The Jets return home for the first time since Halloween to face the stumbling 4-5 Houston Texans. Here is a look at the top storylines heading into their Week 11 match-up:
1) Welcome Back to the Island - Darrelle Revis began his epic 2009 campaign by shutting down Texans WR Andre Johnson in his own building, holding him to four receptions for 35 yards. Johnson has racked up 781 receiving yards so far, while averaging 15.0 yards per catch. However, as we saw two weeks ago in Detroit vs. Calvin Johnson it looks like Revis is up to his old ways of taking elite WRs completely out of the game. Houston has other talented receivers in Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones, and will likely focus on getting the ball on whomever is matched up with Kyle Wilson or Drew Coleman. It would be nice to see somebody in the Jets secondary finally get an interception, considering the team hasn't had one since Week 5 and only has five total on the season. Matt Schaub has thrown seven interceptions this year.
2) Strength vs. Strength - Arian Foster leads the NFL in rushing yards with 920. The Jets are currently ranked fifth in the league against the run and haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher yet this season despite facing Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, and Peyton Hillis. Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito aren't household names and don't generate a pass rush. Yet, they are perfect fits for Rex Ryan's 3-4 scheme, which relies on the defensive lineman to stop the run and counts on the outside linebackers to get after the quarterback (which they haven't been so far this year, see No. 3). If the Jets can keep doing what they have been doing against the run all year it will force Houston to be one-dimensional, except they don't have the benefit of Andre Johnson having a mismatch like he does most weeks.
3) Pass Defense Concerns - As we discussed a little earlier, Houston has a dynamic passing offense with multiple weapons. The Jets can certainly match-up on the outside with Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. However, Joel Dressen has been a pretty good pass catching tight end for the Texans this year and if Owen Daniels ends up playing, he is an obvious threat. We have seen time and time again the Jets struggle to cover the tight end and the opposing team's slot receiver, which should be a combination of Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones. Jim Leonhard, Eric Smith, and Brodney Pool all need to improve their play, particularly in pass coverage. Kyle Wilson had a good game last week, so let's see if he can put together another strong effort against a couple of pretty good slot receivers.
Another part of the Jets pass defense concerns is their lack of a consistent pass rush. It doesn't feel like Rex Ryan's blitzing is having the same effect it did last year. Jason Taylor leads the team with four sacks but he isn't around the quarterback enough. Calvin Pace has been quiet since returning from injury and Bryan Thomas hasn't done much since his terrific opening game against the Ravens.
4) The Greatest Show on Turf - The last two weeks have been the two highest yardage totals Mark Sanchez has thrown for in his career (336 against Detroit and 299 against Cleveland). I am normally a major advocate for the Jets to run the ball more often, but this is the week, against Houston's 32nd-ranked pass defense, to it let fly a little more than usual. The bottom line is that Houston doesn't have the personnel to matchup with Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, and Dustin Keller and the Jets should be able to take advantage of that, especially with the way Sanchez is playing lately.
5) Replacing J-Co - It will be interesting to see who takes Jerricho Cotchery's active roster spot this week and the bulk of his reps. Will the Jets keep Joe McKnight active for the second straight week and give him some work in the slot? Will tight end/wide receiver Jeff Cumberland be active for the first time this season and get some reps? I am worried about Brad Smith taking too many reps as the No. 3 WR because it will take away from his Tiger formation set of plays.