Sunday, December 2, 2012

Gameday Deciding Factors: Cardinals at Jets


Things were as dark as ever for the New York Jets last week after a blowout loss to the division rival New England Patriots. But Gang Green (4-7) had 10 days to put that one behind them, and they now begin a very favorable five-game finish to the schedule, starting with the Arizona Cardinals (4-7). (photo: Football Schedule, Flickr)

The Jets will host the Cardinals in their first home game without Fireman Ed, though Arizona, loser of seven straight games, should give New York the boost it needs to get through.


Third down, again. This seems to be a weekly thing with the Jets, but it's especially noteworthy this time around. The Jets' second-worst third-down defense is up against the worst third-down offense in the league. If New York can't get off the field against this pitiful defense, then, well... we'll see what happens.

Sound alarm on pass rush. This week, Rex Ryan called his team's sack total of 17 "alarming." Well, Rex, now's the time to turn it around. Arizona has given up 46 sacks this season, which is by far the most in the NFL. Second-year defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson is quietly having a very good season, and look for him to wreak having on the Cardinals' terrible offensive line that is now missing its starting center.

Non-factor Fitzgerald. Larry Fitzgerald is one of the most talented receivers in the NFL, but his goods are being wasted in an offense that can't get him the ball, albeit it because of bad pass protection or awful quarterbacking. Normally, Fitzgerald would require a lot of attention, but since Lindley is at the helm, the Jets will likely just stick Antonio Cromartie on him 1-on-1 and use the other bodies elsewhere until Lindley proves they need to do otherwise.

Play special for Westhoff. The Jets' special teams unit has embarrassed soon-to-be-retired coach Mike Westhoff, who doesn't deserve to go out like this. Gang Green has made regular errors on special teams, whether it's blocked field goals, fumbles, giving up long returns or surrendering onside kicks -- all things uncharacteristic of a Westhoff unit. It's time they gave Westhoff a performance he deserves. The Cardinals punt more than any team in the league, so the Jets will have ample opportunities in the return game.
A week in Jets posts at

Week 13 AFC East game picks: Cardinals at Jets