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Monday, September 29, 2014

After Geno-Led Nightmare vs. Lions, Jets Season Is Heading for Tailspin

LIONS 24
JETS 17

The circus has once again arrived in town. Forget about the fact that the Jets lost this game to a very good Detroit Lions team by seven points, because in retrospect it felt more like a 31-point deficit than a single touchdown. The Jets were outplayed, out-coached, out-hustled, and out-classed by the Lions in every aspect of the football game on Sunday.

Not once did it ever feel that the Jets were in the game, nor did it ever feel they had the capability of coming back and making it interesting. If they did, it would have been a crime since it would have masked this Phantom of the Gridiron disaster show. The Jets lost because they are, sadly, the New York Jets.

They lost for the same reason they lost last week to the Bears; the same reason they lost the week before to the Packers, and every loss for that matter during the Rex Ryan era. The Jets lost because as a team they lack discipline and the proper coaching, and they lost because they STILL do not have a quarterback.  (A story that is now decades old).

Mark Sanchez? Substitute him with Geno Smith, because the output is exactly the same. Nada.

To say Geno Smith was bad on Sunday is an understatement. He was woeful, and confirmed to the masses that the Jets need a quarterback change not next week, not two weeks from now, but right now.

On Sunday, Smith was 17-of-33 for 209 yards a touchdown, an interception and a lost fumble. In the first half the struggling QB threw for only 32 yards, ruffling the feathers of the Jets faithful. By the third quarter chants of "We want Vick" echoed through the entire stadium.

To make matters worse Smith threw a costly interception while being dragged down from behind on the Jets first drive after Matthew Stafford scored a touchdown to make it 24-10. Smith then fumbled the football back to Detroit after the Lions missed a field goal on their previous drive.

Smith then committed the biggest snafu of his young career, yelling obscenities back to a hecklers in the stadium. 

Only the Jets could create such drama. Geno Smith is done; he's a lost soul, whose NFL and Jets career is now an insipid path. 

The chants grew louder and louder to get Geno out of the game. Yet Rex Ryan didn't hear them, or, maybe he didn't want to. Ryan decided to back up his quarterback by telling the press after the game that he believes Geno Smith can "win games," and believes that he is the "guy" for the Jets -- refrains that we are used to hearing from Ryan -- because he used it just about every week in his bizarre defense of Mark Sanchez.

This is now the second time Ryan has watched a young quarterback wilt under the pressure of New York and become a virtual pinata for the fan-base to pick on. First it was Sanchez, who's proclivity for turning the football over and making "rookie" mistakes as a veteran quarterback became a thing of legend, and finally a thing of infamy after the "butt-fumble" of 2012.

Ryan defended Sanchez that night much the same way he's defending Geno Smith now: with nothing but the utmost confidence when we all know better that it is time for the Jets the part ways.

Not only is Geno Smith's Jets clock ticking, but so is Ryan's clock. And you might as well throw in Offensive Coordinator Marty Morhinweg and General Manager Jon Idzik into that fray too, because now it is up to Woody Johnson to sit back and realize that he needs to clean house.

Everyone got excited about a mediocre season last year that ended much the same way the previous two seasons ended -- out of the playoffs. Yet Ryan and the Jets treated the final two wins of 2013 against the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins as if it were the AFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl. They weren't and those fans who clamored that Rex should stay are once again proven wrong.

Ryan should have been let go then, because if this thing spirals out of control now, he will be let go at the end of this season. Remember when Ryan admitted after the 2012 season that he didn't have the pulse of the team? Well, it appears he still doesn't have that pulse now.

Ryan doesn't seem to have the pulse of his offense, and has left in the hands of Morhinweg, who has done a terrible job of both running the offense and tutoring the young quarterback. Morhinweg should be out the door too.

Sadly today's events do not help Rex at all.

Geno Smith should know better than to yell at the fans, and defensive end Sheldon Richardson shouldn't be adding to it by telling the fans to "shut up" when it comes to critiquing the team.  This behavior makes the Jets look like a circus.

Ryan needs to get this group under control.

