NFL Week 9 Picks: Preview and Analysis of the New York Jets vs. Detroit Lions
The “Brawl on Brush Street”:
For the first time, fans will have the chance to see Mark Sanchez and Matt Stafford on the same field since both were drafted in 2009. Debate still rages in Detroit, and around the country, as to who the Lions should have selected as the “franchise” quarterback.
Many point out the fact that Stafford has missed more games with major injuries than he’s played. Others suggest that Sanchez has been inconsistent, lacks accuracy, and refuses to stretch the field.
Will one game determine which QB is the best? No, of course not.
The Jets are coming off an embarrassing home game shutout at the hands of the shredded cheese Green Bay Packers. Jets players, coaches, and fans are in an uproar.
Jets head coach Rex Ryan wistfully asked nobody in particular, “Can we get a do-over?”
Amazingly, I didn’t have to censor Ryan’s quote. Not one nasty word.
Expect the Jets to be an angry “Gang Green” when they arrive at Ford Field. They will have to pass through metal detectors and be searched for weapons.
Meanwhile, the Lions are coming off a sloppy win against the Washington Redskins who have their fair share of fresh drama to deal with.
The Lions showed enough resilience to overcome several mistakes and put the game on the shoulders of the defensive line and Matt Stafford’s arm.
Jets running back LaDanian Tomlinson has been reborn in New York. He has now amassed over 13,000 yards rushing and over 4,000 yards receiving in his career. He is only the second player in history to do so. The first was Walter Peyton.
Impressive company, LT!
When the 2010 NFL schedule was announced, I’m sure that the vast majority of fans chalked this up as a win for the Jets. Recent events have made this match-up look much more entertaining.
The Lions are being looked upon as a “trap game” team by fans around the league, as opposed to an easy win.
Here’s why: The Lions have been competitive in every game played and are showing signs of improvement with every passing week. They are establishing an identity on offense, defense, and special teams.
An identity that is profoundly different than their culture of losing identity of the past.
Here’s how I see the Jets and Lions game shaping up:
The Jets success is predicated upon their ability to run the football. They rely heavily on Ladanian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene to carry the ball.
The Jets are third in the league in rushing. They will feast upon the Lions defense, who is ranked 27th in rushing defense.
Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham will need a very creative game plan in order to neutralize the Jets rushing game.
The Lions must divert some of the up field pressure of the defensive line in order to slow down the Jets rushing attack. The return of Lions MLB DeAndre Levy to the lineup will bolster the rushing defense.
The Jets offensive line is one of the smaller units in the NFL. They are also one of the quickest off the snap on the planet. That’s what makes the Jets so dangerous on the ground.
Expect to see a lot of three rushing linemen, unless the Lions have favorable field position, and can force the Jets offense into long yardage situations.
Green Bay found success blitzing OLB Clay Mathews, who made several nice plays (including two sacks) against the Jets.
One mismatch that the Lions can exploit is Ndamakong Suh taking on Jets right guard Brandon Moore. Moore will need help from center Nick Mangold, or RT Damien Woody (remember him?).
The Lions should bring safety Louis Delmas into the box, and keep him there. I know, it’s a gamble, but one that should force Jets QB Mark Sanchez to beat the Lions with his arm.
In spite of the sorry state of the Lions secondary, Sanchez will scare only Jets fans with his arm.
Sanchez has had a mediocre season. His wide receivers, Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery are dropping balls like crazy. They have one TD between them. Sanchez’ favorite target, TE Dustin Keller, leads the team in receptions (26) and receiving touchdowns (5).
The running backs and fullback Tony Richardson are heavily targeted coming out of the backfield.
That’s very scary, Lions fans.
Sanchez has had some glaring issues with his accuracy and decision making recently. While he has avoided turning the ball over (four interceptions), his passer rating is a meager 78.8. Sanchez rarely throws the deep ball and seems content to dink it and dunk it.
The Lions back seven has faced some of the more prolific passing teams in the NFL and held together very well in spite of an apparent lack of talent, and injuries.
The Jets run a 3 - 4 defense. They are the seventh ranked defense in the NFL, and are solid against the run (fourth ranked).
This is particularly bad news for the Lions, who have no running game (30th ranked). This is the most lopsided unit-to-unit match-up of the game.
Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan has to reinvent the running game. First, RB Kevin Smith will have to play often and well. Smith will be required to pick up the blitz.
The Jets front seven have 15 sacks on the year and bring pressure from every position. The tackling, sacks, and forced fumbles stats are pretty balanced within this elite group.
Jets MLB David Harris, a Grand Rapids native, would really look good in Honolulu Blue, wouldn't he?
I’m talking to you, St. Martin Mayhew!
If the Lions have any chance against the best front seven in the league, they will have to replace TE Tony Scheffler with TE Will Heller, who is a superior blocker.
If the Lions cannot find success in the running game, The Jets will tee-off on QB Matt Stafford and the one dimensional Lions offense. The Lions are ranked seventh in the league in passing.
Enter Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, possibly the best CB tandem in the NFL.
One of the most entertaining match-ups of the game will be Calvin Johnson vs. the Jets corners. I like the “Big Johnson”, the current NFC player of the week, against the Jets secondary.
Revis defending Johnson? C’mon, man?
The Lions offensive line has stood tall in shutting down some of the best defensive fronts in the NFL.
Consider that the Lions have allowed only 12 sacks (only two by Backus), and this much maligned unit looks confident of getting the job done.
Yes, the Lions offense vs. the Jets defense will be worth the price of admission.
Who would have believed that the Lions would miss safety C.C. Brown and LB Isiah Ekejiuba? Not I.
When both were lost to the special teams unit do to injury, the loss was catastrophic. The Lions gave up a several long returns to Washington’s Brandon Banks. One for a TD and another TD that was called back.
This situation must be addressed immediately.
On the bright side, kick return specialist Stephan Logan has provided a real spark for the Lions. All facets of the Lions special teams units have been much improved.
My friend and colleague Ali Hammoud has advocated adding a kickoff specialist to the roster. I'm inclined to agree. Jason Hanson's kicks have been very short, costing precious field position.
The Jets special teams haven’t exactly been lighting it up. They look very average in all respects.
Ndamakong Suh has gone on record, saying that the Lions would not lose at home again this season. Would you call him a liar?
I didn’t think so.
Bold prognostications aside, the Lions have enough going for them to make the “trap game” trepidation that Jets fans are expressing not so far fetched.
Who wins the "Brawl on Brush Street?"
The Jets, whose team just laid a goose egg at home, might become the Vikings East if they lose to Detroit. Those playoff aspirations will become week-to-week exercises in desperation.
All the Jets need is Randy Moss to take them to Childressville.
OK, I’m only kidding. Someone did mention that if Moss was a Lion, he’d play against the Jets three times this year.
Excuse me while I wretch at the thought.
The Lions actually have a reasonable expectation of a victorious outcome.
There, I’ve said it. Without the usual "hopium" injected dose of Kool-Aid.
Lions 17, Jets 14.
The “Brawl on Brush Street” game will be a closely contested, low scoring nail biter.
What do you think?
Mike Sudds is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Mike is also an analyst and correspondent for DraftTek.com.
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