New York Jets Vs. Denver Broncos: 10 Questions For the Week 6 Matchup
The New York Jets are coming off of four straight victories, having beaten the Vikings at home on Monday night. Now, they travel to Denver for their final game before a bye week.
The Broncos are only 2-3 so far this season, and although they have a great quarterback, their secondary is all messed up. This game has a chance of being a shootout, considering both quarterbacks can pass and both teams' secondaries are beat up.
The Jets are looking to start 5-1 for the first time since 2004, when they started 5-0 and lost in the AFC Divisional Round.
Let's take a look at 10 important topics for this Sunday afternoon matchup.
Which Version Is The Real Mark Sanchez?
So far in 2010, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez has been a mixed bag. There's no question he has shown major improvement, and that's obvious. He hasn't thrown an interception yet in five games and hasn't committed a fumble either.
But, while three of his games were fantastic, his two Monday night games have been average or worse.
In Week 1, the Jets didn't allow him to do anything, which caused his numbers to look terrible, and the Jets lost, having only given up 10 points to Baltimore. On the just completed Monday night game, Sanchez fared well for the bad conditions he was playing in, but still wasn't sharp.
So, entering this Week 6 game in Denver, which Sanchez will show up? The one that handled the Patriots and Dolphins defenses, or the one that hasn't looked good on Monday nights?
Will LaDainian Tomlinson Enter the Bye Week Strong?
This may be a shock to you, because it is to many people, but LaDainian Tomlinson is fifth in the NFL in rushing. His 435 yards have helped the Jets become the top ranked rushing team in the league.
This week, Tomlinson will try to enter a much-needed bye week on a high note against a Broncos team that can't stop the run. They're ranked 25th in that category and if Tomlinson can do what he has done so far, the Jets will be in great shape.
Assuming Sanchez will be able to pass against a poor Broncos secondary, running the ball too would give the Jets a huge advantage in the game.
Tomlinson shouldn't have any problems in this game, as he's had great success in his career facing the Broncos twice a season when he was with San Diego. Look for him to enter the bye week strong and get ready for the rest of the season.
Will Kyle Orton Continue Success Against Revis-less Jets?
Where has Kyle Orton come from? He's been a solid quarterback in this league, but this season he's on fire. He's second in the entire NFL in passing yards, only trailing Philip Rivers. It'll be something to witness once the Broncos and Chargers play each other to see the two leading passers go at it.
For now, it'll be Orton against Sanchez and that may be a mismatch. Not that Sanchez hasn't shown signs of being a great passer, but Orton is doing big things right now.
Part of Orton's success is that he has great receivers. Brandon Lloyd leads the league in receiving yards and had a monster game in last week's loss to Baltimore. He only caught five passes, but went for 135 yards. Some guys can't get that many yards with 10 catches.
If Darrelle Revis were able to play—he's out with a nagging hamstring injury—maybe Lloyd could be shut down. After all, it's the league's best receivers that Revis is paid to stop.
So, instead it'll be Antonio Cromartie covering Lloyd, and that may not be a terrible matchup. Cromartie did a pretty decent job against Randy Moss twice this season, so don't expect him to be completely beaten.
The Jets also have to find a way to stop Jabar Gaffney and Eddie Royal. It's going to be a true test for the Jets this week to stop the pass. The Broncos are second in the league in passing and if they can stop Denver, then you'd have to really be impressed.
Is This the Game Santonio Holmes Breaks Out?
In his first game with the Jets on Monday night, Santonio Holmes looked like a guy making his season debut. After sitting out a four-game suspension to start the season, Holmes caught only three passes, all for first downs. But, could this be the game Holmes breaks out and looks like his Super Bowl MVP self?
The Broncos are going to be without three key members of their secondary on Sunday. Brian Dawkins, Darcel McBath and Andre Goodman are all out against the Jets with various injuries, which will open up the Jets passing game and especially Holmes.
When the Jets traded for Holmes, they were planning on using him as the go-to receiver once he was eligible to play, although other guys have stepped up in his absence. Dustin Keller, who was getting many opportunities, didn't do anything in the game against Minnesota, only catching two passes.
This would be the perfect game for the Jets to open up the playbook and the perfect game for Holmes to get settled in and make his mark as a Jet.
What's More Important: Broncos' Passing or Jets' Rushing?
The Jets lead the league in rushing yards and the Broncos are second to the Chargers in passing yards. So, which component is more important when deciding who will win?