And how about Idzik? It was Jon Idzik who forced fed Ryan and Woody Johnson Geno Smith, drafting him as the guy to push Sanchez out the door as the "next franchise quarterback of the NYJ." It was Idzik who drafted Dee Milliner. It was Idzik who decided not to spend the $20 million in cap space this past off-season on free agents, and it was Idzik who decided not to bring back Darrelle Revis, and decided to pass up on every top free agent corner on the market this year. 

If Rex Ryan takes the fall for a season that appears heading for Rich Kotite-like proportions, Idzik shouldn't be far behind. If the Jets fans can't trust Idzik when it comes to picking players, how can they trust him with the next HC of the NYJ?

The sad joke in all of this is that Michael Vick is not going to solve the Jets quarterback ills either. He might make it exciting for a quarter, maybe a game, but not the season. He's old, brittle and diminished. There is a reason why the Eagles were willing to release him in the off-season.

The Jets have the same problem they have always had: they do not have a quarterback. It is amazing how one franchise still can't get one position right after all these years and all these decades. The names on the back of the jersey change, but the output at quarterback - for the most part - has been the same.

So, with a schedule of at San Diego, Denver, at New England, Buffalo, at Kansas City, and Pittsburgh coming up the Jets look destined for 2-8 or 1-9 before their bye week, especially if they play like this.

The season is falling apart.  It is time for Woody Johnson to assess, and make moves to put new football people in charge who will light a fire into the building and the fan base. Leon Hess waited a very long time before he let Bill Parcells "shop for the groceries." Woody Johnson needs to find his Parcells.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Jeter Ends Yankee Stadium Career in Grand Fashion

Derek Jeter ended his brilliant career as a New York Yankee the only way he could. With the chants of "Derek Jeter" and "Thank You Jeter" roaring through the entire stadium, Jeter came up to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning in a game that was already tied at five. Two men were on, there was one out.

Jeter didn't wait to suspend the drama any further. It was his last game at Yankee Stadium, likely the last game he would ever play. He's been in these situations his entire career -- another pressure situation is nothing to him. He lined the first pitch he saw from Evan Meek to right field with that ever familiar pull swing that has been a trademark of his 20-year career. The hit was deep enough to drive in Antoan Richardson with the winning run to make it 6-5.

Jeter extended his arms into the air as his teammates mobbed him, soaking it all in with him. After hugging each of his teammates, he began to walk toward the dugout, before catching a glance of his old teammates waiting and watching in the wings. Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Tino Martinez, Bernie Williams and former manager Joe Torre were waiting for Jeter. Jeter didn't break down when he saw them, but I'm sure he was tearing up inside.

He then took a walk around the infield, and around the park tipping his cap to the Yankee fans he entertained for so many years. The run was now over.

WATCH JETER's WALK OFF SINGLE!



Photo Gallery.

While he wasn't the best player to ever play the position, statistically, Jeter was the last connection the fans had to the club's championship days of the late 90s-early 2000's. He was the face of the franchise for an entire generation, especially one that grew up watching him play every single day. 2015 will be weird for those Yankees fans under 30 who are not used to the Yankees without Jeter in the lineup.

From the Flip play to the walk-off home runs in the playoffs against the Orioles and Diamondbacks; homeruns against the Mets in the World Series -- he had a lot of big moments for a era of Yankees baseball steeped in winning. As the most popular of those teams, among Yankees fans, it is fitting that he was the last of this group to retire, and did so in dramatic fashion.

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Now that Jeter has walked into sunset, so does the overlong and stretched out Derek Jeter Retirement Tour that after a while hit a point of ridiculousness. From teams bending over backwards to shower Jeter with one bizarre gift after another (i.e. the NY Yankees cowboy boots from the Rangers, surf boards from the Rays, and Angles, I could go on), to the ludicrous gushing by fan, pundits and commercials as if Jeter was the only great player to ever retire -- the tour became a bit much.

Perhaps the Jeter-phenomenon that grabbed the nation has its roots in many different aspects of our culture. For starters, he was the face of the most recognized franchise in baseball -- a clean cut image of success, and Jeter's persona embodied that. He kept himself off Page Six; never drank or fooled around in Alex Rodriguez fashion.

