How will the Jets respond after an embarrassing performance against the Patriots (8-3) on Thanksgiving night?
The Jets' realistic probability of earning a playoff spot is virtually non-existent, but head coach Rex Ryan continues to persist that his team will fight until the bitter end.
Ryan is in pursuit of some brand of storybook ending in a season where the Jets have faltered on a maximum scale. The fourth-year coach needs a reality check as he inches closer to a personal vendetta.
The boisterous head honcho could reach his bitter end if the Jets hang another blowout loss on the scoreboard in front a futile home crowd against a mediocre opponent.
But, the Jets enter Week 13 as a favorite over Arizona. That's how bad the Cardinals have been. They started the season 4-0, but have been reeling ever since, losing seven consecutive games.
They figure to stand a solid chance of beating the Jets, though. New York is averaging just 20.1 points per contest through 11 games this season, and Arizona boasts a defense that ranks seventh in the NFL.
The following details three key objectives to a potential Jets victory over the Cardinals at MetLife Stadium in Week 13:
Establish the run
The Jets have grossly abandoned their once-trademark ground-and-pound approach on offense, but that needs to drastically change if they expect to move the ball downfield against the Cardinals.
Arizona surrenders 124.2 yards per game on the ground to rank 23rd in the league. St. Louis bruised the Cardinals for 173 rushing yards on 34 attempts in Week 12, sustaining over five yards per carry en route to a 31-17 win.
The Jets need to ascertain that total if they expect to win because the Cardinals' secondary is among the best in the NFL. They yield less than 204 passing yards per contest, which rivals the Jets' 28th ranked pass offense.
Embattled quarterback Mark Sanchez needs to re-adapt to the role of game manager this Sunday. The Jets have won just two games since Week 4. Sanchez attempted 11 and 20 passes respectively in those wins, signifying a substantial component to the Jets' success.
The Jets need to limit drop-backs for Sanchez, who is easily flustered in pocket-collapsing situations and has lost five fumbles so far this season. Establishing the run will limit the pressure put forth on the struggling QB and open up play action in running downs.
This can be accomplished by effectively pounding the football on the ground between the tackles, but the Jets' offensive line will have to be efficient in executing proper run-blocking schemes to allow running back Shonn Greene some space to work with.
Greene doesn't possess a ton of break-away speed, so it will be crucial for the Jets to establish the run up front to beat the Cardinals.
Ball security will be pivotal in determining the outcome. The Jets have committed nine turnovers in their last three losses, whereas they've granted the opposition just three giveaways in their four wins.
New York needs to limit miscues on offense and maintain possession. The Jets' five turnover showcase against the Patriots in Week 12 was inexcusable.
Ryan has adopted a video-oriented approach to re-teach his players how to secure the football, although "show and tell" won't fix New York's constant brigade of turnovers overnight.
The Jets don't have the firepower on offense to compete if they turn the ball over, even against a mediocre opponent like the Cardinals.
They're not built to mount comebacks, regardless of the deficit. The Jets need to play from in-front to win football games, and limiting turnovers on offense will greatly dictate if they're able to do that.
Sanchez is among the worst quarterbacks in the league when attempting to avoid five or more pass-rushers, registering a total QBR of 26.8 and a 51.5 completion percentage in those situations.
The Cardinals like to put heavy pressure on the opposing quarterback, blitzing five or more, nearly 40 percent of the downs they face on defense.
The most effective method in ball security for the Jets will be to limit the impact of Sanchez. He's a turnover machine, churning out 41 giveaways in the past two seasons.
The Jets need to run the football and eliminate the Sanchez-effect to earn a win in Week 13.
The Jets need to be efficient in limiting short-field opportunities for the opposition. The Cardinals are the lowest-scoring team in the NFL, checking in at 16.4 points per game.
They can pressure the Cardinals' rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley into making mistakes by forcing him into facing long-field situations.
The battle of field position will be greatly enhanced by the element of turnovers. The Jets should be able to win field position if they don't commit daunting giveaways, especially given Lindley's inexperience and shaky first start.
The Jets' cataclysmic tailspin has entered crash mode, but they can limit the damage with a few garbage-time wins down the stretch. The Cardinals have arguably been the worst team in the NFL dating back to Week 5, but the Jets haven't been much better.