Sunday, September 16, 2012

Deciding Factors: Jets at Steelers


The New York Jets shocked everyone who bought into the "circus" hype last week, but they didn't shock themselves. Gang Green made anyone who took their preseason offensive woes seriously look foolish, tallying the most points of any team in Week 1 in a rout of the division-rival Buffalo Bills.

New York (1-0), however, faces a much stiffer task this week in the always-stout Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers (0-1) are coming off a road loss to Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos, so they're not about to lay down in their home-opener. The teams split their last two meetings -- the Jets won in Pittsburgh in the 2010 regular season, and the Steelers returned the favor at home in the AFC Championship the same year.

Deciding Factors:

Revis Island Vacation. Darrelle Revis is out for this one with a mild concussion he sustained in Week 1. That's a big deal. The Jets base a lot of what they do defensively on Revis being out on an island guarding the opposing team's top receiver in zero coverage. Rex Ryan will now need to find a way to give fill-in cornerback Kyle Wilson help, which takes away a body from the Jets' multiple looks and disguises.

Polamalu/Harrison effect. The Steelers are dealing with some important injuries on defense, as well, as safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker James Harrison are not expected to play. The absence of the all-purpose defender Polamalu (photo: wstera2, Flickr) certainly helped Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez sleep last night, as his pre-snap movement and unpredictable assignments can be a headache. The Jets' offensive line will be happy not to have to deal with Harrison, too.

Tebow Time? The Jets didn't use Tim Tebow a whole lot in the opener despite all the talk surrounding his role in the Jets' Sanchez-led offense. But maybe we see a little more Tebow in a game that has the look of a defensive, ground-and-pound bout. Plus, Tebow has Pittsburgh's number... Playoffs?

Keller out, but Sanchez still has options. Jets tight end Dustin Keller, who was Sanchez's most reliable target last season, will not be playing in this one. There was some worry before the season that Sanchez didn't have any weapons around him, but rookie Stephen Hill alleviated some of that with a two-touchdown, 89-yard receiving game last week. There's this guy named Santonio Holmes, too. Sanchez needs the best from his wideouts in this one, as stalled drives to dropped passes or bad routes could be extremely costly.

Jets posts from this week:

Week 2 AFC East game picks: Jets at Steelers

Rex rules out Revis vs. Steelers, Wilson to get nod

Guarantee? Steelers linebacker: 'We will not be 0-2'

Tomlin: 'Landry brings awesome demeanor to a D'

Despite win, Jets' defense looks to improve tackling

Jets rookie receiver Hill has sick day on and off field

Howard gets best of Williams, Williams blames refs

Sanchez mutes critics with stellar showing in opener