The big bang is coming to the Mile High. That’s right. The #1 team from the country’s largest media market heads for the hills mountains to inhale the crisp but thin Rocky Mountain air. The New York Jets (4-1) fly into town to take on a depleted Denver Broncos team that is itching to get back on winning ground. The Jets have won their last four games and are looking forward to trying to win a fifth before their bye next week. This team can put the hurt on from all angles – offense, defense, and special teams. They were many people’s pick to make a Super Bowl appearance, and thus far, the team hasn’t disappointed. To completely off set the green monsters, Sunday has been declared “Orange Day” here in Denver. All players will be in their orange uniforms and mayor John Hickenlooper asks that all fans dress in orange as well. Let’s go from Predominantly Orange to All Orange. The team will need all the help it can get so dress the part and cheer the part. My Prediction: Jets 34 Broncos 27
Broncos - We all know where the strong points and the weak points lie on offense. This Jets team will bring the blitz like no other team that the Broncos have seen, so Kyle Orton has got to make his reads fast and accurately to get by the Jets’ secondary. The running game is still a question mark at this point. While the team did average 3.0 yards per game last week, they are ranked dead last with an average of 2.3 yards per carry. Knowshon Moreno’s status is unknown, but it looks like fullback Spencer Larsen will be back in action which gives the Broncos some better run blocking. Much of the Broncos success during this game will depend on the offensive line. If they can give Orton enough time, he will deliver. The line will also need to create big enough holes for the rushing game to open up and balance the offense. Against the Jets’, touchdowns are a must, so converting in the red zone is essential.
Jets- Where to begin? The J-E-T-S are S-T-A-C-K-E-D. Mark Sanchez has improved tremendously after an already successful rookie season. “Jets West Camp” definitely helped this offense along as did the acquisition of LaDanian Tomlinson. For those sunny San Diegans who thought LT’s career was drowning deep in the Pacific, football fans from the east coast actually saw his career wash up on the shores of the Atlantic. Tomlinson is 5th in the league in rushing and the Jets ground game is leading the league averaging 165.2 yards per game. LT can block, catch, run inside but also break to the outside. It relieves a lot pressure that a young QB such as Sanchez faces. Even though the Jets’ passing game is ranked 25th, they have a balanced offense and three targets in Braylon Edwards, Dustin Keller, and Santonio Holmes that are always capable of reeling in a monster play.
Broncos - Three defensive starters (Brian Dawkins, Andre Goodman, and Robert Ayers) are out, and the secondary is going to have their hands full with the Jets’ offensive weapons. The Jets are very good about not turning the ball over. Mark Sanchez has yet to throw an interception. The only team to beat the Jets this season is the Baltimore Ravens and they held them to 9 points. As we know, the Ravens blitz from all angles, but they’re not afraid to drop eight back in coverage. Since the Broncos don’t have an elaborate blitzing scheme or pass defense like the Ravens, they are going to need to turn their attention towards stopping the run. The Broncos run defense is ranked 25th in the league, and the last thing they want is the Jets chewing the clock and keeping Orton off of the field.
Jets- Ranked 4th in rush defense and 23rd in pass defense, don’t expect the Broncos ground game to take off on Sunday. The Jets arguably have the most aggressive defense in the league and they blitz often and quickly (in a New York minute). If the Broncos’ offensive line was battered, bloody, and bruised against the Titans, it won’t get much better against the Jets. The Jets have forced 6 fumbles, they have 5 INTs, and 12 sacks on the season. Overall, their defense is 5th in the league allowing just 16.2 points per game. Darrelle Revis hasn’t done much this season, but I don’t want to jinx it. His counterpart, Antonio Cromartie, has 2 picks so far. Shaun Ellis and Jason Taylor are leading the team in sacks with 4 and 3, respectively.
Broncos - Field position is huge in this game. The Jets are #1 in field positioning, and it doesn’t take them long to score. It looks like Eddie Royal will be handling most kick returns after the wicked hit Demaryius Thomas took last week. Kickoff/punt coverage has their work cut out for them.
Jets- This is the best special teams unit in the league. Jim Leonhard is the 3rd best punt returner in the league averaging 13.1 yards per return while Brad Smith is 3rd in kick returns averaging 32.2 yards per return. Their kickoff coverage team makes other teams work a long field.
Broncos - Josh McDaniels has talked very highly about the Jets. In Wednesday’s press conference, he said, “They’ve been up to every challenge they’ve played this season, and we’re going to have to be at our best this Sunday.” (Denver Post) Although McDaniels faced the Jets twice per season in New England, the coach is facing a different beast. This Jets team is no longer the #2 team in the city. All eyes are on them for very good reason.
Jets- Rex Ryan is working with a very talented group of players (15 Pro Bowl players on the roster) and he knows how to coach them. While some of his off season strategies (seen on Hard Knocks) may be odd, humiliating, or questionable, this team comes ready to play every week.
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