR Brandon Marshall (ankle), WR Alshon Jeffery (hamstring)


Note that rankings are averages, and there have only been two weeks of play so far.

Jets: After two weeks against the Raiders the Jets are 19th in points scored, 12th in overall yards, 29th in passing yards and 1st in rushing. This is the second week the Jets have been the top rushing team in a row. The Jets RB committee of Chris Johnson, Chris Ivory, and Bilal Powell, matches up favorably against the Bears who much like the Packers and Raiders rate poorly against the run; however the Jets must make improvements in the passing game execution if they wish to keep pace with teams like the Bears or the Packers. The Jets are not executing effectively enough through the air or in the red zone, although the first half of last week was a visible improvement for the Jets offense.

On defense the Jets are 17th in points allowed, 3rd in overall yards allowed, 16th in passing defense, and 1st in rushing defense. The Jets powerful front seven can be credited with the strong defensive performance of the team, as the makeshift secondary visibly struggles with their opponents.

Bears: After two weeks of play, on offense the Bears are 10th in points scored, 25th in overall yards, 9th in passing yards; and 30th in rushing yards. The Bears have been unable to establish the running game thus far, and have relied on the passing game for most of their offense.

On defense the Bears rank 15th in points allowed, 21st in yards allowed; 10th against the pass, and 27th against the run. The Bears run defense is a favorable matchup for the Jets who have proven to be more than capable at pounding the rock in a league that has largely shifted to up-tempo passing attacks. The Bears secondary is not favorable for successful production from Geno Smith, who struggles against better pass defenses.

AP Pro Ranking has the Jets slipping down one spot to 19th overall, and the Bears ranked 12th.

Attacking the Bears

The Bears have been downright awful against the run. The Bears have been nearly as awful trying to move the ball on the ground. On offense the Jets would be wise to utilize a 1-2-3 punch RB committee. Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson offer a home run threat on any given play, while Bilal Powell has been extremely effective in limited situational snaps. Tommy Bohanon displayed grit as a receiving threat and proved useful for the Jets last Sunday. The Jets need to pound the rock and make use of check downs and short passes to keep the Bears defense honest.

The Jets front seven will be a deciding factor and should completely shut the Bears run game down. Jay Cutler is not nearly the threat Aaron Rodgers is, although the Bears WR set is arguably better. Any sort of consistent pressure on Cutler should make this a winnable game for the Jets, and bookies and bettors alike seem to agree.

Jets X-Factor

IF Eric Decker can play, and that's a mighty big if this week, the top Jets receiving threat is the undisputed Jets X-factor. The offensive play of the Jets is directly connected to Decker's performance. Jeremy Kerley is a unique homegrown talent but he cannot carry the load as the Jets leading receiver, and it's unfair to ask him to replace Decker. Decker's route running and playing instinct clearly make all the worlds difference to a Jets offense that has otherwise struggled for years. The chemistry between Decker and Smith is undeniable, and Decker's presence instantly makes the young QB visibly better. Without Decker playing, Kerley is the only wide receiver on the field with more than two catches. David Nelson and Greg Salas just can't get open. Saalim Hakim and Jalen Saunders appear to be working with special teams for the most part and likely won't have an impact on offense at this rate.

On defense, the Jets need improved safety support from the likes of Dawan Landry and Calvin Pryor. While the cornerback struggles are well documented for the Jets, the safeties haven't been great either. Jarring hard hits and effective support in coverage could really slow the Bears down and make it the Jets game to win. Pryor especially has the potential to disrupt an offense, and could begin to breakout as he builds experience.

Bears to Watch

Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are so formidable in the passing game that they won't even need to be mentioned, all eyes will be on them come Monday. But the Bears leading receiver is actually tight end Martellus Bennett who has proven to be an effective security blanket for Cutler to fall back on. As was just mentioned, safety and linebacker play will be critical for the Jets. Matt Forte has been the undisputed back leading a depressing running game for the Bears (who average about 50 yards a game on the ground, among the worst in the league), however his true value has been as the Bears third leading receiver behind Marshall and Bennett. Jeffery is the biggest threat in the long pass and has the highest average, but Marshall and Bennett are the only established scoring threats so far this year.

Former Jets Santonio Holmes is a depth receiver and punt returner for the Jets, netting 4 receptions on the season so far and 2 punt returns for a combined net return of 1 (one) yard. If Holmes is running back punts for your team, I think it's safe to say you have issues with speed, depth, and an aging roster. Apparently I'm not that far off: Chicago is reportedly the third oldest team in the NFL. By comparison, the Jets are about in the middle of the league by average age. Only the struggling New York Giants and Oakland Raiders have older teams on average.

Rookie CB Kyle Fuller has two interceptions on the year for 38 yards, and makes us look kind of dumb when we say that 1st year cornerbacks don't often contribute significantly. Fuller also makes the Jets look bad when they can't field a single capable CB, while at the same time the Bears have a top ten pass defense led by a rookie. Tim Jennings plays formidably opposite Fuller.

Willie Young leads the Bears with 3 sacks.

Starter Brandon Marshall and depth CB Sherrick McManis are question marks for the Monday night game, as is guard/former Jet Matt Slauson. All have missed practice this week.

Bro's Bottom Line

The Jets defensive line could potentially overwhelm Jay Cutler and the Bears offensive line, which is the Jets most likely path to victory. If New York can pressure and hit the passer even a fraction as much as they did against Green Bay, this will be a very winnable game for Gang Green, especially if the Jets and Bears continue their trends of being respectively great and terrible on the ground.

The Jets are again outmatched through the air, from QB to WR to CB. But several factors make conditions favorable for a victory on prime time TV. Both teams have critical players nursing injuries and distinct weaknesses and strengths on both sides of the ball. This game will come down to defensive pressure at the line, offensive adaptability, and game management by the coaches. It's worth noting that as of Friday, the Bears had a glut of players missing or limited in practice.

This doesn't seem like the sort of game where Geno Smith will have good production, but he proved viable to an extent in the first two weeks even weighing his mistakes and poor footwork. The Bears are probably the best overall pass defense the Jets have faced yet, although the Packers are statistically one of the better passing defenses as well. The Jets could either exploit mismatches in a similar manner to the first half against the Packers, or they could just as easily implode and give away the game through the air with a weak secondary.

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