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.