Also a big part of the celebration of his career might stem from baseball fans' reaction and rejection of the steroid era. Jeter is the third straight player who played in the era, and considered clean, to retire. Before him Chipper Jones and Mariano Rivera retired in consecutive years to similar fanfare and parades. Thanks to the steroid boys McGuire, Sosa, Clemens and A-Rod, fans wanted to wrap their hands around someone who was good and decent from that time period, and Jeter is it.

 Like George C. Scott said in the opening monoluge to Patton, "America loves a winner." Jeter won a lot, but now it is time to move on. Baseball will survive. The Yankees will survive, and Jeter will survive. The memories he left Yankees fans will live on forever -- and I can guarantee he will show up at Yankees Stadium from time to time.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Manning and Giants Clobber Happless Skins

GIANTS 45
REDSKINS 14

Any doubts about the efficiency of the New York Giants offense were finally put to rest in a convincing 45-14 victory over the Redskins in Landover, Maryland on Thursday. The Giants rolled up 441 yards of offense on the Redskins, with Eli Manning proving to be the star of the show, zinging the football all over the ball park for 300 yards and five total touchdowns.

The Giants set the tone early. A sack and fumble of Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins set the Giants up at the Washington 32, and it didn't take long for Eli Manning to do his thing. After a couple quick completions, Manning hit tight end Larry Donnell from five yards out to give New York a 7-0 lead.

After a Redskins three and out, Manning hit a streaking Victor Cruz for 36 yards down the sideline to the Washington 39. After a couple of Rashad Jennings carries, Manning hit Donnell for eight more to the Redskins 14, before connecting with Donnell two plays later for a six yard touchdown to make it 14-0, Big Blue.

Manning was incredible in the first half. He completed 16-of-18 passes and three scores before the two minute warning in the second quarter.

After Washington got a touchdown to cut the Giants lead in half, Manning engineered a 12-play 67 yard drive for another score. The big play coming on a 27 yard go-route to Ruben Randel to the Washington 28 yard line. Six plays later Manning found Donnell again from six yards out in the corner of the end zone to make it 21-7.

For Donnell he went from unknown quantity to fantasy football option in one night.

As for the Giants defense they destroyed the confidence of Kirk Cousins. While the stats say he was sacked only twice, he was under duress for the entire ball game. In the fourth quarter the Giants got to Cousins as he threw four second half interceptions, three of them coming in the third quarter.

Cousins threw a pick to Prince Amukamara, who brought the ball all the back to the Redskins 28. The Giants couldn't take advantage as Brandon Meriweather jarred a touchdown catch out of the hands of Ruben Randall for a Redskins pick. The Giants made for that gaff quickly when Quentin Demps picked off Cousins.

Manning then found Dan Fells from two yards out to push the Giants ahead 31-14.

Manning capped off his night with a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter to make it 38-14.

So who is still panicking that the Giants are doomed? Who is still wondering whether Eli Manning still has it? Nobody? No hands? Figured.

The Giants (2-2) are right in the thick of the NFC East, their season is very much alive. If the Giants continue to play this way they are going to be a very, very big threat in the NFL this season.

Return of Alderson and Collins echos Mets Satisfaction with Mediocrity

Inspite of four straight losing seasons, little talent depth at the major league level, and a 3/4 empty stadium for much of the past few seasons, it doesn't seem to matter at all to Fred and Jeff Wilpon as they have endorsed the efforts of Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins, signing both of them to extensions beyond 2015. 

Mediocrity is bliss when it comes to the Mets. As long as the team shows some progress, but not enough progress to get a fan base excited is good enough for ownership, as well as the number of delusional Met fans that STILL believe Alderson is the next Frank Cashen.

Granted the Mets have played better -- somewhat -- in the second half of 2014. Their pitching staff has carried the team for much of the second half of the year. In fact that is where the kudos begin and end regarding Alderson.

He came to New York and was asked to rebuild the farm system and did so especially with the starting pitching staff. The Mets will head into 2015 with a strong starting rotation intact. From Matt Harvey, who needs to show he is back from Tommy Johns Surgery, to Jacob DeGrom, Zach Wheeler, and Jon Niese, the Mets are set here. Plus the Mets expect top prospect Noah Syndergaard to be a big part of the rotation in 2015 as well.

