How the New York Jets match up with the Atlanta Falcons in a key Week 8 game – NorthJersey.com


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Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson explains his helmet toss in last Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins. Anderson received a penalty, a fine and a reprimand from coach Todd Bowles after the incident. Anderson spoke Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017, in Florham Park.
Andy Vasquez/NorthJersey.com

Falcons at Jets

  • At MetLife Stadium
  • Sunday, 1 p.m. 
  • TV: FOX; Radio: ESPN-FM 98.7
  • Line: Falcons by 6

What’s at stake

Jets: Since the preseason, the Jets have insisted that they’re better than the bad team most expected them to be. And if they win this game, it’ll be more proof that they’re right. A victory would pull to .500 at the halfway point of the season, a stunning success by any measure. Few expected the Jets to win any games, let alone reach the midway point of the season in playoff contention. But if they lose, there will be no playoff contention and not much to feel good about. A loss would be the Jets’ third straight, and it would drop them to two games below .500, and it would make their fast start a distant memory and they’d be on their way to being a bad team.

Falcons: If Atlanta fancies itself as a Super Bowl contender, it needs to find a way to win this game. The Falcons have more talent than the Jets, and much more experience after last year’s Super Bowl run. But things have not been going well. Atlanta has dropped three straight to fall to 3-3. And the offense has been the biggest issue under new coordinator Steve Sarkisian — the unit hasn’t cracked 20 points during this losing streak. This is an opportunity for the Falcons to get back on track. If they can’t, they might be another Super Bowl runner-up in danger of missing the playoffs.

Key matchup 

Jets defense versus Falcons run game: The weather is supposed to be crummy on Sunday afternoon, with major rain and heavy wind in the forecast. That would seem to favor the Jets’, against the Falcons impressive passing attack. But Atlanta is also pretty good on the ground, an area that’s been a weakness for the Jets’ defense this year. The Jets are allowing 126.6 rushing yards per game, which is 28th in the NFL. The Falcons are 12th in the league, at 120.5 rush yards per game. The Jets held the Dolphins to 53 rushing yards last week, and if they can keep Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman in check, this could be a good day. But if the Jets allow their sixth 100-yard rushing game in eight tries, it’ll be hard for them to win.

How they’ll win

Jets: In addition to stopping the run, the Jets must commit to running the ball on offense. Matt Forte and Bilal Powell combined for 84 yards on 16 carries, an impressive average of 5.25 yards per rush. With that kind of success, the Jets should be running the ball more. The Jets also need better play from their cornerbacks. Buster Skrine, who struggled massively against Miami, is out with a concussion. Someone will have to step up. It also goes without saying: the Jets need to reduce their penalties. They had 12 penalties for 124 yards against Miami, if they do that against the Falcons it will surely mean another loss. Also, even if the Jets get behind early they shouldn’t get too discouraged. This Atlanta team is susceptible to blowing leads, as we learned in the Super Bowl and two weeks ago when they lost despite leading Miami 17-0.

Falcons: The Falcons will certainly try to establish the run against a Jets defense that has been vulnerable to giving up big runs. But expect them to take some shots down the field, even if the weather isn’t great. The Jets’ cornerback situation is so tenuous with Buster Skrine injured, that the team may need to use rookies Marcus Maye or Jamal Adams for coverage in the slot. Expect Matt Ryan, who has been struggling this season, to try and take advantage of those matchups. Ultimately, however, it will probably come down to which team executes best down the stretch. Both the Jets and Falcons have had huge problems scoring when it matters. The team that can keep its offense moving in the fourth quarter will probably win.

Email: vasqueza@northjersey.com


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