Entering Week 4's clash against the 2-1 San Francisco 49ers, the New York Jets are atop the AFC East. It just doesn't feel that way.
There are a few reasons that's the case. One certainly being the Jets' Week 3 performance against the division rival Miami Dolphins. The Jets were fortunate to win, 23-20 in overtime, a game with a litany of errors and one that many believed was supposed to be a lot easier. Winning any road game in the NFL isn't something to apologize for, but a substandard offensive performance coupled with some shaky moments from the defense in crunch time leave a lot to be desired for Gang Green.Yet at 2-1, New York tops the division as we enter Week 4.
And then there was the other loss, that of cornerback Darrelle Revis to a torn ACL and the likely end to his season. If there was one player the Jets could not afford to lose, perhaps outside of quarterback Mark Sanchez, it was certainly Revis, the best cornerback in the league and arguably its best overall defensive player. We may perhaps now see what Rex Ryan is really made of as a defensive architect. Without Revis, the Jets can no longer just worry about half of the defensive backfield. Cornerbacks Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson need to step up, and Ellis Lankster and Isiah Trufant will see more time. It's not how the Jets drew it up, but Ryan will have to find a way. We'll see if he can do it.
The Jets' first defensive test isn't the most stern, at least for the secondary. If anything, the Jets' unexpectedly much-maligned run defense will be the ones put to the real test on Sunday with the physical running attack of the Niners, led by Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter. Quarterback Alex Smith has become a reliable, steady presence since Jim Harbaugh took the reins, but San Francisco isn't a team that is going to hit a ton of big plays. Former New York Giant Mario Manningham, Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis are the Niners' top receivers, so the Jets don't have a top-flight wideout to worry about yet.
Once again the onus will be on Sanchez, and it will be one of his toughest tests of the season. Despite not playing like an elite unit yet in the season, the 49ers' defense is an immensely talented group that will give a struggling Jets' offense fits if it plays anything like it has the past two weeks.
Jets (2-1) vs. 49ers (2-1) - MetLife Stadium
Time: 1:00 PM ET
Odds: San Francisco -4