Monday Night Football should feature a physical AFC clash.
Two contrasting AFC teams will meet on Monday Night Football when the New York Jets host the Houston Texans at 8:30 pm EST on ESPN. The Texans are off to a stellar start, standing at 4-0 and topping their opponents by a combined 70 points on the year. On the other hand, the Jets enter the game at 2-2 but have been outscored 81-33 since their Week 1 victory over the Bills. Additionally, New York has already lost two top playmakers for the season in cornerback Darrelle Revis and receiver Santonio Holmes.
When the New York Jets have the ball:
The Jets were all about the “ground-and-pound” running attack when they went to consecutive AFC title games in 2009 and 2010, but they are only averaging 86.5 yards per game on the ground this season. In fact, top tailback Shonn Greene is only averaging 2.8 yards per carry on 68 rushes this year. Quarterback Mark Sanchez has struggled mightily over the last three weeks, and many fans are waiting to see the polarizing Tim Tebow take over at signal caller. With Holmes out and tight end Dustin Keller and receiver Stephen Hill listed as doubtful, it’s difficult to see the Jets moving the ball on a consistent basis.
The Texans defense ranked No. 2 in the NFL in 2011, and that number has improved to No.1 in the league this season. Wade Phillips’ group has allowed only 273 yards and 14.0 points per game this season, while also compiling nine takeaways. Additionally, Houston defenders scored twice on interception returns in last week’s 38-14 win over the Titans. The key on Monday night for the Texans defense will be to not lapse in concentration against a struggling Jets attack.
When the Houston Texans have the ball:
The running game has been the calling card for the Houston offense over the last couple of seasons, but quarterback Matt Schaub has also been very effective this year. The veteran signal caller has 953 passing yards and seven touchdowns this season against only one interception. Arian Foster has compiled 380 rushing yards and four touchdowns in four games, but the Houston ground game has not been able to break many long runs so far. Andre Johnson is still the Texans top receiving threat, while tight end Owen Daniels and fullback James Casey have played a large role in the passing game as well.
The Jets defense was a force to be reckoned with over the last few years, but the 2012 unit has been gashed on a constant basis. New York is allowing over 27 points per contest, and the defense has only compiled five sacks and six takeaways on the season. The biggest issue for Jets has been their 31st-ranked run defense, as they are giving up over 170 yards per game on the ground. Last week against the 49ers, New York surrendered an alarming 245 yards and three touchdown runs.
Houston appears to be the most balanced team in the NFL on both sides of the ball, and New York is simply not playing well. To stay in this game and give themselves a chance to win in the fourth quarter, the Jets must find a way to limit the Texans running attack. If Rex Ryan’s team can force Schaub into mistakes and not turn the ball over, then perhaps the home crowd can lift the Jets. Look for New York to play inspired ball, but for the better team to take this game and move to 5-0 on the season.
Texans 24 Jets 16
---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)