NFL Week 1 Picks: Monday Night Double-Header, Ravens-Jets, Chargers-Chiefs
"Son, your ego is writing checks that your body can't cash..."
In case you live in a box, it isn't news that there is a lot of trash talking coming from the New York Jets camp. If you pay any attention to it, then Rex Ryan and company have accomplished their goal. They want the buzz surrounding them, because it can give you the confidence you need to succeed.
If people aren't buying the talk, then they can use that as motivation, too. It is win-win, as far as Rex Ryan is concerned.
Remember back when Steve Smith was not respected by cornerbacks?
A cornerback would publicly say that Steve Smith would get nothing on him. What happened in the following game? Steve Smith torched him, repeatedly. He loved that type of motivation. It is at a point now that nobody even thinks about talking smack about Steve Smith.
This is what Rex Ryan is looking for. The Jets players have bought in, and their opponents are falling into the trap.
But are the Jets as dominating a team as Steve Smith was a player?
If they were, don't you think they would have lit up the preseason?
The offense still needs some time to gel. Mark Sanchez to Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller looks good, but Braylon Edwards, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Santonio Holmes are still adjusting to the offense. The running game is just as shaky with Tomlinson and Shonn Greene running behind four incumbents and Matt Slauson, who is just not as skilled or educated as Alan Faneca.
As a Jets fan, I am hopeful that the offense will be better than last season, but I am not nearly as confident as Ryan might be.
However, I am very confident in the defense.
With the return of Darrelle Revis, a healthy Kris Jenkins, and adding two very talented corners in Antonio Cromatie and rookie Kyle Wilson, plus Brodney Poole, the Jets will be a top-three defense. They'll rely on man-to-man coverage and blitz constantly. Their run defense is top notch with Jenkins clogging the middle, allowing Bart Scott and David Harris to chase down running backs.
Now, looking over the Baltimore Ravens' defensive roster, John Harbaugh still has a lot of talent, on paper, but the performance of Terrell Suggs and Jarrett Johnson last season, and the fact that they have no reliable cornerbacks or No. 2 middle linebacker to line up next to Ray Lewis, you begin to doubt they can be a top-10 defense this season.
The Ravens' defense should be stout against the run with Kelly Gregg and Haloti Ngata anchoring the line, but their secondary leaves much to be desired. Plus, Ed Reed could be done for his career. This is not the best matchup for the Jets offense, so I'm still expecting a low scoring affair with only a couple touchdowns.
On the other side of the ball, the Ravens have built a high-powered offense to replace what is typically a grind-it-out offense.
Joe Flacco now has three new veteran weapons in year three of his career. TJ Houshmandzadeh will take some time to get accustomed to the offense and find his role. Dante Stallworth is still out with a broken foot. It appears only one of the three new weapons will be ready for Week 1, as Anquan Boldin had an average preseason.
The Ravens also still have the very reliable Derrick Mason and a rejuvenated Todd Heap.
Ray Rice is the X-factor in this game. Can the Jets defense contain him on all three downs? Even when the Ravens spread the field and run the draw or screen? Rice has the ability to pick up third downs in short and long situations. The Jets will need to tie him up in pass protection as often as possible, but not get beat on the delayed screens, else the Ravens will keep the ball moving down the field.
I've seen the Jets effectively blitz while taking away the draw and screen plays, so I have to believe they'll do it here.
PICK: New York Jets
Looking at the changes in the offseason, I think these teams are pretty even. The skill players for both teams have enough talent to get the job done. It will come down to the trenches and the Chiefs ability to take away Antonio Gates.
The Chiefs defensive line is centered by Ron Edwards. I'm not so sure about a veteran of his age with so few starts. The ends are young with plenty of strength. They hope that these guys can clog up the offensive line of their opponents and free up the linebackers to make plays.
The difficulty remains that the Chiefs lack the personnel to take away the standout tight end. With Romeo Crennel running the defense, they may be able to scheme out of a lot of situations, but this is not Philip Rivers' first game.
The San Diego Chargers lost Jamaal Williams and Antonio Cromartie this offseason. The replacements are not nearly as skilled. And Shawne Merriman is injured.
The Chargers offensive line is missing a starting guard and performed pitiful against the run, but admirably against the pass.
I think they'll fare well enough against the Chiefs to get around 20 points, but their defensive is liable to give up just as many. I believe it will be a close one to stay up and watch.
PICK: San Diego Chargers
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