Most likely, the Jets' ability to run the ball. Why? Well, the Broncos are 25th in the league in stopping the run, which doesn't look good going up against LaDainian Tomlinson. The Jets haven't been great at stopping the pass, but as long as Antonio Cromartie plays like he has so far, the Jets shouldn't have too many problems.
Plus, when running the ball with Tomlinson's fire, it's easier to rack up lots of yardage, as opposed to throwing a lot and perhaps turning the ball over.
Turnovers are also going to be a huge key to this game, and the Jets have only done it once this season. In Week 1, Shonn Greene lost a fumble and the Jets have played turnover-free since. The Broncos on the other hand, have committed six turnovers this season.
Like Jets head coach Rex Ryan said, if the team wins the turnover battle, they'll win the game. So far, they're doing that at 4-1.
Can Kicker Nick Folk Take Pressure off Mark Sanchez?
Jets kicker Nick Folk, who the Jets picked up after he was cut by the Cowboys last season, has been fabulous so far. He played probably the biggest part of the Jets' win on Monday night, kicking five field goals, one from 53 yards out. He's tied for the most field goals made in the league with 12.
With that being said, can Folk actually take pressure off Mark Sanchez? Sanchez had trouble getting into the end zone on Monday, but every time he fell short, Folk successfully put three points up.
With Sanchez having confidence in his kicker to at least put points on the board, does that make him feel less nervous? Probably not, but it's a good question.
Folk wasn't supposed to be any good this season, before getting some help from special teams coach Mike Westhoff. Field goals don't always win you games, but if you get enough of them—like five—they can make up for missed touchdown opportunities.
Will The Jets Improve on Third-And-Long Defense?
The only cause for concern in the Jets' 29-20 win over the Vikings on Monday night was their defense on third-and-long plays. Twice they gave up a touchdown to Brett Favre on plays of third-and-17 and third-and-19. That's just plain unacceptable and can't continue, as it nearly cost them the game.
The same problems occurred in Week 1, also a Monday night game against the Ravens. What's the problem? It can't be playing on national TV, can it?
The Jets' defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and coach Rex Ryan have to change their blitz schemes in those situations because they clearly aren't working. Offensive lines are blocking the blitz and not allowing the Jets to get to the quarterback.
In this game, the Jets must improve on third-and-long defense. In fact, if they don't, they'll probably lose the game. They can't allow Kyle Orton to get away with long passes like Favre and Joe Flacco did and expect to win. They escaped with a victory on Monday night, but that doesn't happen very often and it only did because time ran out.
We just have to sit back and watch the game to see if the Jets improve in that department, but it's maybe the biggest key to the game.
The Jets Will Win If They...
The Jets will win this game if they stop Brandon Lloyd. Reason being, the Broncos have no running game. That's a fact, as they are 32nd in the league in rushing yards.
That takes care of one issue for the Jets to handle, leaving stopping the pass as the key to victory. Without Darrelle Revis, it'll be a tough task. But, it can happen.
If Antonio Cromartie and the Jets can't stop Lloyd and the rest of the Broncos' receivers, then they'll have to hand the game to LaDainian Tomlinson. It wouldn't be a bad idea for Tomlinson to carry the load, anyway, since he'll have a week to rest up following the game.
The Broncos Will Win If They...
The Broncos will win this game if they stop LaDainian Tomlinson. It's obvious that they need a great game out of Kyle Orton, but the X-factor will be limiting Tomlinson and forcing Sanchez to pass.
Although they're defensive backfield is all banged up, eventually Sanchez has to at least run into an interception. Make Sanchez uncomfortable and force him into mistakes, by taking away his primary ball carrier and most importantly, getting to him. If they can do that, they have a chance to win as long as they do their thing.
The Broncos just got crushed by a team very similar to the Jets. Both the Ravens, who beat them 31-17, and Jets have their best defender injured and a solid offense. Many people consider the Jets and Ravens the best two teams in the NFL. The only difference to give the Broncos hope is that they're at home.
At The End—Who Wins?
After breaking down every aspect of this upcoming battle, the Jets will come out on top. Just like in the loss to the Ravens, the Broncos will be beat by the run.
On Sunday, Ray Rice crushed the Broncos, rushing for 133 yards. That was enough to overcome Brandon Lloyd's huge game and proves that even not stopping Lloyd can get you a victory.
If Rice can rush for that much, then Tomlinson certainly can. Throw in touchdowns by Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller, and the Jets will improve to 5-1 on the season.
Final score: Jets 28, Broncos 17