The Jets' incredible season continues after a flawless performance in week 5 in which they tied an NFL record by allowing 0 points and 0:00 time of possession in a week 5 masterpiece. The Redskins are coming off an overtime loss in which they kept pace with a previously undefeated Falcons team. The Redskins fanbase has been oddly confident for a 2-3 team coming off a 4-12 season with minimal offseason additions. The Redskins have lost to the otherwise winless Dolphins, that other New York team that wears blue or something, and a Falcons team that has looked lousy without Julio Jones healthy. The Redskins have beaten two lousy teams, holes all over their roster, and a QB a ridiculous 25 interceptions in 19 total games played. Yet most fans seem confident that they can fell the lowly .750 winning percentage Jets.
Where We Are
The Jets are itching to get back on the field after having a week off to rest. The Jets thoroughly dismantled the Dolphins in London two weeks ago, embarrassing the fish so badly that they started firing major members of their coaching staff, including embattled head coach Joe Philbin. The Jets have had a week to get healthy, allowing several major contributors (David Harris, Leonard Williams, Calvin Pryor, and others) to heal up the minor injuries they suffered early in the season. On top of that, the Jets bring back the team's 2014 MVP Sheldon Richardson, who has completed his 4 game suspension related to failed drug tests. A possible (and likely) suspension for Richardson for his conduct in an unrelated case looms over the team, but Richardson is unlikely to be suspended for several weeks. It's quite likely he is available for the rest of the year, which is good news for the team. It's hard to know how much he can provide in his first week back, and I expect him to be used in a rotation as he works his way back into football shape. Nevertheless, his presence should do nothing but help bolster what is already the league's top scoring defense.
Where They Are
The Redskins have been something of a surprise this season. No, the least politically correct team in sports is not good. But they aren't a raging dumpster fire, either. If you'd asked me which team would be last in the NFC East at the beginning of the season, I would have said the Redskins without hesitation. The Redskins had 7 combined wins in the last 2 years, and boast the most controversial QB situation in the NFL. The 'Skins tied for 30th in points allowed last season and also sat at 30th in turnover differential (behind the Jets, even. Yeah, that bad.) Despite only a handful of small signing in the offseason, the Redskins have shown marked improvement on defense. Losing the constantly injured Brian Orakpo didn't seem to have much of an impact on the front 7, who have been night and day compared to last season. The Redskins don't boast a lot of big name players on defense, but Ryan Kerrigan is a vastly underrated stud who unfortunately plays for a weak team (I'm sure Wilkerson can relate.) On offense, the Redskins rely on a two-headed monster at RB with two powerful young backs in Alfred Morris and Matt Jones.
|Hatcher, Jason||DE||Not Injury Related||DNP||FP||FP||-|
|Riley Jr., Perry||LB||Calf||FP||FP||FP||probable|
It's not exactly a deep and insightful choice, but the X-Factor for the Jets has to be Sheldon Richardson. After missing the first 4 games due to suspension, most fans are giddy with excitement to see the most disruptive Jet back in action. It's hard to know how much rust there will be, however. Richardson's on the field motor leads me to believe that he's kept himself in shape and is borderline rabid in his desire to get back on the field. When you're not allowed to play or practice with the team, however, there is almost always a noticeable rust factor. You just can't stay in football shape without football action. Hopefully this is minimal for Richardson and he can help the dangerous Jets defense take over against the Redskins.
The usual X-factor for the Redskins is Kirk Cousins. Like at a family reunion, you simply don't know which Cousins will show up. Here are Kirk Cousins' passer ratings over 5 games this season: 69.7, 91.8, 69.8, 110.3, 68.8. In another statistical anomaly that defines Cousins' befuddling inconsistency, Cousins has thrown 5 touchdowns and 6 interceptions over 5 games. Somehow, he's managed to throw 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions in a game, followed by 1 touchdown and no interceptions in the next game in a perfect pattern this season. After throwing 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions last week (including a game-clinching pick 6 in overtime), the laws of nonsensical pseudo-superstition, Cousins is guaranteed to throw a touchdown and no interceptions while posting a 90+ passer rating. This is supported by the indisputable Theory of Gambler's Fallacy, considering that the Jets have already posted 13 turnovers in just 4 games after only recording 13 all of last season and couldn't possibly keep forcing turnovers. If Cousins can avoid turnovers, he'll give the Redskins a decent shot to keep pace with the Jets if Alfred Morris and Matt Jones can pound the rock with any success. Sorry, I should have said "When Cousins." I forgot I'd already proven it with math and science-like things.
Keys to Victory
The Jets need to rely on what has gotten them a 3-1 record thus far. Pound the rock with Ivory, throw the ball to Marshall and Decker, and cause turnovers. The Redskins are going to try to run against the Jets, but the Jets run defense should only improve with the return of Sheldon Richardson. While the Jets' run defense hasn't been as impressive it was during the last few years, the Jets still rank 8th in run defense per game. Adding Richardson should make the Jets one of the hardest teams in the NFL to run against. If the Jets can score 20 points, it's pretty likely that they can ground out the clock out to a win. The Redskins will likely have trouble putting up points against the NFL's stingiest defense, meaning that the Jets only need a handful of scores to take the win. Stopping the run and forcing some mistakes from Cousins (which get turned into points) should be the recipe for success in this game.
The Bottom Line
This is a game that the Jets have no excuse to lose. The Jets are a 3-1 team coming off of a bye and returning their 2014 MVP from suspension. The Jets have the NFL's best scoring defense, the NFL's #2 total defense, and no serious injuries remaining. The Jets are playing at home in a stadium in which the Redskins have lost 7 of their last 8 games. To make matters worse for the Redskins, their star left tackle Trent Williams is out for the game. The 'Skins' starting center and tight end are also out, while #1 receiver DeSean Jackson is highly questionable, as is the impressive rookie back Matt Jones. The Redskins are not a good offensive team when healthy and several of the team's best offensive players are injured. A lot of people have called this a trap game because it's exactly the type of game that the Jets have lost in recent years. Rex Ryan was 1-5 as head coach coming off of a bye, including several losses to weak teams. But the Jets simply can't lose this game. The Jets are a better team, have a 3-1 record, and are coming off of a bye week after an impressive win. The Redskins have a dearth of talent, a 2-3 record, and are coming off of a heartbreaking loss with most of their best players injured. I'm picking the Jets this week and I will pretty much be inconsolable if they somehow manage to lose a game that a playoff contender should win by double digits.