But that is where all the accolades end for the Mets. Alderson and Collins have done little else that should give fans confidence that this is a ball club that is ready to challenge for a playoff spot come next year.  Forget the fact that the rest of the NL East division is horrible, remember that this is an organization that has told its fan base every year for the past few years that 'next year is the year we turn it around.'

We are still waiting for next year.

Remember when 2013 was supposed to be the year the Mets shred all of the weights from the Bernie Madoff mess, would open the pocket books and spend, spend, spend? Well, that day never arrived. Then the Mets, with Alderson it's biggest cheerleader, told us that 2014 would be the year that the team would turn it around.

The Mets have won 77 games and spent much of the year either in third or fourth place. So much for 2014 being the year of the turnaround.

In both of these years Alderson didn't make a move at the deadline at the trade deadline; in the off-season he did even worse with one questionable free agent signing after another. Chris Young, Jose Valverde, Kyle Farnsworth, and Frank Francisco are just an example of the kind of free agents that Alderson has brought in, all of them have failed to one degree or another. Do these moves entail a three year extension?

As for Collins while he is a very good man, he isn't the right guy for the job. Collins have been critiqued for his lack of fire, and poor handling with lineups and the bullpen over the years -- yet even though he has managed a team that seems steadfast and satisfied in mediocrity, he's done enough in the eyes of the Wilpons to warrant a return.

Yet here we are the Mets head toward 2015 and beyond with the same crew steering the ship.

While the starting staff looks good, the rest of the roster is very questionable. Mets' fans would say the bullpen is ready to go for 2015 with Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia leading the way, but anyone who knows baseball knows that bullpens are a year-to-year evaluation. While the young pitchers in the Mets pen did a solid job down the stretch in 2014, it does not mean they will be lights out in 2015. The Mets could do themselves a big favor by getting a couple free agent veteran relievers for that pen if they want to be serious.

Then there is the lineup, and there are legitimate questions about every position on the team. The Mets hit .239 with a .309 on base percentage as a team this year. Not good.

The Mets don't know if Daniel Murphy will be their second baseman next year and beyond; will it be Murphy or Daniel Herrera?  They have a big question mark at short stop between Ruben Tejada and Wilmur Flores; questions about the competency of Lucas Duda at first base and Travis d'Arnaut at catcher for the long term, and questions about the health of David Wright.

And don't forget the outfield where the Mets have no answers. Curtis Granderson hit .229; Eric Young Jr. hit .232 and Jaun Lageras is as light hitting as they come even though he hit the best of this group at .281. None of them inspire much confidence either.

So if the Mets are going to trust Alderson and Collins again for a few more years, they better get some players this time around, because the mediocrity is too much to bare. But then again, don't tell that to the Wilpons.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Geno Smith's Miscues Cost Jets in Loss to Bears

BEARS 27
JETS 19 

It didn't take long for the Jets to put themselves in a proverbial hole that they would never dig themselves out of. On the second play of the game, Jets quarterback Geno Smith faked a screen to the left, turned around to his right, and tried to pitch a screen pass, but instead of finding number 21, Chris Johnson, he found number 21, Ryan Munday of the Chicago Bears. Munday went 45 yards for the game's opening touchdown to put the Bears up 7-0, setting the tone for the next three hours.

Geno Smith was bad. He cost the Jets with turnovers, misreads of the Bears defense, throwing the football off the wrong foot, and throwing incomplete passes that were just past the outstretched hands of his receivers. While the Jets mistakes were team inflicted, it was Smith's errors that stood tall on Monday night.

While the final stat line says Smith threw for 256 yards and two interceptions, it could have been much, much worse. And it felt worse.

On the Jets second possession after the pick-six, Smith had the Jets on a third and three at the New York 39, but he couldn't complete a short pass to Jeremy Kerley, watching it fall incomplete forcing a Jets punt.  The Bears turned that into seven more points. Assisted by a major pass interference call on Darrian Walls that moved the football to the Jets seven-yard line, Jay Cutler hit a wide open Michael Bennett to make it 14-0, Chicago.

