NFL This Week: Patriots no slouches for Jets
From “Hard Knocks” on TV to hard knocks on the field, the New York Jets already have experienced all kinds of extremes. Now the New England Patriots come to the Meadowlands, possibly the worst opponent Rex Ryan’s team could face.
The Jets couldn’t run efficiently or pass with authority against Baltimore in a 10-9 opening loss. New York’s offense was so bad that the Ravens had the ball for more than 38 minutes, even though they only managed 49 yards rushing. That simply doesn’t happen.
New England doesn’t need to control the clock so much to control games. The Patriots can score very quickly, even against a highly regarded defense such as New York’s.
Plus, the Jets might not have the offense in place to test a Patriots defense that is in transition. Mark Sanchez is supposed to take the next big step in his development in his second pro season, but he was a shaky quarterback against Baltimore.
Imagine what schemes Bill Belichick will have in store for him.
“It’s just another stingy defense, another defense where we can’t hurt ourselves because they’re going to make plays on their own,” Sanchez said. “We don’t want to help them.”
Patriots-Jets has become one of the nastiest rivalries in the NFL, with an added touch this week: Randy Moss’ visit to (Darrelle) Revis Island, a place the Patriots’ star receiver hopes to overrun with touchdown catches.
The Jets’ All-Pro cornerback called Moss a “slouch” during a word-association game on television in January. Not surprisingly, Moss didn’t take very kindly to that description and said Revis would get “60 minutes of this slouch” on Sunday.
Not to mention Tom Brady and Wes Welker.
On Sunday night, it’s the second Manning Matchup as big brother Peyton leads the Indianapolis Colts against little bro’ Eli and the visiting New York Giants. Peyton won the previous showdown in 2006, 26-21, in the first NFL meeting of siblings starting at quarterback.
Also Sunday, it’s Miami at Minnesota, Baltimore at Cincinnati, Pittsburgh at Tennessee, Chicago at Dallas, Buffalo at Green Bay, Philadelphia at Detroit, Houston at Washington, Arizona at Atlanta, Seattle at Denver, Jacksonville at San Diego, Kansas City at Cleveland, St. Louis at Oakland, and Tampa Bay at Carolina.
On Monday night, New Orleans is at San Francisco.
New York Giants (1-0) at Indianapolis (0-1)
As juicy as Manning vs. Manning might be, this game could be decided on the ground.
The Colts stumbled badly in their opener at Houston, only their second loss to the Texans in 17 meetings. They couldn’t stop the run, and now they are missing key safety Bob Sanders (biceps surgery). Plus, their offensive line is something of a mishmash.
Look for the Giants to run Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, and to count on their strong front four to get pressure on Peyton. But also watch for Colts TE Dallas Clark to have a big day against New York’s mediocre linebackers.
Miami (1-0) at Minnesota (0-1)
Brett Favre needs two touchdown passes to become the first player with 500, but he looked ordinary against New Orleans without his favorite target, Sidney Rice. The Dolphins completely shut down Buffalo’s runners, none of whom resembles Adrian Peterson.
A prime matchup here features Miami left tackle Jake Long against Minnesota DE Jared Allen.
The Dolphins haven’t had two straight road wins to start a season in 33 years.
Baltimore (1-0) at Cincinnati (0-1)
Even though they scored only 10 points in their victory at the Meadowlands, the Ravens showed signs of a balanced offense as key offseason acquisition Anquan Boldin toyed with the Jets’ secondary – other than Revis, who barely was tested. QB Joe Flacco and TE Todd Heap seem primed for big years, and the defense already is staunch.
Cincinnati might have been the biggest disappointment in Week 1, getting pummeled by the Patriots. The Bengals rushed for only 87 yards and it won’t be any easier this week.
Pittsburgh (1-0) at Tennessee (1-0)
A year ago, the Titans lost their opener to the Steelers and nose-dived to 0-6 before Vince Young was reinserted as starting quarterback. They surged to 8-8 behind the maturing Young and the unstoppable Chris Johnson.
Last week, Johnson rushed for 142 yards and two TDs as he chases an unprecedented 2,500 yards for the season. He’s looking for his 13th straight 100-yard rushing game, one short of the record held by Barry Sanders.
Doing it against the strong Pittsburgh run defense would be as impressive as almost anything the third-year running back has achieved.
New Orleans (1-0) at San Francisco (0-1), Monday night
The 49ers will retire Jerry Rice’s jersey at halftime. If they don’t clamp down on turnovers, limit penalties and get more accuracy from QB Alex Smith, this one could be decided by halftime.
Sure, the Saints didn’t look like Super Bowl champs on offense in the season opener against Minnesota. Does anyone expect that to continue?
New Orleans hasn’t played since Sept. 9.
“We don’t want it to be something that creates any rust,” coach Sean Payton said. “I think they’ll handle it well and certainly with the injured players, the few guys that we have that are battling some injuries, hopefully we can use that time. It’s just one of the challenges.”
