Here we go Jets fans. The New York Jets v. the St. Louis Rams on Sunday in the ultimate "trap" game. Looking at the remaining schedule for the Jets, this game is very important if the Jets have a shot to make the playoffs. They get a 2-6 Rams team that is banged up and could be possibly missing their best offensive player in Steven Jackson. After the Rams, they get the Patriots in New England four days later. They then follow that up with a road game in Tennessee versus the Titans. So with those two brutal road games looming ahead it makes the St. Louis game on Sunday huge.
The offense played a very conservative game this past Sunday against the Bills. Brett Favre managed the game and did not make too many high risk passes. Eric Mangini had him throwing underneath all day. It was enough to grab a win up in Buffalo. The running game looked good with about 100 total yards against a goof Bills defense. Thomas Jones is currently the second leading rusher in the AFC. The Rams rushing defense is the fourth worst in the NFL, giving up 155 yards per game. And with the way the Jets offensive line has played in recent weeks, they should be able to expose this. They can not do what they did against the Chiefs two weeks ago. Kansas City had one of the worst run defenses and the Jets came out of the gate throwing 40 times. The Rams also have the fifth worst passing defense in the NFL as well, so this also bodes well for New York. The Rams are surrendering almost 30 points and 400 yards a game on defense. The Jets should be able to expose this with a balanced offensive attack of rushing and passing.
Although Favre managed the game last week effectively, he still managed to throw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. He also did not throw a touchdown last week. As long as he can be accurate with the receivers, you should see a few more plays down field this week than last. He has kept his passes to his top two receivers pretty even with Laveranues Coles having 40 catches and Jerricho Cotchery having 42. It would be nice to see the Jets get their tight ends more involved this week. Chris Baker started last week but recorded no catches. With Bubba Franks still hurting the Jets need to get Baker and Dustin Keller a little more involved this week to be able to open up the deep pass for Coles and Cotchery.
The Jets defense looked great last week. The defensive line only gave up 30 yards rushing to the Bills thanks to Kris Jenkins 350 lb. frame plugging up the holes. He may not have a lot of sacks this season, but what he has done for that defense has been amazing. The Jets run defense the past few years has been a joke. With Jenkins, the run defense is one of the tops in the NFL. And with Jenkins getting all the attention, Shaun Ellis is quietly having a pro bowl season. He leads the Jets with seven sacks on the season. The most he has had this far into a season since 2004. One problem for the Jets is going to be the absence of linebacker David Harris. The Jets leading tackler will be out of action for 2-3 weeks after having groin surgery the other day. I think they will get by fine this week without him, but it will be tougher against the Patriots and Titans.
The passing defense was very good in Buffalo as well. Darrelle Revis who had a pick, a sack, a forced fumble and fumble recovery last week will probably be matched up against Donnie Avery. He leads the Rams with 363 yards and is averaging 15.8 yards per catch. Revis is having an excellent season and should be able to shut down the Rams number one receiver this season. Abram Elam who had an interception return for a touchdown will be starting again this week in place of Eric Smith, who is still suffering from post concussion syndrome. The Jets pass defense has played better but still needs improvement. Marc Bulger is still a very good quarterback and will find openings in the secondary if the Jets give him the opportunity.
The matchups are all there for the Jets, now they just have to execute. This is pretty much a must win because after this game the Jets have the hardest schedule of any AFC East team the rest of the way. They are tied with the Patriots and Bills, who are playing each other this week, and the much improved Dolphins are only a game back. If the Jets can beat the Rams and they split the games with the Patriots and Titans, then the will be 7-4 with five games left and in a good position to win the division. It can be done, but they can not take St. Louis lightly. Otherwise it will turn into the Raiders game from a few weeks ago. I think the defense is jelling and will shut down the Rams offense this week. Especially since Steven Jackson may not be able to go, and if he does he will not be 100%. Jets take it 31-10 and head to Foxborough at 6-3 with a showdown with the Patriots.