The most frustrating part of the night for the Jets was their inability to turn drives into points. Seven times the Jets had the football in the red zone and only once they scored a touchdown. Every other drive either resulted in a field goal, or a turnover on downs.

Here are five of the six most glaring missed opportunities at glory:
1) Late in the first quarter the Jets moved the football all the way down to the Bears 15 yard line, before Smith took a major sack that turned a 2nd and 9 into 3rd and 22. The Jets kicked a field goal.

2) Now down 17-3, Smith decides to dump-off a second down pass to Jeff Cumberland who gains only four yards; then on third down he goes back to Cumberland, with a similar play, but can't complete the short pass. Result: Jets field goal.

3) Midway through the third quarter, Smith piloted the Jets all the way to the Bears 18. Down 24-13, it appeared the Jets were on their way to scoring a touchdown to get back into it, but Smith rolled left, misread the Bears secondary and heaved a pass into the end zone that was picked off by Kyle Fuller who stepped in front of David Nelson at the right moment.

4) After the Jets get great field position thanks to a Bears three-and-out that ended in a unnecessary roughness penalty that put the ball on the Chicago 28, the Jets still couldn't get the ball over the pylon. Smith dinked and dunked inside the ten yard line, and was tackled for a loss on a misguided quarterback keeper at the Bears two yard line. Result? You guessed it, Jets field goal.

5) Now down 27-19 in the wanning minutes the Jets needed one really good drive and a touchdown to have a shot at forcing overtime. Before the drive ever began Smith almost threw it away when he dumped the ball into the hands of linebacker Jon Bostic, who couldn't hold onto the interception. That would have ended the game right there.

Smith did make one good play on the drive when he hit Greg Salas on the sideline, before Salas took it down field 51-yards to put the Jets in great position at the Chicago 20-yard line. Once again the red zone was Geno's kryptonite. He threw three dreary incompletions, before throwing a pass to Kerely out of bounds in the back of the end zone, in very tight coverage ending the game in Chicago's favor.

A few thoughts: 1) Not only was Geno Smith's execution poor, but the play calling was very strange. Marty Morninhweg's strategy did not work. His play call to have Smith run a quarterback draw at the two-yard line when everyone expected it was a horrible decision. Not to mention Morninhweg has gone away from the Jets running attack of Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory. Between the two of them, Ivory and Johnson had only 20 combined carries.

2) The refs may have played a roll in the game. While there were plenty of questionable calls or even non-calls throughout the night on both sides, the biggest gaff came on the Jay Cutler fumble.

Cutler fumbled the football at the Jets 44 yard line in the final seconds of the second quarter. DeMario Davis picked it up and went all the way for the touchdown, but it was ruled down by contact. After the officials reviewed it, they overturned it as a fumble recovery, but by rule couldn't give the Jets a touchdown.

That was a mistake by the officials, but the Jets had the chance to overcome the officials gaff and never did. The Jets went three-and-out after the fumble recovery, and watched Cutler lead another touchdown drive on Chicago's opening drive of the third quarter to make it 24-13 Bears.

The Jets (1-2) are in big trouble. Smith once again showed a lot of poor decision making in this game, and the calls for Michael Vick are already beginning. The Jets drafted Smith in the second round of the 2013 draft as a guy to push Mark Sanchez. As we all know, Smith was forced into the starting role last year and the Jets have convinced themselves he's a franchise quarterback. So far Rex Ryan, Jon Idzik and company are coming up snake eyes. For Rex Ryan, it would be the second time he was wrong on a young quarterback.

Smith and the Jets have to rebound this week against the Detroit Lions, otherwise the negativity will continue to build, and with it -- the end of the Geno Smith experiment won't be far behind.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Giants Step Up for Team Win Against Texans

GIANTS 30
TEXANS 17

It's about time. The New York Giants are officially off the schnide after a convincing 30-17 smackdown of the Houston Texans on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, to capture their first victory of the year.

While it wasn't pretty early, the Giants found a way to get past their own mistakes thanks in part to the fact that Houston couldn't get out of their own way either. The Giants fumble the football in the red zone? No problem, the Texans turn it back over on a Ryan Fitzpatrick interception. The Giants botch a field goal attempt? Doesn't matter, the Texans can't move the football on their next possession.

Houston's own incompetence gave the Giants a chance in this game, and with that free ticket, Eli Manning took full advantage. Midway through the second quarter Manning engineered a nine play 83-yard drive that culminated in Manning hitting Victor Cruz in the flat for a 26-yard touchdown. It was the first touchdown of the year for Cruz -- but -- in a lot of ways, it relaxed the Giants. A wild game that was going at 90 mph, was now under their control and they knew it.

The Giants defense pinned its ears back and harrassed Fitzpatrick. They sacked him for a six-yard loss on first down; then they stuffed the ground game on second down. Finally Antrelle Rolle picked off a Fitzpatrick pass that bounced off the hands of Andre Johnson, setting the Giants up at the Houston two-yard line.

Rashard Jennings finished off the scoring opportunity by plunging in from one and a half yards out on third down to make it Giants 14, Texans 0.

Losing streak? Thing of the past. Mistakes and penalties? Not on this day. Confidence? You betcha.

Come the second half the Giants put the football firmly in the hands of Jennings and the former Raider didn't disappoint. He carried the football on every play of the Giants opening drive of the third quarter for 24 yards to set up a Giants field goal to make it 17-0.

Even when the Texans tried to make a game of it late in the third quarter there was a certain aura around the Giants that they were not going to be denied for the third consecutive week. Manning and Jennings interchanged plays for a combined 38 yards to push the ball to the Houston 39. Lastly, Manning hit Cruz for 12-yards to the 27-yard line and the Giants were set up for another field goal to make it 20-10.

With a ten-point lead the Giants defense needed to make one more big stand and did they ever. With 10:41 to go in the game, the Giants blocked a Shane Lechler punt, retrieving it at the Houston 29. From there Jennings dashed across the left side for 15 yards to the nine. Manning then capped off the drive with a rope to Daniel Fells to push New York ahead 27-10. At this point the game was won.

Jennings was incredible. A week after costing the Giants on a fumble in the fourth quarter, Jennings ran for 176 yards on Sunday. He cut in and out of a usually stiff Texans defense eating up yards and clock in the process. Jennings' big day took a lot of pressure off Manning, who had a solid day completing 21 of 28 passes for 234 yards and two scores.

The Giants (1-2) are no longer on death's door in 2014. They have a heartbeat. A sigh of relief could be seen on the faces of all the players on the New York sideline. Weeks of hard work and stress finally resulted in a big time win for Big Blue.

The Giants will have a very short week before their next game in Washington against the Kirk Cousins-led Redskins on Thursday night. The Giants will look to get back to .500 and 1-0 in their division in week 4.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Giants Trying to Save Season vs. Texans



Texans @ Giants 
1:00 p.m. CBS 

For the second consecutive year the Giants open the season at 0-2, and for the second consecutive season everyone thinks the Giants are on the brink of watching their season fall apart before the month of October.

The Giants didn't look good last week against Arizona. Penalties on defense and mistakes on special teams cost the Giants dearly turning a 14-10 lead into a 25-14 loss last week. Now the Giants have to win against the Texans (2-0) or the calls for Tom Coughlin's head will only get louder, if they are not loud enough already.

Key Match-up: Giants offense against Texans defense. The Giants are ranked 30th in the NFL in total offense. While Eli Manning played better last week, he still has to get on the same page with his receivers, who have let him down with way too many drops. When Larry Donnell, the Giants back-up tight end is leading the team in receiving, you know things are not good for Big Blue. Not to mention, the Giants have to get their running game going, and that starts up front with an offensive line that is still struggling to gel as a unit.

This could get ugly, because the Texans have a lot of talent of the defensive side of the ball. Led by all pro DE, J.J. Watt, the Texans could get a lot of pressure on Manning if his offensive line falters in this game. So if the Giants offense is going to gel, now would be a great time for that to happen.

If Manning gets the time he deserves in the pocket, the veteran quarterback will make big plays in this game, and the Giants could be in line for win number 1.

Don't overlook Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. It was easy to write off the Texans this year as a team that would improve, but not enough to be a serious threat in the AFC because of Fitzpatrick. He has proven to be more of a back-up quarterback in his career than anything else. Yet, this Texans team has more talent for Fitzpatrick to work with than he did in stops at Buffalo and Tennessee. The Texans still have a dynamic receiver in Andre Jonson, and a top back in Arian Foster. In fact Foster has already ran for 241 yards, 4.4 yards per carry.

What to expect: I said it last week and was dead wrong, so for the last time I will go on the line and say the Giants are going to come out on fire in this game. I am not saying they will light up the scoreboard, but I expect the Giants to put forth a determined effort on Sunday against Houston. The Texans will put up points, but if the Giants don't turn it over they will have a great chance in this one.

Prediction: Giants 24, Texans 20: The Giants are going to get off the schnide, and win a game, finally. Eli Manning is going to play extremely well and will carry the Giants on his shoulders in this one. Expect touchdown catches for both Victor Cruz and maybe Ruben Randel. The Texans will have a chance late, but Fitzpatrick will revert to old form and turn it over in a crucial moment.

Jets Defesne Faces Tough Test in Bears Passing Attack

Bears @ Jets
Monday, Sept. 22 - 8:30 p.m. ESPN

One would have to think that Marty Mornhinweg will not be calling time outs this time around in a crucial spot when the Jets take on the Bears on Monday night, at least that's what the Jets should hope. Sunday's heartbreaking loss to the Packers is going to stick to the Jets for a while, even Geno Smith saying it took him longer than usual to get over that loss.

The Jets held a 21-3 lead before watching the Packers take full advantage of both a leaky Jets secondary and some Same Ole' Jets tricks en route to their 31-24 win over Gang Green. Now the Jets (1-1) have to refocus and get ready for another tough task against the high-flying Chicago Bears offense.

Key Match-ups: Jets defense vs. Bears passing attack. Much has been made about the Jets maligned secondary, and the proof was in the pudding last week when the Packers torched the Jets for 346 yards through the air, with 209 of those yards going to receiver Jordy Nelson. It is an understatement to say the Jets must do a better job in coverage this week against a Bears offense that features two gigantic receivers in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.

While Marshall and Jeffery's numbers don't jump off the page from last week's win at San Francisco, the fact that Marshall caught three touchdowns in the game does stand out. Therefore there are two keys for the Jets. 1) They the have to cover better and jam these receivers at the line -- obviously.

2) The Jets pass rush must harass Jay Cutler into mistakes. The Jets were able to sack Aaron Rodgers four times on Sunday, but he's Aaron Rodgers -- he doesn't easily get rattled.  Cutler, on the other hand, does. He threw two costly interceptions against the Bills in Week 1 when under duress, and has made a career of throwing big picks in big spots. If the Jets front seven can dominate the Bears at the line of scrimmage it will be a long night for Cuter.

Jets run offense vs. Bears run defense: Did I mention this is a game of the trenches? The Jets must run the football against the Bears, and run successfully if they are going to have a chance in this one. The Bears are 27th in the NFL against the run. They've allowed 320 yards rushing and two scores so far this year, including 64 from Colin Kaepernick last week.

The Jets feature a very solid back field with Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory. Those two must have break out nights for the Jets on Monday if they are to control clock and keep the ball away from Cutler and company.

What to expect: This could be a high scoring game like what we saw in Green Bay last week. The Jets will try to slow the game down on the ground, but it will again be up to Geno Smith in third down situations to convert them and not make a mistake. On the other side, expect the Jets defense to hit Cutler a lot in this game, but he will have a number of chances to make big throws to Jeffery and Marshall during the night. Again, this game has the potential to get pretty crazy.

Prediction: Bears 30, Jets 27. This is a game that I have a really hard time picking. I could easily see the Jets winning this game, since they've had an extra day to rest, and the Bears are making their another road trip -- one week after playing on the other coast. But if Jay Cutler has an opportunity to win the game late with those weapons he will do it. Both Cutler and Geno Smith will make their fair share of mistakes in this game. This will be a tough loss for either team.