New York Jets at Seattle Seahawks: Three Bold Predictions
The emergence of so many young quarterbacks in recent years has turned the National Football League into a "passing league".
Or so say the experts and media outlets who cover the sport.
Recent years have also shown that it is possible for teams with weak defenses to not only make it to the Super Bowl, but win it. Sometimes it seems like I'm watching the "Bizarro" NFL.
Jets coach Rex Ryan has spent a great deal of time this season 'gushing' over his opponents.
Almost as if he is employing a "kill 'em with kindness" strategy. The problem is, teams that play against New York don't need bulletin-board material to get fired up.
They just need to look at the numbers, the statistics and the rankings.
Despite Rex Ryan's best efforts to mold the Jets into his image of a "ground and pound" team, New York is ranked near the bottom of the league in some major categories. Perhaps most importantly, the Jets are currently 29th in the league in defending against the run. A far cry from the stout defenses Ryan coached while he was defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens.
The other side of the ball is a Jets offense led by fourth year quarterback Mark Sanchez. This brings up a sub-plot that deserves more attention than it's getting. Namely that Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll was Sanchez's coach during his collegiate years at USC.
When Sanchez declared early for the NFL draft following his 2009 season, Carroll openly disagreed. In fact, at the press conference where Sanchez made his draft announcement, Carroll made sure to point out that underclassmen quarterbacks rarely have success at the professional level. After the mediocre play Sanchez has displayed during his young career, it would seem that Carroll was on to something.
Sub-plots aside, the raw numbers indicate major differences between these two teams.
Seattle runs the ball more than it passes, while the Jets are terrible defending the run but better defending the pass. New York, in spite of Ryan's "ground and pound" wishing, passes more than it runs, the Seahawks have a top-flight pass defense.
What does all of this mean for Sunday's game? Here are my predictions:
1) Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch will rush for at least 180 yards.
As I mentioned above, the Jets have a poor run defense. Lynch has been on an absolute tear in recent games. Simple logic dictates that in a game, if the best thing you do cannot be stopped by the opponent, you do it until they DO stop it.
But they won't.
2) Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie will have a rough day.
Cromartie this week emulated the Rex Ryan of old, when he boldly guaranteed that New York will make the playoffs this year. First of all, that is one of the last things you want to say when facing a team like Seattle. Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson isn't elite (yet) but like his teammate, Lynch, he is playing his best football lately.
Expect Wilson to target Cromartie's side of the field early and often in an effort to make Cromartie eat his words. Secondly, it is not impossible for the Jets to reach the postseason, but at 3-5, they have a lot of winning to do, and must start by beating the Seahawks.
3) Tim Tebow enters the game in the fourth quarter, replacing an ineffective Mark Sanchez, leads a New York rally and beats Seattle on the road.
Sometimes I get a gut instinct about football games, and it has nothing to do with hard numbers, trends or the like. This just feels like the perfect time and place for something special to happen.
Predicted Final Score: