Despite a surprising upset loss in Minnesota last week, the 49ers are undoubtedly among the elite teams in football, and it will be an enormous test for the Jets in the aftermath of losing superstar cornerback Darrelle Revis.
The 49ers’ ferocious defense stars multiple All-Pro players like Justin Smith (#94, above), Navarro Bowman, and Patrick Willis, not to mention other defensive stalwarts including Carlos Rogers and Aldon Smith.
How the Jets offense responds from two consecutive shaky outings will be huge for both the outcome of this game and for potentially setting a tone for the rest of the season.
Mark Sanchez hasn’t been entirely to blame for the offensive woes, but the pressure will be on him to step up and compete with one of the league’s best teams in a game in which the Jets will be seen as home underdogs.
No Darrelle Revis means Antonio Cromartie will have to be the guy, after he declared himself the best cornerback in the league this week as a way to rally the troops and step into more of a leadership role going forward.
Cromartie will likely match up with Michael Crabtree, as the Jets try to figure out a way to stop the 49ers’ strong running back duo of Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter, and force Alex Smith and the passing game to beat them.
The 49ers will likely do the same, as their extremely talented front seven looks to shut down the running game of Shonn Greene, Bilal Powell and perhaps even Tim Tebow, and to dare Sanchez to make plays in the passing game.
Santonio Holmes, fresh off a game-breaking performance in Miami that saw him practically carry the passing game on his back and will the Jets to victory, will probably see a heavy dose of Carlos Rogers, a 2011 Pro Bowler.
These two teams have very similar philosophies, but the 49ers right now appear to be a little bit better all-around than the Jets, and it will be a game that will likely see the Jets fall at home for the first time season.
Most have left the Jets for dead after the loss of Revis, and facing a team like the 49ers this week is akin to getting thrown to the wolves while already mortally wounded.
I do not expect the Jets to win this week, but it will be a strong test of character for this team. Nobody is going to feel sorry for them and their injury woes. They need to prove that they’ll be a tough team to face week in and week out.
The Jets and 49ers kick off at 1pm eastern time at MetLife Stadium.