Thursday, November 15, 2007

Jets: What are the Chances...?

This week the Steelers visit the New Jersey Meadowlands to take on the 1-8 New York Jets. Most NFL fans assume Pittsburgh will win by a wide margin, but here are five reasons why the Steelers could struggle:

1. The Steelers have been dominant at home this season but are just 2-2 on the road, losing at Arizona and at Denver.

2. The Steelers' kick return coverage has been poor this season and the Jets feature a big play return man, Leon Washington, who has returned three kicks for touchdowns this year.

3. Despite a 1-8 record (the lone win coming against winless Miami), New York has been more competitive than its won-loss record might indicate.

4. The Jets are coming off a bye week and have had two weeks to prepare.

5. QB Kellen Clemens was recently installed as the Jets' new starter (replacing longtime QB Chad Pennington). As NFL observers know, sometimes teams get a temporary lift when a promising new starter takes the reigns. Plus, there may not yet be enough tape on Clemens for defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau to identify the best ways to defend him.

Still, it's obvious that most of the matchups favor the Steelers, especially the QB matchup. Steelers' QB Ben Roethlisberger boasts a 110.2 passer rating, including a 120.0 rating in the fourth quarter of games. Expect Pittsburgh to employ its usual offensive game plan, passing early and often in hopes of building a lead and then transitioning to a run-oriented attack in the second half.

On defense the Steelers have been more conservative than usual this season, but that could change against the Jets. Inexperienced QBs like Clemens typically struggle against the Steelers' complex defensive schemes, and Pittsburgh figures to go out of its way to confuse Clemens with a diverse array of blitzes.

Even history is on the Steelers' side: Pittsburgh is 16-2 all-time versus the Jets, including 9-2 on the road. With the Jets having a down season, the stadium could be filled with Steelers fans, making the Meadowlands feel like a home away from home. "What are the Chances...?" gives the Steelers an 80 percent chance of defeating the Jets.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a Jet fan, and I can tell you the Jets have NO shot at this game. Pittsburgh will have their way on offense, they will run the ball all day, Parker might go for 200 yds if he gets the carries (or maybe he just breaks a 80 yarder).
When Big Ben drops back to pass, he'll have time to read a book.

The only edge the Jets have is Leon returning kicks--too bad all but one chance he has means the Steelers have scored.

Steelers 38
Jets 17

5:05 PM  

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