(Sports Network) – The big question is week is whether or not Mark Sanchez will start at quarterback. His shoulder injury may leave the Jets with 40-year-old Mark Brunell calling signals.
The Jets haven’t terrified anyone on offense even with Sanchez, settling for the middle of the pack statistically in the categories of points per game (21.1, 18th in the league), total yardage per game (345.4, 13th) and passing yardage per game (204.4, 20th). They’ve made the most impact on the ground with a run game that’s accounted for 141 yards per contest, sixth-best in the league. Meanwhile, the Bears have maintained their signature stinginess, placing third in the league in scoring defense (17.3 ppg), eighth in total defense (310.9 ypg) and third in rush defense (89.8 ypg). Teams have had moderate success throwing the ball on Chicago, gaining an average of 221.1 yards per game, which makes the Bears the 14th-best defense against the pass.
The Jets are 12-2 when Sanchez posts a passer rating of 80.0 or better. He has three rushing touchdowns in 2010, including one against the Steelers last week, tying his career best. Running back LaDainian Tomlinson (17,685 yards) passed Marcus Allen (17,654) for the sixth-most yards from scrimmage in NFL history last Sunday. He aims for a third straight game with a rushing touchdown against the Bears. Wide receiver Holmes had five receptions for 83 yards in his only career game against the Bears, which came while with the Steelers in September of 2009. Fellow wideout Braylon Edwards posted his first 100-yard receiving game of the season last week and had a season-best eight catches. Four of his six touchdown receptions in 2010 have come on the road. Tight end Dustin Keller (48 receptions) needs one catch to surpass his career high from 2008. Lastly, return man Brad Smith posted his second kick runback for a touchdown this season and the third of his career last week. He is second in the NFL with a 29.1 kick return average in 2010, while the Jets have a league-best 14 scores on kick returns since 2001.
Bears defensive end Julius Peppers has six sacks in his past five games and added an interception last week. He has two sacks and two forced fumbles in two career games against the Jets, while linebacker Brian Urlacher had an interception and 11 tackles in his last meeting with New York. End Israel Idonije had a sack last week and has registered a career-high eight for the season. Cornerback Charles Tillman had a 56-yard interception return in Week 15.