With the St. Louis Rams ranking towards the bottom of nearly every statistical category, it’s difficult to envision any outcome that doesn’t involve a victorious New York Jets team.
But if there’s one thing Jets’ fans have learned this season, it’s that records and stats don’t matter.
The Rams travel to the Meadowlands on Sunday afternoon hoping to salvage any remnants of an NFL season they could possibly find.
After a miserable 0-4 start, the Rams bounced back with strong victories over the red-hot Redskins, and the offensively dangerous Cowboys. They played tough football against the New England Patriots, and nearly escaped with a win.
Unfortunately for Rams’ fans, the team looked to be returning to early season form when they were trounced by the Arizona Cardinals.
But Jets’ fans can’t bask in the glory of St. Louis’ misery too much. A big game is on the horizon after St. Louis, but a loss at home while looking ahead to New England will make sole control of first place even more difficult.
How Do You Gameplan against a Bad Team?
Brian Schottenheimer received heavy criticism over the last month after developing some offensive schemes that were probably too clever—and ineffective. Teams that were weak against the run saw the Jets trying to attack through the air. Fortunately for Schottenheimer, the Rams aren’t really good at stopping either.
With the Rams ranking 26th against the run, it’s time for Schottenheimer to take some strain off Old Faithful’s arm, and see what Thomas Jones can do with 20 carries a game.
Since the Raiders’ game, Thomas Jones has been running like a man possessed. Averaging 4.5-yards per carry, Jones is second in the AFC in rushing yards, and is on pace to have one of the best seasons of his career.
It’s about time to let the run open up the pass.
Every week Brett Favre is looking more and more like he’s feeling his age—and if a postseason berth is in the cards for the Jets, Favre’s health will be as important as his experience.
Asking him to win games with his arm against the Raiders and Chiefs when Thomas Jones and Leon Washington could’ve placed the games on their backs was ill-advised.
It would be wiser to let the running game gain some steam—this way Favre can utilize short routes to perfection, and light up the Rams for a big play or two if necessary.
How Do You Stop a Team That’s Strong Where You’re Weak?
A Marc Bulger-led team ranking only 27th in the league in passing yards doesn’t seem right—especially not with Torry Holt still playing at a high level.
Regardless, those statistics should be meaningless when it comes to the New York Jets, given their inability to effectively stop the pass.
The Jets’ secondary has allowed backup quarterbacks to find rhythms against them.
Darrelle Revis has been phenomenal in pass coverage, taking receivers completely out of games for the entire season. But Bulger has two very good receiving options in the veteran Holt, and the quick, up-and-coming Donnie Avery.
Avery has been an excellent complement to Holt, and could pose a threat if too much attention is given on the other side of the field.
Bulger has been a Pro Bowl-caliber QB, so assuming he can’t find open receivers could be dangerous for the Jets.
No Reason to Lose
Even with Marc Bulger and his receiving options, the Jets shouldn’t be able to find a way to lose this game—even by accident.
Sure, Avery and Holt are options through the air, but Bulger’s offensive line has provided dismal protection. The Jets excel at applying pressure, ranking second in the NFL in total sacks.
If Bulger is under duress on Sunday, it could help to patch up any holes in the secondary. But the Jets will need to learn how to make proper adjustments when it comes to quick-slant routes and screen passes.
With Steven Jackson out, and the Rams being bad at just about everything, it’s much too difficult to see them pulling out a win against a team with something to play for.
The match-up is not a good one for St. Louis, but it might not be too bright for New York either.
The word “trap” gets thrown around a lot when it comes to teams with good records facing teams with bad ones.
If the Rams are down and out for 2008, the players could only become more reckless. Losing teams love nothing more than to play spoiler for winning teams.
The Jets can’t allow their minds to be on the standings, or on the looming battle against the Patriots. Must-win games at mid-season may sound preposterous to some, but the Jets are in need of separation in a very close division.
Playing in front of a home crowd that’s going to be ecstatic after a strong win on the road should be able to boost the team enough to do what needs to be done on Sunday afternoon.