The (1-3) Atlanta Falcons are welcoming the New York Jets to the the Georgia Dome on Monday Night. The last time the Jets were in Atlanta was also on a Monday Night in 2005. Michael Vick got the better of Vinny Testaverde and you guessed it, Brooks Bollinger as the Falcons won 27-14.
Before the season, many felt this Falcons team had Super Bowl potential, but a frustrating start to the season has raised doubts. Atlanta is really 3 red-zone drives away from being 4-0, but as Bill Parcells once said “You are what your record says you are”. Starting running back Stephen Jackson’s hamstring injury hasn’t helped the Falcons fortunes either. As for the Jets, if starting quarterback Geno Smith took better care of the football, New York could also be 4-0. Overall, each of these teams has one area of major concern. For the Jets it’s not turning the ball over, and for the Falcons it’s the teams red-zone offense.
With Stephen Jackson out, the Falcons offense has become one of the most pass-heavy in the league. Atlanta passes it 70 percent of the time, and only runs it 30 percent of the time. Matt Ryan is putting up great numbers, and with Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez, the Flacons have one of the most talented passing attacks in the game.
The rushing attack is only averaging 82 yards per game, good for 23rd in the league. Jacquizz Rodger’s 134 rushing yards lead the team. The bottom line is if the Falcons are going to win, it’s going to be on the arm of Matt Ryan, plain and simple.
The Jets offense led by Geno Smith has been a turnover machine. Smith has killed the team turning the ball over 11 times, tied for the most in the league entering week 5. New York will be without leading receiver Santonio Holmes, leaving the Jets already thin wide-receiving core even thinner. Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley, and Kellen Winslow will all have to have big games for the Jets to have a chance.
Chris Ivory is ready to return after missing last week’s game against the Titans, and Mike Goodson will be making his Jets debut. Much was expected of Ivory entering the year, but he’s been a major disappointment. Bilal Powell has done a nice job carrying the load, but there’s not much he can do about Geno’s turnovers. Goodson playing may not seem like a debut, but he’s easily the fastest player on the field. If the Jets can get him into some open space, look out.
The Falcons clearly have the offensive edge. Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez are all better than the Jets best receiver whether that be Stephen Hill or Jeremy Kerley. New York has the better rushing attack though.
With Dee Milliner out for the 2nd straight game, the Jets will have to rely heavily on back-up cornerback Darrian Walls to stop either Roddy White or Julio Jones. That does not bode well for the Jets. The key is going to be the offense not putting the defense in really tough spots like what happened last week, and Quinton Coples, and Mohammed Wilkerson getting pressure on the quarterback. Making Matt Ryan uncomfortable is crucial so Walls doesn’t get eaten alive.
The weakness of the Falcons defense is the passing game. Atlanta is giving up 301 pass yards per game which is 26th in the league in large part because the Falcons only have 7 sacks on the season. Osi Umenyora, Kroy Biermann, and Jason Babineaux have just 2 sacks between them making life very difficult for cornerbacks Asante Samuel and Desmond Trufant. Fortunately for the Falcons, the Jets struggle mightily in the passing game which bodes well for them.
The Jets have the better defense than the Falcons. Coples and Wilkerson form a formidable pass rush, and linebackers David Harris and DeMario Davis are both having excellent seasons. The only real weakness is Darrin Walls who’s the most important player in this one for the Jets.
Kicker: Nick Folk vs. Matt Bryant
Punter: Ryan Quigley vs. Matt Bosher
Return Man: Clyde Gates vs. Jacquizz Rodgers
It appears the Jets making Nick Folk compete every training camp for the starting kicker job works. Folk is 8/8 on the season and is not the reason why the Jets sit at 2-2. Ryan Quigley replaced Robert Malone following a poor performance in week 2. Quigley hasn’t been great with a 44.9 average this season. In the return game, Clyde Gates is averaging under 20 yards per return. The Jets would be wise to make a change soon.
Matt Bryant has missed just 1 kick all season, and is for the most part very reliable with a 84.6 career percentage. Punter Matt Bosher is averaging 47.2 yards per punt with 1 touchback on the season. Jacquizz Rodgers has lightning speed in the return game, but hasn’t had a signature return yet in 2013.
The Special Teams in this game is pretty much even. Neither Jacquizz Rodgers or Clyde Gates have been particularly impressive, and Nick Folk and Matt Bryant are having solid seasons.
If the Falcons want to keep up with the Saints, they have to have to win this game. Expect Atlanta to abuse Jets cornerback Darrin Walls who’s filling in for the injured Dee Milliner and Geno Smith to continue turning the ball over under the bright Monday Night lights.
Falcons 27 Jets 13