The good news for the Jets is they beat the Vikings on Monday night. The bad news for the Jets is they beat the Vikings on Monday night. Coming down emotionally and getting ready to play six days after the big stage of Monday night is one thing. Having to go on the road is another. And to Denver, no less, where the altitude has swallowed up countless teams through the years. The Jets, by all accounts, are a better team than the Broncos, but Denver was manhandled by the big, bad Ravens last weekend, and will be looking to bounce back and make a good showing in front of the home crowd.
Keys for the Broncos
• Can their defense hold up amid an injury epidemic? Losing Elvis Dumervil, he of the $43 million in guaranteed money, was a punch in the face to the Broncos’ defense. Now their promising young pass rusher, Robert Ayers, has a broken bone in his foot and will miss six weeks. Half of the would-be starting secondary — safety Brian Dawkins and cornerback Andre Goodman — also will miss this one, as will special-teams star Wesley Woodyard.
• Kyle Orton. Not to mention Kyle Orton, to say nothing of Kyle Orton. There’s no other way to say it: Through the first five weeks of the season, Orton has been as close to a one-man team as it gets. Orton is on pace for 5,546 passing yards, which would nuke Dan Marino’s NFL record of 5,084. Stuff happens when you can’t run the ball. The Broncos, who used a first-round draft pick on Knowshon Moreno last year, are the worst running team in the league. How bad has it been? They don’t have a single back averaging three yards a carry, much less four. It’s a negative stat, all those passing yards. Orton has been under enormous pressure every week. And it’s only going to get worse if they can’t run the ball, what with opposing defenses show less respect to play action with each passing week.
Keys for the Jets
• Is Darrelle Revis ready to contribute? It’s no news flash that the Broncos can’t run the ball. They’re going to throw it all over the yard, so the New York secondary had better be ready. Journeyman Brandon Lloyd is becoming a star in the Broncos’ pass-giddy offense, and Eddie Royal and Jabar Gaffney will pose significant threats, too. Revis, who has been slowed by a sore hamstring, received a not-so-subtle message this week from his coach, Rex Ryan, who, come to think of it, has never sent a message that wasn’t so subtle: “If he’s healthy, it’s not vacation time. It’s time to beat somebody.’’
• LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Green in the running game. OK, OK, we get it, L.T. Rumors of your demise were greatly exaggerated. He and Green could, over the course of the season, form the league’s best 1-2 punch. The Broncos’ defense is hurting, so the Jets should be able to run the ball. And if they can run it and control the ball, it would take the Invesco Field crowd out of the game.
There is a great unknown here with the Monday night hangover factor. But this is the kind of game the Jets have to win to show the world that they’ve taken the next step. They’re clearly a better team than the Broncos. They’re better defensively, more balanced offensively … you name it. If they lose this one, the questions will remain. Win it impressively and they’ll earn some votes for the team to beat in the AFC. Jets 27–20.