The first-place New York Jets return home this afternoon to face what should be a motivated San Francisco 49ers team coming off a disappointing performance in Week 3 at Minnesota.
The Jets defense will be without star cornerback Darrelle Revis for the season after he tore his ACL in last week's overtime win in Miami, so the time is now for players like Antonio Cromartie, Kyle Wilson and Bart Scott to step up and make big plays.
Winning ugly is still winning
The Jets escaped with a ‘w‘ — albeit in overtime — in Miami in Week 3 versus the Dolphins. The defense made a few big plays, but the offense was inconsistent as best, save for Santonio Holmes, who had his best game in nearly two years (nine catches, 147 yards). Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter missed a game-winning field goal in OT, or else the Jets would be staring 1-5 in the face with the next two opponents — San Francisco and Houston — among the league’s elite.
State of Gang Green
As everyone knows, Revis is out for the year. Tight end Dustin Keller is expected to play after missing the previous two games with a hamstring injury, though wide receiver Stephen Hill continues to have hamstring issues and is listed as doubtful. Linebacker Bart Scott (toe) has been limited in practice and is a game-time decision.
The Niners were embarrassed in Minnesota last week as second-year quarterback Christian Ponder threw 198 yards and two scores and added another on the ground in the Vikings’ upset victory. Jim Harbaugh, among the best in the business at motivating his team and getting them to respond after a defeat, will surely have San Fran fired up and ready to bring the heat to Sanchez and the rest of the Jets.
What to Watch For
Though they did not play like it last week versus the Vikings, the 49ers have an elite defense that will try and confuse Sanchez and force turnovers all afternoon. Sanchez cannot afford a slow start or an early turnover, which would get the crowd booing and put even more pressure of the Jets quarterback.
Tim Tebow, who has yet to be unleashed with the wildcat package, could be used to keep the 49ers honest and off-balance, but it remains to be seen if that means Tebow will be allowed to throw or just be relegated to running the ball.
If the Jets are going to win this game, they will need something on the ground, be it from Tebow, Shonn Greene or Bilal Powell. They cannot be a ground-and-pound team until they start grounding and pounding it.
Defensively, the Jets need to stop running back Frank Gore and force Alex Smith to beat them through the air. While not a great offense, they are efficient and Smith rarely makes a bad decision. Cromartie and Wilson do not have elite wide receivers to deal with, so the front seven should be able to key in on Gore and put significant pressure on Smith.
"We are ready to roll. Anytime you play against a tremendous football team there is that challenge. As a competitor you know you have to step your game up.’’ — Rex Ryan.
Jets: Mark Sanchez (710 yards, 5 TDs, 3 INTs)
49ers: Alex Smith (641 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT)
Jets: Shonn Greene (157 yards, 1 TD)
49ers: Frank Gore (264 yards, 2 TDs)
Jets: Santonio Holmes (16 rec., 243 yards, 1 TD)
49ers: Michael Crabtree (19 rec., 183 yards, 0 TD)
Jets: David Harris (26)
49ers: NaVorro Bowman (37)
49ERS @ JETS
Where: Met Life Stadium
When: Sunday, Sept. 30; 1 p.m. ET
TV: FOX, Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa
Radio: ESPN 98.7 FM
Line: Jets +4.5