The New York Jets didn’t enter the season with very positive expectations. Now, two weeks into the 2020 campaign, the reality seems darker and more discouraging than ever.
New York lost both of its first two games to the Bills and the 49ers without staying close in either game. The Jets had one of the least exciting offenses in the league heading into the year. Moreover, injuries have transformed the unit from bad to egregiously hard to watch. Only the Giants have scored fewer than the Jets’ 30 points thus far. In addition, most of the team’s starting players will miss the club’s Week 3 matchup, yet again.
As expected for the team with the second-most difficult 2020 schedule, the road only gets tougher. This Sunday, the Jets will have to travel to Indianapolis for a game against the Colts. The Colts looked like one of the more beatable teams ahead when the schedules were released in May. However, Indy was able to bounce back from an opening-week loss and decimate the Vikings at home last week. Meanwhile, New York has only got worse and there are no signs of positivity.
Therefore, the Jets rightfully enter the game as underdogs at 11.5 points, according to Vegas. For comparison, no other team is projected as an underdog at more than 6.5 points (Panthers vs. Chargers).
A loss could pave the way for a historically disappointing campaign for the Jets. Meanwhile, it is a must-win game for the Colts in an ultra-competitive AFC South division.
A MISMATCH FOR THE JETS ATTACK
The Jets’ offensive unit, as expected and as advertised, has been beyond abysmal so far. Sam Darnold had few targets to work at the start but even Denzel Mims, Jamison Crowder, and Breshad Perriman will be unavailable on Sunday. This is a problematic lack of pass-catchers, which opens a hole that cannot be filled by the running game. New York has found it hard to move the ball, whether that is on long plays or by gradual intermediate game plan. Overall, the Jets rank last in total yards and second-worst in points.
Things are not going well at Florham Park and look to only be getting worse. No help seems to be on the horizon. Furthermore, Mims and Crowder have been said to join the team for next week’s game. However, the clash with Indy will see one of the worst offensive rosters any team will line up this year.
At the same time, them facing one of the most promising defenses in this young season makes it an even more worrying prospect.
Through their first two games, the Colts have allowed league-fewest 208 yards and an average of 19 points a game. Consistency has been the name of the game, with the Colts D ranking first in passing defense and fifth in rushing defense. Therefore, this game will virtually be a collision between the league’s worst passing unit and its best passing defense.
Vikings and Jaguars receivers excelled against Xavier Rhodes but struggled versus Kenny Moore. The latter leads the secondary with 9 targets and has allowed a passer rating of 41.2. With Chris Hogan leading the charge, either could shut him down.
PHILIP RIVERS AND COMPANY COULD BE VERY EFFICIENT
Philip Rivers has not had an efficient and clean season dating back to his prime as a Chargers playmaker. However, he has seemingly returned to his consistent days in SD, also benefitting from great planning on the coaching side.
In Week One, Rivers was forced to throw 46 passes as Marlon Mack exited the game with a season-ending injury. He threw 36 completions or 78 percent accuracy. Despite 2 interceptions, this was arguably his most accurate display since Week 4 of 2019 (Chargers at Miami).
He knew he had a very good game for his standards. Yet, to minimize turnovers, the team turned to the passing game on a more regular basis. That way, Colts backs, Jonathan Taylor most notably, combined for 40 rushes for over 150 yards. Not only did the Wisconsin draftee stand out but Rivers completed 19 of 25 passes with a TD and a pick, or a 97.7 rating.
It is quite clear that the Colts offense has its plan figured out and promises to flourish in the next few weeks. Its opposition, a middle-of-the-pack defense, might have no answers against Indy’s solid attack.
JETS DEFENSE AGAINST THE RUN CAN PROVE ITS WORTH
Despite all the problems that are bound to occur on Sunday, there are scarce positives. The Jets might be getting a difficult but somewhat comfortable matchup against the Colts running game. This sounds like a huge overstatement after the Jets rushing defense failed to live up to last year’s hype both in Buffalo and in their home opener. The group has performed exactly the opposite of 2019’s third-best unit which allowed fewer than 100 yards per game on the ground. Instead, New York has surrendered 280 total yards in rushing or the seventh-worst figure in the NFL.
It’s unlikely that the Jets will shut down the Colts after two weeks of 119.5 yards per game in rushing. Nevertheless, if any unit will show its true colors and surprise positively in 2020, it’s either going to be the secondary or the rushing defense. Week Three’s challenge could be a moment for the Jets’ rushing defense to prove itself.
Chris Hogan (12 targets, 7 receptions, 10.7 yards/reception) vs. Xavier Rhodes (4 targets, 3 completions, 138.5 passer rating)
Jets Defense Against the Run (20th, 61 carries, 4.6 yards/rush) vs. Colts Running Game (22nd, 62 carries, 3.9 yards/rush)
|New York Jets||Indianapolis Colts|
|OT George Fant [OUT]||CB Rock Ya-Sin [OUT]|
|C Connor McGovern [QUESTIONABLE]||TE Jack Doyle [QUESTIONABLE]|
|WR Breshad Perriman [OUT]|
|WR Jamison Crowder [OUT]|
|WR Braxton Berrios [QUESTIONABLE]|
|CB Quincy Wilson [OUT]|
|S Ashtyn Davis [OUT]|
|CB Nate Hairston [QUESTIONABLE]|
The Jets can gain limited but not sustainable advantage in some areas. Still, the Colts, like the previous two Jets opponents, are a flourishing team that put on an impressive Week Two performance on both sides of the ball. Meanwhile, the Jets offense cannot keep up even if their defense finally shows up. Prediction: Indianapolis Colts win 28-17.
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