The New York Jets head to Pennsylvania Sunday but not to go to the Poconos to square off of against the Pittsburgh Steelers and it will be far from a vacation for them. One team looked great in their season opener last week (New York) while the other sputtered mightily while taking a huge early loss (Pittsburgh). The ironic thing about it is entering the season many thought it would be in reverse, that’s why they play the games!
The Jets enter this week coming off of an incredible 48-28 route of the Buffalo Bills after scoring just single offensive touchdown during the preseason (which is why preseason doesn’t count for much) and look to keep things rolling along. Mark Sanchez played perhaps his best game as a professional (19-27, 266 yards, 3 TD, INT) in the Gang Green’s win so don’t look for Tim Tebow to get any reps at the QB spot unless its in a wildcat formation. Shonn Greene helped Sanchez as much as he could balancing the Jets attack with a solid performance of his own rushing for 94 yards and a trip to the endzone on 27 carries, but can they do it again versus a much tougher defense.
The key to the Jets winning is going to be what happens in their defensive backfield, with all-world cornerback Darrelle Revis sidelined for this one (concussion) third-year DB Kyle Wilson is going to have to step in and play the game of his life helping Antonio Cromartie lockdown the Steelers speedy wideouts. As long as Wilson is able to do that then the Jets front seven should be able to put plenty of pressure on the Steelers causing them to make mistakes which could lead to turnovers and additional opportunities for the Jets offense.
The Steelers enter the game coming off of becoming the initial victim of the welcome back Peyton Manning world tour as he and the Denver Broncos handed them a 31-19 loss last Sunday night. Ben Roethlisberger had a usual Roethlisberger type-of a game (22-40, 245 yards, 2 TD, INT) but it wasn’t enough to get them the week one W. If the Steelers are going to have a better shot this week the are going to have to get more out of their running game which was almost absent last week. Lucky for them the Jets got ran through last week by C.J. Spiller and company to a tune of 195 rushing yards.
The Pittsburgh defense didn’t look so good versus the Broncos, but they will be getting safety Ryan Clark this week (didn’t play in Denver due to altitude and effects it has on his body) and may also see 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison return to action after missing week one recovering from knee surgery (game-time decision). Those two are extremely vital in what Pittsburgh does on defense and if both are able to play then expect a much better performance out of the Steelers.
Whether Harrison plays or not I like the Jets in this one and think that they can get off to a 2-0 start, I don’t believe we’re gonna see the offensive outburst that we did last week but they’ll do just enough to get the win. Jets 24 – Steelers 20.