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Jets vs. Texans, key matchups: Jets must ground Arian Foster

If the Jets have any chance on Monday night against the Houston Texans, it will start with controlling the Texans' ground game.

Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

The New York Jets have the NFL's 31st-ranked run defense. That fact must keep Rex Ryan, the self-proclaimed defensive genius, up at night. If a mere ranking is a nightmare for the Jets' coach, then how is he going to get any rest in the coming days before the Jets host the Houston Texans?

Arian Foster is fourth in the league in rushing yards this season, and he's done that on a 4-0 team that hasn't been on the positive side of a few blowouts so far this season. The Texans rank ninth in the league overall in rushing; backup Ben Tate would be the best back on the Jets by a country mile. So far in 2012, the Jets have been gashed by running backs like Jonathan Dwyer and Daniel Thomas. How are the Jets going to stay competitive if they can't stop Houston's ground game. Conventional wisdom says the Jets can't, and thus won't be.

Jets Running Defense vs. Houston Running Attack

You see the stats and rankings above. But if the Jets are to have any chance in staying in this ballgame late into the proceedings, they're simply going to have to find a way to keep Foster in check. Of course, you can't simply stack the box against the Texans and leave Matt Schaub with open spaces to find Andre Johnson for large chunks of yardage. But if the Jets let the Texans dictate time of possession and field position, it's going to be a slow, painful third loss loss of the season. The Jets' offense isn't nearly good enough to put up a lot of points on the league's top-ranked defense, so the Jets' defense needs to hold the Texans down and try to give Mark Sanchez and the offense as many chances as possible. Limited possessions against Houston's defense is a recipe for disaster.

Antonio Cromartie vs. Andre Johnson

Forget it. If Cromartie routinely gets beat deep downfield by Johnson, this one is going to be a laugher before halftime. The Jets' streaky cornerback has to bring his A game for the Jets to have any hope.

Mark Sanchez vs. The Pressure

The clock is ticking on Sanchez, and he has his toughest task of the year. Yes, Houston's defense is better than San Francisco's, and Sanchez's No. 1 target will likely be Jeremy Kerley. Clyde Gates will be Sanchez's third receiver. Who is Cyde Gates, you ask? I don't know either. Point is, the injury to Santonio Holmes leaves the already-thin Jets perilously weak on offense. Sanchez needs to step up and play a decent game. There are no expectations on him in this game. Everybody is expecting another debacle and for Tim Tebow to start in Week 6 against the Colts. Sanchez can do something about that. He's not going to light up this great Texans' defense, but if he can put up some points and at the very least have the Jets competitive late in the game, he can salvage some more time for himself as the rightful Jets' starter. Not that I agree with it, but another bad outing by Sanchez could possibly usher in the horrible, disgusting beginning of the Tebow Era for the Jets