Buffalo (0-1) at Green Bay (1-0)
The side story to this matchup has been Green Bay’s need for a running back with Ryan Grant gone for the season with an ankle injury. QB Aaron Rodgers suggested the Packers should deal for his former teammate at Cal, Marshawn Lynch. Guess who Lynch plays for.
The Bills managed 166 yards of offense in losing to Miami, the worst output in Week 1. They also are hampered defensively without LB Paul Posluszny (sprained right knee).
Chicago (1-0) at Dallas (0-1)
No team was sloppier than the Cowboys in their loss at Washington, where a fumble was returned for the Redskins’ only touchdown and penalties damaged them on both sides of the ball – none moreso than Alex Barron’s holding call that negated the winning touchdown on the final play.
“There’s always a great sense of urgency,” Tony Romo said. “That’s just part of playing football in the National Football League. For us, its about going out and being as good as you can be.”
Dez Bryant caught eight passes in opener, tying a Dallas record for catches by rookie receiver.
Chicago benefited from Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson’s major mistake in the dying moments last Sunday. Johnson, seemingly in a hurry to celebrate his end-zone reception to give the Lions the lead, never fully completed the catch and the Bears held on.
Philadelphia (0-1) at Detroit (0-1)
Goofs like Johnson’s tend to happen to teams like the Lions, who have won two games in the last 34. Now they are without their prize young quarterback, Matt Stafford, whose right shoulder was hurt in the loss at Chicago. Shaun Hill, one of the more reliable backups in the league, gets the start.
Philly has its own quarterback woes with Kevin Kolb coming off a concussion. Michael Vick was superb in nearly leading a comeback against Green Bay and seems far better prepared to contribute now than he was a year ago.
Houston (1-0) at Washington (1-0)
Both teams need another win to validate strong starts.
The Texans dominated Indianapolis, getting 231 yards and three TDs from unheralded Arian Foster, the first player to rush for such a combination in an opener. Houston has won a franchise-high five straight and if its defense is improved, could be a factor in the stacked AFC South.
Washington safety LaRon Landry had 17 tackles in the win over Dallas and CB DeAngelo Hall scored the only touchdown on a fumble return.
Ten coaches who will be on the sidelines Sunday were with the 2002 Broncos under current Redskins coach Mike Shanahan. Four former members of Houston coach Gary Kubiak’s staff are now on Shanahan’s staff in Washington, including Shanahan’s son, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.
Arizona (1-0) at Atlanta (0-1)
The Cardinals struggled at St. Louis before a late touchdown won it. They hope to get back RB Beanie Wells, sidelined with a knee injury. Safety Adrian Wilson had two interceptions, blocked a field goal and came up with a sack.
Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez will be honored for making his 1,000th career catch last week, the seventh player in NFL history to reach that milestone, and the first tight end. His matchup with Wilson could be intriguing.
Seattle (1-0) at Denver (0-1)
There won’t be a lack of coaching enthusiasm on the sidelines of this one with Seattle’s ultimate rah-rah guy, Pete Carroll, going against Denver’s Josh McDaniels.
Seattle was helped as much by San Francisco’s sloppy ways last week as by its own performance. Still, Matt Hasselbeck completed passes to eight players and the Niners got just two field goals.
Denver has won 10 straight home openers, longest streak in the NFL.
Jacksonville (1-0) at San Diego (0-1)
Known for starting slowly in a season, then coming on, the Chargers used that formula last Monday night at Kansas City. They fell behind 21-7 and nearly rallied to force overtime. Rookie RB Ryan Mathews could be a force this year.
The Jags were outscored 61-3 in trips to Seattle and San Francisco last year, so they decided to travel Saturday afternoon instead of on Friday.
Kansas City (1-0) at Cleveland (0-1)
Two rookies, Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas, keyed the Chiefs’ Monday night upset of San Diego. Dexter McCluster ran back a punt 100 yards for a TD and Arenas averaged 30 yards on his returns. Jamaal Charles rushed for 92 yards. All of those things bode well for a rebuilding team.
Browns RB Jerome Harrison had a career day against KC in 2009 with 286 yards rushing, third highest in NFL history. Joshua Cribbs had two TD kickoff returns of 100 and 103 yards.
Anyone think special teams will matter in this one?
St. Louis (0-1) at Oakland (0-1)
Sam Bradford threw 55 times against Arizona, hardly the formula for winning when you have Steven Jackson in the backfield. Look for Jackson to tote the ball plenty.
Oakland has have lost five straight home openers. RB Darren McFadden had 150 yards from scrimmage last week, his most since gaining 173 in his second career game in 2008.
Tampa Bay (1-0) at Carolina (0-1)
Despite sustaining a concussion in the loss to the Giants, Panthers QB Matt Moore is expected to start. He needs the two-headed running game of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart to get going.
That could happen against rebuilding Tampa, which yielded 230 yards rushing in two games to Stewart and 152 in one to Williams last season.