New York Jets: Most Important out-of-Division Matchups for the Jets in 2012
The start of the 2012 NFL season for the New York Jets is just two months away. They will try to rebound after a disappointing 8-8 2011 campaign by facing the usual AFC East opponents six times (i.e. Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills).
But what about those other games on their schedule?
Some out-of-division games the Jets have include road trips to Seattle, San Francisco and Pittsburgh, while they will host teams like the Cardinals, Colts and Texans at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.
Some of their out-of-division games are more important than others, whether it is because of an emotional game from a few years ago or a potential trap game. This list shows six big New York Jets games that fans should not overlook just because they are not AFC East opponents.
As always, feedback and questions are welcome below in the comments section. Enjoy!
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
Aside from the time slot it was given, this game has the makings of a big one. For their Week 2 game, the Jets will travel back to Heinz Field to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in what will definitely be labeled as the 2011 AFC Championship Game rematch. Why not call it that? Both teams have most of the same components as when they played 18 months ago.
What will matter most in this game is playing a complete game. The Jets showed in the second half of the AFC Championship game that they can beat the Steelers, but the deficit they created in the first half via a fumble that was returned for a touchdown was ultimately the difference between having New York Jets AFC champions t-shirts and seeing Pittsburgh Steelers AFC champions t-shirts.
In order to win, the victor will need to protect the ball, while moving it efficiently on offense, while the defense needs to keep the opposing offense from lighting up the scoreboard.
If one were to look at the 24-3 score at halftime of last year's game, they would most likely draw the conclusion that the Jets kept turning the ball over. Sure they punted plenty, but they only had one turnover the entire game, which was Mark Sanchez's fumble returned for a touchdown.
All in all, the statistics of this game will most likely indicate who will win this rematch on September 16.
2. San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers will be one of the tougher games for the Jets this season. The last time these two teams went against one another it was 2008, the Jets still had Brett Favre and had to travel across the country and lose 24-14 as a part of their late-season skid resulting in missing the playoffs.
Those of you who remember that game, may remember this play when 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis nearly cracked Jets receiver Brad Smith in half.
Now, onto this year's game; the two will play against each other Week 4 at MetLife Stadium. Unlike the Jets, the 49ers were a playoff team with weapons all over the field, whether it is Patrick Willis on defense or Michael Crabtree on offense. Both teams have talented offenses and defenses, which will make this game a very interesting one to watch.
What it will ultimately come down to is how the New York Jets defense will perform. San Francisco can attack the Jets defense from several different places. The first of the two key spots on the Jets defense that will be tested during this game is the defensive line. The Jets are switching to a 4-3 defense and it will be up to the new-look defensive line to keep Frank Gore from having a monster day, while the secondary is preoccupied with the aerial attack.
Speaking of the aerial attack, the second key to look at will be how the Jets handle a tight end like Vernon Davis. Last year the Jets were torched by several of the tight ends they faced and have added guys like linebacker Demario Davis and safeties Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry to keep guys like Davis from having big days against them.
Nonetheless, circle this big game on your calendars Jets fans, it's going to be a good one.
3. Seattle Seahawks
Classic trap game scenario. The Jets encountered this same game when they played the Seattle Seahawks in 2008 (pictured). It was a very snowy day in Seattle, the Jets were coming in at 9-5, a win away from making the playoffs, while the Seahawks were 3-11 and fighting to put another tally in the win column.
As I said in the slide before, the Jets could not get the job done late in the season to make the playoff push, and dropped this game to Seattle 13-3 along with losing to Chad Pennington and the Dolphins 24-17 a week later.
During Week 11, the Jets will once again travel to CenturyLink Field following their Week 10 bye. The Seahawks are coming off a 7-9 season and are on the rise, which means this game should not be taken lightly.
With that said, the Seahawks still do not have the same kind of skill as the Jets. All the Jets have to do in order to avoid this trap-week loss is execute, execute and execute some more. As long as they do not make costly errors, which they are known to do in these kinds of games, they will be okay.
4. Houston Texans
The Jets and Texans faced each other in 2010 in a rather overly dramatic game. You are probably wondering why I am saying the game was so dramatic. For starters, the Jets had a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter, which they blew and then found themselves down four with 55 seconds to go.
After a great pass from Mark Sanchez to Braylon Edwards with 16 seconds left, and then a game-winning touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes immediately after, the Jets pulled off an improbable comeback. That led to the Jets celebration fans have grown to love shown in this slide's photo. To watch the unforgettable game-winning drive, go here.
Now enough of that game, this slide is to discuss this year's Week 5 Monday night matchup. Needless to say, the Jets are going to have their hands full with the Texans on both sides of the ball. The trio of Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and Adrian Foster is going to take near-flawless play to contain, while a healthy Texans defense is sure to cause problems for Mark Sanchez and company.
The big key is playing smart. The Jets should not play to make big plays, they should play similar to the way I suggested they play against Pittsburgh, conservative while efficient. If they are conservative and efficient while on offense, they will be able to rack up possession time. If the defense does their job, a lead could slowly grow giving the Jets a big win.
5. San Diego Chargers
Apparently the New York Jets and San Diego Chargers are a match made in heaven when it comes to NFL schedules. For the fourth time in five years the Jets and Chargers will play against one another.
Similar to last year, the Jets will host the Chargers at MetLife Stadium, except their Week 16 will be a Sunday night game airing on NBC. When the two played last year, the Jets pulled out a victory after relying on Plaxico Burress, who scored three touchdowns for them and their cornerbacks who came up big with two late interceptions that resulted with the Jets leaving on top of the Chargers, 27-21.
Similar to the game against San Francisco, a big key to this game is how the Jets defend against Antonio Gates. For years, Gates has been a force when playing against the Jets, and last year he was the Chargers top performer receiver, catching five passes for 54 yards and a touchdown.
If they can defend against Gates, all else should fall into place; the cornerbacks will be able to lockdown the receivers (unless Cromartie decides to have one of his "off-days") while the linebackers and defensive line keep the run game in check.
Therefore, the one group to look at during this big late-season game will be the safeties, who in years past have been in bad shape by this point in the season.
6. St. Louis Rams
There is only one reason this is going to be a big game for the Jets and that is because, Week 11 they will be traveling to St. Louis to take on former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
Schottenheimer was with the Jets for six years and by the end of the 2011 season, it was obvious he was not cut out for the job. He failed to use his players' strength, his play-calling was not only very questionable but extremely predictable.
As an example, use last year's Jets game against the New York Giants. The Jets still had a shot at making the playoffs and the Giants were one of the obstacles in their way.
Schottenheimer had Sanchez drop back over 60 times, he completed 30-of-59 passes, but the worst was in the second half when the Jets would consistently move the ball five to six yards on the ground. Out of nowhere Schottenheimer would elect to pass each time the Jets would near midfield.
These horrible decisions usually resulted in Sanchez nullifying everything the offensive linemen and running backs worked for and forced the team to punt.
For those of you who had the unfortunate pleasure of watching Schottenheimer call the shots between 2006 and 2011, I am sorry. The good news is that the Jets on paper are a better team than the Rams.
They know their offensive coordinator and the system he is going to try and run, which should help the defense have a field day against them. The Jets have their own new offensive coordinator who did an overhaul of their offensive system and a new defensive system that Schottenheimer will not have experience against.
With all that said, the Jets should be able to easily beat the Rams, but the storyline of Schottenheimer versus his former team is enough to land himself and this game on this list.
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