The New York Jets travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons on Monday Night Football.
Before the season began, it wouldn't have shocked many people to know that one team was 1-3 and the other was 2-2 to open the season. However, the fact that the Falcons are the team with just one win to this point comes as a huge surprise after Atlanta came within one play of Super Bowl XLVII last January.
Quarterback Matt Ryan has put up impressive numbers this season—as he's done for the past few years—but the Falcons have struggled to score touchdowns in the red zone. Atlanta has gotten into the red zone 18 times this year but has only converted seven touchdowns, as noted by the NFL:
'They've been in the redzone 18 times, more than any team in the NFL. But they've only scored 7 TDs.' http://t.co/9Ahw7Z0poY— NFL (@nfl) October 2, 2013
This lack of red-zone production is a direct link to the team's 1-3 start, and if the Falcons can't improve in this regard, then the losses will continue piling up.
Rookie quarterback Geno Smith has shown a willingness to lead the team's offense, but he's also shown a Mark Sanchez-esque knack for turning the ball over. Thanks to his mistakes, New York has been plagued by turnovers on offense with 12 giveaways, which has somewhat negated the team's defensive efforts.
He'll need to sharpen up his focus playing in front of a hostile crowd in Atlanta this Monday night.
When: Monday, Oct. 7 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
Betting Lines (via Covers)
- Over/Under: 43.5 pts.
- Spread: Atlanta (-9.5)
Jets Injury Report (via NewYorkJets.com)
Falcons Injury Report (via AtlantaFalcons.com)
Will Geno Smith Cut Down On His Mistakes?
It won't be easy for the Jets to win in Atlanta this Monday night, even if Geno Smith plays his best game of the year. Atlanta isn't as bad as its record suggests, and the Georgia Dome will be raucous for this nationally televised game.
If Smith keeps up his current pace of turnovers, however, the Jets will have no chance of winning. The rookie quarterback is tied with Eli Manning for the most turnovers by any signal-caller in the NFL with 11, as noted by ESPN Stats & Info:
Giants QB Eli Manning and Jets QB Geno Smith each have 11 turnovers, tied for MOST in the NFL.— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) October 1, 2013
The good news for Smith and the Jets is that Atlanta hasn't been effective at creating turnovers thus far in 2013, forcing just four in the first four games.
More often than not, the young gunslinger has turned the ball over on plays where he was trying to do too much. In college, Smith could get away with making poor throws into coverage, but now that he's in the pros, he's getting eaten alive by savvy defensive backs.
If there was any single play that illustrated his misguided approach this season, it was his behind-the-back fumble that rivals Sanchez's infamous butt-fumble of a season ago. He was clearly sacked but decided it would be a good idea to juggle the ball behind his back whilst being dragged to the ground.
As he fell to the ground without the ball, Smith must have been thinking—in the immortal words of GOB Bluth—"I've made a huge mistake."
If the former West Virginia star can learn from his mistakes these past four weeks, then the Jets will have a fighting chance of pulling off an upset.
The Jets have issues at the skill positions on offense. Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill are the team's two best receivers, and both of them are recovering from injuries suffered in Week 4.
Running back Bilal Powell has been one of the lone bright spots, but New York has been in play-from-behind mode the past couple of weeks, which has cut down on his carries.
Which team will win?
For the Falcons, running back Steven Jackson still isn't practicing while he recovers from a hamstring injury, and Atlanta has struggled to run the ball effectively in his absence.
But Ryan has not had any issues connecting with his receivers between the 20s, and Julio Jones has really stepped up his game with three straight 100-plus-yard performances.
Smith will struggle with turnovers once again this week, and the Falcons will easily win at home.
Falcons win, 31-17
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