Teams usually don’t like having their bye week too early in the season. They’d rather have the week off deeper into the year, allowing players time to rest and let their bumps and bruises heal prior to the final playoff push.
Both of these two squads play a physical, pad-smacking, buckle-up-your-chinstrap brand of football, and they’ll be left feeling the effects of Sunday night’s game well into next week. More importantly, however, if John Harbaugh’s guys are able to emerge victorious, they’ll head into the bye with an impressive 3-1 record.
Here’s how these two teams match up statistically entering Sunday’s game:
Ravens: 389.0 yards per game (11th)
Jets: 360.7 yards per game (16th)
Ravens: 127.7 ypg (8th)
Jets: 82.0 ypg (25th)
Ravens: 261.3 ypg (13th)
Jets: 278.7 ypg (10th)
Ravens: 329.3 ypg (13th)
Jets: 325.3 ypg (11th)
Ravens: 84.0 ypg (6th)
Jets: 136.7 ypg (31st)
Ravens: 245.3 ypg (17th)
Jets: 188.7 ypg (6th)
Ravens: +6 (t-1st)
Jets: +1 (t-13th)
When you break down the overall philosophies of these two teams, you find lots of similarities between them. Both the Ravens and Jets have traditionally been run-oriented offenses under their current coaching staffs, but have thrown the ball more this year than many would’ve expected. For the Jets, that means that third-year quarterback Mark Sanchez’s role in the offense is slowly growing, as have his options in the passing game.
Plaxico Burress joined the Jets’ wide receiving corps this year, teaming with Santonio Holmes to give Sanchez an athletic duo who have proven their talents in big games. Derrick Mason now is Jets colors as well, and tight end Dustin Keller is a favorite of Sanchez’s and is a threat ... that is, if he’s been able to peel himself up off the turf at the Meadowlands since last year’s monster hit by Ray Lewis.
The pressure will be on the injury-plagued Baltimore secondary to contain those three receiving options and limit big plays down the field.
If you move to the other side of the ball, the similarities between the teams continue with their aggressive, opportunistic defenses that will get after the quarterback and thrive on forcing mistakes. Jets coach Rex Ryan is known for his exotic blitz schemes, and with his brand of “organized chaos”, he’ll send any player at the quarterback at any time.
The Jets have one of the top cornerback tandems in the NFL featuring the All-World Darrelle Revis and the tough Antonio Cromartie. Revis is probably the top corner in the game today, and often times, he completely takes away the wide receiver that he’s matching up against. Cromartie is physical and has good speed, as well, but he’s vulnerable to allowing the big play and makes his share of mistakes.
Given the Ravens’ situation at wide receiver (Lee Evans will likely miss his second straight game due to injury) and how tough the Jets are in the secondary, Baltimore will have to rely heavily on running back Ray Rice and tight end Ed Dickson.
New York’s run defense has surprisingly struggled this season, as evidenced by the 234 rushing yards they allowed last week to the Raiders, and if those struggles continue, Rice could have a big day. Dickson will need to work the middle of the field and pick up yardage through the air, as Anquan Boldin and the Ravens’ receivers might provide much against the Jets’ corners.
This is a tough game to predict, especially given the fact that the Jets will come into Baltimore fired up off of last week’s loss in Oakland. They’ll want to prove those 234 rushing yards allowed were a fluke, and would hate to drop to 2-2 on the season with a matchup against the Patriots looming next week.
I think the team that’s able to force the most mistakes will come away with the win, and at home, facing a still unproven quarterback in Sanchez, I give the Ravens the edge. Put me down for a 20-17 Ravens win.
What about you? Do you see the Ravens scratching and clawing their way to a win and a 3-1 record on the season, or will Rex get his first win against his former team?
Who you got?