5 Bold Predictions for the New York Jets' Week 14 Matchup
The New York Jets are in free-fall.
After winning five of their first nine games, including home victories over the Patriots and the Saints, the Jets have dropped their last three contests to teams with a combined current record of 16-20.
Suddenly, Rex Ryan is back on the hot seat and the future of Geno Smith doesn't look so bright.
If the Jets are to finish the season off strong, let alone stay in the postseason race, they need a victory over a struggling Oakland Raiders team this Sunday at MetLife.
With that said, here are five bold predictions for New York in the make-or-break contest this weekend.
Muhammad Wilkerson Notches Three Sacks
As Jets fans know, Muhammad Wilkerson has been an absolute beast this season.
The Temple product has racked up 50 combined tackles, 10 sacks, five stuffs, two forced fumbles and an interception in New York's first 12 games, and he has played himself into the thick of the Defensive Player of the Year race.
On Sunday, Wilkerson will add to his already-impressive stat line, as he has a dream matchup with a horrible Raiders offensive line.
Oakland's front has allowed a gaudy 38 sacks thus far this season, which is sixth-most in the NFL.
Expect the "Sons of Anarchy" to have a field day, and don't be surprised if Wilkerson has one of the finest games of his young career.
Antonio Cromartie Will Give Up a Long Touchdown Reception
Antonio Cromartie has gone from looking like a Pro Bowl cornerback to a grandma in a span of a year.
After having the best year of his career in the absence of Darrelle Revis in 2012, Cromartie has been abysmal thus far this season.
Stu Woo of the Wall Street Journal says Pro Football Focus ranks him 100th out of 116 eligible cornerbacks.
To put it bluntly, the 29-year-old has gone from being a strength in New York's secondary to a liability.
Cromartie's rough season will likely continue this season against a Raiders aerial attack that has been surprisingly decent under Matt McGloin.
Even though Oakland will be without top target Denarius Moore, the Raiders will be looking to attack Cromartie deep with Andre Holmes and Rod Streater, both of whom have superb straight-line speed.
Expect Cromartie to allow another costly touchdown on Sunday.
Geno Smith Will Throw a Touchdown Pass
Smith has been far and away the worst quarterback in the NFL this season.
The signal-caller has thrown for 2,256 yards, eight touchdowns and 19 interceptions through 12 games.
Even more startling, Smith hasn't thrown a touchdown pass since October 20. That was five games and over six weeks ago.
However, the West Virginia product will finally toss one in the end zone this Sunday.
Not only will Smith be getting his top two targets in Jeremy Kerley and Santonio Holmes back on the field, as Kimberley A. Martin of Newsday reports, but he will also be facing a Raiders defense that ranks just 24th in the NFL in pass defense.
If there was ever a time for Smith to get back on track, this is it.
Chris Ivory Will Rush for over 100 Yards
The Jets are finally getting the kind of production out of Chris Ivory that they dreamed of when they traded for him this offseason.
Aside from a complete dud in the blowout loss to Cincinnati, Ivory has been phenomenal in the last month-and-a-half.
The former Saint has had three contests of 98 or more yards and has rushed for two touchdowns in New York's last six games, and he has averaged a phenomenal 4.8 yards per carry over that span.
The Raiders have a decent run defense, but they have been gashed by solid rushing attacks this season. Just last Thursday, Oakland allowed 145 yards and three touchdowns to the Cowboys.
With Smith struggling to throw the ball and Ivory running well, expect Ivory to receive in excess of 20 carries on Sunday and rush for over 100 yards in the process.
The Jets Will Squeak out the Win
The Jets have really struggled in recent weeks, but they are simply a better team than the Raiders.
Oakland hasn't beaten a team outside of the horrendous Texans in nearly two months, and it's shown an inability to win on the road all season.
Playing in an early game across the country against a ferocious front, Matt McGloin will never get comfortable and make several key mistakes.
Expect New York's offense to do just enough for the Jets to eke out a close home victory and keep their slim playoff hopes and Rex Ryan's job security alive.